How Beer is Made
The Process of Brewing Beer
Every brewery has a distinct approach to creating their beer taste. Whether brewers shorten or lengthen the brew times or develop new and interesting blends of ingredients, they all create subtly distinctive tastes that set apart their brand from others. The method for producing every flavor of beer, however, is more or less the same. Here’s a look at the process for brewing beer:
Great beer starts with quality ingredients. Beer is made from these four: water, barley, hops, and yeast. These building blocks undergo a chemical change in the brewing process which creates the alcohol and flavor. The yeast and the sugar from the barley work together to create specific alcohol contents.
Barley is not the only grain used to create beer. Some brewers prefer wheat, rye, or another grain. Hops provides beer with the spicy, bitter flavor that so many people expect and love. To understand the flavor profile that hops adds to all beers, try an IPA, which has a strong hops taste.
First, the grain of choice has to be “malted.” Malting is the process of hydrating and then drying out the grain after it has started to germinate. This form of preparation yields the enzymes to create the sugars needed to interact with the yeast. Afterwards, the resulting dried and cracked grain sits in a bath of hot water for a short time so that the sugars separate from the grains. The resulting liquid is called “wort.” Wort is the basis for the beer making process.
To give a beer its unique flavor, wort is mixed with spices, hops, and other ingredients. Hops adds depth to the flavor profile and also preserves the mixture from spoiling after the beer has been brewed. The mixture of ingredients is boiled together until the appropriate flavor balance has been created. Beer flavors that feature underlying chocolate, ginger, or citrus are developed during this process.
After the whole mixture is cooled, the liquid is strained from the additives and then it goes into large fermentation barrels along with the yeast. Fermentation occurs in a closed environment so that the yeast/wort combination can develop alcohol and release carbon dioxide. A one way pipe releases excessive carbon dioxide into the air outside the tank. After a certain point, the tube is cut off so that the remaining gasses can start the carbonation process.
Depending on the type of beer being brewed, fermentation times and temperatures will vary. Many fermentation tanks allow brewers to constantly monitor the fermentation process to maintain quality with each batch. At the end of the fermentation process, the beer is cooled to the point of freezing to help any excess sediment settle to the bottom. The liquid will not freeze during the process due to the alcohol content.
When the fermentation process is complete, the yeast and any other sediment will settle to the bottom where it can easily be separated from the transparent and completed beer. The beer is transferred to another tank for any last minute carbonation adjustments before being placed into containers for distribution and consumption.
Some beers are aged for a time after the fermentation process to allow for the further development of flavors. For an in depth look at how micro-breweries operate, stop by Cazuela’s Mexican Grill & Brewery. Sit out in the patio area where you can see our brewing system while enjoying one of our specially crafted lagers, ales, IPAs, or an award winning oatmeal stout.