Editorial Dept.'s picture

Beer 101: The Fundamental Steps of Brewing

How to Brew Beer, Anchor Brewing Mash Tuns
Mash Tuns at San Francisco's Anchor Brewing (Photo credit: CJ Martin)

 

Whirlpooling

Once the boil is complete, the whirlpool phase further clarifies the wort by removing protein and hop solids through settling. These solids are known as trub. Although the boiling kettle can also be used as a whirlpool, many brewers use a separate, specially designed container.

A hop back is a type of vessel for whirlpooling that employs fresh hop flowers or cones in a sealed chamber for filtering the trub, which adds more hop aroma compounds to the wort. A hop back is often employed when whole hop cones are used in the boil. A standard whirlpool is better at collecting trub created from hop pellets.

Next, a heat exchanger is used to reduce the wort to the temperature desired for fermentation. Water heated by this exchange is often used by brewers to start a new brewing cycle.   

FermentationFermentation Tanks for Brewing Beer

Wort is transferred to a fermentation tank and the yeast is pitched, or added. Ale yeast rises to the top of the wort and lager yeast generally collects in the bottom.  This stage is the primary fermentation -- the conversion of sugars to alcohol and carbon dioxide that lead to an ale or a lager, depending on the type of yeast used. (Hybrid beers also use one of these two types of yeast.)

Once yeast has been pitched at proper temperature, the beer is generally maintained from 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit for ales, and 50 degrees Fahrenheit for lagers. The process of the yeast converting sugars to alcohol generates heat and is monitored closely by brewers. The higher temperatures employed for ale yeast result in more esters, or fragrant organic compounds.

Conditioning

During the conditioning process for ales and lagers, the beer will mature and smooth, and by-products of fermentation will diminish. It is possible to dry hop during this stage for added aroma, and other methods such as barrel aging can further introduce complexity.

The cold storage of beer for 30 days known as lagering is a key difference in the cleaner nature and more defined flavors of lagers when compared to ale.

A type of secondary fermentation for lagers is known by the German word kräusening. Once the fermented “green” beer is transferred to tanks for cold storage, kräusening is the introduction of actively fermenting beer, including yeast, to the dormant new beer. The additional yeast helps carbonation and the elimination of unwanted aspects of the primary fermentation such as diacetyl – or butterscotch flavors – and other compounds.

The conditioning process can last from one to six weeks and sometimes more. Depending on the style, brewers may choose to filter any remaining yeast or other particles from the beer and then store it in bright tanks. Some pasteurize their beer to improve clarity and shelf life.

Pages

Comments

Pat Mulloy's picture
This is a good overview of the process of brewing. It covers the essentials and avoids getting too granular. Most regional package breweries offer tours. For a real treat, take the article with you as you go through a tour and see how everything goes together.

Pages

Advertisement

Comments

Pat Mulloy's picture
This is a good overview of the process of brewing. It covers the essentials and avoids getting too granular. Most regional package breweries offer tours. For a real treat, take the article with you as you go through a tour and see how everything goes together.

Pages

Advertisement