Basic Ingredients for Novice home brewers

Written by George on February 9, 2016

These are the basic ingredients for novice home brewers. Once you gain an understanding for these and use them in a few brews, it’ll be time to step up to Partial extract brewing.

Malt Extract

Photo credit: purdman1
Photo credit: purdman1

Malt extract are available in liquid and dry powder form. The extract is the concentrated sugars extracted from brewing-grade malted barley.

To produce malt extract, crushed malt is soaked in hot water to reactivate the enzymes, which in turn convert the starches to fermentable sugars called Wort. The wort is then reduced to a thick liquid concentrate or dried to form powdered malt extract.

The sugars in the malt extract are consumed by the yeast, which produced alcohol and CO2, which is known as fermentation.

Today, malt extract can be purchased from Home brew stores in various forms like hopped liquid malt extract (LME), unhopped liquid malt extract (LME) and unhopped dry malt extract (DME).



Hops are the female flower clusters or seed cones of the hop vine Humulus lupulus, which are used as a flavouring and preservative agent in nearly all beer made today. There are many different varieties of hops today, and each style of beer has it’s corresponding type of hops.

Hops contain alpha and beta acids, which provide the bitterness and aromatic oils, respectively.

Bittering hops, are added at the beginning of the boil to instill bitterness in the beer. Hops that are added for flavouring are added sometime in the middle of the boil and will provide some bitterness and some aroma to the finished beer. And finally aromatic hops, or finishing hops, are added at the end of the boil. They contribute barely any bitterness but their aroma is left behind.

There is a technique called dry hopping in which brewers add dry hops to the fermentation vessel near the end of the fermentation. This leaves behind a strong hop aroma.

Hops can be purchased whole, as plugs or as pellets. Pellets tend to be the most popular among brewers due to the ease of packaging and storing.


Photo credit: Jennifer Morrow
Photo credit: Jennifer Morrow

Brewers yeast is a fungus that consumes fermentable sugars and excretes alcohol and CO2, in a process known as fermentation.

Yeast not only consume the sugars to produce alcohol, but also contribute subtle flavours to the finished beer. In addition to the alcohol and CO2, different yeasts can produce other compounds, including esters, fusel alcohols, ketones and various phenolics and fatty acids.

Brewer’s yeast comes in liquid or dry form. Liquid yeast comes in a vial or smack pack, while dry yeast comes in a small packet.

Ale yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is a top-fermenting yeast that thrives at temperatures ranging from about 15-27°C.

Lager yeast (Saccaromyces carlsbergenis) is a bottom-fermenting yeast that can work in environments with temperatures as low as 5°C.


Photo credit: Berit Watkin
Photo credit: Berit Watkin

Since water makes up more than 90% of a beer, it is a critical ingredient.

The minerals in water affect starch conversion in different ways, however, this is more of an advanced topic. For now, just keep in mind that if your water tastes good, then the beer will be fine.

If you have missed the previous articles please go back and read through the following.

What is home brewing

Brewing terms

How to brew

Equipment for Novice home brewers

Extract brewing steps for Novice home brewers

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