Who doesn’t love an ice cold beer on a sunny day or after a hard days work? Many of us do but what is it that makes beer so great? Well, we could spend years talking about the virtues of beer and trying to categorize them all, but instead why not focus on the conception of beer and learn its quenching history! Beer is possibly the oldest and most popular alcoholic beverage on the planet today. Records of beer can be traced back to 5000 BC in the ancient writings of the Egyptians and Mesopotamians.
It’s basic mix of carbohydrates and water made it a simple beverage to create and became a staple, along with bread, in the diet of medieval times. It was sometimes a thick and floral concoction with often poisonous flavorings that was a far cry from what we now drink today. During the middle ages, brewing beer shifted from homemakers and became more a tool of the artisan. Pubs, Monasteries and Monks in particular, began brewing beer for the masses. Hops were added to induce some bitterness to the sweet brew making it more identifiable to your palate today.
In 1516 the brewing guilds of Bavaria pushed for beer purity laws making it illegal to brew beer with anything but barley, hops and water. (This of course predated yeast) it was shortly after this in 1553 that Beck’s brewing of Belgium began producing beer commercially for the masses.
With the discovery of the new world so did the progression of beer brewing. Many breweries started the process of mass production but with differing results, regional flavors and taste. Many prominent men of the day brewed beer, sometimes hiring brew master’s from the old world to come and work their craft. Beer brewing hadn’t changed much until 1876, when Louis Pasteur was able to isolate a single yeast cell in a controlled lab environment thus changing beer brewing forever. The true secret to fermentation was discovered and was now repeatable. Controlled mass production and consistency were now available to the joy of beer drinkers everywhere.
Since then beer has been manufactured by several large multinational corporations around the world but still retains its artisan roots with regional craft breweries and small “micro breweries” producing outstanding product with a great regional feel and flavor. With the introduction of the metal keg in 1964, it was now possible for completely hygienic and sterilized product to be shipped worldwide thus evoking the term “Import or Domestic” on Tap and giving us the modern brew we love and enjoy today.