Many Western men enjoy socializing by drinking alcoholic beverages. However, only a few of them understand the processes involved in producing these drinks.
Alcoholic beverages can be categorized into three types: wine, beer, and spirits. Wine is made through fermentation, beer is brewed and then fermented, and spirits undergo fermentation followed by distillation. Liqueurs are sweetened flavored spirits, while fortified wines like sherry and Port have added spirit for preservation and increased alcohol content.
Fermentation is a biological process where sugars like glucose and fructose are converted into energy. This occurs when naturally occurring or added yeast consumes the sugars, producing carbon dioxide and ethanol as byproducts. Fermentation is a crucial step in the production of any alcoholic beverage.
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In brewing, germinated grain (usually barley) is dried, milled, and soaked in heated water to create a cereal mash. Yeast and other ingredients are added to the mash, and fermentation takes place as the yeast consumes the plant sugars, converting them into carbon dioxide and ethanol. The fermented liquid is then extracted from the fermentation tank for further processing. It is aged, filtered, and prepared as beer for consumption.
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Distillation is the process of separating different liquids through heating and condensation. To extract alcoholic liquids, the fermented mixtures are heated, and the resulting vapor is condensed using a cooling mechanism. Since alcohol vaporizes before water, the heated fermented liquid yields its alcohol content as vapor, which is then condensed. This process leaves behind the water content. The distilled alcohol may undergo further distillation and requires additional processing before becoming a palatable spirit.