Have you ever wondered what "malt" really is, and how you get malt from barley? And what about hops, and why do we need yeast? Barley, water, hops and yeast -- brewers combine these four simple ingredients to make beer.

But it's not just a matter of mixing the right amount of each ingredient and voila!...you have beer. A complex series of biochemical reactions must take place to convert barley to fermentable sugars, and to allow yeast to live and multiply, converting those sugars to alcohol. Commercial breweries use sophisticated equipment and processes to control hundreds of variables so that each batch of beer will taste the same.

Photo courtesy Carolina Brewing Company
Boiling a wort -- the part of the brewing process where beer gets much of its flavor and bitterness

In this article, we'll learn how events like prohibition and World War II influenced the taste of the beer we still drink today. Then we'll take a tour through a regional brewery, the Carolina Brewing Company, to learn how they make beer, picking up some of the amazing technology and terminology of beermaking along the way!