Bartending Basics: How Beer Is Made

All bartenders should be familiar with beer. The beer-brewing process begins with pure water, corn grits, and malted barley. Malted barley is the basic ingredient and is often referred to as the “soul of beer.” It contributes to the color and characteristic flavor of beer. Malted simply means that the barley has been steeped or soaked in water and allowed to germinate, or grow.

Brewing beer is a step-by-step process:

  1. The corn grits and malt are cooked and blended to create mash.

  2. A sugary liquid, called wort, is extracted from the mash.

    The remaining solid portion of the mash, the brewer's grain, is sold as feed.

  3. The wort is transferred to the brew kettles, where it's boiled and hops are added.

    Hops are responsible for the rich aroma and the delicate bitterness in beer.

  4. The wort then moves to the wort cooler.

  5. Sterile air is added next, along with yeast, which converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The wort moves to fermentation tanks for a carefully controlled time period.

Brewers can use two different categories of yeast: bottom and top.

  • Bottom yeast settles to the bottom of the tank after converting all the sugar, and the resulting beer is a lager.

  • Top yeast rises to the top of the tank when it's done with the sugar, and the beer it produces is an ale.

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