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Draining wort.

Wort (pronounced /ˈwɜrt/) is the liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing of beer or whisky. Wort contains the sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol.


The first step in wort production is to make malt from dried, sprouted barley. Grain adjuncts are then added and the malt is ground into grist. The grist is mashed, that is, mixed with hot water and steeped, a complex and slow heating process that enables enzymes to convert the starch in the malt into sugars. Temperature of the mixture is usually increased to 78° C. At set intervals (notably when the mixture has reached a temperature of 45° C, 62° C, and 73° C)[1], the heating is briefly halted.

At set times, hops are usually added to the mixture also. Hops are generally added to a wort in two parts: the bittering hops are boiled for around an hour to an hour and a half, and the finishing hops are added toward, or after, the end of the boil. Hop cones contain resins, which provide the bittering and take a long boil to extract, and oils, which provide flavor and aroma, but evaporate quickly. Generally speaking, hops provide the most flavoring when boiled for around 15 minutes, and the most aroma when not boiled at all (i.e., added after the boil, a process called dry hopping.) At the end of the mashing, the hot wort is decanted or filtered, boiled, cooled, and the yeast is added to start the fermentation.

The adjunct grains which are added to the malted barley include wheat, corn, and rice. They are used to create varietal beers such as wheat beer and oatmeal stout, to create grain whisky, or to lighten the body (and cut costs) as in commercial, mass produced American-style lagers.


In beer making, the wort is known as "sweet wort" until the hops have been added, after which it is then called "hopped wort."


  1. ^ "Abdijbieren. Geestrijk erfgoed" by Jef Van den Steen


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