Wednesday, 7 February 2007

The Brewing of Beer

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This wonderful libation has been quenching the masses for centuries and yet most of us admit to knowing very little about the brewing process. Well if a visit to a brewery is not in your near future this article will at least get your on your way to knowing more about one of the worlds favorite alcoholic beverages.




There are two main families of Beer: Ales and Lagers.

Ales are top fermented and require much less conditioning time than lager. Ales are generally brewed at higher temperatures (between 15 - 24C or 60 - 75F) at these temperatures the yeast will produce a significant amount of esters and aromatic flavors in the ale. This will tend to give Ales "fruity" or floral compounds. Ales tend to be slightly sweeter than Lagers. Some Styles of Ales include but are not limited to, Stout, Barley Wine, Best Bitter and Albier.

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Lagers are Bottom fermented and require much more conditioning time than Ales. Lagers are the most commonly consumed of the two families. Lager undergoes a primary fermentation at 7 - 12C or 45 - 55F then it will undergo a secondary phase or the "lagering" phase at 0 - 4 C or 30 - 40 F. This secondary fermentation will clarify and mellow the brew. The cooler temperatures will inhibit some the byproducts associated with brewing to give lagers a crisper taste than Ales. Some familiar styles of Lager are Pilsners and Bock.

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Of course to start the brewing process we need to have a few vital ingredients:

Hops

Hops are derived from the cone of the Humulus Lupulus plant. Hops were originally added to beer as a preservative. It is now mainly used for its bitterness and aroma. The bitterness of the hops will generally balance the sweetness of the malt. The bitterness of commercially brewed hops is measured on the international bitterness unit scale and other than beer production, there is very little in the way of commercial uses for Hops themselves.

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Barley

Barley is a cultivated cereal and is major food and animal feed crop. It is heartier than wheat and will thrive in cold temperatures. It was used by the ancient Egyptians for bread and of course beer. The Barley that is used for today's beer production is malted barley. A process where the cereal grains are forced to germinate and are then quickly dried before the plant develops. This malting process allows the enzymes to convert the cereal grains starches to sugars, most notably of course in Barley.

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Water

Water is the primary ingredient to beer and when heated becomes known as the brewing liquid. Different water from different regions will affect the beers taste due to mineralization. Hard water is generally used for production of darker beers such as Stouts and Ales while soft water is better suited for Light beer production such as pilsners or lagers.

Yeast

Yeast is a microorganism responsible for fermentation. It interacts with the Starches and sugars of Malt barley to create alcohol and carbon dioxide. Before 1876 and Louis Pasteur's discovery of the single yeast cell, the fermentation process with yeast was a natural occurrence, hence the localized flavors of different regions being affected by the different naturally born yeasts. Now that Science has controlled the formation of yeast it can be broken into 2 main strains. Ale yeast (top Fermenting) or Lager Yeast (bottom Fermenting)

Brewing 101

Brewing beer has become a scientific process of late with several variations, filtering characteristics and flavorings but the process itself is a simple five step constant of Mashing, Sparging, Boiling, Fermentation and Packaging.

Mashing is the first process in brewing. The barley grains are crushed and soaked in warm water creating a malt extract. This extract is kept at a constant temperature to allow the enzymes to convert the starches of the grain into sugars.

Sparging is where water is filtered through the mash to dissolve the sugars inside. The result is a dark, sugar heavy liquid called Wort.

During the boiling process, the wort is boiled along with other ingredients, excluding yeast, to kill any microorganisms and release excess water from the brew. Hops are added at some point in this process.

Fermentation then takes place. The Yeast, either Ale or Lager yeast is added to the mix and the beer is then allowed to settle. This is called the primary fermentation process. There can be a second fermentation process but many breweries may simply filter off the yeast at this point.

Packaging the beer is the next step. Beer at this point will have alcohol but very little in the way of Carbon Dioxide. Many large scale breweries will infuse CO2 into the beer through the keg or bottling process. Smaller breweries or craft breweries may add residual sugars or small amounts of yeast to the bottles or kegs to produce a natural carbonization process. This is called Cask or Bottle fermented beer. No matter what process the brewery takes, all beer eventually ends up in steel kegs, bottles, cans and sometimes casks.

