Like many beer drinkers, I never used to give much thought about what is in my beer. Why does it taste that way? What do barley and hops do? Well, as you get a little older and wiser, it's time you up your beer IQ! No more excuses. Let's take a look at what some popular grains do to the taste of beer.

  • Barley. One of the foundations of beer, it is transformed into malt by hot water. This causes the grain to create enzymes that transform proteins and starches into sugars, which yeast will later feast on to create....alcohol!
  • Corn. When used in beer, it provides a smooth neutral sweetness. It also lightens a beers flavor and stabilizes flavor.
  • Rice. It doesn't really have a taste when used in beer. It does lighten a beer's body and creates a dry profile.
  • Rye. Working with barley, it can sharpen flavors and also dry out a beer. It can also be used to create a chocolate or caramel flavor.
  • Wheat. It is packed with proteins and that helps to create a fuller body and a thicker head. A large amount can result in a hazy beer, and can also add some tartness.

Now that you have your grain basics down, it's time for a test! A taste test! Get to The Cedar Rapids Beer Summit on March 11th in downtown Cedar Rapids and see if you can identify your favorite grains in one of over 100 craft beers and ciders! The test will be timed, but we think 3 hours should be enough time!