This blog started as a way for me to document my trip to Zurich in my Junior year of college. Time passed and then it became a way for me to document the modifications I was making to my car. I still have more to write about my car, but I have a new series of posts I want to start on. In the 10 months since turning 21 I have started brewing my own beer and cider, and I feel that this too is worth writing about.
Beer has played a central role in much of human history. When the water isn't safe to drink and you need fluids, mankind traditionally turns to beer. If you look at the brewing process and what beer is comprised of, it becomes obvious that this beverage was designed as a safe staple food. The basic brewing process is as follows:
- Water is brought to between 150-165 degrees Fahrenheit before being poured into malted and crushed (we'll get to this later) grain. This temperature is sufficient to kill some organisms, but not all.
- The crushed grain is left to soak in the water for about an hour while held at temperature (referred to as "mashing").
- The liquid, now called wort, is then strained out of the grains and brought to a boil. This should kill virtually anything still alive.
- Hops are added to the wort during the boil. In addition to their characteristic bittering, hops also act as a preservative with strong anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties.
- After the boil, the liquid is cooled and yeast is added. Wort is a virtually perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so if anything but the yeast are active you can very obviously see or smell the infection. The yeast can also overwhelm other forms of life, either by starving them or poisoning them with the ethanol they produce. In this way, fermentation is akin to a litmus test for contamination.
- The beer is then stored in airtight bottles or kegs, ensuring it is kept sanitary.
I've got a lot more to write about brewing, but given how infrequently I can write for this blog, I'm going to cut it here and come back again when I have a chance.