How is craft beer made? With all the passion of BEFED
If, like us, you’re a lover of craft beers, then you’re in the right place!
At our BEFED Brew Pubs, passion and commitment come together to create authentic and unique craft beers, available on tap or in bottles.
In this article, we’ll unveil the behind-the-scenes of every single drop of beer we produce, from selecting the finest ingredients to the fermentation stage.
Are you ready to enter our world, where beer is much more than just a simple beverage?
The craft beer production process: selecting the ingredients
BEFED beers are born from the experience and passion of our master brewers, who carefully oversee every stage of the production process with meticulous attention and dedication.
The result? Unforgettable beers!
At BEFED, we still produce beer following the oldest and most authentic German-inspired recipes, without making unnecessary modifications or additions that could alter its naturalness.
But how do BEFeD beers actually come to life? Let’s discover it together through the journey into the production process of our craft beer.
First, let’s talk about the ingredients.
Barley malt, hops and water: these are the fundamental ingredients used to create our craft beers. At this point, a question might arise: why are beers so different when the ingredients are always the same? Because it’s all in the details and their combination.
Water, the main element of beer, making up over 90% of its composition, must have specific characteristics that can be achieved through tools that modify its structure and composition. At BEFED, we use water with the best characteristics for our beer types, perfectly suited to our rigorous and selective production processes.
Barley malt is obtained from roasted barley, and its degree of toasting influences the final color of the beer. We use malts of German, Belgian, and English origin to ensure quality and consistency.
Hops, a plant whose intense green cone-shaped flower resembles a pine cone, plays a fundamental role in the bitterness and flavor of beer. It can be used in various forms, including dried flowers, pellets (dried and pressed flowers, as in BEFED beers), and extracts obtained through specific heat treatments.
But the process – and the magic – doesn’t end here; this is the stage where the ingredients that give the beer its distinctive and unique flavor, such as spices, are selected.
At BEFED, we love creating beers with fresh and harmonious ingredients, like the Blanche with coriander and citrus zest or the Honey beer, a true nectar of the gods.
Beer production process: the stages
Once the best malts are chosen for use, we begin the milling process in our facilities. This process coarsely breaks the barley malt grains, paying particular attention to avoiding excessive flour formation. Milling directly impacts the alcohol yield and product clarity during filtration.
After milling, we soak the malt in warm water.
The process continues with the mashing stage, whose goal is to break down proteins and starches that were not transformed during milling.
We put the malts in a special kettle, mix them with hot water, and bring the mixture to the ideal temperature for beer production.
The temperatures vary depending on the type of beer we want to make and the amount of malt used. In general, we proceed with gradual heating up to about 78°C.
The resulting mixture from mashing is then filtered through a container called a “filter tun,” which allows the liquid and malt flours to pass through while retaining the dregs, which are the unused cereal parts destined for animal feed.
In this stage essential substances for the beer, such as color, sugars, and proteins, are extracted while solid parts are eliminated, producing the dregs.
From the filter tun, the wort is transferred to the boiling kettle. At this point, we bring the mixture, which has already taken on its typical color, to a temperature of 100°C for a variable period of one to two hours. With this process, we make the wort sterile, free of unwanted microorganisms and ready for the subsequent fermentation activity.
During boiling, we also add hops in two distinct phases:
- The first hop addition occurs as soon as the liquid reaches the boiling point, imparting that characteristic bitter taste that is the hallmark of all craft beers.
- The second dose of hops is introduced only 10 minutes before the end of the boiling phase. This step is dedicated to creating the desired aromas. Since aromatic fragrances tend to evaporate quickly, we keep them in contact with the boiling liquid for only a short time, which explains why they are added almost at the end of the process.
This stage concludes the hot wort phase with centrifugation inside a container called a “whirlpool tun.” Centrifugation, achieved with a pump, forces solid parts to form a mass in the center of the tank, allowing for the extraction of only the pure liquid.
