Beer 101: The 4 main beer ingredients explained

Ah, beer- we all love it, we all drink it, but do we actually know what’s in it?

While most leave brewing to the big breweries, you might be interested to learn that there are only four main ingredients that make up the drink we all know and love.

We’ve put together a brief rundown of these 4 main beer ingredients – what they are, what they do and how they turn into your favourite brew


The 4 main beer ingredients explained

Now, where would we be without good old H2O? Not only is water vital for all forms of life, without water there would certainly be no beer.

In fact, water makes up roughly 90-95% of beer and is used in every step of the brewing process.

Interestingly enough, there are different mineral components in water depending on the region it is sourced from, which alter the finished product. For example, the soft water of Pilzen helps give pilsners their smooth taste while Dublin’s hard water brews heavy stouts.

By understanding the impact of the ratio, composition and amount of minerals in water, brewers are able to modify their brewing water and control the hardness to replicate regional water themselves.


Malted cereal grains are the starchy, fermentable goodness that helps turn beer into that strong, golden brew we all know and love. Cereals don’t just go in our bowl at breakfast time, they are in fact one of the main elements that determine strength, flavour, colour and smell in the beer-making process.

Not only do malted cereals provide the sugar that ferments with yeast to form carbon dioxide and alcohol, the malt’s temperature and roasting time give the beer its signature hue.


Think of hops as the beer’s ‘spice’ – these bad boys give beer the flavour, aroma and bitterness that hit the perfect balance with the malt’s sweetness. Sourced from the cone-like flowers from the humulus lupulus plant, hops also double as a preservative as they help keep beer fresher for longer.

What makes this beer ingredient even more impressive is their antibiotic effect and ability to act as a natural clarifying agent to inhibit the growth of the lactic acid bacteria that ruins beer.


To put it simply, brew yeast is what really makes the magic happen.

This tiny, single-celled organism takes the sugars from the malt and transforms it into alcohol and carbon dioxide through the process of fermentation.

With over 500 types of pure yeast strains discovered since the 1800s, beer brewers typically favour isolated or cultivated brew yeasts as these allow for the most control in the fermentation process.

While these four elements make up the absolute essential beer ingredients, there are no limits to what you can add to your own brew. From coffee to citrus, and even coriander seeds, there’s no reason you can’t get creative and play around with extra additives to make an exciting and flavoursome beer!

Are you itching to make your own brew and enjoy it on tap? Check out our home dispense systems here or get in touch with us on 1300 893 705 to see how easy it actually is to get started.

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