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Emilie's Education Series: Wort

Jun 26, 2013 Comments (0)  | Tags: Beer Geekery Emilies Education Series: Wort

Wort. Not the most attractive word in the dictionary but it is a word that is used multiple times in the brewing process. What is it? The straight-forward definition: sugar water. How is it made? Well, let's start from the beginning…

There are four main ingredients in beer: water, malt, hops, and yeast. For wort, we are going to concentrate on water and malt.

What is malt? Malt is actually barley. Barley transforms into malt after it is malted. The first thing that happens is malt is augured from our silo outside into our mill inside. The mill crushes the malt.

Why do we need to crush the malt? Through crushing the malt, it cracks open the husks, exposing the starches inside. We need those starches exposed so we can get the sugars from those starches. In order to make alcohol, you have to have sugar and yeast. So, malt + mill = exposed starches.

Now that we have crushed malt, we can send it to the brew house. The brew house consists of four large tanks: mash mixer, lauter tun, wort receiver, and brew kettle. First, the malt goes into the mash mixer. This is where the malt is soaked in very hot water.

I like to compare this process to making tea. In order to release the flavor from a tea bag, you must soak the tea bag in hot water. When crush malt is soaked in hot water, the sugars are released. Basically, this leaves you with sugar water. This sugar water is called… WORT! Ta-Da!

So what is wort exactly? It's the beginning stage of brewing beer. It is the sugar water that will get boiled with hops and eventually turned into alcohol.


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