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Beer brewing process

Today the art of brewing has advanced to a high-tech procedure. To monitor the brewing process and to measure beer – in its various stages of production – has become a key success factor for beer producers. While raw material quality has always been important, standardized production processes have become even important today, with billions of hectoliters of beer produced around the world every year.

Illustration: Michael Jaritz

Illustration: Michael Jaritz

When it comes to high-tech procedures involving the quality of liquids, Breweries around the world use Anton Paar’s laboratory and process systems to measure and monitor beer parameters such as alcohol content, original, apparent and real extract, density, carbon dioxide and oxygen content, pH, turbidity, degree of fermentation, color, calories and viscosity. This way, they ensure these values meet their strict requirements. This is done throughout the entire brewing process.

Malt lends beer its taste and, depending on the grain type and drying period, its color. Nowadays malt is commonly not produced by the breweries themselves but in malt houses. The grain is soaked in water and germinates. After about five days it is dried (“kilned”) and stored in the breweries’ malt silo before it is milled.

The malt grist is mixed with water in the mash tun to form the mash. Through heating at specific temperatures, the unfermentable starch is converted into fermentable malt sugar and dextrins, as minerals, vitamins, and proteins dissolve in the water. It’s important to already precisely measure the mash, as it provides the basis for the final product.

In the lauter tun, the solids in the mash (“spent grains”) are separated from the liquid containing all soluble malt components (“wort”). The spent grain is commonly used as animal feed. In the wort copper, or kettle, hops are added to the wort. This mixture is boiled for about an hour. The more hops added to the wort, the more bitter the finished beer becomes. Undesired solids, known as trub, such as solid hop residue and coagulated protein, are removed from the wort in a whirlpool.

As yeast dies at temperatures above 50 °C, the wort is cooled down to a temperature between 10 °C and 20 °C. The yeast is then added and once all the oxygen is used, starts fermenting the malt sugar. Once the sugar is converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide, the yeast loses its source of nourishment and sediments. The young beer is measured for about a week until the primary fermentation is complete. Then it is left to rest. At temperatures around freezing, the beer matures in the storage tank for a period ranging from three weeks up to several months, depending on the beer type. During this maturing time the fermentation by-products such as diacetyl, higher alcohols, esters and other compounds are removed. Still turbid at first, the young beer clears up and a well-rounded beer taste forms.

To become crystal clear, the beer must be filtered before packaging into bottles, cans or kegs. State-of-the-art filling stations process up to 70,000 bottles per hour. The beer is ultimately shipped to distributors and ready for consumption.