Ever wondered what makes Iron City Beer so special?
Clear spring water from the mountains of Pennsylvania, domestic and imported European hops, barley and corn from the American Midwest, and over 150 years of proud brewing tradition go into every beer we brew. We closely monitor our product through every stage of the brewing process, and taste the final product to be certain it is as crisply refreshing, easy to drink, and delicious as Iron City beers have been since 1861.
During this step, ground barley malt is steeped in water and allowed to germinate. This softens the grain’s starch content, preparing it for the mashing process. These “malted” grains are then dried in a kiln to reach ideal moisture content.
The malted grains are then ground, beginning to break down the remaining starches, proteins, and enzymes and cracking open the protective barley kernel.
The milled, malted grain is mixed with water to make a slurry. This slurry is then transferred to a ‘mash tub’ and heated gradually in a carefully controlled, three-stage process.
‘Protein Rest’ at 120F – The protein enzymes in the barely begin to break down protein chains.
150F – Long-chain starches break down into fermentable and un-fermentable carbohydrates. The slurry mixture remains at this temperature until all starches have been converted.
170F – The remaining enzymes are denatured and rendered inert.
The slurry is then filtered to remove remaining particulates, and the sugary liquid that remains is known as ‘wort’. Mashing is a crucial step in the brewing process, setting up the chemical structures that will react with yeast to produce beer.
The wort is filtered into a brewing kettle, and then brought to a boil at 212F for roughly 1–2 hours. During this time, hops and other additives which will contribute flavor, color, and aroma to the final product are added. Boiling allows for several chemical reactions to occur and concentrates and sterilizes the wort. During this boiling process, the hops begin to break down, releasing their flavor and aroma. Remaining insolubles will condense, allowing for easy removal upon filtration.
Next, the wort is then transferred to a “hot wort” tank, where precipitated proteins and hop particulate settle out. The wort is then decanted and cooled to 50F, filtering out the majority of remaining solids and creating an ideal environment for yeast to react with proteins, enzymes, and carbohydrates in the wort and produce beer.
After being transferred to a fermentation tank, the cooled wort is aerated and yeast is added. Over the course of seven to fourteen days, fermentable sugars are converted by the yeast into carbon dioxide and alcohol, making the wort into what we know as beer.
The freshly fermented beer, known as “green beer” at this stage, is then cooled further and placed into a “ruh storage tank” and aged. During this process, the majority of the remaining particulates will settle to the bottom of the tank and the ingredients in the beer will combine and react with one another to produce a more mature and balanced taste.
In the final step, the matured beer is centrifuged, then filtered through a diatomaceous earth and fine mesh stainless steel screen filter and carbonated. At this point, the finished beer is moved to packaging tanks, where it is stored prior to being bottled, kegged, or canned for distribution.