Brewing is an art which has been cultivated for centuries. Resulting in many ways of producing some very different styles globally, however traditionally there are 4 key elements that go into making these beautiful creations
A large part of brewing is using the correct water. Water used in the brewing process is referred to as 'liquor'. When the liquor's mineral content is known, the addition of brewing salts such as Calcium Chloride and Gypsum are commonly added to achieve the desired chemistry needed for the desired beer style.
Barley is malted to varying levels, offering a multitude of flavours and colours available to a brewer in order to achieve their desired end result. The Malt is then milled and steeped in warm water in a Mash tun for an hour or so to convert and extract the sugars needed for fermentation. This sweet mix is known as 'Wort'. Adjunts such as corn, oats & unmalted barley are also used at times to add sugar content and body to the wort.
Once Mashed for the desired time, the wort is separated from the malt and boiled in a big kettle. Hops are then added for bitterness, flavour and aroma
Hops contain Lupulin powder, an alpha acid which gives bitterness and volatile essential oils which add flavour and aromas to beer. Each varietal contains differing levels of both, giving many different end results. Mixing of hop types and timings during the boil can result in a multitude of fruity, resinous and spicey tones in the end product.
The more time a hop spends in boiling wort the more the alpha acid will add bitterness and the essential oils will boil off. Thus brewers have to calculate bittering additions along with desired flavour and aromas additions to achieve their goals for each brew.
Once boiled and cooled the wort is transferred into a fermentator where yeast is pitched at the desired levels to bubble away in the wort. The yeast begins eating the sugars, growing in numbers and converting the wort into alcohol. Any unconverted sugars that are left behind in the beer add to its flavour and body.
This fermentation process takes different periods of time at different temperatures depending on the yeast type used. Yeast can add flavour compounds known as esters to a brew. Some strains offer more esters than others, with yeast pitch rates and fermentation temperatures having an impact also.
Once fermentation is completed the beer is cooled to drop out the trub & yeast to the bottom of the fermentor in a process called cold crashing. It is now commonly transferred off the yeast and placed into another tank for conditioning where it is carbonated. The yeast is often harvested and re-pitched into a new batch.
Once desired conditioning time and carbonation levels are achieved the beer is transferred into bottle or keg for your drinking pleasure !