Although you now know the beer brewing process inside-out, the proper packaging of this libation has created much debate over whether beer is fresher when bottled or left in a keg.

The answer: A KEG.

The keg captures beer directly from the brewery and is kept refrigerated during transportation to your local pub!

Bottles on the other hand are transported by unrefrigerated trucks and left on shelves where the beer is exposed to enough light that will inevitably have an affect on taste!

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Beer Making, the Cheapest Way to Brew the Best Beer in Town

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Beer has a reputation of being the world's best drink, and beer lovers consider the intoxicating experience as a divine experience. This notion dates back in the ancient times.

The process of beer making was discovered in the ancient times by the Sumerians. The basic ingredients of beer making even then are Hymn of Ninkasi otherwise known as the goddess of brewing, which consists of barley and baked bread. The accidental discovery of beer making happened when baked bread crumbled into water and formed a mash, which was then fermented and an inebriating pulp resulted. This was how the ancient Sumerians discovered beer making.




When the Babylonians became rulers of Mesopotamia after the Sumerian empire collapsed, the Sumerian culture of brewing beer was passed on; and the Babylonians were able to produce twenty different types of beer. This gave the Babylon people the luxury of enjoying the divine drink even more.

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Additionally, the King of Babylon at that time recognized his people's want for this exhilarating and blissful drink, thus he decreed a daily beer ration to his people. During his reign, beers were not being sold but were used to barter trade.

Beer making did not stop in Mesopotamia; other countries also produced fermented beverages just like Chang, the beer in Tibet and Chicha, the corn beer and Kumis, the beer that comes from fermented camel milk. Other countries also produced beer, the beer they prouced does not have much difference from the Mesopotamia brew.

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Historically, after the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans succeeded beer making and brewing. There was even a time where Romans considered beer as barbarian drink. Even with this notion though, beer drinking was still very much popular.

The beer they brew during that era can never be stored becuase it was too cloudy and with almost no foam.

Popularity of beer making and brewing is a result of the early civilizations belief that beer making is a neat sacrifice for their Gods. Additionally, because of the wonderful feeling they get from drinking beer, they treat beer making as a gift to themselves as well.

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Thus, beer making became so popular and workers do not resent doing it for both these purposes.

Moving forward, in this modern time, beer is not that hard to acquire. You can find beer in every corner of the world, from small stores to big entertainment houses.

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Additionally, some American beer aficionados even perform beer making in the confines of their own homes. This beer making process done by some Americans are no longer for sacrifice to the Gods but for their personal enjoyment, and for sharing with their friends as well.

Like in the ancient times, beer making ingredients are malted grain, barley, wheat and sometimes rye.

Brewing is also almost the same such as malt would come from germinated grain. This malt will be dried in kiln or roasted, the germination creates enzymes, which will convert starch in the grain into sugar.

The malt will take on dark color and strongly influence the flavor of the beer; this process is dependent on the amount of roasting done on the malt.

Grist will come from crushing the malt, and mixed in heated water and mashed together in a mash tun.

The process of brewing will then take effect, the result will be the beer that will provide enjoyment to you, which you can also share them with your friends.

There may be some equipment necessary in the process of brewing beer, but if you will only do beer making for personal use, what you have on your kitchen may be enough.

Commercial beer making may need the other sophisticated equipments. You will only need these special equipments if you are making beer for commercial purposes.

Various beer making websites will be able to help you brew your own beer. If your friends know that you made the beer specifically for their enjoyment, surely, your friends will consider your beer as the best beer in town.

Continue the saga of beer making and live on the tradition of drinking this exhilarating, wonderful and blissful drink that people consider divine.

Seek help from beer making websites and brew the beer you longed for.

Shannon W. Brown has brought together some of the best "Beer Making" resources online. You can visit his site at: http://www.wemakebeer.com