Hop Into Beer: What’s the difference between Hops, Malt, and Barley

There are three things that you can watch forever: how a fire burns, how water flows, and how cold beer is poured into a crystal clear glass.

I mean, can you imagine a world without beer?

A boring Super Bowl finale, dull conversations over a glass of broccoli smoothie, and a movie where the hardworking heroes take a carton of cold, refreshing milk out of the refrigerator. Just imagine it, in a beer-less world there would be no graphic fights at football matches, or the movie The Hangover, along with the entire country of Ireland! (just kidding).

Lucky for the beer geeks! The universe has created endless types of beer. This means beer land is a place where our imagination can run wild!

And if brewing is a whole science, like the art of potions from Potteriana, then let us be your personal Severus Snape, and dive together into the magical world of Beer! Today we will learn the difference between hops, malt, and barley!

Glasses of beer and snacks on the wooden table. Top view.

Beer 101: The best way to drink different types of beer

While drinking a cold glass of beer it’s easy to feel like a professional taster for a couple of minutes (or for a few hours)! But don’t worry too much. After reading this article, you will definitely be able to drive!

So, the first rule of the Beer Club is: you talk about the Beer Club.

The second rule of the Beer Club is: you do talk about the Beer Club.

The third rule of the Beer Club is: you talk about beer-drinking rules. 

Beer does not like extreme temperature changes, therefore it’s best not to put your drink in the freezer to cool down, but rather place the bottle in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes. That’s enough time to bring the drink to the correct temperate. A bucket of ice or cold water will also do the trick.

Don’t hold the cold glass for long periods of time, as this warms the beverage. Soon enough, the drink will no longer be refreshing and can start to taste bitter – a bit like your past failed relationships or the new Matrix 4.

Before you take your first sip, inhale the aroma of the beer. Try to decompose it “according to notes”, and don’t be sad if you don’t smell something ” extra special”. The first sip will surely relax you. After that, do not rush to swallow the drink – rather experience the entire range of taste nuances instead!

It’s important not to mix different types of beer with each other, and even more so, don’t add other ingredients to it. Liquids such as juice, cream, syrup, and strong alcoholic spirits will result in a different taste and could quickly cloud your head. In this case, you run the risk of unexpectedly marrying a stranger in Las Vegas or buying Twitter for some odd reason.

And, lastly do not drink beer from plastic or metal containers – these materials are known to distort the natural taste of the beer.

Beer Glasses 

As tasters say, the type of glass matters. So, choosing the right glassware when it comes to beer is crucial. There are dozens of types of glasses that are available for drinking beer and no, they are not a marketing stunt. Each of them serves a specific purpose – to convey the particular style of beer as fully as possible. 

Let’s talk about the most popular types of glasses. The most widely used beer glasses are:

American Pint (Shaker Pint) is the glass you are most likely to be served in a bar or restaurant. American Pint, sometimes referred to as Shaker Pint, has a simple cylindrical shape that expands as it rises. The American pints are not meant for any particular style of beer. You can consider this your all-purpose glass. 

Imperial Pint (Nonic Pint) contains as much as 0.56 liters of liquid. This type of glass is also called a nonic pint. The glassware is cheap to make, cheap to buy, and easy to use. Bars love to store a pint because they are easy to clean and style. It’s your go-to glass for British ales and lagers such as Pale Ale, Amber/Red Ale, Brown Ale, Porter, Milk Stout, Oatmeal Stout, and Scotch Ale.

Pilsner Glass is tall and thin with a slight curve at the top. It is made and used for lighter beers, such as Pilsners. The slim design allows drinkers to appreciate the golden color and crispy bubbles rising to the top. Suitable beer styles are Pilsner, American Lagers, Bock, Helles Bock, Maibock, Viennese Lager, Pale Ale, Japanese Rice Lager, and Witbeer.

Tulip is designed to trap and support the head of the glass, helping to enhance the flavor and aroma of malts. This is another type of beer glass that is popular among beer geeks. Suitable beer styles are Belgian Strong Ale, Belgian Dark Ale, Barleywine, DIPA, Belgian IPA, Belgian Pale Ale, Geze, Fruit Lambic, Saizon, American Wild Ale, and Scotch Ale.

IPA Glass delivers the perfect bubbles of your favorite beer with every sip while releasing the aromatics of the brew. The tall, thin, conical bowl concentrates and directs hop aromas to your nose. Suitable beer styles are all varieties of IPA.

Weizen Glass is shaped like a pint and a Pilsner at the same time. But there is a difference.  Weizen Glass has a much greater curvature (especially in its upper part). This glass is much taller than a pint and wider than a classic Pilsner glass. The curved Weizen Glass top helps support the foam layer. And head retention is very important when tasting wheat beers.

Thistle is good for Scotch and Belgian ales, Double IPAs, and Barley wines. The shape of the glass resembles the plant “thistle” – a rounded base and a high neck, slightly expanding at the top. It is believed that the glass retains the aroma of beer for a long time (especially strong beer).

Now you know that there are a huge number of beer glasses. This is great news. It means that there are automatically twice as many options for beer gifts!  

Difference between Hops, Malt, and Barley: Group of friends drinking beer

Making Beer: The Difference between Hops, Malt and Barley

From the moment when we open the refrigerator and take out the frosty little bottle, beer has had a long way to go before meeting our welcoming hands.

