Beer production process

Did you know that there is a number of major stages in brewing?

Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, is known to have been born out of the sea foam by the will of gods. And what magic turns water, grain, hop and yeast into our favourite amber drink? There are three key stages here: brewing of wort, fermentation and lagering. Each stage is important for making high-quality beer. So, let’s start reviewing these stages.

Facts about beer

  • Wort brewing lasts for about eight hours.
  • Wort fermentation lasts from one to three weeks. It depends on the wort density and on the temperature of fermentation. It differs for every brand: from + 8 to + 20 .С.

Malting

Did you know that different temperature modes are used for malt preparation?

The maximum drying temperature for pale malt is 85° С. Caramel malt is heated to 150° С while roasted malt - to 225° С. at such temperatures malt acquires a darker colour and other flavor characteristics.

Malt varieties:

  • Pale malt is used for all kinds of Baltika beer.
  • Caramel malt is used for Baltika 4 Original and Old Bobby Ale.
  • Roasted malt is used for Baltika 6 Porter and Žatecky Gus Černy.

Fact about beer
Until the 1840s there were no pale beer varieties in Europe as malt drying was carried out with the use of firewood, coal, peat, which resulted in stronger darkening of malt and, subsequently, beer. 

Brewing of wort

To brew beer one should first brew wort. In brewing wort is made from the mixture of grinded malt (generally, with additions of unmalted grain) and purified water. Specialists call this mixture the mash. Then the mash is heated with the temperature increasing stagewise. The process of multistage heating is called mashing.

There are four major mashing stages:

1. Peptonizing rest. Temperature +50 °C
The protein contained in grains breaks into amino acids. Yeast needs these amino acids for growth. Besides, the substances necessary for beer foam form during the peptonizing rest.

2. Maltose break. Temperature +62 ...64 °C
Now starch starts degrading forming different types of sugars (maltose, glucose, etc.). This sugar consequently turns into alcohol and carbon dioxide under the influence of yeast.

3. Saccharification rest. Temperature +70 ...72 °C
This phase is necessary for all the starch dissolved in water to degrade completely. Otherwise beer can be turbid like paste. 

4. Mash-out. Temperature up to +80 °C
The mixture is heated further. The enzymes stop working because of the high temperature. This is necessary to prevent excessive breakdown of substances.  

Wort

Then the mash is separated from solid residues – grain shells and nondissolved proteins. The solid residues, the so-called “spent grain”, are used as animal fodder. The remaining liquid part of the mash – and this is actually the wort – is mixed with hop products (granulated hop or hop extract) and boiled for an hour or an hour and a half. Over this time the wort acquires its rich flavor due to the hop oils. The bitter alpha acids give the beer its nice bitterness and act as a natural preserving agent. At the same time during the boiling process all unnecessary microorganisms perish in wort. After boiling the wort is cooled, all protein and hop residues are removed, the wort is saturated with sterile air and forwarded to the    fermentation cellar.

Fermentation

In the course of fermentation yeast turns sugars into alcohol, carbon dioxide and various organic compounds. At this stage the flavor and taste are formed. Historically fermentation proceeded in two stages: main fermentation in open tanks and secondary fermentation in closed tanks.

If the yeast sedimented on the bottom of the tank, the fermentation was called bottom fermentation (at the temperature from +8 to +14 °С). This way a lager beer was brewed. But if the yeast went up to the top of the tank, it was top fermentation (at the temperature from +15 to +20 °С) characteristic for ales. The yeast was also called “top” and “bottom” yeast although now the names of “ale yeast” and “lager yeast” are more often used after the names of the two main beer styles.

At contemporary enterprises all stages of the production process involving yeast proceed in one tank: the cylinder-conical fermentation tank (CCT). First the fermentation stage takes place in the CCT (for about eight days) and then lagering  when the CCT with beer is gradually cooled and aged at low temperatures of about–1 °С.

The yeast and protein particles sediment on the bottom and are then removed. Thus, beer becomes stable and does not grow turbid during storage. At the end of fermentation expert brewers gather the yeast from the fermentation tank and check their compliance with the norm of brewing production. If the microorganisms balance is ok, the yeast is prepared for production of the next batches.

Filtration and pasteurization

To be crystal clear and “bright” in the glass the beer must be filtered. Filtration removes the last remaining yeast in the fermented beer and small particles. As you may guess, unfiltered beer does not go through this stage and contains some yeast that gives the drink its specific features.   

Modern technologies and compliance with strict sanitary regulations allow to guarantee the beer shelf life of several months without pasteurization.

To preserve beer for a longer period it is pasteurized, that is subject to short-time heating. And finally beer goes to the bottling department where it acquires its packaging: a glass or PET bottle, aluminum can or keg.

Production of nonalcoholic beer

Did you know that production of nonalcoholic beer is more complicated than alcohol-containing beer but the beer itself is as tasty as any beer?  

Did you ever wonder where nonalcoholic beer comes from? There are three major technologies of its production: suppression of fermentation, evaporation and removal of alcohol (dialysis). In the first case special yeast is used that do not completely ferment malt sugar into alcohol. This beer is sweeter than the usual one and its taste differs greatly from the classical one.  The second method allows removal of alcohol from beer through its evaporation. But this beer is much inferior to real beer, too. Alcohol removal from beer via dialysis is a better method that does not damage the taste of the drink. This is how Baltika 0 is produced, for example.   

The alcohol content in nonalcoholic beer is 0.5% ABV. It is less that in ordinary kvass or in sour milk. Nevertheless, we do not recommend drinking nonalcoholic beer before driving.

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