The brewing process begins with malted grain. 2-row malted barley is run through the mill, cracking the husk and opening each kernel to expose the enzymes in the endosperm. Once milled, the malt is ready for the mash tun.
The malt is mixed into the mash tun with hot water, allowing the exposed enzymes to begin converting starches into sugars. Once the conversion is complete, the sugary liquid called wort (which becomes the basis of beer) is drained off and transferred to our brew kettle in a process called lautering. The left over malt, referred to as spent grain, is picked up and used by a local cattle farmer to add roughage and nutrition to livestock feed.
Once the wort is in the kettle, heat is applied until it begins to boil. In the early stages of the boil, our brewers add bittering hops. In later stages of the boil, we add flavor and aroma hops, which provide the distinctive citrus, pine and floral hop notes that our hoppy beers are known for. After this process is complete, the wort is whirlpooled to separate the hops from the liquid. The wort is then cooled and transferred to one of our fermentation tanks (those big, shiny behemoths in our tank farm and cellar).
In the fermentation tanks, the wort is mixed with yeast which eagerly gobble up sugars and coverts them into alcohol and CO2 in a stage called primary fermentation. Primary fermentation can take anywhere from 5 to 14 days. Secondary fermentation is called cold conditioning and can take another 2 to 8 weeks, giving our beers the round and balanced character that you’ve come to know from Great Divide.
Once the beer has completed its secondary fermentation, it is filtered and packaged into cases or kegs and shipped out to a neighborhood near you. Our brewing process is a labor of love. If you’re in our neighborhood, we invite you to join a tour and take a first-hand look into the entire brewing process. Come on by; we’d love to show you where great beer is born.