Beer is a classic American beverage. According to statistics, 185.57 million barrels of beer were produced in 2017 alone.
The beer production process is a lengthy one, and can be broken down into 5 main stages.
The brewing process begins after the grains being used for beer production have been germinated. These can include raw barley, oats, wheat, or rye. These grains are then dried out under high heat (usually inside a kiln) to activate the enzymes needed for the production of beer. Care must be taken to regulate temperature such that the enzyme amylase isn’t harmed or destroyed in the process.
This mixture, also known as malt, is then passed through a grist mill. Here, they’re crushed between rollers to crack the kernels and convert into powder form (grist). This exposes the starch present in the malt mixture, preparing it for the next step.
The grist is then collected and mixed with warm water to hydrolyze the starch content. The mixture is then left for about an hour at approximately 65 degrees Celsius for the reaction to occur. As the amylase reacts with the grist under optimum conditions, it breaks down starch into single sugars such as dextrose and maltose. Proteolytic enzymes are also activated at this stage to hydrolyze protein into amino acids. The sugary liquid that accumulates and is collected is called wort.
This process is also referred to as steeping, as the sugars are released when the grains are steeped in warm water. The success of the mashing or steeping process largely depends on the regulation of temperature and pH levels of the enzymes being activated. Under optimum conditions, the enzyme activity is high, and the production of the wort is quicker.
The wort obtained is then boiled. This is done to coagulate the remaining protein and remove it, inactivate the enzymes, and sterilize the mixture. During the boiling process, hops and spices are also added to the wort mixture. This helps in extracting and releasing the flavor into the mixture and enhancing its taste. Adding these also gives the beer its distinctive aroma and foamy texture.
After being boiled, the wort is then transferred to stainless steel tanks for fermentation. This is where alcohol is produced within the beer.
For this process, yeast is added to the wort mixture. Adding as a catalyst, the yeast cells convert the sugars into ethanol, releasing carbon dioxide as a by-product. Fermentation is a lengthy process and can take up to a few weeks. The result is the beer mixture containing the desired alcoholic content.
Aging and Packaging
Finally, beer is ready to be matured and carbonated. This depends on your brewing preferences, and you can either age your beer for a while before adding carbonation, or let the natural fermentation process take its course after you’ve bottled it. Once aged and bottled or kegged, the beer is ready to be sold for consumption.
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