It all starts with a grain, hops, yeast, and water- a fairly simple concoction that can be turned into something entirely different. Craft breweries have caught on to this idea of focusing on quality over quantity. They sell their beer in small quantities so that it maintains its freshness and flavor. And if you’re wondering about what counts as a craft brewery- these are breweries with less than 25 employees or who produce less than 15 million liters per year.
1. What is a Craft Brewery
The term craft brewery is one that has been used for quite some time. But what exactly defines a craft brewery? A small brewery is typically defined as one that has less than 25 employees and produces 15,000 barrels or less each year. These breweries are more interested in producing flavorful beer (instead of mass produced varieties) and have more control over the processes involved in creating their beer. From the ingredients to the packaging process, there isn’t anything they leave out of their control. Craft breweries also tend to be independently owned with at least 75% of it being held by people with full voting rights (as opposed to having an outside investor). These independent owners care about quality over quantity since they only produce a certain amount of beer each year- reducing the risk of distributing their product.
2. Beer Making Process
The beer making process is quite simple- but don’t let that fool you. They start out with malted barley, hops, water, and yeast. The grain is soaked in warm water until the starches are converted into sugar and then dried over a fire to stop further enzymatic reactions from occurring (which would create unwanted flavors). The mixture of malt, sugary liquid known as wort (unfermented beer), and sometimes additional grains are infused with hops. Depending on the type of beer being produced determines how long they will boil the wort for that bitterness to come through. After this has been done, it goes right into what’s called a lauter tun where hot water is run through it to extract more sugars left behind. Then the real fun begins! The filtered wort is transferred into a mash tun where that all important yeast is added (along with more hops). During fermentation, the yeast turns sugar in to alcohol through its enzymatic process. Yeast also adds other flavors and aromas depending on the type of fermenting beer. After this has been done, what’s known as ‘green beer’ is produced- which isn’t exactly drinkable yet since it hasn’t fully gone through the conditioning part of the process. Describing every step of this in detail would be similar to writing an encyclopedia article about beer making– so why don’t you do it?
2.1 Batch Sparging vs Fly Sparging
You may be wondering why some microbreweries don’t perform batch sparging. Here is a small example of what each process entails:
In batch sparging, the grains are removed from the lauter tun and then washed with hot water while they are still in the mash tun. The first few batches of this run off will contain most of the ‘good’ sugars (maltose) which gets re-infused back into the wort after its drained via gravity or pumps. What’s left over (known as spent grain) can either be sold to farmers for livestock feed or used by breweries for composting purposes. Batch sparging is usually done when high quality mashes are sought out since it allows more precision of the enzymes to work with.
2.2 Fly Sparging :
With fly sparging, all the hot water is added at once in one continuous flow over the grains instead of adding them slowly (like what’s done with batch sparging). The result will be a higher extraction rate because more sugars remain behind after this process has been completed. Due to its efficiency, many commercial breweries use fly sparging for their beer brewing even though they have equipment that can perform batch sparging (called mash filters). You may think not much separates these two methods since you are using the same end product- but lots of time and energy goes into making sure that you get a good yield from your mash tun. And if
2. Why Quality Matters
When it comes to craft breweries, the quality of their product matters a lot. Craft brewers take time and energy making sure that every step of the beer making process is done with care. They want to produce something that’s not only tasty but also perfectly crafted. This dedication to creating excellent craft beer has allowed these breweries to compete successfully in the market against big name brands like Coors or Budweiser- both of which are owned by brewing giants (AB InBev and Molson Coors). The result? More flavorful beers at prices customers won’t find anywhere else. Because they focus on quality over quantity, they’re able to offer more variety than those bigger companies can.
3. Quality over Quantity for Better Products
The craft beer market is growing by the day. People are becoming more conscious of what they eat and drink, leading them to examine the ingredients that go into those products. By controlling how these beers are made with high standards, breweries can ensure a better quality product for their customers.
4. Tips for Brewing Successfully
There are many factors that go into brewing successfully, and a few of them include:
Temperature Control : This is something homebrewers should seriously consider. The temperature your mash tun is set at will directly affect how much sugar is extracted from the grain (along with flavorings added to it). While you may think this detail isn’t significant enough to worry about, it actually makes all the difference in the world when it comes to how your beer turns out. Once you figure out what works for you taking temperatures during each step of beer making process , continuously tweaking until you get perfect results can be an enjoyable process over time.
Yeast Matters : Just like any other recipe, using quality ingredients matter more than anything else . The same rule applies for yeast . By being selective about the type of yeast you use, your chances for success will be greater. If you are working with a kit that comes with dried yeast, remember to re-hydrate it before adding it to your wort. Yeast should never be added straight into the wort as this may cause off flavors and won’t allow enough time for the yeast to react properly. Make sure you take time out to plan ahead when brewing: having all the ingredients at room temperature before hand can make things easier on you during brew day.
Hops Matter Too: Hops used in beer making must be fresh (never dried). Aroma hops are most commonly used by brewers because they accentuate hop flavors so they’re not wasted while boiling the beer. When they are added at different stages during the boil, this allows bitterness to be kept low while still having a moderate amount of flavor. Don’t forget to take note of all these factors when you’re trying to create your own recipe!
How it All Begins: The Grain
Sugars and starches in grains can be extracted by soaking them in water- but there’s a pretty important step that must come first: malting . To do this, grains are soaked in water at controlled temps for about two days until their germination has reached its peak (the point where enzymes start breaking down the compounds that lead to sugar). Then, they are dried out by putting them on a conveyor belt called a kiln and then cooled, which kills the developing plant. The process of malting produces a weak acid called lactic acid that will eventually find its way into your beer (yay!).
Toasted grains are used sparingly in brewing because they add a lot of flavor- which can be good or bad depending on what you’re looking for when drinking beer. The only time toasted grains should be used is if you know exactly what characteristics you’re after and want to achieve them due to their ability to add “spicy” flavors like cinnamon or nutmeg .
The Hops: A Drying Agent
Hops have been used for centuries in beer making as a natural preservative. It’s known to have antibacterial properties and is said to be beneficial for the stomach, liver, and digestive system. These days, they are used for bittering (adding flavor) as they add bitterness to beer without adding any sourness like hops can sometimes do. To use fresh hops in your brews means you’ll get a crispier taste, which may not provide the best environment for hops since it’s hard to control their release of alpha acids during that time- but if dried properly, they can also be used .
Letter from Home: Yeast Arrives!
By now grain should either have been malted or bought as malt extract ready to add water and boil. While this takes place, yeast arrives at home in its new home for the next 4 weeks- your fridge .
5. The Future of Craft Breweries & Beer in General
A lot of breweries are turning to the idea of small batch brewing. The reasons for this are straight forward: it allows them to focus on quality over quantity. You’ll find that breweries that work with small batches tend to market their beer a lot better than other larger companies- which makes sense since they have less product. If you’re a new brewer, try going with a smaller amount at first and see what happens! Let us know if it worked out well!.
We hope you enjoyed learning all there is to know about the different factors that go into one great craft brew! As always thanks for stopping by and taking part in our weekly blog feature! Please feel free to check out any of our other pieces by searching “The On Tap Blog” accessible from the bar on the top left hand side of your screen.
Beer and food safety is something all brewers need to have in mind when they run their breweries. The main thing most of us think about is sanitation, You can use a food safety app to stay on track but there’s also a few things out there that can really ruin the taste of our beer- and some that can even change the flavor completely!