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The first step, where the wort is prepared by mixing the starch source (normally malted barley) with hot water, is known as "mashing".
Hot water (known as "liquor" in brewing terms) is mixed with crushed malt or malts (known as "grist") in a mash tun.
Beer is brewed from cereal grains—most commonly from malted barley, though wheat, maize (corn), and rice are also used.
During the brewing process, fermentation of the starch sugars in the wort produces ethanol and carbonation in the resulting beer.
Bread and beer increased prosperity to a level that allowed time for development of other technologies and contributed to the building of civilizations.
During the Industrial Revolution, the production of beer moved from artisanal manufacture to industrial manufacture, and domestic manufacture ceased to be significant by the end of the 19th century.
The development of hydrometers and thermometers changed brewing by allowing the brewer more control of the process and greater knowledge of the results.
As of 2007, the brewing industry is a global business, consisting of several dominant multinational companies and many thousands of smaller producers ranging from brewpubs to regional breweries.
As of 2006, more than 133 billion litres (35 billion gallons), the equivalent of a cube 510 metres on a side, of beer are sold per year, producing total global revenues of 4.5 billion (£147.7 billion).