Beer is made from four basic building blocks: water, malted
barley, and hops.
Barley, a basic cereal grain, is low in gluten, and is not
particularly good for milling into flour for use in products
such as bread. Barley is the preferred grain to make beer. The
barley grains must be "malted" before they can be used
in the brewing process.
Malting is a process of bringing grain to the point of its
highest possible starch content by allowing it to begin to sprout
roots and take the first step to becoming a photosynthesizing
At the point when the maximum starch content is reached, the
seed growth is stopped by heating the grain to a temperature
that stops growth but allows an important natural enzyme diastase
to remain active. Barley, once "malted" is very high
in the type of starches that an enzyme called diastase (found
naturally on the surface of the grain, just under the husk) can
convert starch quite easily into the disaccharide called Maltose.
This sugar is then fermented or metabolized by the yeasts to
create carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol.
Adapted from: Beer