There’s no doubt that Americans love beer. They love it so much that they’ve inspired a beer-infused cheeseburger. There simply isn’t anything more American than that.
While beer is the choice beverage for 43% of American drinkers, many don’t even know where their beer comes from, let alone how it’s made. If you’ve been wondering how the nectar of the gods is made or perhaps thought about making a small craft batch on your own (you hipster), then here’s a comprehensive guide to beer production.
There are four basic ingredients in beer: water, grain, hops, and yeast. To make beer, sugars are extracted from the grain — barkey, rye, or wheat — so that the yeast can ferment the concoction into alcohol and carbon dioxide, creating beer. Simple right?
- The grains are first harvested, then heated, dried out, and cracked. This is known as malting. The chemical reactions that take place during malting isolate the enzymes that are needed for brewing.
- Then the grains are mashed. They are steeped in hot, but not boiling, water. Think of it like making tea, but this tea doesn’t taste very good. This activates the enzymes and releases the sugars. The liquid is then strained out. The sticky, sweet tea-like liquid is called wort. This is the foundation of beer.
- Then the wort is boiled. Hops and spices are also added to create distinct flavors. There are many different hops varieties that can are used to create different flavor profiles and types of beers. Cascade hops are most commonly found in Pale Ales, IPAs, and Porters, while Fuggle hops are most likely to be found in English-style beers, like Stouts, and American ales.
- After the beer is boiled, its strained into a fermenting vessel with yeast. The yeast breaks down the sugars found in the wort to create carbon dioxide and alcohol. Depending on the type of beer, the fermenting temperatures and fermentation times vary.
All stages of brewing, when done by large, commercial brewers, are done in specialized barrels with the help of chemical pumps. There are a number of chemical pump applications, so they are widely used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, but they are exclusively used as beer pumps.
For the home brewer, beer brewing pumps and beer pump accessories can be found at your local hydroponics store or through online vendors.