How Beer Is Made

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Author

Faultline

Date Published

05/12/2022

Beer Being Poured

Humans consume 50 billion+ gallons of beer every year. The popularity of this drink is unquestionable, but how is it made? How are water, malt, hops, and yeast turned into the most recognizable drink in the world?


Brief History of Beer

Beer has been around for thousands of years. Experts claim that there is proof Ancient Egyptians and other civilizations were consuming beer. One of the first written recipes comes from a Sumerian poem translated below.

Borne of the flowing water, Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag, Borne of the flowing water, Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag, Having founded your town by the sacred lake, She finished its great walls for you, Ninkasi, having founded your town by the sacred lake, She finished its walls for you, Your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud, Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake. Ninkasi, your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud, Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake. You are the one who handles the dough [and] with a big shovel, Mixing in a pit, the bappir with sweet aromatics, Ninkasi, you are the one who handles the dough [and] with a big shovel, Mixing in a pit, the bappir with [date] - honey, You are the one who bakes the bappir in the big oven, Puts in order the piles of hulled grains, Ninkasi, you are the one who bakes the bappir in the big oven, Puts in order the piles of hulled grains, You are the one who waters the malt set on the ground, The noble dogs keep away even the potentates, Ninkasi, you are the one who waters the malt set on the ground, The noble dogs keep away even the potentates, You are the one who soaks the malt in a jar, The waves rise, the waves fall. Ninkasi, you are the one who soaks the malt in a jar, The waves rise, the waves fall. You are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large reed mats, Coolness overcomes, Ninkasi, you are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large reed mats, Coolness overcomes, You are the one who holds with both hands the great sweet wort, Brewing [it] with honey [and] wine (You the sweet wort to the vessel) Ninkasi, (...)(You the sweet wort to the vessel) The filtering vat, which makes a pleasant sound, You place appropriately on a large collector vat. Ninkasi, the filtering vat, which makes a pleasant sound, You place appropriately on a large collector vat. When you pour out the filtered beer of the collector vat, It is [like] the onrush of Tigris and Euphrates. Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered beer of the collector vat, It is [like] the onrush of Tigris and Euphrates. (Translation from worldhistory.org)

Process of Making Beer

There are 5 things required for making beer: water, malt, hops, yeast, and time.

Water: Water is an essential ingredient in making beer, as it makes up 90% of the beer by weight. Calcium or Gypsum is thrown in to balance to the necessary pH.

Malt: Malt is a grain that has started to sprout, allowing the sugars in the kernel to be broken down much easier. Then they are kiln dried to stop the sprouting process; barley is most common. In most recipes for beers, up to 70% of the malt. The color of beer is determined by the toasting/roasting of the malts. The longer the roast, the darker the color. Other grains are generally added, malted or un-malted. 

Hops: Hops are the flowers that grow on the vine of the hop plant. They are what give beer flavor, a lot of the aroma, and bitterness. The flavors vary greatly from piney, floral, citrusy, dank, earthy, herbal, and many more. The hops that we work with are pelletized, allowing it to break apart in the kettle much easier. 

Yeast: Yeast are a single-celled fungus that consume the sugars in the wort (unfermented beer) to turn it into alcohol making beer. Yeast can impart flavors into the beer depending on the strain of yeast.

Time: On an industrial level, beer can be made rather quickly, in as little as 2 weeks depending on the beer. Certain beers age differently from others and for different reasons. Some for settling out yeast and other sediment, others for imparting flavor (such as barrel aging).

The Brewing Process

Mashing in: The malt is milled and then steeped in hot water (~150̊ F) allowing the sugars in the barley to be broken down and made easier for the yeast to consume. This liquid is called “Wort.” This is all done in the “Mash Tun”.

Boiling: The wort is transferred from the “Mash Tun” to the “Kettle” where it is boiled. Boiling allows the sanitization of the wort, and for the pelletized hops to break down. Allowing the hops to break down, means the flavor and aromatic oils in the hop pellets emulsify and steep into the wort. After about an hour, the wort is rapidly cooled to somewhere between 70̊ F and 80̊ F and transferred to the “Fermentation Tank”.

Fermentation: After the wort is transferred to a “Fermentation Tank,” the yeast is then added to the wort where it eats up all the sugar in the wort turning it into alcohol and producing CO2 as a byproduct. This usually takes a few days.

Conditioning: After the beer is fermented, it is conditioned as a form of aging. It can take a few days, weeks, or months, to allow for the beer to reach its peak flavor. Hefeweizens do not need long in conditioning as the haze it has is a core characteristic, but a Lager could need months in a chilled environment to settle out the proteins and sediments.

Serving: From the fermenter, it is moved into a “Serving Tank”/ “Conditioning Vessel”. Here at Faultline, we serve from this tank and it goes directly to the beer tower, serving at a chilled 40̊ F.

Faultline Brewing Company

Faultline features award-winning beers, delicious food, and a beautiful event space. Perfect for watching sports, spending time with friends and family, and hosting large events, Faultline Brewing Company has quickly become the best brewery in the San Jose area.

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