We recently read an article that although beer is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, few actually know how it is made. As a result we chose to dedicate this month’s article to the art of brewing to help ensure we all know how our beloved beer is made!
Brewing is the production of beer through steeping grains (or another starch source) in water and then fermenting with yeast. It has taken place since the 6th millennium BC, with archaeological evidence suggesting that this technique was used in ancient Egypt.
The basic ingredients of beer are water; a fermentable (convertible into alcohol) starch source, such as malted barley; a brewer’s yeast to produce the fermentation; and a flavouring, such as hops. More adventurous brewers add almost any other ingredient to the brew, e.g. spices, oranges, tea, honey, chocolate and coffee! There are several steps in the brewing process (illustrative diagram below):
1. Malting – converting barley into malt by allowing grain to germinate
2. Milling – here the malt is crushed to break apart the grain kernels and expose the starches, key for fermentation
3. Mashing – converts the starches released during the malting stage, into a sugar rich liquid or "wort" that can then be fermented
4. Lautering – during this stage the wort created during the mash is then strained through the bottom of the mash tun
5. Boiling – where the wort is moved into a large tank, known as a kettle and boiled with hops to help create the flavour, bitterness, and aroma of the beer
6. Fermenting – yeast is added to the wort, converting sugars into alcohol
7. Conditioning – here the yeast starts to settle to the bottom of the tank once fermentation has finished
8. Filtering – is undertaken to stablise the beer’s flavour, and give its polished shine
9. Packaging – putting beer into containers which will leave the brewery