Basics of Beer Crafting

Brewing beer is part science and part art. There are so many variables that can affect the outcome, but brewing basics remain consistent, and they form a foundation for creating an endless array of delicious beer styles that meld modern innovation with reverence for traditional brewing techniques and ingredients.

The four main elements of all beer are water, malt, hops and yeast. Malt adds sweetness and color, hops add bitterness and aroma, and yeast converts the sugars to alcohol and carbon dioxide. By blending these ingredients into a unique recipe, brewers create beer that has a wide variety of flavors and finishes.

Whether you are all-grain or extract brewing, mashing involves steeping cracked grains in warm water in a vessel called a “Mash Tun.” This process allows enzymes to break down complex starches into simpler sugars that can be turned into alcohol. Once the mashing is complete, the mash is “rinsed” with new warm water called sparge to rinse out the sugars that were not converted. This process is known as wort extraction, and it helps control key factors such as body, flavor and palate fullness of the final beer.

Once the wort is prepared, it’s boiled and added to the hops for bittering. Then the boil is cooled to an ideal temperature for fermentation, and the yeast is added. Fermentation takes a couple of weeks, during which the beer changes its taste and character. After the fermentation period, the beer is kegged or bottled for distribution and consumption.