Beer is an alcoholic beverage that is produced or brewed by the saccharification of starch and fermentation of the resulting sugar. The saccharification enzymes and starch normally come from malted barley and malted wheat. Unmalted rice and maize are also used to help lighten the flavor. Hops are used to flavor the beer and counteract the sweetness normally associated with the brewing process.
It is thought that beer may have originated as long ago as 3500 – 3100 BC from the Zagros Mountains of western Iran. The early Sumerian’s writings from the region contain specific references beer; a prayer to the goddess Ninkasi, known as “The Hymn to Ninkasi”, provided a method of remembering the recipe for beer in a culture. Another example of early beer production was found in Syria and revealed that beer was being produced there around 2500 BC.
The Germanic and Celtic tribes of Europe produced beer as long ago as 3000 BC, although the beer brewed probably would not be comparable to today. The european beers have been noted to contain honey, fruits, spices and other narcotic herbs. They did not at that time contain hops. Hops were first discovered as an additive to beer around 822 AD by Carolingian Abbot.
Brewing is known as the process to make beer. The brewing purpose is to convert starch into a sugary liquid called wort. The wort is then converted into beer by fermentation that utilizes yeast.
Wort is produced by combining the malted starch source, grains, with hot water, called mashing. This process normally takes 1-2 hours and serves to convert the starches to sugar. These sweet worts are then drained off of the grains. The remaining grains are washed to recover as much of the fermented sweet wort as possible.
The sweet wort is then placed into kettles or vats and boiled. The boiling process evaporates the water while leaving behind the effective portions of the wort. Boiling also helps to remove or destroy any remaining unwanted enzymes left over from mashing. Hops are added during the boiling process as a source of bitterness, flavor, and smell
At the completion of the boiling process the wort is cooled. The cooled wort is then combined with yeast and prepared for fermentation. It is during fermentation of the wort that is transformed into beer. This process can often take a couple weeks but can last up to several months.
There are often two stages in the fermentation process, primary and secondary. Most of the alcohol is produced during primary fermentation. The beer is then transferred to a new storage vessel and goes through a secondary fermentation process. The secondary fermentation process is used when the particular type of beer requires a longer storage before being transferred to it’s final packaging.
Check out our other Origins and Types Pages…read more.