We hope you had a lovely intermission and got yourself a beer! Now, where were we? Oh yes, hops!
A side note about hops: Hops consist of alpha and beta acids and essential oils. The alpha and beta acids lend bittering, while the essential oils lend aroma to the beer. Depending on when hops are added throughout the boil they will impart more or less, bitterness and aromatics to the beer. If hops are in the boil for a longer duration of time those essential oils burn off, while bitterness increases. Therefore, brewers will add hops at a multitude of stages throughout the boil to make the finished product more complex.
Once the boil is finished, the hop particles and any suspended proteins are separated from the wort via a whirlpool, which is quickly chilled in preparation for FERMENTATION.
“Brewers make wort, not beer. Only yeast can make beer.”
Beer guru Randy Mosher states in his beer bible Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink, “Brewers make wort, not beer. Only yeast can make beer.” There are two primary families of yeast in the brewing world, Ale Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae/ top fermenting) and Lager Yeast (Saccharomyces pastorianus/ bottom fermenting). Ale yeasts ferment at higher temperatures for a shorter time, often lend higher alcohols and impart flavour to the beer via fruity esters and spicy phenols. Lager yeasts ferment at lower temperatures for a longer length of time and ferment quite clean in flavour. Despite their differences both yeasts have the same main purpose; to convert sugars into CO2 and Ethanol (alcohol).
Yeasts are fussy little organisms. If they get too hot, too cold, too much oxygen, not enough oxygen, they won’t do their job correctly, resulting in unpleasant flavours within the beer. Therefore, it is up to the brewer to make the fermentation tank a hospitable environment for the yeast.
Just as a stew tastes better in the days after it's made, the same goes for the beer, but instead of a day, we're talking weeks. This process of “conditioning” gives the yeast time to clean up after themselves, and the flavours of the beer to meld into one another. Brewers can add hops at this point in a process called “dry-hopping”. The lack of heat means the essential oils can impart the beer with tons of aroma. Conditioning times depend on the yeast strain, style and strength of the beer and can range anywhere between 2 weeks to 6 months.
After all that work, time, labour and love the beer is now ready for consumption and is packaged into vessels appropriate to keep the beer fresh and tasty. Hop compounds when exposed to light create the same aroma as skunk spray. Clear glass offers zero protection from the light, green bottles are not much better, brown bottles are quite good, but the best protectors of all are cans and kegs. This is one of the reasons why we have seen more breweries releasing their product in cans over the last few years.
These are the basics of brewing, but there are always new techniques and innovations, niche traditional methods in the industry, and the awesome creativity of brewers. All of which we will explore further down the road.
Until next time. Stay hydrated Australia!
GLOSSARY OF BEER TERMS
Acetobacter – A bacteria that converts ethanol to acetic acid (vinegar-like). Acceptable when found in sour beers.
Ale Yeast – Saccharomyces cerevisiae/ top fermenting yeast. One of the primary yeast families used in brewing. Usually ferments above 13°C, with a shorter fermentation and conditioning time. Can produce lots of esters and phenols.
Alpha Acids – The bittering component of hops.
Boil – Exactly what it says, bringing the wort to a rolling boil for sterilization, the coagulation of proteins, and the addition of hops.
Brettanomyces – A strain of wild yeast that lends funky, sour, barnyard character to a beer. Favorable in sour beers, and a key component to Lambic style.
Conditioning – The step in the brewing process where the yeast tidy up the beer and the beer is allowed to rest and become more cohesive in its flavours.
Double Dry Hopped (DDH) – Can either mean a beer has been dry hopped twice, or twice as many hops have been added during dry hopping.
Dry hopping – The addition of hops outside the boil after the wort has cooled.
Essential Oils – The aromatic component of hops.
Esters – A byproduct of yeast during fermentation that give the beer, primarily, fruity characteristics. Recognisable esters include banana and bubblegum.
Grain Bill – The grains used in a beer’s recipe.
Hops – Humulus Lupulus. Part of the nettle family, and closely related to marijuana, it is the hop cones that are utilized in brewing. These look like small, green, leafy pinecones and contain alpha acids that bitter the beer, and essential oils that add aroma. Depending on varietal hops lend different characteristics that include fruits, herbs, spice, earthiness, grassiness, resin, floral, bubblegum and more. Hops are grown on trellises then harvested and processed into various forms such as whole leaf, pellets, wet, extracts, powders, and the new Cryo Hops®
Hop Profile – The hops used in a beer’s recipe.
IBU (International Bitterness Units) – The measurement of bitterness units in beer. Isomerized alpha acids in the wort are measured in parts per billion and generally range from 5 to over 100 – though human perception of 100+ IBU is up for debate. *It is important to note that this is a chemical measurement of bitterness and does not take into account characteristics within a beer such as sweetness, carbonation, temperature, acidity, and alcohol content that can affect drinker’s perceived bitterness*
Fermentation – The process of yeast converting sugar to CO2 and Ethanol (alcohol), and cleaning up after itself. This is also where various bacteria can come into play lending beer funky, sour, and almost vinegar-like characters.
Kilning – Using indirect heat to toast barley and obtain various degrees of colour and flavours.
Koelship (Coolship) – A shallow, open vessel traditionally used in Lambic production. Used to cool the wort and allow for spontaneous fermentation.
Lactobacillus – A bacteria that converts sugars to lactic acid (the same acid found in yoghurt), which gives beer a tart sour quality. The bacteria used in kettle souring.
Lactose – Milk sugar that is unfermentable by brewers yeast. It lends the final beer sweetness and creaminess.
Lager Yeast – Saccharomyces pastorianus/ bottom fermenting yeast. One of the primary yeast families used in brewing. Usually ferments between 4-7°C with a longer fermentation and conditioning time. Commonly conditioned at temperatures close to freezing. Tends to ferment quite clean.
Lautering – the process of separating the wort from the spent grain.
°Lovibond – The measurement of malt colour after kilning.
Malt – The product of barley undergoing the malting process. Different malts lend different flavour, colour, and texture to a beer. Malt types include: Pilsner, Pale Ale, Munich, Amber/ Biscuit, Brown, Chocolate, Black and Roast Barley.
Malt House – The facility where malt is produced.
Maltster – The person/ people who make malt
Mashing – The process of using hot water to convert starches in the grains to fermentable sugars, resulting in wort.
Mash Ton – The vessel in which the mashing process takes place.
Off Flavours – Unfavorable flavours in beer due to infection, complications during the brewing process, or brewhouse issues. Some off flavours are acceptable in certain styles, for example; lactobacillus is favourable in sour beer only. DMS can be found in small quantities in some pale lagers. Diacetyl can be found in small quantities in some English ales.
Pediococcus – Also a bacteria that converts sugars to lactic acid (the same acid found in yoghurt), which gives beer a tart sour quality. Most commonly used in kettle sours.
Phenols – Also a byproduct of yeast during fermentation that give the beer spicy characteristics.
Primary Fermentation – When yeast convert sugars to CO2 and Ethanol
Secondary Fermentation – The yeast clean up any biproducts they created during primary fermentation.
Sparging – Spraying hot water over the grain after mashing to wash any remaining sugars off the spent grain.
Spontaneous Fermentation – When airborne yeasts and bacteria inoculate the wort. Opposed to the more common method of pitching chosen yeasts and bacteria, this method relies on the brewery’s natural surroundings.
SRM (Standard Reference Method) – The measurement of a beer’s colour.
Vorlaufing – German for recirculate. Clarifying the wort by recirculating it back through the spent grain/ filter bed.
Wort – The sweet liquid produced in the Mashing process.