If you’ve been out to a bar or restaurant recently, or shopped at a bottle shop, you may have seen the craft beer movement take off. In addition to the big commercial breweries (like Bud, Corona and Miller Lite) there are many small independent brewing companies, from individuals in garages to large microbreweries that create beers in all manner of flavors, strengths and colors. Craft beers range from traditional styles such as lagers and ales to dark and complex stouts.
Brewing beer is a long process that involves several ingredients and requires patience, attention to detail and an investment of time. However, the rewards of creating a tasty, unique beer are well worth the effort.
The base of any beer is the malt, which provides all the fermentable material (ie sugars that the yeast will consume and turn into alcohol and carbon dioxide). Typically malted barley is used but other grains such as wheat, rye, rice, corn, oats or others can be used in varying proportions to give the beer a particular flavor, aroma and body.
All the ingredients are combined to create the wort which is then stored in the fermenter where it will start the fermentation process. Fermentation is slow and delicate as the yeast needs to be kept at a temperature that does not allow for overgrowth of unwanted bacteria. Once the yeast has consumed all the sugar in the wort and produced alcohol and carbon dioxide, it is then ready to be transferred into bottles or cans.