Monday, September 10, 2007

Making Beer 101

Home Brewing Ingredients Home brewing is a four step process (but most homebrewer's do only three).

The first step is called malting and is usually done by malting companies. This process begins by activating enzymes in the grain so that during the malting process. After the malting process the grains are dried (called kilning) which makes it possible to store the grain for a longer period of time and it also enhances the flavors and aromas that are removed in the brewing process.

The second step in the home brewing process is called mashing. Here the grains are soaked in hot water. The starch present in the grains dissolve in the hot water. The most prevalent sugar produced in this process is maltose and these malt sugars are what the yeast feeds on during fermentation. If you brew with malt extract this mashing process has been done for you (the syrup is condensed (and possibly dried) malt sugars).

The third step in the brewing process is the boil. Water, malt sugars and other ingredients are combined in a brewpot (usually stainless steel) to make what is called wort (beer before it contains any alcohol). The process of boiling the wort sanitizes the ingredients. Hops are added to the wort (at different times in the boil). The earliest hops added are the bittering hops and the boiling process removes the oils from the hops which bitter the beer. Hops added at later stages in the boil are to add flavor or aroma. When the beer has been boiled (usually for approximately 60 minutes) the wort is cooled rapidly so that yeast can be added to the mix.

And finally we are ready to convert our wort into beer. When the yeast has been cooled the yeast is added (or pitched). Usually within 12 hours the yeast will have found a home in the wort and will begin the fermentation process (conversion of the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide). For most beers that a home brewer makes this fermentaton will take from just a few days to approximately a week. Other beers (including strong ales and lagers) may take several months to fully ferment. When fermentation is complete the beer is ready to either bottled or kegged.

Looking for a source for your home brewing supplies or your winemaking ingredients? You can count on BlueStem Winery to be courteous, prompt and knowledgeable. Your home brewing ingredients are a phone call or a web order away. Our web prices include shipping (store pricing is somewhat cheaper) and we keep a well-stocked warehouse of home brewing supplies and wine making equipment.

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