The beer production process includes these 4 steps:
Malting | Fermentation | Packaging (in bottles, cans or kegs) | Storage & Distribution
The process of converting barley into malt. Malting produces enzymes required to break down and convert the barley content from insoluble (starch, protein) to soluble (amino acids).
Malting is broken down into 3 steps:
Water/air is added until barley moisture content rises up to 45%.
Fresh air is supplied and barley remains for 5 days at 12-16°C. Germination allows the development of useful malt enzymes, including amylase and protease.
Hot air at 80°C is supplied to deactivate enzymes and produce the malt color and aroma. Moisture content is gradually reduced from 45% to 4%.
The process of milling malted barley and mixing it with water in a vessel called mash tun with a heating mantle to regulate temperature. Mixing in different temperatures allows the activation of different enzymes, and eventually, saccharification.
Saccharification occurs when a- and b-amylase are breaking down starch into water-soluble molecules of glucose, maltose, maltotriose and dextrin. During mixing, protease enzymes break down protein, at temperatures between 45-52°C. The end product of mashing is called wort.
After mashing, the wort is separated from the grains to get a clear liquid wort. Lautering takes place in vessels known as lauter tuns, with thin slits at the bottom and a stirring system with rotating cutting blades. During this process, a grain bed settles on the bottom of the tun, composed of malt hulls and undiluted subsiding proteins. This bed is the main filtering medium during the separation process.
After lautering, the wort is boiled. This is a very important process where the following reactions take place:
- Sterilization of the wort;
- Stopping of enzymatic processes;
- Color development, and releasing of aromas and flavor;
- Concentration of the wort due to water evaporation;
- Isomerization and extraction of compounds contained in hops (iso-alpha acids);
- Formation and submersion of protein – polyphenol complexes;
- Volatile unwanted substances (e.g. DMS) are removed, to deliver a more solid flavor;
- Hop residues and coagulated proteins are separated from the boiled wort through a swirling and settling system. The clear liquid wort is cooled down through a plate heat exchanger and driven towards a fermenting vessel.
- After the wort is cooled and aerated, yeast is added to it, and the fermentation process begins.
- Fermentation takes place in fermenting vessels, under regulated temperature and pressure. During this process, which lasts from 5 to 9 days, the yeast converts sugars from the wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
- When fermentation is complete, the yeast settles at the cone of the vessel, it is collected and reused for the next brew.
- The produced carbon dioxide is collected, deodorized, condensed and liquidized, and then stored to be used in beer carbonation.
- Conditioning gives the beer its final distinct flavor.
- Beer is stored at near freezing temperatures (0 to -1°C).
- Conditioning can take place in the same vessel as the fermentation (unitank) or the beer can be transferred to a different vessel.
- If the beer is transferred to a different container, stabilizing agents are often added to remove any proteins and polyphenols (tannins), which might form complexes and increase beer haziness over time.
- During conditioning, the dead yeast and any solids present in the beer after fermentation settle down. At the same time, a secondary fermentation takes place, which improves immature beer, increasing its carbon dioxide concentration.
Before packaging, beer must be filtered to remove any yeast residues and substances that compromise beer quality over time (proteins, tannins). During this process, the beer is filtered through filtering frames. The filters use sheets where a bed of diatomaceous earth is formed. This bed is actually the main filtering medium.
During filtering, the exact concentration of carbon dioxide and the beer final density are also regulated, and bright beer is stored in containers called bright beer tanks. Finally, beer is bottled and packaged in three types: bottles, aluminum cans and kegs.
Beer is packaged in three forms: bottles, aluminum cans and kegs. The packaging process includes 4 steps.
- Washing bottles/kegs or rinsing cans