The Art behind your/our Craft – Ingredients
The journey from associating beers with a series of nonchalant, fun drunk sessions to a delightful evening of unwinding over a sessionable, smooth blend of craft beer, we have come a long way. In our late teen years, most of us have focussed on the memories that beer brought rather than tasting the beer.
On the contrary, our early twenties is this inquisitive zone of exploration to unravel mysteries around us figuring how our drink is a reflection of our mood and state of mind. Thus, we are ready to take a focused and structured approach – Understanding Our Craft Beer.
Traditionally, the four main ingredients that go into brewing a craft beer are – Malts, Hops, Yeast & Water. And when these ingredients are put through processes outlined as Malting, Mashing, Boiling & Fermentation, Craft Beer is born.
When a sugar source reacts with yeast, alcohol is created/formed. Well, in case of wine, sugar comes naturally from grapes but in case of beer, its usually derived from the grains – barley, wheat, etc. Unlike the fruit sugars, grains have complex starches that need to be broken down to make it fermentable. To do so, these grains are put through the process of malting, which involves germination and kilning.
Germination is when the grains are steeped in water for a couple of days when the enzymes needed to simplify the complex sugars to starch are formed. Now, the process of drying these malts under different temperature is termed as Kilning. This process is crucial as it is the source of all malt flavours, dark colours, and intense flavours.
First of all, it is always liquor and never ‘only water’ when it comes to craft beers. The chemistry of dissolved salts & minerals, and their proportions, water plays a vital role in the process of brewing. These minerals bring more than flavours to the beer thus each craft has its ideal water profile. In the modern day, brewers can create the exact profile of water to suit to their specification of the beer style. While they can adjust the water profile, water sure needs to be free of contaminants, specific smell and definitely filtered.
Hops are flowerlike cones of climbing wine which contribute flavours, aroma, and bitterness to a craft beer. While traditionally hops were treated as a one-dimensional ingredient to impart bitterness, craft brewers have revolutionized its usage. Since they are not soluble in water, they are boiled separately as the process of brewing. The longer the hops are boiled, the more bitterness they lend to the beer. Added at a later stage, hops add aroma to the beer.
This is where the Brewers exercise their creative liberty to make gold out of sheer hops with just the right proportion.
Yeast is a single-cell organism that feeds on simpler sugars and creates carbon dioxide and alcohol as a by-product. In the process of brewing a beer, yeast acts as a natural fermenter while contributing to beer’s flavour and aroma. Broadly, there are two main types of yeast – Ale yeast and Lager yeast. Ale yeast ferment best at a higher temperature and is often referred as to as the top-fermenting yeast while the lager yeasts work at much colder temperatures and lager yeasts are regarded (act) as a bottom fermenter.
The lager yeast ferments with more precision and gives the ‘clean & crisp’ profile and the ale yeast add the ‘fruity & spicy’ profile to the craft beer.
Here’s demystifying the art & science behind an inviting, flavourful & tall pint of craft beer (the ingredients, the process, and all things craft) at The GRID.