Everybody enjoying the weather? No? You like it warm, you say? Not this warm?! I’ll leave it to the comedy genius that is Peter Kay to finish that line off!
As we should’ve picked up by now, the basic ingredients when brewing beer are water & a fermentable starch like malted barley. You then take yeast, which processes the starch into alcohol, & flavour the beer with hops & other adjuncts. Over the next 2 editions of the mag, we’ll be looking at the main parts of the brewing process; firstly mashing, lautering, boiling, & then going on to fermenting, conditioning, & packaging.
So let’s start with mashing. This is where you take the malted grains & water, & heat them up in a big tub called a mash tun. This part of the process needs a high degree of control, as different enzymes get activated at certain temps. All this enables the starch to break down into sugar, & form a sweet malty liquid called wort.
Lautering is really just a posh word for for separating the used grains from the wort, (it confuses the muggles if we create our own language!), & is typically done in 2 stages. The first is the run off, where it goes through a filter into the lauter tun. The 2nd stage is sparging, where hot water is run over the spent grains to get the last of the wort out.
Next step is to boil the wort with hops & any other additions that you want to impart flavour. This is done in a “copper” or in the mash tun depending on the size of the brewery. Hops are added to the rolling boil at different times depending on what you want the hop to do - early additions are for bitterness, late additions are for flavour & aroma. At the end of the boil, any large particles are separated from the wort using a number of methods, usually via a whirlpool (as it sounds really, you create a whirlpool in the tank & the particles settle at the bottom), or a hopback (a chamber where whole hops are used as both a filter & flavour enhancer).
After this point, we need to cool the wort down before we add the yeast, or we’ll kill it. Via a heat exchanger, the temperature will drop from around 95 deg C to around 20 deg C. If we add a bit of oxygen to this now-cooled wort, we’ll now be in a position to transfer the liquid to the fermentation tanks....& begin its transformation into that lovely drink that is beer.
I know, I know...just as we get to the interesting stuff! So, until next time you lovely people, but if you’re missing us, feel free to stop by our lovely cool air-conditioned bar & new beer courtyard to say hello!