For some people, there’s nothing like a cold glass of beer (or two) to cap off their day. In fact, beer is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world.
You might also be surprised to know that, as a drink, it’s more widely consumed than coffee as it ranks third, after water and tea, in terms of overall popularity.
Beer has been around for ages, with legislation regarding beer consumption and beer parlours covered in the Code of Hammurabi, an ancient Babylonian code of laws.
If you’re interested in beer because it’s your favourite alcoholic drink, perhaps you’d be curious too, and wonder, how is beer made?
Here, we’ll talk about how beer is made, including the ingredients used for the beer brewing process.
You might have heard somewhere that you can make your own beer at home. It’s true.
The reason for this is that all beer ingredients and equipment are fairly easy to find. However, this is not to say that the process of brewing beer is easy, as brewmasters have high standards to uphold when it comes to producing quality ale and lager.
When it comes to making beer, there are four basic ingredients used:
The liquid medium where everything is mixed and left to ferment.
Crushed barley malt
Malt is germinated and dried cereal grain. Barley that has been screened for quality and growth is often used as malt in beer-making. Malt can vary based on the malting process, as each one produces different colours and flavours. Most beers have at least three different types of malts, depending on the recipe. The malt gives beer its colour. It also imparts the grainy, toasty, roasted or sweet flavours you can detect in different beers. The sweet flavours come from larger sugars the yeast won’t ferment and that stay in the beer, thereby giving it a certain sweetness and body. Moreover, all of the sugar the yeast ferments in alcohol comes from the malt. The amount of malt you start with ultimately determines how strong the beer is going to be, while the type/s of malt you use will affect how light or dark the beer would be.
Hops are a climbing vine of the cannabis family and are used to spice the beer. The hops added during the boil give the beer a primary bitterness because of the so-called alpha acids that are released. However, the hops need to be boiled for an extended period to get the compounds out and into the liquid. If you boil the hops for long, you boil out all the aroma and flavours, too. Therefore, it’s not unusual to make multiple hop additions during the boil. You can expect more bitterness in the early additions, and less bitterness with more flavours and aromas in later additions.
There are two distinct species of yeast used: ale yeast (belonging to the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and lager yeast (Saccharomyces pastorianus). Different flavour profiles result from different types of yeast.
Each ingredient is added at a particular step during beer brewing.
All types of beer, including ales, lagers, stouts and porters, are made using the same ingredients. What causes the variations usually has to do with differences in brewing or in the quantity used for certain ingredients when making beer.
How Is Beer Made?
Once all the ingredients are ready, beer brewing officially commences. However, home brewing a great beer is no easy task. This is because good beer takes plenty of time and requires the right equipment.
Modern breweries and beer manufacturing facilities generally follow these steps in the beer brewing process:
Step 1. The crushed barley malt is filtered through a pipe
The first step in the beer making process. This process adds water to the grains, thereby helping them to release more sugars.
Step 2. The crushed grains are mixed with hot water
The grains are mixed in the mash which is a giant metal pot where the starches are broken down and the mix undergoes the fermentation process.
Step 3. Sparging process
Next is the sparging process. Here, the mix goes through a filter while more water is added. This separates the sweet liquid from the grains, and it is transferred to a giant kettle with a double bottom to boil for 90 minutes. Hops are added during the boil to impart a characteristic bitter taste.
Step 4. Fermentation process
Once the boil is done, the liquid is cooled down before it is drained to separate the liquid from the solids. It is then mixed with the yeast in the fermenter. During this process, the yeast eats the sugar produced from the malt and turns it into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Step 5. The final beer is ready to consume
After the beer is fermented (flavours may be added afterwards), carbonated and fully settled, it’s ready to be packaged and consumed.
Note that ale yeast ferments warmer and faster and produces more esters that give the finished beer fruity flavours. Ales take about a week to ferment plus another week of cold aging to get the flavour you want.
Lager yeast, on the other hand, ferments cooler, slower and requires more maturation time after the fermentation process. The process takes about a week and a half to ferment, plus another two weeks or more of cold aging for it to fully mature.
Enjoy the best beers with Kombi Keg
Now that you know so much about the beer-making process, you might be feeling a little thirsty.
If you’ve got a special event coming up or a get-together with friends and family, Kombi Keg is your go-to mobile bar. We’re ready to supply wines and spirits and, of course, all the beer you want through the icy cold taps of our Kombi Keg bar. Feeling inspired to make beer? You can also serve up your very homebrew!
So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch with Kombi Keg today!
Frequently Asked Questions
Technically, yes you can brew beer yourself at home. However, it’s no easy task! Making beer takes time and requires the right equipment. These days you can now buy special beer brewing kits for brewing beer. Whilst they may not taste as great as the ones brewed by your local craft brewery, they’re lot’s of fun and can help you get a better understanding of the beer making process.
When making beer, you may wonder what determines the alcohol content? To put it in simple terms, the alcohol content is measured by ABV or Alcohol by Volume. During the fermentation process, the amount of sugar consumed by the yeast generally determines the content of alcohol. These sugars are converted into ethyl alcohol. To measure this, you’d use a hydrometer to measure the density of the sugar.
When brewing beer, the different types are determined by the yeast used during the fermentation process. In lagers including Pilsners, the yeast settles at the bottom during fermentation. Ales such as IPAs and Pale Ales are known as top fermenting, meaning the yeast settles at the top.