Beer is brewed with four main ingredients: water, barley, hops and yeast. Is seems like a simple process to mix them together to make beer. However, it is more complex than most people would think.
There are five main stages to brewing beer: malting, mashing, boiling, fermenting, and aging. At a high level, here is a quick overview of each: Malting is the process of soaking barley in warm water to release enzymes and proteins and then halting the process by drying the grain. Note: The longer the barley dries in a kiln, the darker the grain will become. Mashing is the process of steeping grains is hot water to convert the starches to sugars. The resulting liquid is called wort until it goes into the fermenters and the yeast is pitched. Boiling stabilizes the wort, lowers the ph balance and kills off bacteria that would be detrimental to the beer. Ingredients such as hops are added during the boil, providing both aroma and flavor. Fermentation is where the yeast is pitched and the wort becomes beer. During the fermenting process, yeast eats the sugars and creates alcohol and CO2. Conditioning is the process of yeast continuing to clean up, or condition the beer.
At 3 Daughters Brewing, we take getting the chemistry of beer seriously. Through a partnership with USFSP, we worked with Jim Leonard to set up a lab. Our lab allows us to have consistency in the beer through thorough testing. For example, during fermentation, we test the beer to find out how active the yeast is. The results are given to our head brewer who can then decide what needs to be done based on the amount of yeast cells that have propagated and remain active. This is just the beginning, we are expanding our lab every day and learning more about the chemistry of beer. There will be much more to come so check back frequently. Until then, Cheers!