Beyond Barley: What Alternate Grains Add to a Beer's Flavor Profile

Beyond Barley: What Alternate Grains Add to a Beer's Flavor Profile

By Justin Dolezal, Foodable Contributor

There are four basic ingredients that make their way into 99% of the beers that people enjoy on a regular basis: water, which makes up 90-95% of a beer's mass; yeast, the living compound that turns sweet flavored water into beer; hops, the flowering plant that imparts flavor, bitterness, and acts as a preservative; and grain, which gives beer sweetness and body. In most beers, this grain is malted barley, which is particularly suited to making beer. It is generally easy and economical to grow, its husk protects the grain within and allows better drainage during mash production, it contains the enzymes necessary to convert starches into the sugars necessary to feed the yeast in the brewing process, and its low protein content yields clear, vibrantly-colored beers.

It would be a major mistake to assume that beer ends with barley, however. Brewers have been using a variety of different grains for centuries, each of which can add valuable traits to beers that contain them. Flavor, body, mouthfeel, and color can all be enhanced by using various grains in the brewing process. Several of these grains are outlined below. Look for them in the next beer you drink- odds are you may have been enjoying them without even knowing it.

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First Look: Foodable Show "Beer Artisan" Will Explore America's Craft Beer Culture

No matter how you slice it, craft beer is killing it.

In 2014, volume share for craft brewers hit an all-time high of 11%, up from 7.8% the year before. According to Foodable Industry Expert Bill Sysak, the craft beer ambassador for Stone Brewing Co., there has also been a huge growth in breweries throughout the past six years — a 50% growth rate.

So it seemed only fair we give love to the brew scene the best way we, at Foodable, know how — with a show of its own. Because when it comes to the craft beer world, there is so much to explore. From production quality, scalability and the seemingly limitless varieties to equipment and ingredients, craft beer is more than meets the tap. And while those attributes are equally important, perhaps one of the best parts of craft beer (aside from the actual beer, of course) is the community that surrounds it. 

We invite you to be part of the endless discovery of this passionate craft that has taken America by storm. 

“Beer Artisan,” hosted by Taplister Founder & Consultant Kerry Finsand, explores the movement that has transformed America from a country dominated by big label beers, into one with more than 3,400 craft breweries. The first season will dive deep into the Portland, Oregon craft beer scene, one of the most iconic regions of craft culture.

“Beer Artisan” will serve to tell the story of this phenomenal culture shift, as well as introduce the passionate personalities that made — and continue to make — it happen. 

Get a first look at the “Beer Artisan” trailer above, and make sure to follow @beerartisan on Twitter for more information!