Brewing is a process in which a grain like barley, wheat, oats or rye is converted into alcohol. It is considered a combination of science and art as it involves regulating the interactions between water, starch, hops and yeast to create a beer.
In brewing, barley and other grains are malted (or allowed to partially germinate) so that the starches are made available for fermentation by yeast. This is done because the germination of the grain’s starches activates the enzymes that break down these starches into sugars which will then be fermented to become alcohol.
The next step in the brewing process is called mashing and it is the mixing of the malted grain with water. This is the basic method of brewing and it enables the natural enzymes in the malt to break down starches into fermentable sugars.
After a mash is made, the mixture is boiled with hops and cooled to about 64 degrees before it is put in a fermentation vessel to be inoculated with yeast. There are many types of yeast and a variety of other ingredients that can be added to the beer before it is fermented, such as sweetgale, yarrow, Labrador tea, juniper berries, nettle, aniseed and caraway seeds.
Homebrewing is a fun and inexpensive way to make your own homemade beer. It doesn’t require a lot of equipment and you can start small, with a single gallon brew pot, a fermenter, a sanitizer solution and your choice of tap water. As you progress, you can upgrade your kit to include a carboy, kegs and other items to help you craft your own unique beers.