The brewing process
Brewing is an ancient art. The first written recorded reference to beer is from around 1800 BC and is a song of praise to Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of beer. However evidence of brewing in Mesapotamia dates back as far as 3500 BC.
The basic process has not changed significantly in the intervening 5000 years, but the resulting products certainly have.
Firstly a grain was dampened to make it germinate – releasing sugars from within the grain. Then it was dried for storage. When it was time to brew, the grain would be added to water and then allowed to ferment. Whilst we now add very specific yeasts to create the flavour profiles of different beers, ancient brewers would rely on wild yeasts making contact with the liquid. After the liquid had fermented, it would be filtered before consumption.
In the brew house, different types of malt are crushed together to break up the grain kernels in order to extract fermentable sugars, producing a milled product called grist.
The presence of minerals is critically important to final flavour. When brewing ales, it is best to have water with high levels of sulphates, calcium and other ions. Soft water with low levels is ideal for pilsner-style lagers.
The grist is then transferred into a mash tun, where it is mixed with heated water. The process uses natural enzymes in the malt to break the malt's starch down into sugars.
The mash is then pumped into the lauter tun, where a sweet liquid (known as wort) is separated from the grain husks. The wort is brought to a controlled boil before the hops are added.
After boiling, the wort is transferred into a whirlpool where any malt or hop particles are removed to leave a liquid that is ready to be cooled and fermented.
As the fermenter is filled, yeast is added. The yeast consumes the sugars in the wort and produces alcohol, flavours and carbon dioxide.
The fermented beer is transferred to the maturing tanks where the beer settles and any sediments drop to the bottom. This is also the time when the brewmaster's carefully crafted flavours and aromas develop.
The beer is filtered in order to remove all solid particles. The result is a crystal clear, brilliant and dazzling beer.
Temperature, glassware, speed and angle of serve vary depending on the beer, but are all crucial to the perfect serve. Great bartenders take pride in the delivery of the perfect pour every time.