Basic information about various hobby and craft topics.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Modern brewing involves many steps in the transformation of grain, hops, yeast, and water into the sparkling, invigorating beverage we call beer. The following is a greatly simplified outline of the process a commercial brewing company uses to make beer.
Malting is the first step in the process of making beer. This involves soaking the harvested grain in water and allowing germination to begin. This, by a complicated chemical process, creates sugar, a necessary component to fermentation.
The partly germinated grain is now kilned, or heat dried, and it is called malt at this stage. Different kilning methods will produce different types of beer.
Milling is next - the malt is re-mixed with water to complete the conversion of starches in the grain to sugar, then the grain is milled to create the proper consistency to the malt, now termed grist.
The grist is subsequently mashed. This involves re-mixing with water and boiling it in a series of steps. Finally the wort is separated from the grain residue by a series of spinning and filtering steps
Next the wort is transferred to a copper vat, hops are added, and the mixture is boiled for a period of time. After boiling, the wort is subjected to a process by which the spent hops and other residues are removed.
The wort is transferred to a fermenting vessel and yeast is added. The wort should be about ten percent sugars in solution at this point. The fermentation process begins now, and the wort will be transformed into beer by the yeast cells.
Once fermentation has completed, a secondary fermentation is induced to rid the beer of impurities and improve the flavor. This step, in the ‘homebrew’ process, is completed in the bottle to add carbonation to the beer. The carbonation gives the beer a fresh flavor, and helps the beer keep longer. The home beer making process is almost complete.
Maturation of the completed beer follows. The beer is stored cold for a period of time, allowing the flavor to mellow and certain chemical processes to complete. Once this is complete, commercial breweries filter the beer and package it for sale. Draft beer is placed in metal casks and sent out to market in refrigerated trucks. Bottled and canned beer are pasteurized after bottling and sold.
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