Beer is an alcoholic beverage obtained by the fermentation of the starch present in cereal grains which has been turned into sugar by the malting process. One of the oldest types of alcohol known to man, references to beer have been found in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian texts. Often flavoured by the addition of hops or fruit, it is currently the most widely consumed alcoholic drink in the world. A distinction is generally made between the richer, ‘high fermentation’ ales, and the lighter, ‘low fermentation’ lagers. There are also lambic beers, that are naturally fermented using wild yeasts. Stouts and porters are beers that are brewed using heavily roasted cereal grains.

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