Beer Making Essentials

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Beer Making EssentialsOn first impressions, the ingredients in beer – a dull-looking grain, a green unopened flower, some smelly powder and water – are not that impressive. But treat them right, like that shy girlfriend, and you’ll have a full-flavour minx of a beer on your hands. Making beer, while a skill, has a relatively simple ingredient list.

The beer lexicon

“We provide the hops and the malt, God takes care of the rest.” An old German saying predating the ‘discovery’ of yeast and its seemingly magical properties essential to beer.

Tun

Any large vessel used in brewing.

Grist

Derivative of ‘grind’, it’s what brewers call milled grain.

Mash

No, not the TV show nor the obliterated potatoes – mash in brewing refers to the process malted barley goes through to create beer, awesome beer. Cracked malted barley is warmed in water to activate the enzymes in the grain and that liquid is reduced.

Lauter

Coming from the German word for “to clarify” it refers to the process of running the wort from the mash tun. This occurs in a special lauter tun.

Wort

What’s left at the end is a malt extract, named, unattractively, wort. This holds the sugars that will be released by the yeast to create alcohol.

Pitch

Adding yeast to wort is called pitching.

Hops to it

The scientific name for hops is Lupus Salictarius, which means wolf among the weeds, perhaps a reference to the bite inherent in a hoppy beer. The name was given to hops by Roman philosopher and statesman, Pliny the Elder. To honour the chap, the Russian River Brewing Company in the USA has named a beer after him.

A pint of Marmite

Marmite, the black gooey spread so beloved on toast is made from yeast extract, a by-product of the brewing process.

Turbo cabbage

Hops is a perennial crop that grows at a rate of about 15 cm per day up a 8-m trellis framework during the active growing season (November to February). Of the 900 tonnes of hops produced by SAB’s hops farms in George each year, about 820 tonnes are taken up by SAB, while SAB also supplies hops to the local micro and craft beer industries. The fact that we can produce hops (and unique hops varietals like the Southern
Star hops used in Castle) in this country is remarkable as the climate is not ideal.

800 to 1.

Over 800 different kinds of yeast have been described (they literally are everywhere), but it is thought that only 1% have actually been discovered.

Look out for your future glossary terms.

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