Beer has been around for thousands of year. In fact, there is evidence that people have been drinking beer since 3500 B.C. This makes beer one of the world’s oldest and most favorite drinks. Beer has established itself as a mainstream beverage of choice across all cultures in Europe, Asia, and America.
Despite its mass popularity and historical appeal, most people don’t even know how beer is actually made. It’s important to know how beer is crafted, so you can understand what influences the flavor. There’s no way to find the perfect beer to fit your individual palate if you don’t understand what changes the flavors.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the five main steps in the brewing process. First, we need to start with the main ingredients: barley, hops, water, and yeast (although not all beers contain hops.).
Step One: Malting
The first main step in the brewing process is known as the malting phase. Every beer contains some type of grain. Barley is the most popular, but many brewers use wheat and rye as a substitute. These grains are dried out and cracked in a heating process. By opening up the grains, the enzymes are isolated and ready for the mashing step.
Step Two: Mashing or Steeping
The second main step in the brewing process is the mashing step. This is where the malted enzymes are steeped in hot or boiling water and activated. By steeping the grains, the sugars are released into the water and ready for fermentation. This process usually takes one to two hours.
After the grains are fully steeped, the grains are pulled out of the sugary water leaving the wort–essentially unfermented beer.
Step Three: Boiling
The third step in the brewing process is boiling of the wort. This is where the hops and spices are added to the wort and boiled releasing all of the flavor into the unfermented mixture. The boiling process usually takes about an hour to completely extract the full flavor from the hops and spices.
Step Four: Fermentation
The fourth step in the brewing process is the fermentation process. This step produces the alcohol in the beer. Until this step, the beer mixture contains no alcohol and is simply made up of sugar and flavored water. The fermentation process starts by adding yeast as a catalyst. The Yeast reacts with the sugars in the wort and creates alcohol. This process takes time, so the yeast is added and the mixture is usually stored for several weeks until the wort is properly fermented and the desired alcohol content is established
Step Five: Bottling an Aging
The fifth and final step in the brewing process consists of bottling and aging. Many people want to carbonate their brews, so craft and microbrewers add their carbonation during the bottling stage. This can be done is several ways but some brewers choose to allow the bottles to naturally carbonate through the fermentation process.
After a few weeks, you have a beer that will taste great and can be enjoyed with your friends. This process has remained unchanged for thousands of years and might be the oldest manmade drink still in production. As you can see, it’s a basic process that almost anyone can master. All you need is just four simple ingredients and five easy steps. What are you waiting for? Go for it! Start a home brewing batch of your own today.