Craft beer is a delightful and flavorful alcoholic beverage that is made by small, independent, and traditional breweries. The beer that is produced by craft brewing is more flavorful and natural, unlike commercial beer where the beer is highly oxidized and full of artificial sugars.
The three major qualifiers for craft beer are that the brewery is traditional, independent, and small in size. Craft brewers do not make more than 6 million barrels a year. The brewery is only owned by a small percentage of non-craft brewers, meaning that the brewery should be owned by a person well-equipped with the skill of brewing.
This qualifier is meant to prevent large corporations from commercializing and destroying the art of brew making. This is also because craft breweries are supposed to be traditional. These breweries use all-malt beer and no other products such as rice or corn.
Other names of craft beer are specialty beer, artisan beer, gourmet beer, microbrew and boutique beer. The main thing that separates craft beer from commercial beer is the richness is flavor. Craft beers are also known to be more natural and have a higher quality of flavor. Most craft beers are bottled, but many breweries are shifting to cans because they are cheaper but don’t compromise the quality of the brew.
What is the craft beer movement?
The movement of craft beer making started and is being run by The Brewers’ Association. The association wants to protect small and independent breweries, and help them have a place in a beer market that is predominant with large corporations and beer commercially produced in mega-breweries using malt alternatives.
The craft beer movement also seeks to bring the genuine taste of beer back to the consumers. Many of the craft beer manufacturers are strict in terms of the volume of beer that is produced because they believe that massive production will compromise the size and quality of the beer. Also, the definition of craft beer is still being further developed to make for more stable cooperation among brewers. A working definition, however, has already been put in place to create a basis for many small breweries to use as a general direction for operations and product development.
How is craft beer made?
Malted barley is soaked in hot water to make it soft, then mashed in a vessel called the mash tun. This will enable the sugars to be released and later turns it into yeast when fermented. When the yeast is fermented, it turns into alcohol. It is also the sugar that creates the alcoholic content of the beer. On the other hand, it is the malt that adds aroma and body to the beer. When a beer tastes sweet, the beer is referred to as “malty”.
After mashing the brew, the grains are rinsed with hot water. This is necessary to extract the remaining sugar and is called sparging. The grains are then removed from the hot water. This is the lautering stage, and all three processes are done in the same vessel.
The leftover liquid is known as wort and it is the liquid that will be fermented into beer. It is first boiled to get rid of microorganisms in the liquid. This is a process that takes an hour. Hops are added to the boiling liquid to enhance the flavor towards the end of the boiling process. Adding the hops towards the end makes for a different flavor than adding the hops at the beginning of the process. The hops also add to the profile of the beer.
When the cooling process begins, the liquid is placed in a highly-sanitized area because the warm liquid will become highly susceptible to microorganisms. The cooling process is then added with yeast when it reaches 80 degrees. The process of adding yeast is called the pitch, and makes the liquid ferment and has a more controllable oxygenation process.
The yeast converts the sugar into alcohol, and fermentation will take 1 to 2 months. The yeast also helps create carbon dioxide which is released. The alcohol then stays in the beer. The carbonation process will also help release carbon dioxide into the air by adding sugar into the liquid air. The beer is then bottled or canned.