After the whirlpool phase, the cooling operation follows, during which we lower the wort temperature from about 80°C to the ideal temperature for fermentation. For this process, we simply use cold water at 1-2°C.
Fermentation is the phase where the magic happens: yeast converts sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide, transforming a sweet and slightly bitter wort into a beer with a unique and distinctive flavor. The type of yeast and fermentation temperatures significantly influence the taste, aroma, and overall character of the beer, contributing to the diversity of styles and flavors.
There are three distinct types of fermentation, each conferring different characteristics:
- Low-temperature fermentation: In this mode, yeasts work at temperatures ranging from 10 to 12 degrees and mainly settle at the bottom of fermentation containers (fermenters). This produces beers with pronounced dryness and softness and a clean and neutral taste.
- High-temperature fermentation: Yeasts operate at temperatures ranging from 18 to 25 degrees and tend to distribute mainly in the upper part of the fermentation containers. This process gives beers a more complex aromatic profile and a more robust body, often characterized by fruity, sweet, and rich notes.
- Spontaneous fermentation: This method involves opening the top of the fermentation container, allowing all microorganisms present in the environment to participate in the process. As a result, complex beers with earthy, woody, and vinous notes are obtained, often accompanied by pronounced acidity.
At BEFED, we have chosen to use exclusively high fermentation yeasts, and during the fermentation stage, our master brewers decide the bitterness intensity and the carbonation level of our craft beers.
The fermentation phase lasts from 20 to 22 days and is divided into two moments:
- Tumultuous fermentation: In the first 10 days, yeasts work intensely, producing alcohol, carbon dioxide, and heat.
- Clarification: In the following 10-12 days, we lower the temperature to 0°C to allow yeasts and other suspended particles to settle, making the beer clearer.
Filtration after fermentation
Even though the beer has already settled at this point, it may still appear cloudy. To make it crystal clear, as we like to serve it in our BEFED locations, we proceed to further clarify it. This operation does not alter or modify the taste of the finished product.
During maturation, our beers develop all their flavor and complexity. To preserve this unique and intense aroma, we use PET kegs that protect the beer from light and air, its natural enemies. The beer remains in the kegs for a variable period of 15 to 45 days, maintaining a constant temperature of 3-4°C.
Now, finally, the final stage: the beer is ready to be tasted!
We send the beer to the taps by simply adjusting the flow of inert gas (carbon dioxide or nitrogen) to compensate for the liquid coming out of the kegs.
There are three recognized tapping techniques:
- the German method, which creates a frothy “cap” on the beer;
- the Belgian method, which involves quickly filling the glass and cutting off excess foam with a spatula;
- the English method, in which the glass is filled without forming foam.
Pasteurization makes the difference between craft beer and industrial beer
Our craft beer production process concludes by skipping the pasteurization stage, which is an integral part of industrial beer production. Pasteurization is a heat process used to eliminate unwanted microorganisms present in beer, improving its shelf life and preservability. It is common in industrial beers because they need longer expiration dates for sale and storage.
However, pasteurization also eliminates the yeast that contributes to the typical flavor of beer. As a result, industrial beer tends to have a uniform taste, while craft beer remains intact and unpasteurized, preserving all the original flavors and aromas. This allows us to offer a range of beers with a variety of tastes and aromas unimaginable for any industrial product.
Try BEFED’s craft beers at our pubs
BEFED’S production process gives birth to authentic and unpasteurized craft beers, each with its own personality, freshness, and character.
You can choose a blonde, light, and fragrant beer, or a red, strong, and intense one. But we also offer unique and flavored “seasonal” beers.
If you want to fully savor their taste, come and visit us at one of our BEFeD Brew Pubs! Here, you can relax, enjoy good food, and share special moments with friends, family, and the people you love the most. And above all, you’ll discover how our craft beers perfectly complement the star of the menu, our Barbecued Cockerel… and you can eat it with your hands!
Find the nearest BEFED to you and come visit us. We look forward to introducing you to the world of BEFED craft beers.