If there’s one beverage that is loved across the United States, it’s beer. Whether it be enjoying a Belgian wheat on a hot summer day or warming up with a stout in the Winter, there is always a good excuse to crack open a cold one.
The American brewing industry even reached a huge milestone in June of 2014 with more than 3,000 breweries in operation for all or part of the month. Each of these locations help put the majority of Americans within 10 miles of a local brewery.
But the U.S. isn’t the only country of beer enthusiasts. This malty beverage is enjoyed around the world in all sorts of styles. Of all the manufactured goods that make up more than half of all U.S. exports, you can bet a sizable chunk is reserved for beer.
The process of making this loved beverage is actually quite complex and delicate, involving a number of specialized burners, valves, and tanks. One of the most pivotal steps in the process is using gas burners to properly boil the wort, the liquid that’s extracted from the mashing process in which the grain starches are converted to sugars. The sugar is what reacts with the yeast during fermentation to produce alcohol.
So what takes place during the boiling and how does it affect the quality of your brew?
- Sterilization: The high heat from industrial gas burners is necessary to vaporize any unwanted compounds. The wort typically contains amounts of wild yeast and bacteria that must be eradicated for the beer to be fit for consumption.
- Bitterness: One of the signature features of any beer is a unique bitterness. In order to create this flavor, the alpha acids in the hops must go through the process of isomerization. The longer the hopes are boiled, the more bitter oils are released from the hops. In turn, this raises the beer’s international bitter units (IBU).
- Coagulation: The rolling action of a boil causes the proteins and tannin from the grains in the wort to coagulate. This way, they can fall out during the cooling process. These proteins can have a drastic impact on the flavor of the beer, usually causing overt bitterness, making it essential to be able to effectively remove them from the final product.
The boil time is critical to the end product of any beer. Not only must the liquid be boiled long enough for all of these chemical processes to take place, but gas burners must be reliable enough to hold a steady temperature.