Ever sat and wonder how beer is produced? Well I have. I've sat, in my room thinking about it a lot. Allow me to explain:
It involves four, relatively straight forward, steps: mashing, boiling, fermenting and bottling.
Let me break em' down further:
Mashing is the process of steeping malted barley in hot water for a set amount of time. The purpose of mashing is to release all those tasty sugars from within the malted barley. The end result of this steeping process is a sickly sweet barley tea called Wort!
This step is preformed in an insulated tank called a mash tun.
Boiling is exactly how it sounds. Once a wort has been produced it is then drained so the spent grains can be removed and then boiled for another set period of time. The purpose of this boil is to add hops to the wort. Hops are very important! Without these little green floral cones, beer would be too sweet; hops help to balance out the beer as they impart a strong bitterness within the wort during the boil. Hops often impart flavours of pine, spruce and citrus.
This step is preformed over a heat source upon which a metal tank called a brew kettle sits.
Fermenting involves mixing yeast into your now boiled wort and allowing it to sit in a seal container for an extended period of time. While the wort is sitting, the yeast will eat all the sugars within the wort mixture and in doing so excrete alcohol This process is called fermentation and the end result is beer! Beer can take about 1-3 weeks to ferment.
This step is preformed using a large tank of glass or metal, the fermentation tank, within which the beer ferments.
Bottling is the last major step in the brewing process, which seems pretty self explanatory. However, once the fermented beer has been transferred into its bottles it can either be pumped with CO2, artificially carbonating it or left to sit for a while longer and carbonate naturally using the remaining yeast in the beer mixture. The later technique is called conditioning. Once a beer has been carbonated, through either method, its ready to drink! YAHOO BEER!
And that, my friends, is a basic run down on how beer goes from being barley to being in a bottle.
If your curious about brewing at all you should do yourself a huge favor and try and tour some of the local craft breweries we have here in Vancouver! Support local beer! Here are three great Vancouver based breweries that are sure to impress:
Parallel 49 Brewing
1950 Triumph St. Vancouver
54 East 4th Ave. Vancouver
310 Commercial Drive Vancouver