fermentation

Fermentation is the process by which yeast, bacteria or other microorganisms convert sugars into carbon dioxide, alcohol  and/or other compounds in an environment without oxygen. Not all sugar compounds are fermentable by a given strain of microorganism, thus different strains of yeast etc. will create different flavors in the finished beer.  Also, not all fermenters convert sugars into alcohol; some such as lactobacillus bacteria produce acids instead.

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