If you are the kind of person who enjoys a good beer regularly or every once in a while, chances are that you have probably wondered how exactly beer gets made. Though it would be a gross oversimplification to imply that every kind of beer is made in a basic and simple way, the fact is that there is a general basis for steps when it comes to brewing beer. As a whole, beer generally has a few common steps and ingredients that come together to make the majority of brews available today. Though your favorite beer probably does have something special to it, the reality is that almost all traditional beer is made in a more basic way.
When you begin making beer, the first step involves malting. This part of the beer-making process relies on you taking your grain of choice and heating and drying it until it physically cracks. While this is likely not at all what you think of when you make beer, the malting step is incredibly important because it releases the enzymes necessary to make the actual brewing process. There are a variety of grain options that this can be done with, which contributes to some of the flavor differences for certain beers.
After the malting process has been completed and the remaining grains have been prepared, you can begin the mashing process. Mashing is a process that people generally picture when they think of beer being made. It involves taking the activated grains and throwing them into a large vat of water. The grains will then be cooked at a high temperature in order to compel the grains to release their sugars. The success of this step is dependent upon the success of the malting step since the sugars are released by the activation of the enzymes released during the malting process. The saturated water that is released from this process is called wort and will be drained and carried forward into the next step.
Once the malting step is completed, the wort will be taken into the next step and boiled. The boiling process makes it easy for the beer to well and truly set in with itself. More importantly, it is the stage where you will find a majority of flavor adds being made. During this heating process, spices and other ingredients can be added for the sake of the overall flavor of the beer. It is also where the brewer will add in hops and other key ingredients. This steaming vat of boiling wort will evolve over time to more of a beer-like product.
The final part of the process involves taking the boiled concoction and straining it. Once the liquid has been strained, the fermentation process can begin. This is a simple process that merely involves adding yeast to the strained process for some time depending on what the brew calls for. The yeast will ferment the product, and by the end of this process, you can enjoy a delicious beer that will impress all of your friends.
Though there is plenty of room for variety within brewing, the reality is that beer as a process almost always includes some variation of the steps detailed above. Beer can vary incredibly in variety, technique, and ingredients. However, at the end of the day, your favorite beer is always going to be a combination of grain, heat, and yeast. The bonuses that you choose to add to a beer are what makes each one unique and delicious, but it is important to always respect the process. Feel free to experiment, but always do so in a safe and educated manner to achieve the best results.