How to make beer, according to a brewer

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The beer making process is both a science and an artform and has been the speciality of London-based brewery Fuller’s for more than 170 years. 

One of Fuller’s expert Brewers, Hayley Marlor, has agreed to share how Fuller’s brews beer in their Pilot Brewery – a microbrewery used for used for experimenting with new ingredients and creating new recipes for beer.  

Fuller's brewer Hayley Marlor in brewery

A simple guide to making beer

Hayley said the number one requirement for brewing great beer is to ensure you have appreciation, and passion for, the popular beverage.   

“The beer making process is long, labour-intensive and quite scientific, so to make great beer you need to love what you’re doing, and it also helps if you enjoy the finished product.   

“I love every part of the beer-making process which keeps brewing exciting. Being passionate about beer and brewing is key to producing something great, and I’d say it’s an essential ingredient in the brewing process. After you’ve established your ‘why,’ it’s time to make beer!”

 Diagram explaining how to make beer

Hayley said to make beer brewers need four key ingredients, which are: 

• Malted barley
• Water
• Hops 
• Yeast

Beer is always made using the same key ingredients, but the beer variety and flavour is affected by manipulating different variables throughout the brewing process, she explained. 

“A lot of science goes into brewing. Different hops are used for bitterness and aroma, and there are many different malts that you can use. The temperature that you brew at changes the taste, and even the water used has an impact. You can add more hops, botanicals or flavourings, too.

“For example, when we brew London Pride we use traditional British hops, and when we’re brewing Frontier Premium Lager we use New World hops.”

The Malting process

Brewing beer begins with grains, usually barley, although oats and wheat can also be used. The grains are harvested and processed through heating, drying and cracking, to isolate the enzymes used in beer. 

The malt used determines the colour of the beer. A lightly-roasted malt will produce a very pale beer, and deeply roasted malts will produce dark beers. 

“We mill our own malt before we use it which gives us more control over our grist (milled malt). Most smaller breweries get their malt pre-milled, which can affect the flavour.”

Milling malt for making beer

Mashing the malt

Malt is added to the Mash Tun and left to steep in hot water, producing a sugary liquid called wort. This is a process called “mashing-in”. 

Hayley explained further: 

“The malt is steeped in hot, but not boiling, water for approximately an hour. This activates enzymes in the malt that causes starch in the malt to break down and release simple sugars. Once this is all done you drain the water from the mash which is now full of sugar from the grains. This sticky, sweet liquid is called wort – which is actually pronounced ‘wurt’.” 

Boiling and adding hops

The wort is transferred into a Copper where hops are added for bitterness. The wort is boiled for about an hour, after which more hops are added for aroma. 

“First, we add bitter hops, which is then boiled to bring out the bitterness. Then, more hops are added for aroma, which isn’t boiled,” Hayley said. 

“Some of our beers that have additional hops include Montana Red and Wild River.”

The liquid is then cooled to around 17 Degrees Celsius and transferred to a fermentation vessel, where the yeast is added. 

Picking fresh hops for making beer
Hops used for making beer

Fermentation

Once the wort is cooled, it’s put into a fermentation vessel where yeast is added to it. 

“This is where the magic happens – the yeast eats the sugar, creating carbon dioxide and alcohol. You can add more hops, botanicals or flavourings to create the kind of beer you’d like to make.” 

The length of the fermentation process is determined by the variety of beer being produced. When making most ales, the beer is stored for a short time at cooler temperatures. If lager is being produced, the beer is stored for longer at colder temperatures after the fermentation process. 

“Maintaining the correct temperatures throughout this stage is very important for the quality of the beer, and this is one of the biggest challenges faced by home brewers,” Hayley explained. 

Picture of inside a microbrewery used for making beer

Filtering, processing and bottling

After the fermentation process is complete, alcoholic beer has been produced. The beer can then be put into a cask, which is one of the least processed types of beer, or it can be put into kegs, bottles, or cans, which requires processing and may also require carbonation, depending on what style of beer has been made.  

“Unfiltered beer is often thought of as being more ‘craft’ because it keeps more of its flavour, which can be affected during processing and filtering. There is a fine balance between not heavily processing beer while ensuring it is clean.”

The beer filtration process
The bottling process for making beer.

The finished product = delicious beer!

There you have it – a simple step-by-step guide to making beer, as told by a Fuller’s Brewer. 

But if that all sounds like too much work, leave the brewing to the capable experts at Fuller’s Brewery – buy the finished product from Fuller’s online shop, or visit one of our many pubs throughout England

The beer will taste even better now that you know what goes into making it! 

Click here to find a pub near you

 Brewer making beer from scratch

Want to learn more about brewing beer? 

Fuller’s operates regular brewery tours at their historic Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, London.  

Voted “excellent” with a five-star rating on TripAdvisor, the tour of London’s oldest brewery takes you on a journey around Griffin Brewery by the Thames, where Fuller’s has been brewing award-winning beer since 1845. 

During this two-hour tour, one of our experienced and highly knowledgeable guides will explain how beer is made, as well as give a behind-the-scenes view of Fuller’s and what makes the brewery continue to flourish after so many years. The tour finishes with a generous beer tasting in our Hock Cellar bar and museum, where you can taste the finished products.  

To book a brewery tour, click here: Book a Brewery Tour

Click here for more information about craft beer.