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How to Brew Beer

How to Brew Beer

Beer, the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage, is a staple at every bar and pub. Let's take a closer look at how to brew beer in this article, while we also try to find out what makes this alcoholic beverage the 'poison of choice' for the majority of hard-drinkers around the globe.
Tastessence Staff
Whiskey's too rough, Champagne costs too much, Vodka puts my mouth in gear.
I hope this refrain, Will help me explain, As a matter of fact, I like beer.


The above refrain was penned by Tom T. Hall as a tribute to his partiality for beer over all other alcoholic drinks. Beer is one of the world's oldest alcoholic beverages and its origin dates back to the early Neolithic ages. Mention of beer and how to brew it has been found in several ancient writings chronicling ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian history. Certain ancient Sumerian writings found at the Godin Tepe site of the western Iranian Zargos Mountains contain references to beer, an interesting example being a prayer to goddess Ninkasi, the patron goddess of beer! This collection of hymns serves both as a prayer as well as a method of remembering how to brew beer. For a culture with very few literate people, this was an ingenious way of handing down the recipe to subsequent generations!

The core ingredients of beer are water, starch, brewer's yeast, and hops. The mineral composition of water varies in each region and as a result, each region produces different types of beer, their tastes being peculiar to that region. There is always this dispute amongst beer producing nations as to who produces the best beer in the world. The most popular source of starch in beer is malted barley. The starch is what provides it with the fermentation material. Hop flowers are added to lend it the flavor, and yeast is what initiates the process of fermentation. Let us get down to the details of how the aforementioned raw ingredients are converted to the fascinating liquid gold that makes a major chunk of the world drool!

  1. Mashing: The first step is to prepare the wort by mixing the malted barley with hot water. This is done in a mashing tun and the whole process takes around 1 to 2 hours. While mashing, the starches convert to sugars and then the sweet wort is drained, leaving the grains behind.
  2. Sparging: This is the process in which the grains are washed so that the brewer is able to collect maximum fermentable liquid from the grains.
  3. Lautering: In this process, the wort is separated by filtering the spent grain from the wort and sparge water.
  4. Boiling: The wort, thus collected, is poured into a kettle and boiled for about an hour. While boiling, the water in the wort escapes as steam leaving behind the sugars and other compounds. Hops are added to the wort while boiling. For stronger and bitter taste, hops are boiled for a longer time.
  5. Cooling: The wort-hop mixture is cooled before adding yeast. Some breweries pass the hopped wort through a hopback, a small hop-filled vat, to lend aromatic hop flavors to the mixture and filter it further. Yeast is added after the mixture has cooled down considerably.
  6. Fermentation: Fermentation starts after the cooled hop-wort mixture is added to the fermenter and yeast is added. This is the stage where the wort slowly starts morphing into beer. The process may take a few weeks or even months, depending upon the type of yeast used and the strength of beer desired. Apart from producing alcohol, all sedimentary particles, yeast, and the wort settle to the bottom, leaving the beer clear. Sometimes, when the beer is meant to be stored for a very long time before packaging, a second round of fermentation is carried out.
  7. Packaging: After fermentation is complete, the beer is packaged into either casks or kegs.
Though all this sounds pretty complex and time-consuming, you can actually brew your own beer at home using home-brew kits! Imagine, brewing your first beer and then inviting friends and neighbors for a beer tasting party! What a great feeling it must be to create something you are so fond of and then proudly showing it off to the world! Let's find out how to make beer at home.

Ingredients
  • Packages of pre-made malt extract
  • Hops
  • Brewer's Yeast
  • Sugar, preferably glucose or dextrose
  • Water
Equipment
  • 4 or 5 gallon stainless steel Brewpot
  • Strainer and funnel
  • Stopper and airlock
  • Siphon hose
  • Thermometer
  • Boiling bucket
  • Bottles and capper or cask (depending upon how you wish to package it)
Method
  • First, select the type of beer you want to brew. Would you like a Pilsner or a Porter or are you crazy about Pale Ale? Based on the type, you can add or modify the above mentioned staple ingredients. Most brew retailers sell kits unique to each type.
  • Clean and sanitize all your equipment thoroughly so that there is no chance of any bacteria or fungi sabotaging your efforts by marring the flavor.
  • Prepare the wort by boiling about 3 gallons of water in the brewing pot and add the malt extract to it after removing it from the flame, once the water has started to boil. Stir continuously till the malt has completely dissolved and the mixture is lump-free. Put the brewing pot back on the flame and bring to boil, stirring continuously. Keep the wort at a rolling boil for 10-12 minutes and keep a track of the heat level. The protein in the wort would create a lot of foam on the surface which is natural. Do not let the wort boil over. Keep boiling until all the protein clumps have settled down and the foam has diminished. Stir the hops in the pot for about another hour.
  • Cool the wort by taking it off the flame and placing it in a bigger vessel, containing cold water. This is necessary to prevent oxidation and impurities from affecting the wort.
  • Next, the wort needs to be fermented. Attach the funnel and strainer to the top of the fermenting vessel and pour in the cooled wort through the strainer. Measure the temperature of the wort with the thermometer. It must be at room temperature before yeast is added. If not, then it must be cooled to equal room temperature and only then yeast should be added. After adding the yeast, stir gently so that the mixture gets some oxygen and the yeast can breathe. Seal the fermenting vessel with airlock and stopper and place the vessel in a cool, dark place.
  • Keep checking the fermenter regularly to make sure the temperature doesn't escalate and hamper fermentation. The entire fermentation would take around 10-12 days. Your beer is ready for bottling if the yeast has settled to the bottom and if there are less than one bubble escaping the airlock every minute.
  • Mix ¾ cups of corn sugar with 2 cups of water in a pan. Boil until the sugar completely dissolves and pour it into the bottling bucket. Pour the contents of the fermenter into the bottling bucket using the siphon hose, being careful not to ruffle the sediment at the bottom. Stir the contents and transfer to clean beer bottles using siphon, filling till one inch below the mouth of the bottle. Cap the bottles securely using bottle capper and make sure to cap the bottles as soon as possible after they are filled.
Bottoms up, fellas!