The brewing process starts by choosing the best grains, whether they are wheat, rye or barley – simply put, the better the grain, the better the beer. Once the grain is selected, it is malted, which involves heating and cracking the grain to isolate the enzymes within the grain and make it easier for the yeast to feast on the sugars to produce alcohol.
Next, the crushed grains are steeped in hot water in a special vessel called a mash tun. It’s crucial to use high-quality water with the beer brewing equipment because any elements within the water can have a significant impact on the final quality of the brew. This warm bath takes about an hour and activates the enzymes within the grain, which release the sugar content.
The water becomes a sweet and sticky liquid called “wort,” which is filtered and boiled for about an hour. At this stage, various hops and spices are gradually added to the mixture to give the beer its distinctive flavor.
After boiling, the wort is chilled and strained in a lautering tun to filter out the spent grain before pouring the wort into a fermentation vessel. Yeast is added to feast on the sugars and work its magic over the next two to three weeks. The byproducts of this sugary feast are carbon dioxide and, of course, alcohol.
Most beers benefit from more carbonation than nature can provide in this short process. Carbonation typically is added by either carbonating the beer before bottling or by ‘‘bottle conditioning’’ the beer – adding a little extra sugar to each bottle so fermentation continues.
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