Zymurgy - Fermenting with Yeast or Beer Brewing
Beer brewing is simply a fermentation process, which, if you’ve been following this blog is a form of food preservation. Alcohol, the by product of fermenting sugar, water and yeast, is the preserving agent that allows us to store beer or other alcohol products for extremely long times. In “olden days” we would preserve meats and fruits in alcohol. We still do it today, preserving fresh foods like fruits in wine and harder stuff. Bottom line, understanding the process of making fermented brews (beer, wine, cider, mead) gives us the keys to some of the earliest forms of food preservation.
Today many home brewers enjoy the freedom to make their own brews at home. Thanks to a 1978 Act singed by Jimmy Carter allowed US citizens to make small quantities of beer for personal consumption without penalty kicking-off a hobby beer-making craze. This renewed interest in beer making also opened the doors for the craft beer craze bringing us back to our founding father and mother brewing roots. A recent infographic illustrates how beer brewing has evolved in the US over the last two centuries:
A lesser known fact about beer making is that not only are Hops a lovely smelling vine growing flower that adds taste and bitterness to beer, but they actually have antibiotic qualities. Hops provide a further preservative effect to the beer once the alcohol level is set. The antibiotic compounds of hops are responsible for the bitterness of beer. Ever wonder why India Pale Ales (IPAs) are so bitter? Well it’s because the English added extra hops to make sure the beer survived the long trip to India.
Putting historical facts aside, beer brewing, like other fermenting processes requires little skill but does need patience, some exact recipe and instruction following, basic safety practices, and vigilance. The safety practices aren’t just so you won’t get sick, the alcohol and hops will likely take care of that for you, they also to ensure a good product. Like all other fermenting processes, your job is to control the environment that the fermentation is happening in preventing exposure to too elements that will spoil the end product!