Simply Science: Microbiology and Microbrewing

MINNETONKA, Minn. - There is plenty of science involved in bringing your occasional malted beverage to your lips. Laura Betker follows the process from barley to bottle.

Before it ends up in your fridge, or your glass,most beers at Lucid Brewery in Minnetonka start as wheat or barley.

The crushed grains head to the mash vessel. That's step one in the beer making process.

A Microbiologist, Lead Brewer Paul Johnston explains, "That's where we get what's called scarification. We change that starch into sugars with enzymes."

Hot water is rinsed through the grains and sent ahead to the boil kettle.

"We want to reduce the volume, we want to concentrate the sugars. There's also some flavor development that happens through that boiling process, it's the same kind of browning action that you see on toast or steak," continues Johnston.

After hops are added and removed, the yeast is added for fermentation.

"The yeast then goes in and eats all the sugars, and produce ethanol and carbon dioxide as a byproduct," he says.

Then the beer makes it into bottles... with an extra shot of CO2.

Head Brewer Eric Biermann (Yes, it is pronounced, Beerman) says, "We purge'the bottle'with carbon dioxide. We want to try and eliminate as much oxygen as possible in the beer, because that's a flavor inhibitor going forward."

He adds, "We do like the amber colored bottles because it help keep out the spectrum of light that is close to UV light that will react with the hops and create that skunk, what they call a skunk beer."

It's ready to enjoy,right off the line!


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