Step 1: Choosing Malt. Aside from fresh water, the main ingredient in beer is barley. Malting companies take the barley and soak, germinate (sprout), then, dry or roast it to create what’s called “brewers malt.” Craft brewers can choose from several varieties to give their beer a particular colour and flavour.
Step 2: Mashing Malt. Once at the brewery, the malt is coarsely crushed or milled to expose its starchy core but keep its husks whole, to allow these husks to act as a filter bed later in the process. The crushed malt or grist is mixed with heated, purified water and through a carefully-controlled process, the natural malt enzymes in this “mash” break down the starch into sugar.
Step 3: Lautering Mash. The mash is transferred to a straining or lautering vessel. There, the liquid is separated from the husks as hot water is sparged or sprayed on top of the grains to rinse out as much sugary extract as possible. This sugar solution is called “wort”.
Step 4: Boiling & Hopping. The wort gets collected in a copper or stainless steel kettle and boiled. Hops are then added at various times when boiling. Craft brewers can select various multiple varieties of hops, each one adding a characteristic aroma, flavor and bitterness to the final product. Hops also act as a natural preservative in the beer.
Step 5: Hop Separation & Cooling. After the wort has been boiled and infused with the aromatic flavor of the hops, it goes to another vessel where the hops are then removed and the wort is clarified. The clear, hopped wort is then cooled to room temperature or lowered in preparation for yeast addition.
Step 6: Fermentation. The cool wort is moved to the fermenting vessels and yeast is added. Yeast is a living, single-cell organism that converts the sugar in the wort to carbon-dioxide and alcohol. There are many kinds of yeasts, each imparting its own subtle flavour characteristics to the beer. Fermentation lasts about 7–10 days and in this interval of time the yeast may multiply sixfold. When the fermentation is complete, the yeast is removed. At this stage of its production, the liquid is now called beer.
Step 7: Finally, this young beer is stored cold for 1–3 weeks (or more) and then filtered to achieve clarity before it’s ready for bottling or racking into kegs.