How is beer made?

The basic beer-making process is relatively straightforward. The reason why there are so many different types of beer is that each part of this process can be manipulated and tweaked to produce a different outcome.  

Essential ingredients

The main ingredient of beer is water. So the quality of water used by a brewery counts. Next comes barley. Grains of barley are moistened, allowed to germinate and then roasted (a process called 'malting') to stop the germination process in its tracks. This permits the starch in the barley to turn to sugar (maltose), which, when fermented by yeast, will produce alcohol. Wheat is sometimes used in combination with barley to produce 'wheat beer' or 'white beer'.

Mash tuns, wort and hops

The malted grain is milled (scrunched up) and mixed with water in a mash tun. Further ingredients and flavourings may now be added to this mix (now called the 'wort'), such as unmalted grain, extra sugar, and flavourings such as hops and even coriander and orange peel. Hops (the dried flowers of the hop vine) give beer a distinctive bitter flavour, and also have a mild antiseptic property, which controls bacteria.


The wort is then boiled, then cooled, and yeast is added. The beer is then allowed to ferment, before being filtered ('fining'). Lastly it is transferred to casks or bottles. A process of ageing (or 'conditioning') allows secondary fermentation, which permits carbon dioxide to develop naturally, if fizz is desired.

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