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What is a wort and how do I make one?


When I first started making beer I was totally confused by the word 'wort' that I kept seeing everywhere. "Cool your wort quickly!" the internet said. Um what?

I now know that the beer wort is the starting point for making beer. It is the amber liquid extracted from malted barley.

In the most basic sense, you can describe the wort as unfermented beer.

Beer makers use the wort as the basis to which start the beer. Think of the wort as the base contents of the potion in a witch's cauldron.

As the witch adds 'eye of newt' and other goodies to her potion, the beer maker does the same by adding flavourings and hops to the wort to prepare a solution ready for fermenting. 

beer wort, what is it?So basically, the wort is just flat beer. 


Like making a cake, if you don't use the correct ingredients in the right proportions your cake fails, a wort needs to be properly prepared. If you are making beer using a beer kit, then your wort is easily made simply by adding the content of the can to the required volume of hot water.

Boom, you have wort. You add to your beer potion, hops, and sugars such as dextrose or a beer enhancer

If your boiling your own wort, it's more complicated. You the one who is in charge of making sure you have all the ingredients and that you boil them at the right time. 

Once you have the wort ingredients all sorted, it is boiled. This is to extract the bittering, flavour and aroma from hops. This is critical if you want your beer to have the characteristics of beer!

The bittering hops are usually boiled in the wort for approximately one hour to one and a half hours. This long boil extracts resins from the hops which provides the bittering.

Near the end of the boil, flavouring hops can be added. Then, if you're fully on your beer brewing game, finishing hops are added last. This part of the wort boil extracts the oils which provide flavour and aroma.


Chill out, man


Once you're wort is boiled and everything has gone to plan, the wort is chilled very quickly.

Due to the temperature requirements of yeast, it needs to be at a temperature which will allow it to thrive. If you put your yeast into the just off the boil wort, you will kill the yeast and get flat beer.

It might taste nice but there won't be any alcohol in it either!

Brewers have a tough enough time trying to work out if their beer has fermented properly, so make sure you get that part of your beer brewing right!

Image credit to Alan Levine via Creative Commons Licence

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