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Barley to Beer - What does the process look like?

Barley to beer

Now we have moved to Worstead Farms, the barley we will be using for our beers is grown on fields behind the brewery. But what does that process look like? How do we turn barley into beer?...

H a r v e s t  

d a y

 

As you may know, a big influence for us moving premises was being able to further achieve our goal of being as  environmentally friendly as possible, sustainable and also supporting our local community. The Worstead farms have been growing barley on the .....? Acre field behind our brewery, and last Wednesday we had the pleasure of watching it be harvested. 

This is incredibly exciting for us as this means soon we will be able to start brewing with it. But what happens to the barley now? What does the process look like of turning Barley into Beer? 

 

Read on to find out....

Preparing barley for brewing

 

Steeping - To prepare it for brewing, the freshly harvested barley is hydrated by submerging it into fresh water up to three times. Temperatures and timings of this can be adjusted depending on the type of barley and the maturity. This process is called ‘steeping’ and this will create different specifications of barley that can be used to create a variety of outcomes within the finished product.  

The image above shows just how close we are: I took this picture stood inside the brewery, overlooking fields growing our barley

Germination -  The next step for the barley is to be germinated; this involves moving the barley to a malting floor or vessel where it sits for four to five days, allowing the grains to sprout. Depending on the type of malt you are looking to create, the temperature and moisture are monitored and adjusted. The germination process will naturally change the structure of the barley, breaking down cell walls and proteins, which releases starch and produces enzymes. During this time, any green malt must be turned to prevent matting in the roots.

 

Kilning - After germination, the next step is kilning. This process involves drying the grains gently on a kiln for up to three days and this will stop the germination. Again, this process can be controlled by varying airflows and temperatures which will have an effect on the final products’ colour and flavour too. The roots are removed at this stage and the final malt we end up with now looks a lot more like barley, but on the inside it has gone through a HUGE transition creating the extract, enzymes and nutrients we need to create our wonderful beers!

At this stage the malt is crushed and brought back to us at the brewery so we can continue the journey of barley to beer.

Mashing - We will store the malt in our dry store until we need it, and once it’s needed we will use roughly 16 x 25kg bags (408kg in total) for each brew (of around 2000litres).  

We put all of the malt into the mash tun as it is also filled with hot water (at varying temperatures), and then leave the malt soaking in water for one hour. 

Once this is finished, we will then sparge it, which is just spraying hot water through it to rinse the barley ensuring we extract the most sugar possible from the malt. 

Once the hour is up, we extract the water through the malt which then soaks up any remaining sugars. 

We fill the kettle (next to it) with the sugary water (called wort) and we are left with a big heap of sugar-extracted malt, or spent grains, which we recycle by giving back to the farm to use as cattle feed for their Wagyu cattle herd.  

There are tons of varieties of malt, and we do use a variety of around 10 different malts at Wildcraft - after all we have created over 24 spectacularly different brews! Each malt will have a different outcome for the taste of the beer. We use the chocolate malt for stouts, as this creates a darker beer rich with coffee overtones and notes of chocolate, and will use a lighter malt for the IPA’s as they offer toffee-like, caramel flavours, which are more workable and easier influenced by the flavours within the varieties of hops we use too. 

I hope you found this blog interesting, and I'll admit I had to do some internal and external research before writing it, too.  It is as factually correct as I believe possible. I'm looking forward to doing another blog soon with a step-by-step breakdown of how our beer is made, so keep your eyes peeled for that! 

Don't forget to sign up to our newsletter below!      

  Have a great week all x

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