Beer is really America’s favorite pastime. Whether you’re at a family party, a work event, or just hanging out with friends on the weekend, odds are there will be plenty of the malty brew to go around. In fact, the majority of people in the U.S. live within 10 miles of a brewery.
Even foreign countries enjoy our beer, making it a large part of the more than half of all the nation’s manufactured exports. Funny enough, many people don’t even know how it’s made. Just that hops are involved somehow.
The brewing process is actually relatively complex. Here is a brief rundown of the steps.
- Milling: The first step is to mill the grain to extract fermentable sugars from the malt. The amount of malt used determines the darkness and caramel or cocoa like flavor of the beer.
- Mashing: The milled grain is then transferred to a mash tun where it is mixed with hot water to create the mash. The heat of the water activates the enzymes which convert the starch into sugars. Maintaining constant high temperature in this step is vital, meaning that every piece of the mash tun must be sealed, such as the gas valves and outlets.
- Lautering: The mash then goes through the process of lautering, where a sweet tasting liquid called the wort is extracted.
- The Boil: After being extracted, the wort is transferred to a kennel where it is boiled using high powered gas burners. This step is extremely important, because it sterilizes the beer to make it safe for consumption. This is when the hops are added to the mixture to give beer its unique taste.
- Fermentation: After boiling, the liquid is then mixed with yeast in large tanks requiring industrial gas burners with large valves for fermentation. During this process, the wort is finally converted into beer by producing alcohol, a variety of flavors, and carbon dioxide.
- Maturation: The beer must then sit inside the vat while it matures. This allows it to fully develop its flavor and smooth finish.
- Filter and pack: Finally, the beer is filtered for any particles, carbonated, and bottled.
After going through all of these tanks and valves, the beer finally makes its way to your refrigerator, or to one of the more than 3,000 breweries in operation across the country. Then it’s up to you and your friends to enjoy it.