Beer testing is a process that helps determine the quality at every stage of the brewing process. There’s a long, storied relationship between humans and beer that dates back over millennia. In some parts of the world, beer was a drink for the elite only, while in others, it was an essential part of the daily menu. Beer has been a catalyst in bringing communities together for a long time and although there are many flavors, the brewing process is more or less the same.
Below is the brewing process outlined from beginning to end.
Four ingredients make today’s beer cereal grain (wheat, barley, rye, and oats), hops, water, and yeast. The grains are taken to a malt house, where they’re soaked in fresh water until they sprout. Here, a naturally occurring substance called the amylase is utilized. This is an enzyme that helps in digestion, breaking down starches into glucose.
The malted grains are then put in a kiln and dried and roasted. This helps in determining the beer’s taste and color. When the grains are heated, they dry up and crack, thus isolating enzymes. The grains are then run through a grist mill where they are crushed and the hulls open to release more enzymes and fermentable sugars. The final product is the grist or grist bill, where more than one type of grain is used.
The final product of malting, the grist, is mixed with water and heated to a temperature of up to 170 degrees. Then, the liquor is left to steep for two hours, a period during which enzymes break down the starches, converting them into sugars, which eventually turn to alcohol. The use of different temperature levels manipulates the release of proteins, affecting other factors like the foam and taste.
This process separates wort from the spent grains. The first step here is the mashout, where the wort is heated to 170 degrees, which stops enzymes from interfering with the already-fermented sugars. The wort is then circulated and filtered. Then, spent grain is rinsed in boiling water to get sugar from the husks, a process called sparging.
The filtered water is then sterilized through a controlled boil. The boiling takes at most two hours and then you add flavor, usually in the form of hops. The flowers add some bitterness and act as a preservative and their effect depends on when they’re added to the boil. If you add hops at the start of boiling, the result will be more bitterness; hops added during late boil impart flavor and aroma.
After boiling, the wort is whirlpooled until the hop and malt particles separate. Some brewers add more hops at this stage for more aroma. Now, the mixture is ready for cooling and fermentation.
The strained wort is placed in a fermentation tank; yeast is added once the liquid has reached the optimal temperature. The type of beer produced in the process depends on the yeast type and the temperature. After fermentation, the beer is filtered and allowed to rest, and the maturation process lasts from one to six weeks.
Lastly, beer testing is done to remove unwanted microorganisms. The analysis identifies a range of spoilage microorganisms that can produce undesirable flavors if they’re not checked. For good taste, therefore, allow only the desired strain of the yeast.