The process of making beer is known as brewing. The purpose of brewing is to convert malted barley into a sugary liquid called wort. The wort is converted into beer after a fermentation process where yeast is added. The basic ingredients for beer are the malted barley, combined with water. In addition to the yeast added to produce alcohol, other ingredients include hops for flavoring—and sugar, rice syrup and malt extract for added taste.
The first step in making beer is known as mashing, in which the wort is prepared by mixing hot water with malted barley. This process can take up to two hours, and this is where the starches in the malted barley are converted to sugar. Once the wort is created, it is drained to allow you to gather as much fermentable wort as possible. The wort is placed in a kettle and boiled for an hour. During the boiling, the wort evaporates, leaving only the sugars and destroying any enzymes left over from the mashing stage. Hops are also added during the boiling stage for flavor, bitterness and aroma. The longer the hops are boiled, the more bitterness is added and less flavor and aroma remains. Once the boiling process is complete, the hopped wort is cooled and the yeast is added.
During fermentation, the wort turns into beer. It can take anywhere from weeks to months, depending on the strength of beer and type of yeast used in the process. Fermentation is carried out in the primary and secondary stages. Primary fermentation lasts between three to five days, and is when the wort and yeast settle, producing alcohol. Secondary fermentation is when the liquid is stored into airtight containers for weeks, continuing to ferment. When fermentation is nearly complete, most of the yeast will settle to the bottom of the fermenter.
Ted Marten lives in New York City and began writing professionally in 2007, with articles appearing on various websites. Marten has a bachelor's degree in English and has also received a certificate in filmmaking from the Digital Film Academy.