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The Bridge Brewery
History of Brewing
The Brewing Process Burton Bridge Inn
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The process of Brewing Beer

Water is fundamental to the brewing process. Some of the variation between the beers brewed around the country comes from the fact that the water used has naturally occurring variations of minerals depending upon the water source. Some brewers choose to condition the water (especially if their water is 'soft') by adding salts such as gypsum or magnesium. The brewing process refers to its water as "liquor".

Malting is the process of getting the barley ready for brewing. Each step of the malting process unlocks the starches hidden in the barley. This process is not performed at the Burton Bridge Brewery, where ready prepared malts are carefully selected for each beer

Step 1. Steeping The grain is added to a vat along with water and allowed to soak for about 40 hours
Step 2. Germination The grain is then spread out on the floor of the germination room for about five days where rootlets begin to form. The goal of germination is for the starches within the grain to breakdown into shorter lengths. At the end of this step, the grain is called green malt.
Step 3. Kilning The green malt now goes through a high temperature drying in a kiln. It is important that temperature increases are gradual so that the enzymes in the grain are not damaged. After kilning, the result is a finished malt. There are different types of malts: pale malts are dried at a low temperature; mild ale malts are kilned to a slightly higher temperature and produce a deeper color in the final beer. The highest temperatures are used to produce very flavorful and aromatic malts.

Milling is the cracking of the grain which the brewer chooses for the particular batch of beer. The malt is ground into a coarse powder (known as "grist"). This allows the grain to absorb the water it will be mixed with in the next process.

Mashing converts the starches, which were released during the malting stage, to sugars that can be fermented. The grist is dropped into the heated liquor in a large cooking vessel called the mash tun. In this mash tun, the grain and liquor mix to create a cereal mash. This sugar rich water is then strained through the bottom of the mash and is now called wort.

Brewing. The wort now goes to the brew kettle or "copper" where it is brought to a boil. The boiling stage of brewing involves many technical and chemical reactions. During this stage, important decisions will be made affecting the flavor, color and aroma of the beer. Certain types of hops are added at different times during the boil for either bitterness or aroma.

Cooling. The wort is transferred quickly from the brew kettle through a device called a "hop back" to filter out the hops, and then onto a heat exchanger to be cooled. The heat exchanger basically consists of tubing inside of a tub of cold water. It is important to quickly cool the wort to a point where yeast can safely be added, because yeast does not grow in high heat.

Fermentation. After passing through the heat exchanger, the cooled wort goes to the fermentation tank. The brewer now selects a type of yeast and adds it or pitches it into the fermentation tank. The yeast ferments the wort sugars into alcohol.

Racking. Once fermentation is complete and the beer is now at it's correct strength, the brewer moves, or racks, the beer into a new tank called the conditioning tank, where the beer is allowed to complete its aging process.

Finishing. This is the point at which the production of "real ale" and the mass-produced beers differ. The mass-produced beers would now be pasteurised, sterilized and filtered to ensure that the brewing process had halted. The beer would then be put into steel kegs, transported to its eventual destination and served using bottled gas to force the beer from the keg out through the dispensers.

Real ale, on the other hand, is racked up into "casks" (which may be wood, but are almost universally steel these days). Dry hops may be added now as a preservative and for extra flavour. Additional sugar may be added to encourage a second fermentation. A substance called finings or isinglas may be added to help the beer clear in the pub cellar.