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brewing beer at home
barley wine
living organism
home brewing
Background To The Brewing Process
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Background to the brewing process

Brewing beer is the process of basically producing an alcoholic drink by the fermentation by yeast of a flavoured, sugary solution. When yeast a is living organism, is put into a solution containing sugar and certain other essentials, it feeds upon the sugar to obtain the energy it needs for self-reproduction, and a by-product of the reproductive process is the alcohol we seek.

As the yeast multiplies, it converts the sugar in the liquid half to alcohol and half to gas (carbon dioxide) by weight, the gas providing the sparkle and head so much admired in a good beer.

With beers the final alcoholic strength may be anywhere between 3% and about 6%.

By increasing the sugar content we increase the strength to 8% and even 10% so that the beer is really a barley wine, but it should be noted that popular preference has always been for the weaker beers, since your beer drinker usually prefers quantity to strength.

In conventional commercial brewing (as distinct from making of simplified beers from kits, malt extract or ingredients other than barley) the basic material for providing the sugar is grain, and in this country it’s barley which contains starch. Starch in its original state is not fermentable by the yeast we wish to employ, so it first has to be converted into sugar, which is fermentable.

This is done by germinating the barley (malting) lightly milling it, and steeping it in hot water, or liquor (mashing). This sets up a chemical action which converts the starch in the malt to soluble carbohydrates, making sugar (maltose or dextrose) available for fermentation.

When we are studying the production of brewing beer at home, it’s a good idea to take a look at what happens in the commercial brewing industry, because if we fully understand the basic processes we are much less likely to go wrong with our home brewing.

To be quite honest there are limitations to brewing beer at home, due to limitations to brewing equipment and the availability of certain items will generally mean that your formulations may include more malt adjuncts and sweeteners. I have tried too many times to brew to commercial recipes and in nearly every case the home brew turned out a disappointing imitation. To be technical for example, home brewed beer tends to ferment more than commercial equivalents, giving a stronger, more alcoholic brew with a drier taste for the same initial ingredients.

We cannot successfully filter out the excess yeast nor can we control the storage temperature to limit the prolonged fermentation, so many of your brews may have different starting gravities and contain artificial sweeteners to help restore the balance in the finished beer.

It's vital you give oneself the time to use homebrew starter kits to acquire and learn the basic skills.

Then once you have learned the basics from brew your own, you will have great fun buying many different types of grains, hops and yeasts and with time and experimentation you will perfect your skills. That is the accepted way to learn and at brew your own you will learn how to become a home beer brewing enthusiasts and enjoy this delightful hobby for numerous years to come.


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