Beer and brewing
Learn about the processes of beer brewing and see the ingredients growing in this part of our Outdoor Gardens.
See if you can spot the different brewing ingredients and processes represented in these carved wooden hop poles.
Hops: The flowers of this vine have been used in beer-making for the last 10,000 years, originally to stop the drink going sour. Today the ale keeps anyway due to high hygiene standards but hops are still used for the characteristic bitter taste, flavour stability and retention of the foamy head on top.
Other ingredients used to improve the bouquet of a beer include juniper berries, elderflowers, lime blossoms, orange peel and gorse flowers.
Barley: This cereal grain provides the sugars needed for the fermentation process. The barley is first malted to increase its starch content. Malting – essentially heating the barley – allows the grain to partially germinate and makes the seeds’ sugar resources available to the brewer. Some of the malted barley is also roasted to give the beer extra colour and flavour.
Did you know -
- Workers wear stilts to help them reach the top of hops poles for vines that can grow to over 4.5m.
- Beer is clarified (filtered) using isinglass, a form of gelatin extracted from the swim bladders of fish. It was the Romans who first discovered these filtering properties. They noticed that wine stored in dried animal skins, stomachs of fish swim bladders was much less opaque than wine stored in other vessels.
- In the days when water in Britain was not clean, beer provided a nutritious thirst-quenching alternative. As late as the 1600s men, women and children sometimes drank around three litres of weak beer a day.