When you think of beer you might think that it has only been here for a couple of hundred years but is so not the case, beer has been drunk all over the world in one form or another, from lagers to bitters.
So How Is Beer Made?
To put it in simple terms beer is a fermented combination of water, barley, yeast and hops. The various beers on offer in the licensed establishments across the world are mainly determined by the yeast that was used during fermentation.
So let's take a beer apart and examine the different properties that make up a “pint".
The chief ingredient in beer is of course water, in the old days the purity of the water is what mainly affected the outcome when brewing beer. Beer production in this time was specific to a particular this would have been mainly due to water quality. This is no longer the case with the purification technology that we have available today.
Malt barley is essential to beer brewing as the barley contains the highest amount of fermentable sugar. A lot of breweries today have moved to wards powdered or instant barley malt as it ferments far faster and therefore the beer brews quicker. The barley malt powder also contains extra minerals that help the yeast to grow.
Yeast is crucial to beer production and without it there would be no beer. Yeast is a single celled organism that consumes any sugar it comes in contact with and expels 2 very well known chemicals that you will know as alcohol and carbon dioxide.
There are several different variations of yeast used to make beer, but the 2 most common yeast strains used are lager and ale. Now if beer was brewed using only water, yeast and barley it would be almost too sweet to stomach, this is where hops come in to the mix.
Hops are the flowers that grow on a climbing vine plant; these vines can be found in various different regions through out the world. Hops are used to make beer because of the bitterness of the flower, adding bitterness to beer helps to balance out the sweetness as well as acting as a natural preservative. When more hops are added to the beer mix it then has a very bitter taste, this brew is a favorite in England and has been given the appropriate name “bitter".
For those of you who want to start brewing your own beer at home, there are plenty of resources available in the form of home brewing kits. Home brewing kits are great but as with everything reading the instructions are essential. This is required if the beer is achieve top quality. The only point I should stress to you is when home brewing, USE FRESH WATER!
Many have often sought information on how to make beer and the basic home brewing equipment can be bought for as little as $100
In order to start making your own beer the following items are needed:
A Brew Pot Primary Fermenter Airlock and Stopper Bottling Bucket Bottles Bottle Brush Bottle Capper Thermometer
To make beer is quite easy even from your home kitchen. A list of the equipment and their uses is as shown below.
A brew pot is usually made from stainless steel; some of the newer brew pots are made from enamel coated metal and can hold up to 15 litres. For brew pots you need to steer clear of aluminum or chipped enamel coated as these 2 pots will make the beer taste strange, the brew pot is used to cook the beer ingredients and therefore start the fermentation process.
The Primary Fermenter
The primary fermenter is where all the action starts; this is where that amazing stuff that makes you so charming all begins. The primary fermenter has to hold at least 26 litres and must have an air tight seal; the airlock and rubber stopper. Make sure when you are buying one it is made of food-grade plastic, this will ensure nothing gets in or escapes.
Airlock and Stopper
The airlock is a handy gadget that allows for C02 to escape this is a must or it would blow up; at the same time it doesn't let in any fresh air. The airlock fits into a rubber stopper and this stopper then fits into the top of your primary fermenter. The stoppers are numbered according to size, so make sure you use the correct stopper for the correct hole
This hose must be over 5 feet in length and made from food grade plastic, there must also be no holes or clogs and must be kept clean at all times, this hose is used to shift the beer from one system to another.
This is a large food grade plastic bucket with a tap for drawing water at the bottom, this bucket needs to equal in size to your primary fermenter so your beer can be transferred over for bottling.
After the fermentation stage, you then siphon the beer in bottles for the secondary fermentation and storage. The best types of bottles to use are solid glass with smooth tops that use bottle caps and not the twist-off caps. You can use plastic bottles with screw on lids but with these bottles the beer does not ferment as well and does not look anywhere near as good as the glass bottles. A quick point to remember, when making beer use dark bottles (brown or green) this is essential as bright light damages the beer.
This is a thin, curvy brush which is used to clean bottles; because of the shape of the brush it does a superb job at cleaning the bottles. The bottle brush is a specialized cleaning utensil you will require in order to maintain your bottle kit.
If you buy glass bottles for the fermented beer, you will need some sort of bottle capper and of course bottle caps, you can buy them from any brewing supplies store. The best type of bottle opener is one that is fixable to the fridge of counter top and can easily handled and operated.
This is a thermometer which can be attached to the side of your fermenter; it is just a thin strip of plastic which is self adhesive these temperature strips can be found in any store or shop.
In addition to the above specialized equipment, you will need the following household items:
Small bowl Saucepan
Oven Mitts/Pot Handlers
Big Mixing Spoon
So there you have the ingredients and the method to make your own beer, all you need now is to get yourself a beer making kit and you're on the way to beer heaven.
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