How Beer Is Made
How Beer Is Made
Beer refers to all alcoholic beverages brewed and fermented from malted barley (and sometimes other cereals) and flavored with hops. However, this process is only simple in theory but really complex in reality. The basic ingredients used to make beer are water, malted barley, hops and yeast. Although malt is commonly used, other types of cereals including corn and even rice can be used.
The Beer-Making Process
Malting and Milling
Malting is the process of converting the grain into malted barley or simply ‘malt’. In this process, the grain is allowed to germinate under certain conditions and then it is dried in an oven or roasted under low temperatures. The germination makes enzymes that convert the starch in the grains into sugars.
The drying or roasting process will usually determine the color and flavor of the beer. The malt is then milled after which it is ready for the next step. It is now called grist.
The grist is transferred to a large container where it is mixed with hot water. This process is known as mash conversion and it is where natural enzymes in the malt further break down the starch into fermentable sugars.
When the starch in the malt has been converted into sugars, it goes through a lautering process where the liquid is strained into a separate container and separated from the from the grain husks. This sweet liquid is now known as Wort.
The wort is then transferred into a specific kettle and boiled under precise conditions to sterilize the wort. Hops are then added and boiled together with the wort for about two hours in order to obtain the preferred extracts from the hops. The hops are then removed together with other undesired elements and impurities. The hops usually influence the flavor, smell and acidity of the brew.
After this process, the wort is cooled and filtered again then transferred into the fermentation tanks.
During fermentation, yeast is added to the wort under specific temperatures and condition. The yeast consumes the sugars expelling carbon dioxide and alcohol during the process. The type of yeast used will determine whether the beer becomes ale or a larger.
Usually, Ales are fermented at warm temperatures using top fermenting yeast while Lagers are fermented under cooler temperatures using bottom fermenting yeasts. This accounts for why lagers have crisp clean tastes.
When the sugars have been completely consumed by the yeast, the yeast becomes dormant and settles at the bottom of the fermenting tank. The brewer removes the yeast and the beer is now ready to be packaged and distributed.
Ingredients and Flavors
The different varieties of beer may be attributed to the different ingredients used in making and the flavors added. Beer made from rice or corn will definitely taste different than that made from barley.
The Type of Yeast Used
The type of yeast used and the various conditions the beer was subjected to during the fermentation process will determine whether the beer is an Ale or a Lager.