What I Learned from Making my own Beer
Beers and its early variants have been a part of human civilization for thousands of years. They help with better digestion, and of course, the alcohol in beer leads us to happy times and occasional regrets. Regular consumption of a limited amount of beer can help make you healthier. Beer is one of the most popular drinks on earth.
The process of making beer is very organic. All of the ingredients are natural. Water, barley grains, hop flowers, and yeasts are the four main components of a beer. The three main processes of brewing beer are malting, fermenting, and conditioning. A brewer needs to accomplish all of them with efficiency and cleanliness to reduce the chance of contamination. None of the brewing processes require any chemicals.
What Happens In The Process Of Brewing Beer?
From the beginning to the end, brewing beers requires knowledge, focus, and hard work. The total procedure involves several critical processes, which you can master only with years of practice. Let’s talk about all the processes that go into making the perfect beer.
● The Malting Process
First of all, brewers soak barley grains in the water. Water softens the barley grains and enables germination of the grains. While germination, two enzymes are released from the grains. They are protease and amylase.
The enzymes turn the starches into sugars and peptides. To get malts from it, the brewer has to bake it at a low temperature. The malt is then mashed to dissolve into water. The solution is called wort.
● Using the Hops
After boiling the wort for a while, brewers add hop flowers to it for balancing the sweetness with bitterness. The amount of hop flowers used in the process determines the bitterness of the beer.
The chemical reaction of the hops and the peptides and proteins of the wort sterilizes the wort and gives it a foamy texture. After that, brewers filter out the hops from the wort.
After cooling down the wort, the fermentation process begins. This is when the beer gets its alcohol and all the bubbles. Brewer’s Yeast plays the main role in the process. After mixing with wort for days, the brewer’s yeast converts the sugars into alcohol.
Depending on the type of yeast, the brewer needs to ensure a precise temperature to let the fermentation happen. The temperature can vary from 50° F to 90° F. Different yeasts are used at different temperatures for optimal conversion of the sugars. During the fermentation process, brewers may add some good bacterias to the beer for a unique taste. Pediococcus and lactobacillus are two common bacterias that brewers use in beers.
After the fermentation is complete, brewers need to store the beer for a certain period. This process is called conditioning. The time for conditioning beer may vary from weeks to years.
The time invested in conditioning beers determines the quality and price of the beer to some extent. During the conditioning phase, the flavors of the beer get to mature. Conditioning is also the time when other fruit, hop, or other characteristics may be added to the beer.
● Clearing & Filtering
The final phase of making beer involves clearing all the substances that make the drink cloudy. Brewers add some clarifying agents into the beer to give it a transparent look. A special type of seaweed can do the job well. Some brewers like to use factory-processed agents for this step.
Finally, brewers filter the beer to get any kind of solid particles out of the drink. Then they carefully pour the beer into bottles and cans before sending them to market.
Homebrewers often leave their beer unfiltered and use the remaining yeast to carbonate the beer during the bottling process.
4 Key Factors of Brewing The Best Beer
There are thousands of brewers of beer around the world. But almost every beer is different from the other. Some key factors determine the taste and effectiveness of a beer.
● The Water
Depending on the quality of the water you are using to make the beer, the outcome can vary to a great extent. I believe the characteristics of water make beer from different parts of the world taste different. The different mineral substances dissolved in the water in different geological environments change the taste of a beer dramatically.
The level of calcium and magnesium in the water is commonly referred to as hardness. The hardness of any water determines how yeast will break the sugars in the brewing process. Another vital element of any water is bicarbonate. It affects the pH level of the beer.
● Roasting the Grains
The more toasty you need to brew the beer, the more you should roast it before starting the brewing process. Roasting the barley grains makes the final beer darker.
While roasting the grains, you make their glucose molecules more degraded. That is how the roasting process affects the fermentation phase of the brewing too.
● Quality of the Yeast
The type and quality of the yeast is a key factor in brewing beer. Different types of yeasts have different characteristics. It affects the overall flavor of the beer too.
Be it normal brewer’s yeast or lager yeast, if you fail to manage good quality yeast for the brewing, all your efforts will be in vain. Generally, brewers use processed yeast for beers. Because using wild yeasts can have unpredictable outcomes and often lead to off flavors in the final beer.
● Temperature of Fermentation
The type of yeast determines the exact temperature you should maintain in the fermentation process. A seasoned beer brewer meticulously maintains the fermentation temperature from the beginning to the end, because minutes of carelessness can ruin the beer.
While using a lager yeast for the fermentation, you need to keep the temperature between 65° F and 70° Fahrenheit. In the case of ale yeast, the temperature level can be up to 85° F Fahrenheit. You need to maintain the duration of the fermentation properly.
Brewing beer is an art. It is the identity of some European cultures. Beer has been associated with human history for thousands of years. The cultural significance and variations are incredible the more you study them.
I hope this article was able to teach you a few things about the science that goes behind brewing this beloved drink.
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Danke und Prost!