Beer has been an important beverage in the world since its introduction in various forms centuries ago. The production of beer is a fascinating and topical term since many different people and culture choose to imbibe this alcoholic beverage. The brewing equipment used can be easily identified in several ways, one of which is the equipment used and the scale of production.
Here are some quick facts worth referencing that show the level of brewing equipment utilized in America. There are about 1,400 different breweries in the United States from macro brewers which scale their production in the millions of gallons to small locally owned breweries which only serve beer on their premises as well as home brewing cites. Within the United States, about 6 billion gallons annually and it from this statistic that the United States leads the world in volume of beer produced. It should be no surprise then that the United States is in the top ten of beer consumed per capita. That amount is up to 85 liters annually, which is 8th in the world. As shown, the United states is a huge producer and consumer of alcohol, although our aggregated production is not met by our consumption per capita.
The brewing equipment used in the production of beer varies dependent on the scale of production being sought after. Macro breweries will use enormous vats to assist in the production of brewing which is usually broken down into a few basic steps. The steps are mashing, wort separation, boiling, fermenting, conditioning, filtering, and packaging and each of these steps has various pieces of brewing equipment associated with it.
In the first step, mashing, malt and hot water are added to a large vat, circumstantial to the amount of final product that is sought after. This mixture is usually assembled in some brewing equipment referred to as a mash tun. The next step takes the sugar enriched liquid called wort and extracts it from the used and malted grain. This step is referred to as the wort separation. The following step is called boiling, this is where the malt extract from the first two steps is cooked to maintain a sanitary condition. This process, like the other is heavily dependent on the amount of product sought, and as such the cooking equipment in which the wort can range across the board from a stovetop pan to a many gallon copper vat.
The boiling equipment varies by size, material used, and heating type. Two main variations are the steam fired vat, and the direct fired vat. The direct fire has a flame, or electrical current run beneath the vat in order to warm the whole vat, however, this can cause the internal wort to burn, so when this method of production is used it usually requires some stirring mechanism to ensure a thorough cooking. The steam fired vat uses veins of steam to run through the vat in small pockets that cause the vat to be heated through transmission of the heat and this is usually run by an outside boiler, or several boilers. This is a closed system, but requires an external heating source and is usually sought after by macro level breweries.
After the boiling process uses brewing equipment in another process of separation which takes place in which denser solids leftover from the second step are forced to the center of a larger mixer in a whirlpool process. Again, this style of production is usually preferred by macro level producers of beer. A micro level brewer has no use for this large scale whirlpool as a slotted spoon could easily do the job sufficiently. After this is usually a cooling phase were the wort is allowed to cool in a contained environment so as not to undo the work of sterilizing it. Fermenting usually takes place is yet another large vat, but this is the most crucial stage as this is what allows the liquid to for the first time be referred to as beer. At this point yeast is added which grows on the wort and begins to constitute beer.
As shown, brewing equipment plays a large role in the production of beer.