Beer can be brewed in many different ways using different ingredients and brewing methods to make different types of beer. However, there are some main ingredients and processes that are required to brew any type of beer.
4 Main Ingredients: 1) Malt 2) Hops 3) Yeast 4) Water
The basic brewing process follows this sequence of events: Mashing -> Lautering -> Boiling -> Wort Filtration -> Wort Cooling -> Fermentation -> Conditioning -> Filtering -> Packaging
Mashing: Malt is mixed with water and heated at specific temperatures to allow the enzymes in the malt to break down into a fermentible sugar. This process typically takes 1 to 2 hours depending how the breweries recipe.
Lautering: This is where the liquid mixture created from mashing is separated from the remaining grain and other solids. Once the lautering process is complete, the remaining liquid mixture is known as wort.
Boiling: The wort is combined with hops in a kettle or boiling tank to produce the beer’s bitterness, flavor, and aroma. This process takes 50 minutes to 2 hours.
Wort Filtration: After being combined and boiled with the hops, the wort is strained again to remove the hops and other ingredients that were added during the boiling phase.
Wort Cooling: After straining the wort to remove solid particles, the wort must be cooled down before it can begin fermentation.
Fermentation: The cooled wort is placed in the fermentation tank to begin the process of fermentation. This is where yeast is added to the wort. The yeast interacts with the sugars that were created from mashing and releases to products: alcohol and CO2. Once the yeast is placed into the fermentation tank, the liquid mixture is officially called beer. Different types of yeast produce different kinds of beers and must be left in the fermentation tank different lengths of time.
Ale: Ferments at temperatures of 60 to 68 degrees which is warmer than most beers. Ready to drink within 3 weeks of fermentation.
Lager: Ferments at temperatures of 50 degrees. Takes months before lagers are ready to be consumed.
Conditioning: After the fermentation process is complete, the fermentation tank is cooled to near freezing temperatures which causes the yeast to stop interacting with the remaining sugars and settle. Some beers must be left in the conditioning state for months before moving to the next step.
Filtering: Beer is again separated from solid particles through straining or other techniques.
Packaging: Most breweries have CO2 tanks that can put carbonation into the beer at the time of bottling. For home breweries, priming sugar must be added during the bottling process to allow the remaining yeast to consume the sugar and produce CO2 for carbonation