The Production Process
Mashing is the process of combining a mix of milled grain (typically malted barley or wheat), known as the “grain bill”, and water, known as “liquor”, and heating this mixture. Mashing allows the enzymes in the malt to break down the starch in the grain into sugars in a natural process to create a malty liquid called wort. By controlling the process – temperature, timing, and PH, you can control the type of sugars created, the alcohol level, residual sweetness level, and how much body the beer will have.
We transfer the sweet mixture called wort into a tank called the Lauter Tun. This is actually a giant sieve in which the separation of the extracted wort occurs. In most breweries, the malt mixture goes through a process of spraying with hot water to bring out as much of the sugars and flavors as possible. The outputs from this process are the clear Wort, and spent grains that are removed for later use by cattle farms as food.
The Wort is transferred into a boiling tank called the Kettle. You add the hops to the liquid in this stage. The boiling removes impurities, conceals unnecessary tastes, and brings out the hops. The boiling length and timing of adding the hops greatly influence the outcome. After boiling, you again separate the solids from the liquids (now, they are mainly hops) and quickly cool the liquid to the fermenting temperature.
After boiling, you place the chilled Wort with the yeast into the fermenting tanks. Here, the yeast starts its work and performs its wonders – transforming the sugars into alcohol, carbon dioxide, and a host of flavors and aromas. The process differs in its length and temperature in which it occurs, according to the type of yeast you use. Ale yeast prefers temperatures of 16-25 degrees Celsius while Lager yeast prefers temperatures of 8-14 degrees Celsius.
After primary fermentation, the beer goes through a maturation period at a low temperature. At this stage, the beer stabilizes, balances, and becomes rounded. The maturation takes place in chilled tanks. It lasts several weeks, according to the type of beer you make.
The final step in preparing beer is the packaging. You need to package the beer in such a way that will get it to the consumer fresh and tasty – the same way it leaves the maturation tank. This is a big challenge, and one of the main differences between quality beer and mass-produced beer. You can package in bottles, cans, and barrels. Whichever type of package used, it is important to make sure the container is absolutely clean, and without oxygen that can damage the beer.