How do we brew our beers?
Let's begin our brand new first post on how we brew our beers!
Before explaining how beer is made, it is useful to remember that beer is composed of 4 main ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast.
It is mainly the malt (germinated and dried cereal) that is used to provide the colour but above all the sugars necessary for fermentation. The hop is a plant used for its bitterness and/or for its aromas. Yeast is used to transform the sugars in the cereals into alcohol and CO2.
Now let's see how to use these ingredients in the different stages of the brewing process :
Before brewing our beer, we need to crush, i.e. break the malt grains into small pieces in order to make the starch sugars contained in it accessible. For this we use a cereal mill.
Once the malt has been crushed, it is soaked for about 1 hour in water previously heated in our brewing vat in order to extract the sugars under the effect of the enzymes. The temperature of the water varies according to the type of beer we wish to obtain. For the production of the Gansbeek Blonde, we follow a multi-stage system, i.e. we brew the malt at different temperatures and increase the temperature at each stage in order to determine the final profile of the beer. As you can see, it is the enzymes that transform the starch into sugars, and depending on the temperatures used, two types of sugars are created: fermentable and non-fermentable.
First of all, we have a 63 degree step for the creation of the fermentable sugars, i.e. the sugars that will be transformed into alcohol. Then we heat up to 72 degrees to create non-fermentable sugars that will give body to the beer. Finally, we raise the temperature of the last stage to 78 degrees to deactivate the enzymatic processes and make the resulting liquid called "wort" less viscous.
3. Filtration and rinsing of grain used
At the end of the mashing process, we filter and transfer the wort to our boiling tank by passing it through a filter plate at the bottom of the mash tank. At the end of this operation, the "drêche" (spent grains) is formed at the bottom of this tank. We then rinse the spent grains with water previously heated to +-78° in order to extract as much sugar as possible from them until we obtain the desired quantity of wort and density.
4. The cooking
As soon as the wort is in the boiling vat we raise the temperature to 100 degrees and let it boil for about 1 hour to sterilize it. It is also during this phase that we add the hops. In the case of the Gansbeek Blonde, three hops are used: one at the beginning of the boiling for the bitterness, and two more towards the end of the cooking process for the aromas and flavours, as well as two spices which we keep secret. It's up to you to taste the beer to discover them!
Before being transferred to the fermentation tank, we must cool the liquid through a cooling system to bring it to the ideal temperature for fermentation. During this stage, an injection candle is used to oxygenate the liquid to help start the fermentation process.
It is at this stage that seeding is carried out with the yeast so that fermentation can begin. This is why you have to be very careful with the temperature (20-23 degrees). In this way, the yeast can absorb all the sugar and transform it into CO2 and alcohol.
After 3 weeks of fermentation, we finally have the beer. Well almost, because there is no fizz or foam yet! Some breweries add carbon dioxide artificially at this stage but our beers are refermented in bottles and therefore naturally carbonated.
And that's it, all that remains is to wait! The beer will be ready to drink in a few weeks!