What is Beer Made of?
Beer consists mostly of four basic ingredients: barley, hops, water, and yeast. Brewers can experiment with different combinations of these ingredients to produce a wide range of beer types.
How Is Beer Brewed?
Most brewers make their beer from malt grain, although malt extract can be used. As a home brewer, you can recreate the process that commercial brewers use. There are six stages in the brewing process: malting, sparging, boiling, fermenting, and packing.
Malting is the process by which the raw barley is made to germinate by soaking in hot water, and then stopped from germinating any further by being dried and heated in a kiln. This allows for the creation of enzymes that are essential to mashing and begins the process of chemical breakdown necessary to form the natural fermentable sugars that are later liquefied during the mashing process. It's possible to avoid having to do this yourself by purchasing malt from a home brew shop or online.
What is Mashing?
Next is the mashing process. This allows the enzymes that were created during the malting process to begin converting the starch in the malt into sugars. These sugars are referred to as fermentable sugars because later they will be turned into alcohol by the yeast during the fermentation process. Hot water and the grist (brewer's term for the blend of barley and adjuncts used to make the beer) are dropped into a mash tun and then stirred until a porridge-like mixture, known as "wort, " forms. It is then left to stand for 60 to 90 minutes.
Sparging is the process by which the barley grains are rinsed to extract the very last bits of sugar that are still clinging after mashing. It is not considered a vital step of the process. However, it is important if you want to get a better yield of beer. Warm water is sprayed over the mash above a strainer.
After you have rinsed all the malt sugars from the grain, you transfer the syrupy sweet malt, referred to as wort, over to the brew kettle, where you boil it for at least thirty minutes. The boiling process is done to sanitize the beer, as well as to prepare all of the sugars and proteins for proper fermentation.
Fermentation is the process by which the yeast feeds on the sugars present in the wort and turn produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. How successful the fermentation depends on certain factors, such as temperature and a number of fermentable sugars available.
Once the beer has been fermented, it's time to package it by adding a small quantity of sugar to it and then bottling it. For this purpose, bottles with rubber stoppers are typically used. The sugar acts to reactivate the yeast, which gives the beer its "fizziness."
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