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is one of the world's oldest alcoholic beverages, possibly brewed for the first time over 10,000 years ago, according to renowned beer writer Michael Jackson. It is a fermented beverage most often made from malted barley, hops, yeast and water, and is carbonated in almost all cases. By altering the production method (changes in time and temperature, for example) or the ingredients, a staggeringly wide variety of different types of beer can be produced. Much like fine wines, many beers can also be aged and evolve into beverages that defy the common definitions of beer.
Though the process of brewing beer is complex and varies considerably, the basic stages that are consistent are outlined below. There may be additional filtration steps between stages. 1. Mashing: The first phase of brewing, in which the malted grains are crushed and soaked in warm water in order to create a malt extract. The mash is held at constant temperature long enough for enzymes to convert starches into fermentable sugars, usually about 45 to 90 minutes, depending on mash temperature (high temperatures = faster). The temperature is typically held at either a single temperature (single step) or a series of temperatures depending on the enzymes one wants to focus on. Typically with modern fully-modified malts, a single-stage infusion is all that is required. For most mashes, a temperature between 65-67°C (150-154°F) is typical, with higher temperatures yielding fuller bodied beers, and lower temperatures yielding more fermentable and lighter bodied beers. Multi-temperature mashes are used for acid-buffering reactions and protein rests for head-retention for some types of malts.
2. Sparging: Water is filtered through the mash to dissolve the sugars. The darker, sugar-heavy liquid is called the wort. Typically the rinse water (sparge) is held between 76-82°C (170-180°F) to (1) keep sugars and gums from setting up and (2) above 82°C (180°F), tannin extraction could be a problem.
3. Boiling: The wort is boiled along with any remaining ingredients (excluding yeast), to remove excess water and kill any microorganisms. The main function of boiling is to set proteins and such similar to cooking bread. The hops (whole, pelleted, or extract) are added at some stage during the boil. Bittering hops are added during the entire boil (1 hour +), flavoring are added between about 5 - 20 minutes, and aroma hops are added at 5 minutes or less.
4. Fermentation: The yeast is added (or "pitched") and the beer is left to ferment. After primary fermentation, the beer may be allowed a second fermentation, which allows further settling of yeast and other particulate matter ("trub") which may have been introduced earlier in the process. Some brewers may skip the secondary fermentation and simply filter off the yeast.
5. Packaging: At this point, the beer contains alcohol, but not much carbon dioxide. The brewer has a few options to increase carbon dioxide levels. The most common approach by large-scale brewers is force carbonation, via the direct addition of CO2 gas to the keg or bottle. Smaller-scale or more classicallyminded brewers will add extra ("priming") sugar After brewing, the beer is usually a finished product. At this point the beer is kegged, casked, bottled, or canned. Unfiltered beers may be stored for further fermentation in conditioning tanks, casks or bottles to allow smoothing of harsh alcohol notes, integration of heavy hop flavours, and/or the introduction of oxidised notes such as wine or sherry flavours. Some beer enthusiasts consider a long conditioning period attractive for various strong beers such as Barley wines
The basic ingredients of beer are water, a fermentable starch source, such as malted barley, and yeast. It is common for a flavouring to be added, the most popular being hops. A mixture of starch sources may be used, with the secondary starch source, such as corn, rice and sugar, often being termed an adjunct, especially when used as a lower cost substitute for malted barley. Water Beer is composed mainly of water, which when heated is known as brewing liquor. The characteristics of the water have an influence on the character of the beer. Although the effect of, and interactions between, various dissolved minerals in brewing water is complex, as a general rule, hard water is more suited to dark beer such as stout, while very soft water is more suited for brewing pale ale and pale lager. Starch source The most common starch source is malted cereal. And among malts, barley malt is the most widely used owing to its high amylase content, a digestive enzyme which facilitates the breakdown of the starch into sugars. However, depending on what can be cultivated locally, other malted and unmalted grains may be used, including wheat, rice, oats, and rye, and less frequently, maize and sorghum. Malt is formed from grain by soaking it in water, allowing it to start to germinate, and then drying the germinated grain in a kiln. Malting the grain produces the enzymes that will eventually convert the starches in the grain into fermentable sugars. Different roasting times and temperatures are used to produce different colours of malt from the same grain. Darker malts will produce darker beers. Two or more types of malt may be combined.
Hops Hops have commonly been used as a bittering agent in beer for over a thousand years, the earliest evidence of cultivation for this purpose dates back to th e seventeenth century (according to Judith M. Bennett). Hops contain several characteristics very favourable to beer: (a) hops contribute a bitterness that balances the sweetness of the malt, (b) hops also contribute aromas which range from flowery to citrus to herbal, (c) hops have an antibiotic effect that favours the activity of brewer's yeast over less desirable microorganisms and (d) the use of hops aids in "head retention", the length of time that a foamy head created by the beer's carbonation agent will last. The bitterness of commercially-brewed beers is measured on the International Bitterness Units scale. While hop plants are grown by farmers all around the world in many different varieties, there is no major commercial use for hops other than in beer. Yeast A microorganism that is responsible for fermentation. A specific strain of yeast is chosen depending on the type of beer being produced, the two main strains being ale yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and lager yeast (Saccharomyces uvarum), with some other variations available, such as Brettanomyces and Torulaspora delbrueckii. Yeast will metabolise the sugars extracted from the grains, and produce alcohol and carbon dioxide as a result. Before yeast's functions were understood, fermentations were conducted naturally using wild or airborne yeasts; although a few styles such as lambics still rely on this ancient method, most modern fermentations are conducted using pure yeast cultures. Clarifying agent Some brewers add one or more clarifying agents to beer that are not required to be published as ingredients. Common examples of these include Isinglass finings, obtained from swimbladders of fish; kappa carrageenan, derived from seaweed; Irish moss, a type of red alga; polyclar (artificial), and gelatin. Since these ingredients may be derived from animals, those concerned with the use or consumption of animal products should obtain specific details of the filtration process from the brewer.
