Any San Diego brewery makes craft beer by mixing water, a starch, yeast, and a flavor, which since this is San Diego is more times than not hops. The starch normally used by a San Diego brewery is malted barley. The malted barley is saccharified or converted to sugars and then fermented. Brewers across the world use a mixture of starch sources and many times a secondary starch, such as corn, rice, or sugar. This secondary starch is called an adjunct and can also be used as a substitute for malted barley. In Africa, starch sources include millet, sorghum, and cassava root. Potato is sometimes used in Brazil and agave might be used in Mexico. Beer recipes have a grain bill that is made up of the amount of each starch.
Yes, water is the primary ingredient used by a San Diego brewery. Different regions have different water. The different water is because of different minerals in the water. These different minerals and resulting different water makes different regions better suited for certain beers. The hard water in Dublin, Ireland makes the region known for stouts. The Czech Republic has soft water and has become known for pilsners or pale lagers. There is gypsum in Burton, England water that makes the area perfect for pale ale. Gypsum has become an ingredient that brewers across the world add to beer for pale ales in a process that has now been nicknamed “burtonisation”. The water in San Diego has allowed San Diego craft beer to become known for Indian Pale Ales or IPAs, and most San Diego breweries specialize in IPAs.
The strength and flavor of beer is determined by the source of the starch. The starch source is the fermentable substance in craft beer used by a San Diego brewery. Malted grain is the most common source of starch in beers across the world. Grain is placed in water to malt by allowing it to soak. This is called begingermination. The next step used by a San Diego brewery is to dry the partially germinated grain in a kiln. This process creates enzymes that eventually create sugars. The sugars are created by the starches being converted in the grain. A San Diego brewery uses different temperatures and roasting times to produce different colors of malt from the same type of grain. The darker the malt, the darker the beer that is produced by a San Diego brewery.
Barley malt is most often used as the primary starch source in beer. Barley malt has a fibrous hull that during threshing remains attached to the hull and breaks into large segments. Barley is then milled after having malted. This is what removes the hull and breaks it into large segments. These segments remain with the grain during the mash portion of creating a craft beer. The segments act as a filter during lautering. This is when sweet wort is separated from the grain material, which is insoluble. Instead, other malted and unmalted grains, such as wheat, rice, oats, and rye are sometimes used worldwide. Corn and sorghum are also used worldwide, but are much less common. More than one San Diego brewery has created gluten free beer made with sorghum that contains no barley malt. Gluten free products are made for those avid beer drinkers who no longer can consume grains that contain gluten. Wheat, barley, and rye contain gluten.
Often a San Diego brewery will use hops to flavor San Diego craft beer. A hop is basically a flower that is used to not only flavor, but also used to preserve beer. Hops are used not only by each San Diego brewery, but also by all breweries worldwide. Hops do not have any other commercial use besides being the flavor component of beer. The use of hops in beer dates to 822 AD. There is a mention of hops in monastery rules from that time. However, the use of hops did not become common beer until the thirteenth century and in the sixteenth century hops finally become the dominant flavor component in beer. Hops have remained the dominant flavor component to this day. Prior to widespread use of hops, beer was often flavored with other types of plants. Berries, herbs, and other plants were previously used and combined as hops are used today. Even today, some breweries, mostly in Europe use plants besides hops in their beers for flavoring.
Brewers desire hops in beer due to several characteristics of hops. Hops are bitter and the bitter flavor balances out the sweetness of malt. There is an International Bitterness Units scale that measures the bitterness of beers. Citrus, floral, and herb aromas are in beer because of hops. Hops has an antibiotic effect that favors brewer’s yeast over other microorganisms. Hops also helps determine the length of time that a craft beer’s head created by carbonation will last. A San Diego brewery will use the acidity of hops as a preservative.
San Diego craft beer ferments because of yeast. Yeast is a microorganism that metabolises the sugars that come from the grains. This is what produces the carbon dioxide and alcohol. Yeast also has an influence on the flavor and character of beer brewed at a San Diego brewery. Airborne yeasts or wild yeasts were previously used before the role of yeast in the fermentation was properly understood. Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a top-fermenting yeast, and saccharomyces uvarum, a bottom-fermenting yeast are primarily used to make beer across the world. White Labs supplies much of the yeast used by any given San Diego Brewery to make San Diego craft beer.