Beer Making Is Marvel of Industrial Chemistry (Jun, 1933)

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Beer Making Is Marvel of Industrial Chemistry

With the removal of national restrictions against the manufacture and sale of beer, American brewers are again in action. Their operations represent one of the most extensive applications of modern industrial chemistry. More than 2,000,000,000 pounds of malt, 650,000,000 pounds of corn and corn products, and 41,000,000 pounds of hops are a part of the vast consignment of raw materials that experts will turn each year into beer. On these pages, our artist shows how the transformation is accomplished in one big, and now active, American brewery.

Beer is the fermented product of malted or sprouted grain, usually barley. Its manufacture requires the conversion of the grain’s starch into fermentable sugar, and the transformation of this sugar, by fermentation, into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. During the process, the beer is given its characteristic bitter flavor by the addition of hops, the yellowish-green cones or catkins of the hop vine.

Malt, the principal raw material, has previously been produced by steeping, sprouting, and drying barley. Germination develops an important enzyme or digestive fluid called diastase, capable of turning the malt’s starch into sugar. Since this task does not exhaust the enzyme’s power, additional starch in the form of corn or rice is often added at the start of the brewing operation. Subsequent steps from the mash to the final product are explained in the drawings. The color of the finished beer depends upon the raw materials; natural malt yields a pale beer, while caramelized, or heat-treated, malt gives a dark beer.

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