Entertaining version              Educational version

Since the beginning of the begin man has been fascinated with this elixir.

The first evidence of man's experimentation with beer is from the 3rd millennium B.C. Then around 1000 A.D. a more familiar beer begins to be made when hops are added. Around 1420 a German develops the first lager. In 1587 the first colony beer was made in Virginia by Sir Walter Raleigh. In 1680 William Penn founder of Pennsylvania opened a commercial brewery.

1876 Pasteur made a major breakthrough with his book about the fermentation and pasteurization process. In 2011 Mad Horse Brewpub was founded.

blah, blah, blah a long time passes and what do you know. We start making beer.

At this point you may be saying to yourself this is all fine and dandy but how is this beer stuff made. Over the years the process of making beer has evolved but the fundamentals still remain remarkably similiar.

Beer is produced through an ancient process known as brewing. During this process starch sources (typically malted cereal grains) are steeped in hot water to convert them into sugars that are later consumed by yeast during fermentation. Malt, yeast by-products such as CO2, esters and alcohol all contribute to the overall character of the finished beer.

Many types of starches can be converted into sugars for brewing however cereal grains such as barley, wheat, oats, and rye are typically used for producing beer. Once the grains are harvested from the fields they are sent to the malt house. The maltster soaks the grains in water until they begin to germinate. During germination the insoluble starch reserves in the grains are converted to soluble starches. Next, the maltster halts the process by gently kilning the grains and effectively drying them out. The hotter the kilning, the darker/more roasted the malt becomes. Once dried the malt is then packaged and shipped to the brewery.

Once the brewer has determined the grain bill (which types of grain and how much of each will go into the beer) the grain is crushed to expose the starches inside. Too fine a crush can make it difficult to lauter, too coarse can result in a poor conversion yield so the brewer must find a balance between them.

The grains are sent through a malt mill which consists of several closely placed rollers that squeeze and crack the grain husks between them. Once crushed the grains are sent to the mash tun and mixed with hot water. The hot water activates enzymes in the grains (diastatic power) and begins to convert the starches into sweet sugars (typically maltose) for the yeast to metabolize. The resulting liquid is known as wort.

After mashing the brewer needs to extract as much sweet wort from the mash as possible and clarify it before boiling. To clarify it the sweet wort is drawn off the bottom of the mash tun and recirculated to the top which compacts the grain bed and creates a filter, known as lautering. Once clear, the wort is redirected to the boil kettle and hot water is added to the top of the mash to rinse (or sparge) the remaining sugars from it. The brewer calculates how much wort is to be placed into the boil kettle and discards the grains.

After the mash is complete and the boil kettle is filled the wort must be boiled to kill any microorganisms that may be present and to boil off oxygen and any undesirable byproducts from the mash. During the boil hops are added for bittering and aroma to balance the profile of the beer. The hops also act as a natural antiseptic which helps preserve the beer from bacteria. After boiling is finished the wort is recirculated to create a whirlpool effect that causes large particulates to gravitate towards the center of the kettle. The wort is then drawn off and cooled with a heat exchanger (a device that transfers heat away from the wort with cold supply water or glycol) and sent into the fermenter.

The wort is injected with oxygen and the yeast is pitched (added). The yeast cells utilize the oxygen and other minerals to reproduce through a process known as budding. Once the yeast cells have consumed the available oxygen they turn to the sweet sugars in the wort. As they consume the sugars, they produce carbon dioxide and the byproducts that give the beer character. The temperature of the wort significantly alters the byproducts the yeast giving the brewer a method to control the overall product.

Once the fermented wort has cleared up and the yeast has settled out (now called green beer) the beer is transferred to conditioning tanks to further clarify and to be carbonated. After carbonating the fresh beer is transferred into kegs for serving and sale.



Scott has a long history in the restaurant business from growing up around his family's bar-be-que restaurant. Since the age of nine Scott has been exposed to the restaurant industry, whether he wanted it or not. Scott developed a passion for micro-brews after living in Oregon for four years and upon coming to Virginia was disappointed with the lack of micro-brew options in the northern Virginia area.