What Is Wort?
There's only one thing keeping wort from being beer
Without fermentation, beer would simply be wort and nobody would want to drink it. Seriously, you do not want to drink wort. Imagine beer without the carbonation, bite and clarity and that's what you've got.
But what's in it?
Wort is "beer starter" — comprised of malt extract (from grain mash) and water. That's it. Generally, brewers will take it to the next level with their preferred flavorings and different kinds of hops. Then you bring the whole business to a steady boil for an hour until the hot break point, when the proteins in the wort gather visibly and you can be sure they won't add any off-flavors to your brew. You can try a nifty little ingredient called whirlfloc to help further clarify the beer at this point. The wort cools before adding the yeast that ferments the liquid into beer (cooling is important for not killing the yeast; you need it). Bottom Line: if the wort is good, the finished product will be too.
More Whatchamacallit on Food Republic: