Thursday, October 9, 2008

Beer Lesson #2

A rainy day in Portland. Let's talk beer.

So once your barley is secured it needs to be geminated. Starch is the vessel for the sugars in barley. To release that starch, barley needs to begin germinating. The widespread process for doing this requires large drums which will rotate with air being pumped through it. This continues for a few days, before germination is stopped via heat. This is commonly done in a kiln and the science of this is very detailed. Once the barley is out of the kiln it is referred to as malt.

So the process of malting creates color in the malt. It can result in light or dark malt depending on the intensity of the kilning process. Light malt is more delicate, where as dark malt gives us the robust flavors. At this stage, dark malt can create the chocolate flavors or smokiness in some beers.

After the parts of the barley that began to germinate (referred to as culm) are removed, the malting process is complete. It is now stored before it is milled into a grist which resembles flour. At the brewery, grist is mixed with water to make a mash. Again, there are several variables during this process. How much water, what kind of water, amount of time are all dependent upon the brewer. Mashing results in the starches from our barley transforming into sugars. One more term of the day: Wort. Mmmm. Wort.

Wort is the sugary liquid that is released from the mash. It is separated from the rest of the mash and is now kept in a kettle. It is now ready for Beer Lesson #3 to be completed soon!

Let's recap:

Barley germinates to release starch. Germination is stopped with heat in a kiln. Kilning will give the beer a light or dark malty tone. The culm (or germinated sprouts) are removed from and the kilned barley is dried into a grist. This grist is milled and mixed with water to make mash. Mashing results in a sugary liquid called wort. Wort is then kept in a kettle and is ready for to make beer!


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