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How Beer is Processed

It's is the oldest and most widely-consumed alcoholic beverage in the world, with origins tracing back to the early Neolithic Era, or 9500 BC. During the construction of the Great Pyramids, Egyptian workers were paid four to five liters of beer a day for both refreshment and nourishment. Around 3000 BC, beer spread throughout Europe. Early European beers contained fruit, honey, spices, and even narcotic herbs. Hops were finally introduced in the year 822 AD.

Today, the brewing industry is a global phenomenon. In 2015, the United States was the second-largest producer of beer worldwide, producing about 224 million hectoliters of beer, following China. In 2016, Americans spent more than $107.6 billion on beer, outpacing sales of wine, spirits, and water.

In recent years, the greatest increases in beer sales have come from the craft beer category, which increased 10% from 2015 to 2016—well ahead of the overall beer category, which increased only 1.3% - 3.5%.

As for consumption, Americans drank an average of 27 gallons of beer per capita in 2013, with 6% percent of U.S. adults consuming beer every day. Before you crack open your next cold one, find out how your favorite beer is made in our slideshow: 

Malting and Milling

Step 1: Malting and Milling - Creates the color and flavor of the beer and pulls out the starches for fermentation.

Mashing and Lautering

Step 2: Mashing and Lautering Converts the starches into sugars and removes the wort from spent grains.


Step 3: Boiling Hops are added into the boiling wort to create bitterness.


Step 4: Fermenting Yeast is added to eat up the sugars and create the all-important alcohol.

Conditioning and Filtering

Step 5: Conditioning and Filtering Let the beer sit. During this time, the yeast will eat any off-flavors that were created during fermentation.

Pasteurization and Packaging

Step 6: Pasteurization and Packaging Pasteurization kills any remaining yeast. Then it's time to bottle the beer.


Step 7: Enjoy! Here's a toast to beer!

IFT members and Food Technology subscribers: click here to learn more about the beer-making process and recent processing innovations.

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