Grain to Glass Series: Lab
August 25, 2017
If you haven’t read the first three posts in this series, hop back to “Grain to Glass Series Introduction,” “Grain to Glass Series: Packaging” and “Grain to Glass Series: Tap Room,” and then come here!
While you might think that we just drink beer around here (and we definitely do plenty of that), the entire brewing process is actually a science, which is why the laboratory is such a vital piece of our brewery puzzle. While we could attempt some scientific explanations, we’ll just let you follow our Mad Scientist, Brian Schonder, around while Anthony Proctor (The Yeast Wrangler) and Chad Henderson (Co-Owner/Head Brewer) explain!
Just a few definitions you might find helpful…
Wort – The sweet, malty liquid that begins by converting starches in malted grains into sugar (the process of mashing). Hot water is added to the mash to allow the enzymes to finish the conversion from starch to sugar
VDK – Vicinal Diketones are a group of flavor components in beer that are formed during fermentation and can indicate possible bacterial contamination.
Off flavors – The slight, mostly unintentional, undesirable or out-of-place flavors that can occur due to the ingredients, changes in fermentation or even brewing equipment (just to name a few).
Diacetyl – Diacetyl is an organic compound with the chemical formula (CH₃CO)₂. It is a yellow/green liquid with an intensely buttery flavor. It is a vicinal diketone with the molecular formula C₄H₆O₂.
Esters – A fruity flavor produced during fermentation that can vary in taste and aroma between pears, roses, bananas or other light fruits. In very high concentration it can create a solvent-like flavor. Esters are formed in beer by the “esterification” of ethanol which is the primary alcohol in beer.
Gravity – The specific gravity, or relative density compared to water, of the wort at various stages in the fermentation.