We know the four main ingredients of beer are malt, hops, yeast and water but how do these come together to make beer? What is brewing?
The first step is mashing. Malt (usually barley but can include rye, wheat or others) is steeped in hot water over a set amount of time (approximately one hour). This activates enzymes that break down the grain releasing sugar into the mixture. This liquid (wort) is the strained from the mash and re-circulated through the grain several times to collect as much sugar as possible.
The next step is boiling the wort. At different times during the boil hops are added to create bitterness or to produce aromas and flavours desired by the brewers. This usually takes about an hour.
Once the boil is done the liquid is strained and cooled quickly before going into the fermentation tank. Yeast is added that will feed on the sugars from the mash and begin to create carbon dioxide and alcohol. Depending on the style being brewed this beer will stay in the tanks over several weeks.
Finally after fermentation is done the beer can be bottled and further aged or bottle conditioned until ready for the consumer.