Breweries use a variety of ingredients and methods to brew their beers. By understanding the process that brewers go through to make beer, people will appreciate the end product more and understand why certain beers taste the way they do.
So, let’s dive into the world of brewing and not only learn about what the 8-step process entails but also how nitrogen plays a crucial role in the whole beer brewing process.
The key ingredients in beer brewing are grains, usually barley, but also oats and wheat. The enzymes found in beer are isolated after these grains are heated, dried, and cracked.
At the brewery, the malt is run through a mill. The right amount of malt crushing is necessary since the size of the grind will affect the flavour of the finished product.
A fine grind can create a stuck mash by turning the grain into a flour-like powder, while a rough grind results in insufficient starch extraction for the brewer.
The malt is then combined with hot water, usually between 62 and 70 °C. The mash is produced by this steeping procedure, which results in an oatmeal-like consistency.
The water softens the malt, triggers the enzymes, and converts the starches in the grain into fermentable sugars, supplying the yeast with future nutrition. The body of the beer is made up of this sweet liquid, often known as “the wort.”
The spent grains must first be properly removed from the wort before brewing. To stop enzymatic processes and maintain the wort’s sugar profile, the mash is heated to 77°C in the first phase, referred to as mashout.
The wort is made clearer by pouring it out of the lauter ton’s bottom and back through the grain bed, which removes loose grain particles.
In a big pot referred to as a “copper” or “brew kettle,” hops (and other flavours) are added to the beer to cook it. The release of the hops’ flavours and fragrances occurs during the boiling stage because of chemical interactions.
The final product has less protein haze and flavour because of the ability of grain proteins to bond with tannins and precipitate out when grains are boiled.
Brewers normally utilise one of two forms of fermentation. Most brewers employ primary fermentation, which takes place when yeast transforms the majority of the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This process takes around 3-5 days.
Secondary fermentation is occasionally utilised by smaller brewers since it takes at least two weeks or longer. The beer is conditioned and any unwanted chemical byproducts are reabsorbed as the yeast works more slowly.
The duration of the conditioning procedure, which ensures that the beer is prepared for sale, is typically two weeks. Its goal is to give the beer time to age, soften the flavours and smells, and help clarify the drink for a smooth finish.
Conditioning aids in maintaining the flavour and fragrance of the beer, ensuring consistency in every sip. Without the correct conditioning, beer might taste sour.
After that, the beer is put through a filtration procedure to get rid of any undesired byproducts like yeast, tannins, and proteins that might impart flavours and haze. While many of these contaminants will ultimately precipitate out of the beer during ageing, filtration accelerates the process by eliminating them in seconds as opposed to weeks or months.
The final result is created once the filtering procedure is accomplished. Following that, the beer may be placed in a cask, bottles, cans, or other containers. Unfiltered beer is typically labelled “craft” because it has a more robust flavour.
To stop air from entering the beer during the storage phase because of temperature-induced volume changes, nitrogen can create a positive pressure. This may be done in atmospheric tanks by delivering a steady stream of nitrogen during volume changes, which lowers the quantity of diffused air discharged through vents and into the headspace.
When transferring a product from one tank to another, the headspace can be filled with nitrogen to help with pressure transfer in sealed systems.
Using nitrogen in the bottling process extends the beer’s shelf life, which further minimises the chance of oxidation. After being cleaned, beer bottles are dried using nitrogen.
When nitrogen gas is dissolved in beer along with carbon dioxide, the result is nitrogenated beer. This usually comprises 30% carbon dioxide to 70% nitrogen.
Beers can have a creamy texture because of nitrogeneration. Smaller nitrogen bubbles make it possible to create a head that lasts for a long time and gives the beer a lighter overall flavour and feel.
Nitrogen gas is a critical component of the brewing process for all types of beer. It helps to create the smooth texture that drinkers know and love in their favourite pints. While nitrogen may seem like an unusual ingredient for beer, it plays a big role in achieving the perfect flavour and mouthfeel.