The Basics of Beer Crafting

Beer crafting is the creative expression of a brewmaster, whether born from innovation or reverence for tradition. The brewing process starts with the basic ingredients of water, fermentable sugar (from grains), hops and yeast. Each of these plays a critical role in the final flavor and type of beer.

The grain used in beer can be barley, wheat, rye or corn. The seeds are run through a malting process that heats them up and causes them to start germinating as if they were growing, releasing starches into the water that will be used for brewing. Then the mash is made, which is a mixture of water and crushed malt. Depending on the recipe, other ingredients may be added, such as molasses for color or a small percentage of rice or corn for lightness.

Once the mash has been brewed, the sugar is strained off to leave behind what is called wort. The brewer then adds the hops, which act as an anti-microbial agent and give beer its characteristic bitterness and aroma. The wort is then boiled. Boiling achieves a few things: It sterilizes the wort and it also precipitates proteins so that only yeast will work to convert the wort to beer.

Yeast eats the sugar in the wort and transforms it into alcohol and CO2. The beer is then cooled, filtered and put into bottles or large tanks known as kegs for serving on draft. A small amount of sugar is usually added to the beer before bottling to provide the energy that the yeast needs to turn the wort into carbon dioxide bubbles.