Sorcery or science?
The monks in the Middle Ages already knew the secret of brewing beer and it hasn’t lost its magic over the centuries. In fact, quite the contrary , during the last thirty years beer drinking has grown in popularity with a huge variety of beers and real ales now being served in pubs, restaurants and bars worldwide.
And you could certainly feel the magic at the “BrauBeviale” held in Nuremberg last week. At this international trade fair for beverage technology, 1133 entrepreneurs came together to present their products and discuss the latest trends, techniques and developments in the alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks sector. From sorting caps to rinsing and filling bottles to labelling beer and wine; all sorts of interesting ideas and innovations were on show. The air was filled with the rattling and clinking of glasses, the scent of spices and malt and the buzz of conversation.
So, let’s take a look behind the scenes. What is brewing all about?
To make beer you need water, barley grain, hops and yeast . There are several steps in the commercial beer brewing process, which include: malting, steeping, kilning, milling, mashing, boiling, fermenting , conditioning, filtering, and bottling !
Malting is the process where barley grain is made ready for brewing. First the grain is added to a vat of water and allowed to soak for approximately 40 hours, this is called steeping . Then it is spread out on the floor of the germination room for around five days. The grain is then dried at high temperatures in a kiln . When kilning is complete, the grains are milled or crushed to break apart the kernels .
The next step, mashing , converts the starches released during the malting stage into sugars that can be fermented. The milled grain is mixed with water and heated in a large vessel called the mash tun . The result of the mashing process is a sugar rich liquid or “wort”.
The wort is put into a large container known as a “copper” or kettle where it is boiled with hops to add flavour, aroma and bitterness. At the end of the boil, the wort is rapidly cooled to a temperature where yeast can be added.
The fermenting process takes place in a tank where the wort and the yeast are mixed at a temperature of between 20 and 25°C, the sugars turn to alcohol and carbon dioxide carbon dioxide is released. When the fermentation is complete the brewer starts the final conditioning phase.
So ….. Cheers! Chin-chin! Bottoms up! Down the hatch!