Beer is a fundamental part of human civilization. Evidence suggests that people have been consuming beer since 3500 B.C. It is believed that animals, including primates, were getting intoxicated on fermented fruit juice even before that time. However, the production of beer itself, which requires coordination and settlement on a larger scale, is a more recent development.
Despite its widespread popularity today and its ancient history spanning nearly 6,000 years, most individuals are unaware of how beer is actually made.
Steps: How Beer is Made
Let’s examine the five main steps in the brewing process. First and foremost, we must begin with the primary ingredients: barley, hops, water, and yeast.
Step 1: Malting
The initial major step in the brewing process is known as malting. Every type of beer contains some form of grain, with barley being the most common choice. However, some brewers substitute wheat or rye.
These grains are dried and cracked through a heating process. By breaking open the grains, the enzymes are extracted and prepared for the following mashing step.
Step 2: Mashing or Steeping
The second primary step in brewing is mashing. During this phase, the malted enzymes are soaked in hot or boiling water to activate them.
By steeping the grains, the sugars are released into the water and made ready for fermentation. Typically, this process takes one to two hours.
Once the grains are fully steeped, they are removed from the sugary water, leaving behind the wort, which is essentially unfermented beer.
Step 3: Boiling
The third step in the brewing process involves boiling the wort. This is when hops and spices are added to the wort and boiled, allowing the unfermented mixture to absorb all of the flavors.
The boiling process generally lasts about an hour to ensure that the full flavor from the hops and spices is extracted.
Step 4: Fermentation
The fourth step in brewing is the fermentation process, which produces alcohol in the beer. Up until this point, the beer mixture contains no alcohol and consists solely of sugar and flavored water.
Fermentation begins 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 reaches the desired alcohol content.
Step 5: Bottling and Aging
The fifth and final step in brewing involves bottling and aging. Many individuals prefer carbonated beer, so craft and microbrewers add carbonation during the bottling stage.
There are various methods to achieve this, but some brewers choose to allow natural carbonation through the fermentation process.
Final Thoughts on How Beer is Made
It’s remarkable to consider how this process has remained unchanged for thousands of years. As you can see, it is a simple process that almost anyone can master. All you need are four basic ingredients and five easy steps.
This is why homebrewing has become such a popular trend – people have realized that you don’t need to be a mad scientist or a wealthy industrialist to brew your own beer!