For many of us (largely the male portion of the population), beer is perhaps the greatest invention ever to have been conjured up. For some men it would almost be no exaggeration to say that it’s the thought of an ice cold beer when they get home that gets them through work. However despite this whole-gender adoration, few of us actually know all that much about beer and certainly know very little about how it is made. Here we’ll look at how beer is brewed and that might mean that next time you take a sip from a cold pint glass, you actually appreciate that drink even more.
How Beer Is Made
The first and most obvious point to address is how beer is actually made. This takes several steps:
* First malted barley gets mixed in with hot water. This makes a kind of ‘mash’ which is a substance a bit like porridge – but this is not what the drink is actually going to be made of.
* Next a sugary watery substance called ‘wort’ is drained out of the mixture.
* Hops are then boiled along with the wort. These are small flowers of a vine that is actually related to the marijuana family of plants. These flowers are small, hard and green – not the kind you grow in your garden – and are what add bitterness and flavour to the beer.
* Now yeast is added to the ‘hopped’ wort and left alone in order to ferment. This then converts the sugar in the wort into ethanol (which is what makes you drunk) and carbon dioxide (or CO2 – this is what creates the bubbles). The ethanol ‘alcohol’ can be considered almost the ‘excrement’ of the yeast. Delicious.
* This is all then left to ferment for several weeks.
As any big fan of beer should now, beer falls into two major categories, those being ‘lager’ and ‘ale’. Lager tastes lighter than ale which tastes heavier and more bitter. Budweiser for instance is a lager while Newcastle Brown is an ale. This of course is a result of how the beer is made, and specifically how it is fermented.
Ale is fermented in a room at a higher temperature which causes the yeast to stay at the surface giving it a different kind of head – this is in contrast to lager which is fermented at a low temperature meaning that the yeast does not rise to the surface. The way different beers (brands) vary is that they are left to ferment at different temperatures, for different lengths of time, have different amounts of hops added or have other additives.
Some well-known ales: Pale Ale, Newcastle Brown, IPA, Belgian Ale, London Pride, Hefeweizen, Blonde, Amber and more.
Some well-known lagers: Pilsner, Block, Budweiser, Heineken, Stella Artois, Marzen, Helles, Doppelbok, Dunklet, Fosters, Carling, Carlsberg and others.