The Difference Between Brewing, Fermentation, and Distillation

Alcoholic beverages go back as far as the ancient Egyptians and were accomplished by fermenting foods over long periods. Today most of the world involves alcohol in many recreational activities, enjoying a drink from home, pubs, and restaurants. People can also make their alcoholic drinks at home via brewing, distilling, and fermenting or often enjoy a great international beer. But what exactly are these processes? 

Alcoholic drinks can be split into three categories: beer, wine, and spirits. Beers go through the brewing and fermentation process, requiring vital equipment such as pumps, temperature gauges, and a cool dark place. Wines just simply go through a fermentation process, whereas, spirits first undergo fermentation and then distillation process. Still not sure what each process is? Let us take a closer look together…


In this process, the grain is dried, milled, and steeped into hot water to cook slightly before adding additional ingredients such as hops, yeast, and more. The yeast reacts and causes fermentation which creates ethanol in the batch. Once the batch has then been transferred to a fermentation tank to be processed further, the liquid must be left to age. This can sometimes take more than a year depending on the type of brew you are making, but providing the correct steps are taken, you will have a brew worthy for sharing. 


Fermentation occurs in yeast cells and in the process of energy being released from glucose without the use of oxygen. When yeast consumes the sugars, it converts them into carbon dioxide and ethanol. It is the simplest way to make an alcoholic drink such as beer and is essential in the production of many beverages around the world today.


Distillation is a little trickier and requires a lot more equipment, skill, and experience to perfect. The process involves separating two liquids: one being a fermented liquid and the other non-fermented such as water. Because one is fermented, the liquids now have two different boiling points and can be separated via condensing and heating. As the liquids are being heated, the vapours formed through the fermented liquid condense and then are put under a cooling process. The condensed vapour then leaves behind a water content that will later be used for further distillation to be suitable enough for consumption. 


The process of making alcohol can be quite easy if you are deciding to make beer or wine, but it does require a methodical process and high-quality equipment. Distillation is by far the hardest to master and can take years to perfect so finding some experience before you attempt to produce your batch may be best. However, if you have the right people by your side nothing is stopping you from making a start to perfect your unique spirit.