From Farm to Pint Glass: What Goes Into Making Your Beer

What goes into beer?  That can be as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4:

  1. Barley (or some other grain)
  2. water
  3. hops
  4. yeast.

(Ok, unless you’re the kind of person who likes your beer with “overt but not overbearing banana and clove”, or maybe “notes of muted fleshy stone fruit and subtle guava.”  And yes, those ARE descriptions of real beers.  We’ll let them go unnamed though;  it’s better for all of us that way.)

Making beer from even those simple ingredients though – that does take a little something extra.  Starting with…

This is the farm, that grew the grains (and hops), that make our beer.

From tilling, to plowing, from fertilizing and finally, harvesting the various grains and hops that go into our beer – it takes fuel to run the tractors and other equipment, and odds are, that fuel is diesel.

This is the brewery, that mashed (and lautered and hopped and fermented) the grains, that grew on the farm, that make our beer.

All those processes require a lot of heating and cooling that goes on, which takes energy, which takes fuel (like natural gas).

These are the bottles (and cans and kegs), that hold the beer, that the brewery brewed, from the grains that grew on the farm, that make our beer.

Making glass bottles, aluminum cans, steel (or plastic) kegs – that also takes plenty of energy (more natural gas).

These are trucks, that haul the bottles (and cans and kegs), that hold the beer, that the brewery brewed, from the grains that grew on the farm, that make our beer.

Now, we’ve got all those cases and cases (or kegs) of beer in cans and bottles at the brewery.  Getting that beer to us?  The trusty beer truck, running on equally trusty diesel fuel.

Now, if you’re sensing a theme here (besides beer), you’re right.  Making and moving beer, depends on fuels made from petroleum (like diesel) and natural gas (like natural gas).

And, if you want to go all nerdy about it, petrochemicals made from petroleum and natural gas, are also used to make the cool reverse osmosis membranes that are sometimes used to filter the water used for beer – made from polymers made from petrochemicals.

Did You Know?

Modern reverse osmosis membranes for purified water are composites that include a polyamide and a polyethersulfone, two high-tech engineered plastics.  The polyamide component is made from a special type of nylon that is reacted with polyethylene glycol. The nylon component begins with benzene and the polyethylene glycol with ethylene.  Polyethersulfone is a high-performance polymer that also starts with benzene (isn’t benzene versatile?) to produce the sulfone part of the molecule.  Benzene and propylene are reacted in the important Cumene Process to make phenol and acetone, which are used to make the ether part of the polyethersulfone molecule.  Thank goodness chemists can make sense of all this!

And this is you, enjoying your beer, that came on the truck, in a bottle (or can or keg), that the brewery brewed, from the grains that grew on the farm, that make our beer.

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