The Industrial Production Process Behind Beer
The Industrial Production Process Behind Beer

The family of beverages generally referred to as "beer" has been brewed for centuries. Beers are obtained by the yeast fermentation of malted cereal grains, to which hops and water have been added. Brewing has evolved from a cottage craft into a modern industry where large breweries export their beers worldwide. On a per capita basis, Germans consume the most beer at about 40 gallons (151 1) per person per year. Beer drinkers in the U.S. rank fourteenth in the world, with American breweries producing approximately 156,900 million barrels of beer a year. Each barrel is the equivalent of 117 liters or approximately 31 gallons.

BEER IS HERE

The true origin of beer can only be conjectured. Early attempts at brewing occurred around 7000 B.C. in Mesopotamia. The Egyptians and Greeks also brewed alcoholic beverages by various methods, but the term "beer" did not appear in these early languages. The Babylonians offered brewing recipes, and there are various references to beer in the Bible. The English word "beer" seems to stem from the Celtic word "beor," which referred to a malt brew made by monks at a North Gaul monastery. In the Middle Ages, monasteries were the leading producers of beer, and monks are credited with many early brewing techniques, such as the addition of hops to improve the aroma and help preserve the beer. The distinction between ales, lagers, and darker bock beers began to appear in French and Irish writings in the 13th century. It is generally accepted that the modern beers as we know them today date to the 1600s.

Read more: How beer is made - making, used, product, industry, Raw Materials, The Brewing Process, Byproducts/Waste, The Future

Beer brewing was already a thriving industry in Europe when the United States declared its independence in 1776. European immigrants brought their brewing skills to America and founded a thriving beer industry. Some technological advancements-the yeast separator, for example-made mass production of beer possible. Bottled beer was introduced in 1875 by the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a city famed for its breweries. Canned beer first came on the market in the 1930s. The American beer market today is dominated by several large companies such as Miller and Anheuser Busch, though microbreweries and brew pubs that produce their own brands are becoming increasingly popular.

Raw Materials

Beer requires these ingredients for brewing: properly prepared cereal grain (usually barley and corn or rice), hops (scientific name Humulus lupulus), pure water, and brewer's yeast. Each ingredient can affect flavor, color, carbonation, alcohol content, and other subtle changes in the beer. Grains are carefully stored and handled to promote highest quality. Hops are a form of cultivated perennial hemp, and the useful portions of the vine, the sticky cones, are developed from the bloom. About 35 pounds (16 kg) of barley malt and 15 pounds (7 kg) of grain are used to make each 31-gallon barrel of beer. Large quantities of pure water are extremely important not only as an ingredient, but for maintaining the cleanliness of the brewing equipment. In beer, water high in lime or iron can interfere with the fermentation process and discolor the final product. Yeasts are fungi, which are microorganisms that reduce sugars to alcohol by fermentation. Some types of brewer's yeast are closely guarded trade secrets.

Outside of the beer itself, the process also requires various acids and cleaning chemicals to maintain and sterilize the brewing equipment. The finished product also requires packaging, which includes card-board products for boxes, aluminum for cans, glass for bottles, and stainless steel for kegs and other commercial dispensing equipment. The majority of the brewing equipment is stainless steel, with the exception of the brew kettles, which are copper.

The Brewing Process