People have been drinking beer for thousands of years. In fact, some of the earliest evidence shows beer being consumed between 3500 and 3100 B.C., so needless to say, it’s a very old drink.
But if you were to ask most people on the street, or even those in a bar drinking, not many of them would be able to answer the question, “How is beer made?” As we’ve said in other posts, if you’re looking to join your first beer of the month club, it might be a good idea to get some background knowledge on beers and the beer making process. So today in this post that’s exactly what I want to cover: How is beer made?
There are five main stages of creating beer and this process is known as brewing. The brewing process uses four main ingredients: barley, hops, water, and yeast (although not all beers contain hops.).
Stage One: Malting
The first stage to brewing beer is known as the malting phase. All beers contain some type of grain, most commonly barley, but wheat and rye are also popular. These grains are then put through a heating process, dried out, and cracked. This serves to isolate the enzymes necessary for the mashing stage.
Stage Two: Mashing
The second stage of brewing is mashing. This stage usually take anywhere between one and two hours. The enzymes that the malting stage isolates are activated in the mashing stage by being steeped in hot water. This then causes the grains to break down and release the sugar necessary for the fermentation process. If the sugars aren’t released you won’t be able to make any beer because the sugar is what reacts with the yeast in the later stages. Anyway, after you’ve let the grains steep, you filter out the grain and are left with a watery liquid that is full of sugar from the grains. This liquid is known as wort and is the essence of the beer.
Stage Three: Boiling
The third stage is the boiling of the wort. This usually takes around an hour or so, and during the boiling process the hops and any other spices the beer will have are added.
Stage Four: Fermentation
The fourth step to the brewing process is the fermentation process. This is where the actual alcohol is produced. After the boiling process is over, all of the spices, hops, and other things are removed from the wort, and yeast is added. Yeast is the catalyst in the fermentation process and reacts with the sugars that were extracted from the grains in step two. After the yeast is added, the mixture is stored for a few weeks to allow the fermentation process to take effect.
Stage Five: Aging
The final step to the brewing process is to bottle it, let it age, and then, of course, drink it! Some people choose add carbonation to the beer like a soda, while others choose to allow the drink to naturally carbonate through the fermentation process.
As you can see, the basic brewing process is really quite simple, just five simple steps and only four main ingredients. No wonder it’s been around for almost 10,000 years!