Beer is wonderful, beer is tasty, and beer, surprisingly, is actually pretty simple. Sure, you can make brewing a complicated process, and the exactness and control needed to produce reliable batches of beer can be hard to achieve, but there’s a reason that homebrewers abound and make tasty suds to share with their friends all throughout the year.


In today’s blog from Northstar Liquor Superstore, we’ll take a look at the four primary elements you need to make beer — water, grains, hops, and yeast. To find the perfect combination of these mixed and fermented ingredients, stop by and visit the craft beer experts at Northstar Liquor Superstore in Johnstown.


Water might make up as much as 97% of the beer in the glass you are holding. As the single biggest ingredient, the quality of the water used is one of the most important factors in how beer is going to turn out. For example, macro-brewery Coors, originally brewed in Golden, CO actually builds water treatment plants at its various breweries across the country to get the same quality of water used in the original recipe.


Malted grain (grains that are baked or roasted to help release the sprouts and sugars inherent in a grain. This controlled process is what ultimately provides the food for the yeast, which allows the beverage to ferment, or become alcoholic. Darker grains and longer kilned grains will produce a darker beer, and common grains used for malting include wheat, barley, rye, and oats.


Hops are a bine (that’s right, a bine, not a vine) in the cannabis family. These flowering, climbing plants flowers, when brewed into beer, produce a wide range of flavors, including citrus, bitterness, sweetness, and spice. Common hops used in beer include Citra hops, cascade hops, mosaic hops, centennial hops, and Amarillo hops, although hundreds of varieties exist.


Among brewers, there is a joke that brewers don’t make beer — they make wort (unfermented beer ingredients combined), and yeast makes beer. Yeast strains (primarily broken into two camps of lagers and ales) eat the sugar produced by the malting process, and — well— poop out alcohol. When there is no more sugar to eat, the yeast dies, and a beer cannot gain anymore ABV.

Common Additives and Adjuncts

  • Besides the big four, here is a list of the other common elements infused and brewed into beer for added flavor, color, and profile:
  • Unmalted grains (rice and corn)
  • Added sugars (to increase the lifespan of yeast and increase ABV)
  • Spices (ginger, basil, heather, anise, etc.)
  • Fruits (orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit, etc.)
  • Vegetables (pumpkin, beets, peppers, etc.)