A common question from people beginning to take an interest in the behind the scenes aspects of alcohol is about the difference between brewing and distilling. Many people spend years acquiring a taste for their favorite beer or spirit, perfecting their palate for wine, or tip toeing through the myriad ciders on the market today, but never actually think about the process undertaken to get that liquid to the bartop, to the grocery or liquor store, or to their refrigerator.
Brewing and Distilling: Know What You’re Drinking
It is not quite like with a machine or technology, is it? Most of us do not find ourselves fascinated by how our car works after years of driving it. We don’t feel the need to understand our smartphones to text or scroll social media (or read this article). But with our food and beverages, many of us find ourselves wondering… how? How is this made?
The first and most simple way to explain brewing and distilling is as follows:
Brewing is the process of fermenting a starch, typically barley, with water, yeast, and hops (the flowers of the hop plant).
Distilling is the process that follows fermenting, which separates the alcohol from the fermented material to produce a higher alcohol content, purified liquid.
Brewing and Distilling: It’s Complicated… Sometimes
Brewing and Distilling can of course be really, terribly, simple.
Ever heard of moonshine? During Prohibition in the United States, when the sale and consumption of alcohol was illegal, people would ferment malt, barley, or potatoes, and then distill it, in the bathtub. In the bathtub??? Yes. In the bathtub. And, from what we hear, it tasted like it came from a bathtub.
You see, the distillation process involves turning a liquid to a vapor and then back to a liquid. You heat the liquid up to the point of steam, then collect the droplets that come from the steam, and you have liquor. You can, technically, do this in your tub.
Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures, right?
But when it comes to more refined alcohol, distilling is done with very specific, well designed distillation equipment, so the alcohol that results is smooth and flavorful, not fire water.
The same goes for brewing. You can keep it super simple and buy a brewing kit for $40 from a local supplier. You’ll get everything you need, from the malt extract to the yeast and the hops and of course your grain. Then just follow the instructions, and you’ve got 6 gallons of beer.
To make it more complicated, playing with flavors and textures, you would do what most of our partners in brewing do. You’ll brew your beer from scratch, extracting your own malt syrup, hand picking your hops, and choosing the best grain for your needs.
RMS Brewing (and Distilling) Solutions
RMS began as a company that made roller grinder machines for our ag feed partners, and we are still happy to be thriving in that industry. But as the years went on, we began paying attention to the need in the market for top quality brewing and distilling equipment. We got together with our innovative machine engineers and came up with a plan.
Today, we offer our partners in brewing and distilling all the equipment they need to make their beers, ciders, and spirits as simple or as complicated as they desire.
If you’re in the brewing or distilling industry, and you’re looking for equipment, contact RMS today for a discovery session. We’re here for you.