A Brief History of Beer
Early Beer Brewers.
Beer in its various forms is one of the oldest drinks in human history and its history can be traced from the very earliest human civilisations around the world.
The earliest beers on record come from Egypt, China and Mesopotamia. Originally, beers did not contain hops but were only made from cereal grains and wild yeast and were very thick, more like gruel or porridge than modern drinks and formed part of the daily diet along with bread.
The mouth of a perfectly contented man is filled with beer – Egyptian proverb c.2200 BC
The first recorded use of hops in the manufacture of beer was documented in 822 A.D. by Benedictine monks in a series of papers about the running of the monastery. It was recorded that “Sufficient hops should be collected for the brewing of beer”
Ensuring a Pure Brew
In 1516 the Bavarian Government enacted the well-known Purity Order (Reinheitsgebot) which enforced a series of regulations on what could legally be added to beer. Reinheitsgebot stipulated that only water, barley and hops could be used. The law was more to prevent the use of wheat and rye grains in beer brewing and keep bread affordable to the general population due to price wars in the area. As a consequence, it also prevented other German beers from being sold in Bavaria which contained other additives.
‘Furthermore, we wish to emphasize that in future in all cities, markets and in the country, the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. Whosoever knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance, shall be punished by the Court authorities’ confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail’
The Impact of Science
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries technology was introduced into the brewing of beer with the invention of the first thermometers and hydrometers, which meant the brewing process could be controlled in a stricter manner, improving the quality and giving consistency during production. This period also saw the invention of the first beer engine, which meant that casks could be stored in cool cellars away from warm stuffy bars, improving quality, taste and shelf life.
In 1857 yeast was discovered by the renowned French chemist Louis Pasteur. He discovered that the fermenting of beer was caused by a biological process and not chemical. He also noted that sour and off tasting beer was caused by the presence of bacteria and other impurities. His work along with other prominent scientists of the time brought about pasteurisation which improved the quality and store-ability of beer even further.
The late 19th century saw the introduction of the first bottled beers first with a screw cap and later with the crown cork still seen today on a variety of drinks throughout the world. Into the early 20th century we see the first canned beer and draught lagers which introduced this beer style to the world market. Lagers would go on to be the most popular style of beer sold in the UK today.
After such a long and varied history, we look forward to what comes next for the world’s most popular drink.
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