The Brewing Process In A Nutshell

To provide a grounding in the process of brewing I’m going to explain how beer is made in a brewery. You might think making beer in a brewery is not the same as making it at home, but I assurel you, it really is!

Brewing your own beer puts you in the exact same position as the head brewer of your favourite commercial brewery, you decide on what ingredients go into it, you put them together and process them with your brewing equipment. The only difference is you get to keep all the beer at the end and you don’t have to please anyones tastes apart from your own.

So here is what happens:

You take a few agricultural ingredients, one is the cereal grain barley, the other hops. This is the basis of most modern beers, alongside water which is fundamental to all beer as you’ll see later.

The grain is malted by people called maltsters before it arrives at the brewery. Malting changes the properties of the grain unlocking starches that are required for the brewing process. The grains can be toasted to varying degrees which will affect the colour and flavour of the beer. Almost all breweries won’t malt grain themselves so don’t be too concerned if you don’t fully understand the process right now.

The brewery takes the malted grain, crushes it and then steeps it in water inside a vessel called a Mash Tun. This process allows enzymes, which naturally occur in the barley, to break down the starches into simple sugars (vital for making alcohol) all the while releasing malty, sweet flavours.

After steeping in the mash tun the grains are rinsed with more water and the sweet malty liquid (called Wort) is moved into a separate vessel to be boiled. The boiler is called a “Copper” or a “Kettle” and boiling is necessary to extract the flavours of our next ingredient, Hops.


Once the “Wort” is boiling hops are added. The boiling of the hops releases a bitter acid from them and also some aromatic compounds. The whole boiling process lasts around 60-90 minutes and hops are added at various stages throughout the boil. Adding hops early in the boil provides more bitterness, whereas adding hops later in the boil provides more aroma and flavour qualities.