Beer is one of the world’s most loved beverages. Found on every continent is some form or another, the history of this beer goes back to ancient times. Evidence suggests that the ancient Egyptians used the brewing technique as early as the 6th millennium BC. Some of mankind’s first writings mention beer, including Sumerian writings, which are the earliest record of written language. There were even ancient hymns and prayers devoted to beer and beer making which, aside from paying honor to the ancient beer deities, helped those who couldn’t read remember the recipe for beer.
Nowadays, the brewing of beer is a global industry. There are several large brewery companies that produce the bulk of the beer in the world, and thousands of smaller breweries. It is estimated that over 133 billion liters of beer are sold every year. This makes it the third most consumed beverage in the world right behind water and tea.
There are three basic ingredients in beer; water, starch and yeast. There may also be different flavorings added, the most widely used of which would be hops, which gives the beer the flavor, aroma, and bitterness that is characteristic of most types of beer. The starch used may vary, but the most common grain that is used is barley. Other starches, like millet, sorghum, and even cassava root and potatoes are also used in some cases.
The first step to brewing the beer is to make the beer wort. This is done by first making barley malt, or other malted grain. The grain is soaked in a vat of water for about 2 days, and then it is spread out and allowed to germinate. The germination breaks down the starches in the grain, which makes it easier for the starches to convert to sugars. After the grain has germinated, it is dried out in a kiln. This roasting determines the color of the malt and the subsequent color of the beer. Dark malt, which has been well roasted, is responsible for dark beers like Guinness.
After the malt is made, it is milled, which breaks the grains into little pieces so they can absorb the water that they will be mixed with to extract the sugars from the malt. The milled malt is then mixed in a vat of hot water to make a sort of malt cereal mix known as mash. The mash is then strained and the liquid reserved. The liquid, which is now rich in sugar converted from the starch in the malt, is called wort.
The wort is then boiled along with hops or other herbs and flavorings. This boiling also concentrates and sterilizes the wort. After the wort has boiled and the necessary technical and chemical reactions have taken place, the wort is left to settle and clarify and most of the solid particles in the wort are removed. Next, the wort goes into a heat exchanger, where it cools down sufficiently to safely add the yeast.
After the heat exchanger, the wort goes into the fermentation tanks and the yeast is added. As soon as the yeast is added the process fermentation begins, and the sugars in the wort will soon turn into alcohol and other components. After several months, and a few polishing touches like filtering and undergoing carbonation, the wort will have turned in to the wonderful drink that we all love: beer.