About the process
Brewing beer is not as difficult as everyone thinks. Yes, you may need some knowledge in chemistry, but it may be enough just to read and read some books about the process of brewing and just practice. And not to forget about creativity. When the brewer is creative, the beer will be good. You can find so much information nowadays about beers and how they are made, the only thing that you need is just time for it and some interest.
But with all this information, I realized that not everyone who drinks beer knows how beer is made. Yes, we all know about Reinheitsgebot or the German Beer Purity Law which says loud and clear that beer is made of water, hops and barley. They forgot about the yeast, but no worries, they did not consider it an ingredient in 1516.
Ingredients for beer
Apart form water, hops, barley malt, wheat and yeast, many other ingredients can be used. Ingredients like herbs or spices, syrups, fruits, lactose, just to name a few. There are a lot of types of malted barley and hops and each of them is used in a specific type of beer. Depending on the type of beer, can be used from one barley malt to maybe eight or ten types and same goes for the hops, each one giving different flavors. The yeasts may be top-fermenting for the ALE BEERS, bottom-fermenting for LAGERS and Spontaneous for SOUR BEERS. There are literally hundreds of varieties and strains of yeast, naturally each of them acting different.
The barley is not used as it is harvested from the field, it goes through a malting process in which the grains are made to germinate by soaking in water, and are then halted from germinating further by drying with hot air.
We have the ingredients, so let’s get back to the process.
Here is a synopsis of the brewing process:
• Malted barley is soaked in hot water to release the malt sugars.
• The malt sugar solution is boiled with Hops for seasoning.
• The solution is cooled and yeast is added to begin fermentation.
• The yeast ferments the sugars, releasing CO2 and ethyl alcohol.
• When the main fermentation is complete, the beer is bottled with a little bit of added sugar to provide the carbonation.
• MILLING – is the physical crushing of malt kernels into smaller particles in preparation for mashing and lautering.
• MASHING – is the term given to the start of the brewing process, where crushed grains are mixed with water to form a porridge-like mixture called the “mash.” It is in the mash that malt and other cereal starches are transformed into sugars and proteins and other materials are made soluble, creating the sweet fermentable liquid called the wort.
• LAUTERING AND SPARGING – The sweet wort is separated from spent grain and the grains are rinsed with hot water to extract all the sugars left
• BOILING – The boiling process is where chemical and technical reactions take place, including sterilization of the wort to remove unwanted bacteria, releasing of hop flavours, bitterness and aroma compounds through isomerization, stopping of enzymatic processes, precipitation of proteins, and concentration of the wort.
• FERMENTING – After the wort is cooled and aerated – usually with sterile air – yeast is added to it, and it begins to ferment. It is during this stage that sugars won from the malt are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide, and the product can be called beer for the first time.
• TANK MATURATION – During this production phase, the beer maturates and acquires savour
• BOTTLE CONDITIONING – Adding priming sugars that yeast will ferment in the bottle. This refermentation (so called because it is performed after the original fermentation of the beer is already finished) gives off carbon dioxide, which dissolves into the beer, giving it natural carbonation. After the carbonation is made, follows the maturation during which the beer shapes its taste and flavors.
To conclude, with all this steps in the brewing process, I think one is the most important, but you will not find it on the list above because it refers to the brewer. With his involvement and passion, each brewing process will be a piece of cake.
Cheers to that.
Sources: Wikipedia, Craft Beer and Brewing Magazine, How to brew – John Palmer