Beer has a long a controversial history steeped in religion. Some historians have speculated that prehistoric nomads used grain and water to make beer, even before they learned to make bread. It has been postulated that beer was part of Noah’s provisions on his famous ark journey. The earliest known proof of beer making was from 4300 BC when the Sumerians wrote detailed beer recipes on clay tablets.
They believed beer was a divine gift and offered it to their gods. By 2000 BC the Sumerians went the way of the Dodo when thy Babylonians absorbed them into their culture. By then, record show that they had over 20 different recipes for beer. In their culture, beer was a commodity and even used for pay. The higher your class status the more beer you got, talk about a reason to strive for more in your career. Egyptians commercialized the brewing of beer and was used for medical purposes, included in burial provisions, and was served to royalty in gold goblets. In fact during those ancient times numerous cultures used grains to create beer. Africans, North and South American Indians, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, and Romans all had recipes for beer. Romans brewed “Cerevisia”, Ceres was the goddess of agriculture and Vis meaning strength in Latin. The Romans in 55 BC introduced beer to northern Europe. From that point forward the Europeans took the practice in the early middle ages and converted it from a family tradition and centralized production in monasteries and convents. Beer before then was not the same as we know today. Hops were first introduced into the beer making process around 1000 AD. By 1200 AD beer brewing was established as a commercial enterprise in Germany, Austria, and England. In 1489 Germany established the first brewer’s guild named Braueri Beck. Most beers until relatively recent times were what are now called ales. Lagers were discovered by accident in the 16th century after beer was stored in cool caverns for long periods; they have since largely outpaced ales in terms of volume.
Jump to the industrial revolution and the invention of the steam engine and beer was finally industrialized. Pasteurization was added in 1857 with Louis Pasteur’s discovery of yeast, 30 years before it was used in milk. Further innovations in the brewing process came about with the introduction of the thermometer and hydrometer in the 19th century, which allowed brewmasters to increase efficiency and attenuation. In modern times thousands of breweries present prior to prohibition fell to the consolidation of breweries and the application of industrial quality control standards and led to mass-production and mass-marketing of light lagers. Smaller microbreweries now service the market with fuller-bodied beers. The brewing industry today is a huge global business. Advances in refrigeration, transportation, marketing, and commerce have resulted in a truly international marketplace. Consumers now have hundreds of choices between various styles of local, regional, national and foreign beers. Here’s to variety!