Brewing_prim_vats_434x250


The brewing process

Water

Water


The composition of water has a major impact on the brewing process and the final flavour of beer. The natural supply of mineral rich, hard water allowed Burton on Trent to lead the world in the production of ales, whereas soft water is key to the production of lager. Today, modern water treatment processes allow brewers anywhere to adjust the composition of water used for brewing as required to produce high quality beers of all styles.


Close

View
2barley

Barley


Malted barley provides the sugar which is converted into alcohol by yeast. Malt also provides flavour and colour – which is determined by the degree to which the malt is heated (or kilned) prior to use. Pale lagers use lightly kilned malt, whereas stouts use a small amount of highly kilned chocolate or black malt to provide the dark colour and chocalate and coffee like flavours.


Other cereals, such as wheat, oats and rice, can be also used by brewers to impart specific characteristics in the finished beer.


Close

View
3hops

Hops


Hops act as a natural preservative as well as contributing flavour and aroma to the finished beer. Hops are grown around the world, with flavours ranging from the spicy earthiness of English Goldings hops to the resin and citrus of American Simcoe and Cascade and tropical fruits of varieties from New Zealand. German and Czech hops provide the distinctive “noble” aromas prized by lager brewers.


Close

View
Milling

Milling


The malted barley and any other grain used are lightly crushed to form the grist.


Close

View
Mashing

Mashing


The grist is transferred to a large vessel called a mash tun, where
it is mixed with hot water (known to brewers as liquor) and left to steep for an hour or more.


During this process enzymes, which occur naturally in the grain, convert the starch from the malt into sugar which then dissolves in the water to make sweet wort. The sweet wort is separated from
the grain and run off into the copper ready for boiling.


Close

View
Boiling

Boiling


The sweet wort is boiled with hops in vessels known as coppers. Brewers can determine the effect that hops have on the flavour of the beer based on when they are added to the wort. If hops are added at the start of the boil they will add bitterness and flavour
to the beer, whereas if added later in the boil they will contribute aroma.


Close

View
Fermentation

Fermentation


The next stage is fermentation, the most critical process of all.
The hopped wort is cooled and run into fermentation vessels.
Yeast is added and begins to convert the natural sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Each yeast strain has a different effect on the flavour of the beer, ranging from the fruitiness of English ale yeasts to banana and clove flavours contributed by German wheat beer yeasts.


Historically, all British ales and stouts were fermented in open vessels with a yeast that rose to the top of the fermenting wort, and in many cases this method is still used. These top fermenting beers develop cloud like, foaming heads. When the yeast has done its job, the head settles into a thick, creamy crust, protecting the beer from air. Today many ales are fermented in closed conical fermenters traditionally used for lager production.


Lagers are fermented with a different type of yeast which works
at colder temperatures, and which sinks to the bottom of the fermenting vessel. Known as bottom fermentation, to ensure hygienic conditions, enclosed fermenters are used with a conical base, into which the yeast will settle making it easier to remove for pitching into the next fermentation.


Close

View
Maturation

Maturation


Finally, before a beer leaves the brewery it must be conditioned.
For lagers there is a longer period of conditioning in the brewery
at low temperature than for ales. The word lager comes from the German word lagern - to store at a cold temperature.


However, the conditioning process itself differs according to how
the beer is to leave the brewery: for cask conditioned beers, the beer, also containing live yeast, goes directly into the cask or barrel where it will undergo a secondary fermentation. More hops may also be added (dry hopping) for extra aroma as well as finings which bind the yeast and materials responsible for haze and sink to the bottom, clarifying the beer. In the pub celler, cask beer is a delicate product and, just like the beer undergoing fermentation in the brewery, if not handled and stored correctly, is vulnerable to attack from microorganisms such as wild yeast and bacteria that can spoil the flavor and aroma of the beer.


Other beers are brought to condition in the brewery. Before they are packaged some are fined and most will be filtered and pasteurised (to guard against deterioration from microbes).


Close

View
Packaging

Packaging


The beer is finally packaged into kegs, casks, bottles or cans.


Close

View

Not a member? Find out about joining us

Find a news story

Refine your search here