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How is beer made?

WRITTEN ON 30 March, 2023

Beer is an alcoholic drink produced by fermenting cereal grains. Water, barley, hops, and yeast are the four key ingredients used in making beer. These components work together in a series of steps to produce beer.

The brewing process* involves the following stages:

1. Malting

Malting is the process of converting barley into malts for brewing. This is achieved by soaking the grain in water (steeping), allowing it to germinate, and then drying it in a kiln. Malts provide enzymes and fermentable sugars, and impart flavour, colour, and aroma to beer.

2. Milling

Milling is the physical crushing of malt into smaller particles, which prepares them for the mashing process. This step must be adjusted carefully to find the perfect balance between a grind that is too fine and one that is too coarse. The degree to which malt is milled is crucial in creating the body of beer.

3. Mashing

Mashing is the process of mixing malt and water and heating up the mixture in the mash tun, which is a brewing vessel, to activate the enzymes present in the malt.
During this process, natural enzymes break down the malt starches into sugars. The resulting sugary liquid from the mixture is called wort.

4. Boiling

The wort is transferred to the lauter tun, where the liquid wort is separated from the solid spent grains. The sugary liquid wort is then boiled at a high temperature in the boiling vessel. During this step, hops are added to impart bitterness, flavour and aroma to beer. Next, the wort is cooled down immediately to prevent oxidation.

5. Fermenting

Once the boiled wort is cooled down, it is transferred to the fermentation tank, and yeast is added. The yeast feeds on the sugar from the wort, converting it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. After the primary fermentation, the young beer is matured for additional three to four weeks, which helps to develop its flavour profile, and results in an even better taste.

6. Filtering

In this optional stage, the beer undergoes filtration before it is packaged. This process removes any residual yeast, proteins, and other particles that may have developed during fermentation. By removing certain particles, the filtration process is crucial in achieving the desired texture, taste, and appearance of the final product.

7. Packaging

After the beer is cooled and filtered, it’s ready to be packaged in bottles, cans, or kegs for distribution.

The finished beer is then carbonated to provide the right amount of bubbles while being stored in airtight bottles or kegs. Proper packaging is crucial to ensure the beer’s freshness and to maintain its flavour until it reaches the consumer.