Key Process Terms
The following terms describes some key process terms that deserve a basic description here.
This refers to the moment when the crushed grain comes into contact with hot water (hot liquor) for the first time. The combination of the grain bill at ambient temperature and the '[Hot] Strike Water Needed (SWN)' should result in the temperature desired for the beginning of the mash.
Literature on mashing usually describes and emphasises various chemical processes. This means that the basic purpose of mashing can often be over-looked. The word 'mashing' can be usefully interpreted as, 'soaking'. Our pre-boil job as a brewer is to 'wash' the 'sugar' out of the grain. Just like washing dirty clothes, soaking loosens the sugars the grain bill holds. The longer you soak the more 'dirt' you will remove.
Many different mashing regimes and temperatures exist however almost all beer recipes can be successfully mashed at a temperature between 62 and 70 C for a period of 90 minutes. (See 'mash temperature in section above.)
Sparging can be thought of as washing and rinsing. Whilst soaking (mashing) only requires a small amount of water, washing and rinsing (sparging) requires a lot more. In pure BIAB, all the water needed for mashing and sparging is added from the start which means that the grain is soaked, washed and rinsed simultaneously.
Lautering can be thought of as draining the sweet liquor away from the 'spent grain'. In traditional brewing, this is literally a draining. In pure BIAB it is a lifting. The bag of spent grain is lifted from the sweet liquor.
Boiling is an extremely important part of beer production. A 90 minute good rolling boil is recommended.
As a very basic rule, hopping of a beer occurs during the boil. Be aware that there are many exceptions to this rule. Hops can contribute bitterness, flavour and/or aroma to a beer. A very broad guide is that bitterness hops are added early in the boil (do not boil any hop for more than 90 minutes though) whilst hops added at around 15 minutes before the boil ends add flavour and those added at the very end of the boil tend to add aroma.
Note that hop addition times refer to how long the hop is boiled for. For example, a 5 minute hop addition would refer to an aroma hop added 5 minutes before the boil ends.
Other hopping techniques include, before the boil starts, mash hopping and first wort hopping. Techniques such as whirlpool hops, 'cube' hoping, hopbacking, dry hopping and 'randalling' occur post-boil.
The moment when heat is turned off and the boil ends.
Many different methods of cooling wort to pitching temperature are available. The method of chilling the brewer uses will also play a major bearing in how they can manage their flavour and aroma hops and kettle trub.
This refers to adding yeast to the boiled and cooled wort. The management, timing and temperatures of pitching can be critical so check before you pitch.
The time period where the yeast turns the 'sugars' into alcohol. The management, timing and temperatures of fermentation is nearly always critical so be informed before you ferment.
Once fermented, the beer has to be packaged into bottles or kegs which need to be carbonated before dispensing. If kegs are used, the usual practice is to force-carbonate by injecting CO2 gas under pressure into the keg over a certain time. Kegs can also be 'naturally' carbonated or primed just as bottled beer is. Naturally priming involves adding a small amount of a priming sugar to a bottle (or keg) and then sealing it. Yeast then eats the sugar up and releases CO2 as a gas. As the vessel is sealed, the CO2 has nowhere to go and therefore dissolves into the beer.