If Thanos was hunting for a brewing glove, then he would need the main stones: hops, malt, and barley (as well as a couple of avengers for the company). Thus, in an extremely simplified form, the brewing process can be described in 5 stages.

Grinding the Malt

Malt is an essential ingredient in your beer. It adds color, flavor, and sugar content to unfermented beer and after water, it is the most necessary ingredient for brewing. Malt is a grain that has been specially prepared for brewing beer and is the reason for the delicious golden color of the beverage. Malt is any type of grain that has gone through the malting process – brewers usually use barley or wheat, yet it’s possible to brew with plenty of other grains such as spelt, rye, and oats. The malting process involves multiple steps – steeping, germinating, and roasting. The prepared malt is then ground and mixed with clean water. The quality of the water largely determines the quality and taste of beer.


We then go on to the fermentation process. The mixture of water and malt is then heated to different temperatures. During fermentation, the starch contained in the malt is broken down into sugars, that is, maltose, which is then converted into alcohol. Malt residues are removed from the mixture obtained after heating, resulting in beer wort.


The beer wort is then filtered and brought to a boil. During the boil, hops are added to give the drink the desired taste and color, as well as improve its shelf life and promote foam formation. Hops is one of four essential ingredients in beer. It is a tall plant containing oil resins and hop acids in each fruit body. Brewers use that plant part to add bitterness, aroma, and preservative properties to beer. Adding hops to beer also inhibits the formation of certain bacteria that can spoil the beer.

Hops have an important role in the brewing process as it balances the flavors and aromas of the beer. Hops are added during the process of brewing, putting bitterness and character into a beer. Without them, beer would be too sweet. Different types of hops have different flavors, like citrus, pine, floral, fruit, and more. Bitterness really depends on what types of hops the brewer uses, how much is added, and at what stage it’s added. 


After cooling and filtering the wort brewed with hops, the liquid is poured into the fermentation tank, where yeast is added. Yeast is responsible for the fermentation process in beer. It’s a single-celled microorganism that eats up certain sugars. As a result, these sugars are converted into carbon dioxide, ethyl alcohol, and other fermentation by-products.


After fermentation, the beer is aged, this process takes from a couple of weeks to several months – depending on what type of beer and what strength they want to brew. Bottom-fermented varieties aged longer, top-fermented varieties less. After the final filtration, the foamy beer is ready for bottling and drinking.

The Difference between Hops, Malt, and Barley: What is Best served with Beer?

Everyone knows that one should eat certain types of meat with red or white wine. It turns out that beer is the same way. When you go to a bar, you may know what type of beer you want. You can order a bitter brew, or you may want something a little bit smoother, as long as you pair it with something delicious to snack on. You may be wondering – are there some foods that go better with certain types of beers? Let’s take a closer look at the foods best served with beer. 

Difference between Hops, Malt, and Barley: Bartender pouring a beer from beer tap.

What do Beers Pair Well With?

To take advantage of learning the difference between hops, malt, and barley, it’s worth knowing what do beers pair well with. Here are some ideas for you to consider:

  • First of all, our little beer lovers, you should know several rules that should be followed when choosing food for beer:
  • If you are planning a large meal, you should match beer with the food, and not vice versa.
  • Drinks and food must contrast with each other.
  • Light beer should be served with low-fat dishes. Malt beer is ideal for desserts, while strong and bitter brews are better suited for burgers, pizzas, and nachos.
  • A variety of meats are well suited to ale: beef, pork, venison, ribs, smoked sausages, and chicken pates are wonderful options. For those who do not eat meat, there are alternative options, such as baked vegetables or aged cheese.
  • Dark stout can be shared with hot pork and beef, any meat on the coals, as well as oysters. Dark stout is especially effective when paired with chocolate, caramel ice cream, and blue cheese.
  • Fish dishes and Asian appetizers should be served with a light lager, while chicken kebab and Italian pasta are more suitable for a dark lager.
  • Porter goes well with smoked meats, soft cheese, beef steak, as well as desserts that are dominated by the taste of coffee or chocolate.
  • Wheat beer reveals all the richness of taste, especially in combination with pork. If you don’t like meat, it’s not a problem: you can make a seafood salad or serve goat cheese with this drink.
  • Pale Ale lovers should choose baked redfish, spicy dishes, as well as these popular desserts – ice cream, cheesecake, and chocolate cake as an addition.

In addition, there are several universal dishes that can be combined with any kind of beer. These include cashew nuts, mashed potatoes, pistachios, and sour cream sauces.

We hope that you enjoyed learning about the ins and outs and brewing beer! If you’re looking for a 6-pack for your husband or hosting a barbeque party at home, keep this beer guide in mind when choosing the best beer for your lucky recipient!

The Difference between Hops, Malt, and Barley:

You’ve learned a ton about the difference between hops, malt, and barley! Now you can call yourself a true beer connoisseur.

Do you know someone who is crazy about beer? We’ve got you covered! No matter what occasion you’re celebrating, Christmas, a birthday, or just because, we have a wide range of our favorite gifts for beer lovers. There are so many beer gift ideas that would make any beer geek very hoppy. So help your favorite beer drinker take their drinking experience to the next level with our beer gifts.

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