A great many different types, or styles, of beer are brewed across the globe. The traditional European brewing nations - the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, The Netherlands and Austria - all have their own beer styles. These form the basis of the vast majority of beer brewed around the world. In some countries - notably the USA, Canada and Australia - brewers have adapted and developed European styles to such an extent that they have effectively created their own indigenous types.
The greatest diversity of flavors and types of beer can be found in Belgium, as is portrayed by its Belgian beer and lambic and other beer styles. American brewers also produce many different styles of beer, such as Brown Ale, Amber ale, Blonde Ale, Cream Ale and Red Ale. And some brewers use adjuncts such as chili or oats to make different styles such as oatmeal stout or chili beer. Beer styles, however, are largely irrelevant in the world of beer consumption and appreciation.
Categorising by yeast
A common method of categorising beer is by the behaviour of the yeast used in the fermentation process. In this method of categorising, those beers which use a fast acting yeast which leaves behind residual sugars are termed ales, while those beers which use a slower and longer acting yeast which removes most of the sugars leaving a clean and dry beer are termed lagers.
A modern ale is commonly defined by the strain of yeast used and the fermenting temperature. Ales are normally brewed with top-fermenting yeasts, though a number of British brewers, including Fullers and Weltons, use ale yeast strains that have less pronounced top-fermentation characteristics. The important distinction for ales is that they are fermented at higher temperatures and thus ferment more quickly than lagers. Ale is typically fermented at temperatures between 15 and 24°C (60 and 75°F). At these temperatures, yeast produces significant amounts of esters and other secondary flavour and aroma products, and the result is often a beer with slightly "fruity" compounds resembling but not limited to apple, pear, pineapple, banana, plum, or prune. Typical ales have a sweeter, fuller body than lagers.
Lager is the English name for bottom-fermenting beers of Central European origin, though the term is not used there. They are the most commonlyconsumed beer in the world. The name comes from the German lagern ("to store"). Lager yeast is a bottom-fermenting yeast, and typically undergoes primary fermentation at 7-12 °C (45-55 °F) (the "fermentation phase"), and then is given a long secondary fermentation at 0-4 °C (32-40 °F) (the "lagering phase"). During the secondary stage, the lager clears and mellows. The cooler conditions also inhibit the natural production of esters and other byproducts, resulting in a "crisper" tasting beer.
Modern methods of producing lager were pioneered by Gabriel Sedlmayr the Younger, who perfected dark brown lagers at the Spaten Brewery in Bavaria, and Anton Dreher, who began brewing a lager, probably of amber-red color, in Vienna in 1840–1841. With modern improved yeast strains, most lager breweries use only short periods of cold storage, typically 1–3 weeks. The lagering phase is not restricted to lager beers. In Germany, all beers are stored at low temperatures before consumption; in the British tradition, the practice of Cold Conditioning is similar in nature.
Lambic beers: spontaneous fermentation
Lambic beers use wild yeasts, rather than cultivated ones. Many of these are not related to brewer's yeast (Saccharomyces), and may have significant differences in aroma and sourness.
Pale and dark beer
The most common color is a pale amber produced from using pale malts. Pale lager is a term used for beers made from malt dried with coke. Coke had been first used for roasting malt in 1642, but it wasn't until around 1703 that the term pale ale was first used. In terms of volume, most of today's beer is based on the pale lager brewed in 1842 in the town of Plzeň, in the Czech Republic. The modern Pilsner lager is light in colour and high in carbonation, with a strong hop flavour and an alcohol by volume content of around 5%. The Pilsner Urquell and Heineken brands of beer are typical examples of pale lager, as are the American brands Budweiser, Coors, and Miller. Dark beers are usually brewed from a pale malt or pils malt base with a small proportion of darker malt added to achieve the desired shade. Other colourants - such as caramel - are also widely used to darken beers. Very dark beers, such as stout, use dark or patent malts. These have been roasted longer. Serving temperature The temperature of a beer has an influence on a drinker's experience. Colder temperatures allow fully attenuated beers such as pale lagers to be enjoyed for their crispness; while warmer temperatures allow the more rounded flavours of an ale or a stout to be perceived. There are no firmly agreed principles for all cases; however, a general approach is that lighter coloured beers, such as pale lagers, are usually enjoyed cold (3945F/4-7C), while dark, strong beers such as Imperial Stouts are often enjoyed at cellar temperature (5461F/12-16C) and then allowed to warm up in the room to individual taste. Other beers should be served at temperatures between these extremes.
Strength The alcohol content of beers varies by local custom. British ales average around 4% abv, while Belgian beers tend to average 8% abv. The strength of the typical global pale lager is 5% abv. Typical brewing yeast cannot reproduce (and therefore cannot produce alcohol) above 12% abv.
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