La Malta (El Cereal)

The Malt (The Cereal)

During the conversation of any ordinary day the topic of beer comes up and we remember that extraordinary golden elixir that makes our day, we know that it accompanies us through good times and bad.

The simple fact of remembering that golden color in the jar invites us to get together, we just want to be with friends having a pleasant moment and probably celebrating something.

Today I don't remember the reason for the last meeting, I just remember that we were having a wonderful time. As always something special happened, I don't know if it was the company, the music, the food, or the drink but it was a very special moment that I want to repeat.

During these meetings we talk little about the drink, in some cases we only know that we like it, and on rare occasions at any given moment we ask ourselves "what will be special about this beer?"

At that moment one of our friends may tell us something about its manufacture, however in my experience there are many myths and urban legends even from people close to the process that generate more doubts about the process not only of beer but of any alcoholic beverage. .

Starting with the basics , beer has at least four ingredients . As silly as the most obvious ingredient, water, seems, it turns out to be the least obvious. On one occasion I asked a specialized supplier for a quote for a chiller (the chiller is a type of through-flow cooler, like a radiator) and he asked me about the composition of the beer to which I responded that it was basically water since 95% -96% is water. He didn't like this answer very much so he said he would investigate it and in the end it turned out that obviously I was right, it's basically water. That's how I know the ingredient isn't that obvious.

The second ingredient is the most unknown of all and perhaps the most important since it is not present in the final product but without it beer or any alcoholic beverage would not exist. I'm talking about yeast , yeast is a living single-celled fungus that eats sugar and its metabolism discards alcohol and carbon dioxide CO2.

There is no way to produce alcohol without yeast and there is no other natural or artificial organism or method by which alcohol is produced. Here we can find myths such as that some tequila makers spoil, put waste or waste in the process, etc. They are all fake.

Again, they are all false, no matter how credible it may seem and no matter who says it, all of that is false.

Yeast is a living being and requires a favorable environment to live, grow and multiply until the food runs out. This process is called fermentation and while the fungi live their way of life, the characteristic flavor appears at the moment the transformation of sugar into alcohol occurs.

As there is more alcohol, the yeast dies and the dead yeast must be eliminated. Very little yeast remains in the final product compared to that used during the entire fermentation process.

The third ingredient is the reason why many people do not like beer, since there are few flavors or foods that give us that bitter taste. Due to the small amount of foods with a bitter taste, our palate is not used to it.

In the case of beer, the bitterness comes from hops, which is a familiar cannabis plant that does not produce the oils and active chemicals of cannabis at the same level. In beer, the leaf is not used, the flower is used, which is a kind of cone. There are a large number of species of hop plants, many of them developed to give them certain properties.

The most important components of hops that affect beer are: flavor, the amount of bitterness determined by alpha acids and taking care that beta acids are lower since they are related to undesirable flavors in beer.

The missing ingredient is malt , which is just the food source for the yeast. Wait, we said yeast eats sugar.

Why do you involve malt as sugar if it is a cereal?

Barley, Wheat or Rye Malt.

The cheapest sugar to make alcohol is obtained from sugar cane, which is why alcohols from cane are so cheap and of low quality. In the case of malt, it contains very little sugar and a large amount of starch. Using a natural process, the enzymes present in the malt itself convert starch into simple sugar which is then diluted in water so that it can be processed by yeast. Through cooking, the amount of liquid sugar is concentrated since when water is boiled, liquid is lost through evaporation, leaving a macerate (concentrated sugar liquid).

Ohh I understand, is there a malt plant? No, there is no malt plant, then; What the hell is malt? Malt is obtained through a grain malting process. The grains that can be malted are: barley, rye and wheat.

Wheat is a very noble grain and is mainly used in making bread, so using it increases the price of the grain, which affects the price of beer. Wheat is also a grain that produces a lot of turbidity in beer and is almost impossible to eliminate and it causes some problems during the process, which is why no more than 40% is used in a mixture.

Rye is the traditional grain used in brewing beer, however it is a difficult grain to grow and maintain, which is why its use has been almost completely eradicated, in addition to giving a characteristic hotness to the same grain. Barley is an easier grain to grow than rye and does not have as much binder as wheat, in addition to its sweet flavor, for these reasons it is an ideal grain for the production of beer.

From the grain it is germinated in such a way that its stem grows, the intention of germination is to produce a greater amount of starch in the grain, which is obtained with the growth of the stem.

Once the grain has germinated and the stem has grown to about 3/4 of the size of the grain, germination stops and the grain goes to the roasting process.

The variety of malts depends largely on the initial grain (wheat, barley or rye) and the level of roasting or roasting process used. For example, base malt undergoes a low roasting process, chocolate or black malt undergoes a high roasting process. On the other hand, caramel malt is produced by introducing the malt into the oven once the required temperature has been reached and removed at the required roasting level.

The more roasted the grain is, the less enzymes it contains, therefore the conversion of kilos of grain to sugar tends to be unprofitable in highly roasted grains.

Like beer production, malt brewing is an art and in many cases more complex than it seems.

I hope in a future article to have the opportunity to detail the malt production process, the traditional method and the modern method of production.

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