Beer


Beer -

The word "beer" as now used applies to all undistilled fermented malt liquors excepting those which travel under the special classifications of ale and porter or stout. Its principal constituents are prepared barley, called "malt" (which see) and hops with corn or rice, or both, added in varying proportions. Its flavor and quality depend not only on good materials and correct brewing, but also on the natural characteristics of the water employed - which explains the fact that, with all other conditions equal, some parts of the country enjoy a higher reputation for their beer than others are able to attain.

The history of beer proper dates from the thirteenth century, but its predecessor "barley wine" was drunk in Egypt at least four thousand years ago. Herodotus describes barley wine as made from barley malt, the principal ingredient of modern beer, and history tells that the Romans and later the early Britons, Danes and Germans practiced the part of brewing it and consumed it in large quantities.

In this country, in the early colonial days, every man was his own brewer. This statement is meant literally, for home beer brewing was as much a part of the housewife's duties as the making of fruit preserves. The local government encouraged however the establishment of public breweries and, their product supplementing the increase in the quantity of imported beers as ocean traffic developed, the result was that in time the custom of home brewing died out as unnecessary.

The beers brewed then - and for many succeeding generations - were all of the English style - ale, porter etc., - much heavier in alcohol than the product we know, darker in color, and more or less "muddy" in appearance. The greater percentage of alcohol was required to keep the liquor in good condition as brewing had not reached the scientific perfection of to-day.

The English style of beers continued in universal use until the introduction of "lager beer" from Germany in the early half of the 19th century. The lighter beverage met with almost instant favor and in a few years the demand for it had revolutionized the brewing industry. Under different titles and brands it constitutes by far the greater part of the beer now consumed in this country.

Formerly, beer was manufactured almost exclusively of barley malt and hops, and some varieties of both imported and domestic are still so brewed, but the addition of either rice or corn (or both) has become very general for several reasons - principally because of the preference of the general public for a very brilliant, sparkling brew and because of the high prices and limited quantity of high class barley malt produced. To these reasons may be added the fact that much even of high grade American malt contains too many insoluble albuminoids which tend to make the beer cloudy.

The average proportion is 70% malt and 30% rice or corn, or 30% of corn and rice mixed. The rice is, perhaps, preferable to corn as giving a finer, cleaner taste, because of the absence of vegetable oil. The difference is, though, slight as very little oil is left in the corn after preparation.

Only No. 1 white flint corn and fine ground imported Burma rice are used in high grade breweries.

The preparation of the barley malt and the grinding of the corn (to a very fine hominy) are now frequently businesses separate from brewing, because of the magnitude of preparation, separating, cleansing, etc.

The first stages in brewing itself are the crushing of the malt and the prolonged boiling of the ground rice or corn.

The crushed malt is run into the mash "tun" or tank and mixed with warm water. Then the rice and corn, still at the boiling point, are added to it, the diastase of the malt converting the starches of the grain into "Sugar" (maltose and dextrin).

The "wort," as the liquid product is then called, is next run off through a filtering apparatus into covered steam-jacketed copper boilers and there boiled, by steam pipes connection, for two or three hours. The hops, in the proportion of about one pound to a barrel, are added to the liquid as soon as it commences to boil. The liquid is next pumped through a hop strainer into the cooling tanks and thence as rapidly as possible through coils of cooling pipes into the ferment tanks. Here yeast is added and fermentation takes place. On the judgment and experience displayed in the preparation and handling of the yeast depends largely the success of the brew.

From the fermenting house the beer goes to the "resting" or aging tanks. The next move, after a rest of generally three months or longer, is the finishing tank, where the finished product is "carbonated" either by the addition of carbon-dioxide taken from the fermenting tanks or of a small quantity of new beer just starting to ferment. Either process furnishes the "sparkle" and effervescence which give beer its attractive appearance. Finally comes the filtering and running into kegs or bottles.

It is the boiling process which chiefly distinguishes beer as we know it from the ancient "barley wine." The boiling preserves the product by the elimination of the albuminoids, etc., and gives it both better appearance and flavor. The hops tend to give the desired bitter and aromatic taste. Bottled beer is further preserved by pasteurization.

The difference in the color of beers is attributable sometimes to local differences in the method of brewing, but more often to the quantity of malt used. As a general thing, a greater percentage of malt tends to make a beer darker and a greater percentage of rice to make it lighter in color. Slight variations may also be due to the difference between light and dark malt, and an especially dark color may be attributable to the addition of 5% to 8% of caramel malt to a dark malt.

The difference between "heavy" and "light" beer in composition, irrespective of color, is generally attributable to the temperature at which the "wort" is made. The average is 150° to 160° Fahr., the result of adding the boiling grain to the warm, but not boiling, malt mash. A higher temperature produces less Sugar and leaves a larger percentage of unconverted grain extracts in the wort - and in consequence the completed beer will be heavy in body or extract but of a low alcohol percentage. A good example of a beer rich in extracts is the dark Bavarian. Of opposite character is the Pilsner kind - which is light in composition, almost free from extracts, but of a much higher percentage of alcohol.

"Brewer's Sugar" or "Commercial Dextrose," a form of glucose, is frequently used in place of part of the usual malt addition, principally from motives of economy when malt is high in price but also because it contains less nitrogenous matter and thus tends to make a clearer brighter brew. The chemical components are closely allied - malt under the action of diastase produces dextrin and maltose, and Brewer's Sugar contains dextrin, maltose and dextrose.

American beer closely resembles the German in composition but it averages a little lighter in alcohol - varying in the ordinary varieties from 3% to 4%, going though in some cases as high as 7%. Some connoisseurs assert that the finest German beers excel any produced in this country, but it may be safely asserted that the average of the products of American breweries is fully equal to the average of those of any country without any exception whatever.

The title "lager beer" signifies "store house beer," or beer laid by and stored for some months before use.

Lager beer is distinguished in brewing by being fermented at a much lower temperature than ales. On this account it was formerly made only during the winter months, but the extension of refrigerating facilities in recent years has made its manufacture possible all the year round.

malt beer is made solely of barley malt and hops.

Bock beer is an especially strong variety of German origin but now thoroughly localized here. It is darker in color, less bitter in flavor and stronger in alcohol. It is generally brewed in the winter from the first of the new crop of hops and malt and drunk in the spring.

The goat which is usually associated with "Bock beer" is attributable to a general misunderstanding concerning the origin of the title. "Bock" means "goat," but the name "Bock beer" was taken from "Eimbock," the former name of Eimbeck, a Prussian city famous for its breweries during the time of the Reformation.

Stock beer and Winter beer are, practically, equivalents of Lager beer.

Black beer or Dantzig beer is a very dark, syrupy brew first made in Dantzig.

Bitter beer is a name occasionally applied to ALE (which see).

The most noteworthy "temperance" beers which resemble genuine beer in flavor and appearance but which show less than 1% alcoholic component are made in about the same manner and with practically the same ingredients as lager beer, the alcohol being afterwards removed by re-boiling the finished product.


Arround Beer in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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