We get a lot of questions about how we turn four simple ingredients (barley malt, hops, yeast and water) into so many different varieties of liquid goodness. And while we’d like to attribute it to a mastery of quantum mechanics, fluency in 11 languages and the presence of magic elves in our brewhouses, the truth is making beer really isn’t all that hard (making good beer is a different story). In fact, people have been making beer pretty much the same way for thousands of years.
Here are the basics of the brewing process in seven easy steps:
First, malted barley and specialty grains are weighed out and milled (cracked open). The process of milling allows access to the starches inside the malt. The malt is then moved via an auger to our mash tun.
In the mash tun, the grains are mixed (hydrated) with hot water. This process of mixing cold grain and hot water is known as mashing. The process of mashing activates enzymes which help break down the complex starches into simple sugars which can be fermented by our yeast.
After allowing the mash to sit for one hour, the mixture (now called wort) is separated from the grains. We use two processes to make this happen. The act of draining the wort from the grain is called lautering. Here, we slowly remove the wort from the bottom of the mash tun while at the same time, we sparge (spray) the wet grains with more hot water. This process of sparging and lautering takes about one hour.
The wort is collected in the kettle where it is then boiled. During the boil, hops are added at different intervals; early additions for bitterness, late additions for aroma. The more early hops that are added, the more bitter the beer.
After the boil, the beer is quickly chilled to 75 degrees so that the yeast can be added to the mixture. This process is very important to the beer. The beer must be chilled in sanitary conditions as quickly as possible to prevent unwanted organisms from spoiling the wort. Fresh wort is placed in a clean fermenter where yeast is added.
The yeast consume the sugar in the wort producing both alcohol and CO2. After Primary Fermentation is complete, the beer is racked (transferred) to a serving tank where it is either served or allowed to condition further. If it is allowed to condition, the beer is undergoing a Secondary Fermentation. Some, but not all, beers will be filtered. (All beer — not just MGD — is “cold” filtered.) This process removes unnecessary yeast and proteins that cause a beer to be hazy.
The beer is carbonated and finally served at the taps approximately 14 days after the brew day.