What are the main ingredients in beer?

The ingredients in beer are surprisingly simple. Picture: Pexels/Sonja Maric

The ingredients in beer are surprisingly simple. Picture: Pexels/Sonja Maric

Published Jun 29, 2022


Beer is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. In spite of this fact, few people know what actually goes into the bottle. The ingredients in beer are surprisingly simple.

It is the different combinations of these ingredients that create the huge variety you will see spread across supermarket shelves and restaurant menus. Just so you know, beer is made from four things: grains, hops, yeast, and water. Let’s take a look at the four main ingredients.

The ingredients in beer are surprisingly simple. Picture: Pexels/Engin Akyurt


Water makes up the majority of the volume of beer. Water generally accounts for about 90% of beer, which means this is the main ingredient, but it can have a major effect on the flavour of the beer. Water is everywhere, but the pH and chlorine levels will differ, and this will affect the beer in its end product.


Yeast is a single-cell fungus and a powerful leavening agent that causes bread to rise by digesting the sugars in the flour and releasing carbon dioxide as a by-product. Brewers may use active dry yeast, lager yeast, ale yeast, and liquid yeast strains to make various beers.

The yeast affects the beer flavour when it breaks down the sugars into ethanol, forming other metabolites that further influence the aroma and flavour.

The ingredients in beer are surprisingly simple. Picture: Pexels/Tembela Bohle


Hops are little green flowers that grow on a bine, which is similar to a vine but without the tendrils.

These flowers are shaped like a cone, and these cones become filled with a bitter resin that combats and balances the sweetness of the malt. In other words, hops can be considered the “balancing agent” in beer.

Depending on when the hops are added, the bitterness, flavour and aroma of the beer can vary. This is why some types of beer (IPAs, for example) contain high bitterness and give the style of beer its distinctive taste.


Grain is another essential ingredient in beer production. It provides colour, extracts the flavour, and sources sugar that interacts with the yeast.

Malted barley is the most common and popular grain used by brewers. It is the primary source of sugar that does the final wonder into beer. After harvesting, grain needs to soak in water for a different time frame to prepare the starch.

The starch processing is called germination and firmly produces the necessary sugar. Finally, the process gets stopped by heat - making the barley roasted. Brewers use these roasting grains to change the colour and flavour.

Apart from the barley, other grains like rice, corn, wheat, oats, rye, and sorghum, are also used for brewing beer, although they are used as sub-ingredients of barley for different styles.

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