What Goes Into Crafting Choice Beer?

When people think of beer, they don’t typically think of Salt Lake City, Utah. However, that should probably change. Downtown Salt Lake City is home to many SLC bars serving some of the best beers the country has to offer. Lake Effect, an elegant Salt Lake City bar, knows beer and has a wide selection depending on your tastes and preferences. But doesn’t all beer taste the same? Is there really that much difference and variety? Well, yes there is, and it all depends on how the beer is crafted.

Typical Ingredients 

Like any food or drink you consume, you should know what’s inside it. Your health and nutrition depend on your understanding of ingredients and what you should regularly put in your body. 

There are many different ways to make beer whether it’s in a huge distillery or a residential kitchen. Therefore, ingredients may vary based on the recipe being used and the manufacturing process. But in general, there are four main ingredients that you’ll see in each type of beer: 

  • Grain
  • Hops
  • Yeast
  • Water

If you have these four ingredients, you can make beer in some variety, although it does require unique processing, as you’ll see in the next section. The surrounding Utah areas naturally produce all the ingredients needed for beer, so you’re likely to find many fresh and delicious varieties available to bars in Salt Lake City. 

The Basic Steps 

After gathering ingredients, there are a few essential steps to be followed in the beer manufacturing process. The way beer is manufactured varies based on who processes it and where. But here’s a general idea: 

  1. Grain Milling: Types of malted grain are crushed together to extract fermentable sugars. After it’s milled, you’re left with a product called grist. 
  2. Mash Conversion: A chemical process occurs involving mixing heated water with grist in a mash tun. At the right temperatures, the natural enzymes in the malt’s starch begin breaking it down into sugars. 
  3. Lautering: The mash is then put into a lauter tun, which produces a liquid called wort. Wort is a sweet product that remains when the minuscule grain pieces are separated from the husks.
  4. Boiling: In order to add the hops, you’ll need to bring the wort to a full boil in a container called a kettle. This prepares the liquid to properly process the hops.
  5. Whirlpool Separation: A whirlpool device is used to separate the wort from any particles left after the hops are added. It produces a liquid state without any particles or chunks. 
  6. Fermentation and Maturation: As we all know, the best beers have been left to properly ferment and mature before they’re consumed. Yeast is added to the product at this stage and left to convert the sugary wort into alcohol, producing beer. Maturation follows allowing the flavors to develop and smooth together. 
  7. Cellaring Prep: It takes about a month to process the beer for cellaring. It’s filtered, carbonated and cellared before it can be packaged and sold. 

These are the general basics of any beer manufacturing process, whether it’s made at home or in a factory. 

Unique Attributes of Beer Varieties 

With such simple ingredients and a clear-cut manufacturing process, how are there so many types of beers? What makes them different? Here are a few things to consider. 

Ingredients Used and Processing

Traditionally, malted barley is the grain of choice for beers. However, some varieties of beer incorporate other types of grain like wheat, rye, corn, rice and oats. The type of grain used produces the color, flavor, fermentable sugars, proteins, and viscosity in a beer.  There may also be differences in yeast and hops used that can change the flavor or fermentation process. 

Home-grown craft beer will taste much different than factory-produced beer products for many reasons. These brews will go through different processing stages, and ingredients may be changed or steps may be altered to produce a different flavor. It’s really an art form! 

Fermentation and Maturation Processing 

The fermentation and maturation process is arguably the most important part of crafting a good, flavorful beer. Some manufacturers speed this process along while others allow it to ferment and mature naturally for the most robust taste. 

Come on down to Lake Effect, an elegant SLC bar to try some of the best beers the world has to offer. Now you can enjoy the process almost as much as the taste.