Having fun with your friends, during that night-time drive with your favorite person, while cooling your heels after a 5km competitive run, or just having a relaxing afternoon; you would often have thanked the Lord Almighty for the wonderful gift he has bestowed the mankind with: the bitter-sweet beverage, the age-old creation- the beer.
It would be quite interesting to know whether you just enjoy the taste, the coolness of this coloured drink, or whether you sometimes are curious to know just how this bitter nectar is made. Most people just enjoy the refreshing liquid without realizing how much planning and hard work goes into producing beer, how many stages it goes through before it’s bottled and packaged to be ready for so many around the world to have a great party time. But don’t worry, here we are to enlighten you about the entire process of making beer, your favorite beverage.
A long drawn-out process
Talking about industrial breweries, we can broadly divide the brewing process into following 7 stages :
Milling the grain
Breaking up the grain kernels by crushing the different types of malt is the first step in brewing process that is aimed at extracting the fermentable sugars. Thus a milled produce called ‘grist’ is produced.
The grist is then mixed with water and heated at a certain temperature so that natural enzymes present in the malt can break down the starches in the grain into sugars.
The mash is now pumped into a lauter tun (a wide vessel with a false bottom) or a mash filter to separate wort (a sweet liquid) from grain husks. Lautering generally has two stages : wort run-off and sparging.
The boiling of wort
The wort is collected in a vessel called a kettle and subjected to a controlled boil. The process is necessary to ensure sterility, preventing contamination with undesirable microbes. Hops are added during the boil, contributing aroma and flavor compounds to the beer. Wort is then cooled for the next stage.
Do you know when the product is first called beer? Yes, it’s the fermentation stage, which starts as soon as yeast is added to the cooled wort. Yeast produces alcohol, converting the sugary wort into beer. A wide range of flavors and carbon dioxide are also produced during the process; the gas gives the beverage its sparkle at a later stage.
The young beer needs maturing after fermentation to allow full development of flavors and a polished finish. Conditioning is done either in the fermentation tank itself with cooling jackets, or in a separate tank in a different cellar in case the whole fermentation cellar is cooled. One has the option of just slightly conditioning the beer or skipping the process altogether. Fresh, palatable beer can be produced in mass quantity by adding an active yeast culture to the next boil after a slight chilling.
Filtration is the process that gives the beer its desired flavor and a polished, shiny look. It’s an optional process that is given a slip by many craft brewers. The beer is then transferred to bright beer tank to undergo a cellaring process.
Now your beer is ready for bottling and packaging!
So next time you are enjoying a chilled can of beer, do spare a moment of thought for those who did their bit to bring this “gift of God” to your party, to your drawing room. We shall continue to enlighten you regarding various aspects concerning this amazing colored liquor called the beer. Do wait for our next post.
About the author
Sandeep Singh is an architect from IIT Roorkee. He is a prolific writer and a sensitive poet. His professional posts mostly cover the future in Architecture. His books are chiefly devoted to the inner and outer battles that a disabled person in India faces every day.