Beer has been brewed and enjoyed for thousands of years and in many countries throughout the world. It remains one of the world’s most popular beverages. Beer is the product of fermenting cereal grains. Very few ingredients are used in its manufacture. The brewing process is relatively simple. Beer is made from four main ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast.
Water is the chief ingredient and the type of water plays a role in the finished product. Water in different localities contains different minerals that affect the type of beer being made. That is why there are regional differences in beer.
Malt refers to the grain after it has gone through the malting process. Malting converts the starches in grain into sugars. The grain, in this case barley, is soaked until it begins to germinate. Germination releases an enzyme that aids in changing starch to sugar. The resulting malt is dried in a kiln. This roasting process produces the different colors of beer. Acidity gives hops a bitter taste that counters the sweetness of the malt. This acidity also acts as a preservative. Yeast is an active ingredient that changes the sugar in the malt to alcohol and carbon dioxide. It influences the characteristic flavor of beer. Different types of yeast are used to make different kinds of beer.
The first step in beer making is converting the starches in the grain to sugar. Once the grain has gone through this malting process, the resulting liquid is referred to as wort. Wort is boiled with the hops to kill bacteria and finish breaking down the carbohydrates. The hops are then separated from the wort and the wort is quickly cooled because high temperatures kill yeast. The type of yeast is chosen and added to the wort in the fermentation tank. The yeast feeds on the sugar in the wort and that process changes the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. After fermenting for one to three weeks, the beer is put in a conditioning tank. It ages in this tank for differing amounts of time depending on what type of product is desired. The beer is then filtered, carbonated and bottled.