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Beer’s Big Bang

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The entry into existence process explained

Beer brewer


As beer is one of the world’s oldest beverages and one of the most popular drinks next to water and tea, we thought it time to investigate its makings.

This article will take a general outlook on the basics of beer brewing, especially since beer is such a specialized field with hundreds of different types of beers and even more processes. Beer is fundamentally made up of four ingredients namely barley, hops, yeast and water and simply put the result of brewing and fermentation of it. Variations in the amounts of ingredients and the brewing process itself result in the wide variety of beers, each with its individual taste, color, aroma etc.

 A rough process outline looks something like this:

1          Preparatory: Malting& Mashing (preparation of barley for brewing)

2          Brewing

3          Fermentation

4          Finishing touches


The ingredients:

Barley (1)


Barley (a grain seed that slightly resembles wheat)

Water (purified)

Hops: The hops used to make beer are the flowers of the hop vine, and are responsible for beer’s bitterness as well as its flavour and aroma.



Yeast: Yeast is the single-celled micro-organism that is responsible for creating the alcohol and carbon dioxide found in beer and also play a role in its final taste. There are two main categories of beer yeast: ale yeast and lager yeast. Ale yeast is “top fermenting”, meaning it rises near the surface of the beer during fermentation, lager yeasts are “bottom fermenting”.

Wheat, maize and rice are also widely used (in stead of barley), as there are several different types of beer (types often varying from place to place and from culture to culture) While the ingredients used are simple, the standards are high, and the process a fine art.


The process:

1. Preparatory:

Malting (of Barley)

Barley is soaked in water as to allow it to germinate. After germination begins the water gets drained of and the barley is kept at temperatures that allow for growth. During germination the seeds naturally release enzymes that convert nutrients in the seeds into sugars, and the sugars later become essential in the fermentation process. The germination is stopped at (a fine balance) the moment when enzymes are present, but before most of the nutrients are converted to sugars. The malt is then dried before it moves on to mashing.

Mashing (the process in which the enzymes are left to convert nutrients/starches into fermentable sugars.)

This malted barley grains ( ‘germination water’ drained off and the barley dry) then gets crushed to break up the kernels, and from there pass into an insulated tank where it comes in contact with the water for the second time. It is now that the already present enzymes start converting all the nutrients in the malted barley into fermentable sugars. After the conversion is completed, the new formed liquid (fermentable sugar and water mix) is drained off (from the remaining solids of barley) and recirculated so that it is filtered through the husks of the spent grains (to filter out any remaining solids).

This is the end of the mash process, and the liquid (now comprising of mostly fermentable sugars) gained through this process is now called wort (pronounced wert), and this wort now needs to go to the boiler to be brewed.

 [Meanwhile the remaining grains are “washed” by heated water (a process called sparging) to ensure that all sugars are removed. This is also where the barley grains/solids are stops being used – only the wort goes on the next process]


2. Brewing

The Wort and brewing

The wort is put into a brew kettle and hops are added. The hops added in the beginning of the process are called (logically) “beginning/boiling hops” and they only add to the beer’s bitterness, as their oils (responsible for flavour and aroma) are very volatile and evaporate. Hops added at the finishing stages of the brewing process are called “finishing hops”, and they contribute aroma and flavour to the beer.

Beer BrewingSeparation

The brewing processed is followed by a process of separation, in which the solids (hops) and liquids (wort) are separated; followed by the liquid wort being cooled down to a suitable temperature for the to be added yeast to function effectively. It is here were the yeast is added so as for fermentation to begin. After this the wort is stored in a fermentation vessel for a period of time to allow fermentation to take place.



3. Fermentation

During the fermentation process yeast converts the sugars in the wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas (bubbles). When fermentation is nearly complete, most of the yeast will settle to the bottom of the fermenter. The bottom of the fermenter is often cone shaped to ease the process of removing the yeast, which is saved and used for the next batch of beer.


4. Are we there yet?! The finishing touches

Now that most of the solids have settled to the bottom, the beer is slowly pumped from the fermenter and filtered to remove any remaining solids. This is usually the last step before bottling or kegging. Finishing touches are done, for example the level of carbon dioxide is adjusted by bubbling extra CO2 into the beer, and some brewers like to filter their beer yet another time.


And TADAA! Eureka Eureka – you have BEER! And that is the magical creation of beer in a nutshell, at least the standard idea and model of beer. But like life, Beer is a complicated matter with lots of detail and many variables, making it all the more interesting and wonderful to brew and drink.


Some of the variables:

  1. Temperature plays a vital role throughout the making, and by varying it during certain processes can alter the taste of the final product. For example, the intensity of the colour of the beer depends on how high the temperatures were raised during the drying of the malt in the cross over to the mashing process. 
  2. Other vital factors include the type of yeast used, and there are several different kinds. Different types of beer yeasts help to give beer its various tastes. Along with this, yeasts can work in one of two different ways. Beer can be “top-fermented” or “bottom fermented” referring to how the yeast is added. The results of these different techniques are called either lagers or ales, and a heffeweisen is a beer which ferments using only the natural yeasts in the air. 
  3. Enzymes on their own are complicated, as there exist two main types of enzymes in barley: the one is most active at 149 to 153 F (65 to 67 C), and the other at 126 to 144 F (52 to 62 C). So the temperature and duration of the mash must be carefully controlled to get a good conversion. 
  4. There are also many different kinds of hops, each with a unique and different taste, affecting aroma and amount of bitterness to the beer it is used in. Most beer is flavoured with hops, but other flavourings such as herbs or fruit may occasionally be included.

 Diffent beers


  1. Most breweries buy barley that has already been malted to their specifications.
  2. The hops used are a member of the hemp family (Cannabaceae). Hops are closely related to another member of the hemp family that you may have heard of, namely cannabis (marijuana), although hops do not have the psychoactive effects associated with marijuana.
  3. Beer can generally be classified into to types: lagers and ales. These are further varieties of each (e.g. pilsner, from lager). Lager yeasts ferment more slowly (and at lower temps) than ale yeast.
  4. Hops act as a natural preservative.
  5. Since fermentation produces a substantial amount of heat, the tanks must be cooled constantly to maintain the proper temperature.



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