These days, beer is made from everything. We’ve got doughnut beer, chili beer, beet beer and pretty much every adjunct and flavor you can think of. But all of those beers start with the basics: Water, yeast, hops and malt. The Bavarian Purity Law says you can only use four ingredients in beer and it’s been a standard since 1516.
There is much debate as to whether the Bavarian Purity Law, or Reinheitsgebot, is even relevant these days. According to our inhouse beer guru Aubrey Laurence,
[B]reweries that strictly follow the Reinheitsgebot can make good or bad beer, just as breweries that don’t adhere to the Reinheitsgebot can make good or bad beer.
But the fact still remains, almost all beers use those four main ingredients. They are the lifeline of craft beer. When there’s threat of a hop shortage, people freak out, and for good reason. When a custom maltser enters the market craft beer lovers know the local breweries will benefit from the quality of the product. Some areas of the US are faulted for their beer because their water imparts odd tastes. Homebrewers have innumerable tools at their disposal to elevate what their yeast can do. All of these elements are essential and are required to work in conjunction with each other to produce complex and layered offerings.
But we all have favorites! So we want to know, “What is the most important ingredient in beer?” Hops, Malt, Water or Yeast? Then we want to hear why in the comments.