History of Beer - Part 2

The history of beer is a five-part series documenting... well, the history of beer.

    1. The History of Beer
    2. The Story of Beer
    3. The Brewing of Beer
    4. Styles of Beer
    5. Beer Today

The Story of Beer

Beer is one of the oldest products of civilization, and may even have been a stepping stone to the invention of leavened bread.

Beer's Beginnings
Historians believe that the ancient Mesopotamians and Sumerians were brewing as early as 10,000 BC.

Although the product would have been somewhat different from today's bottled varieties, it would be recognizable.

The ancient Egyptians and Chinese brewed beer, as did pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas, who used corn instead of barley.

In the middle ages, European monks were the guardians of literature and science, as well as the art of beer making. They refined the process to near perfection and institutionalized the use of hops as a flavoring and preservative. However, it wasn't until Louis Pasteur came along that a final, important development was made. Until that time, brewers had to depend on wild, airborne yeast for fermentation. By establishing that yeast is a living microorganism, Pasteur opened the gates for accurately controlling the conversion of sugar to alcohol.

While grapes grow well in warm climates, barley grows better in cooler climes. This is how the northern countries of Germany and England became famous for their beers. This production was taken very seriously, as it was in the New World, where beer was a major component of the Pilgrim's diet.

Beer in America
Beer was of major concern for revolutionary thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, who quickly passed legislation to create a healthy beer industry in the new United States.

Everything went swimmingly until the dark day in 1920 when Prohibition took effect. Many breweries went out of business or switched to the production of soda pop. Of course, not everyone stopped drinking, but gangster-controlled operations were not known for high-quality products.

Late in 1933, Congress passed the 21st Amendment to the Constitution which repealed the unpopular law. However, the new breeds of American beer that came after World War II were generally mass-produced and very bland. Jimmy Carter legalized home brewing, ushering in the age of microbreweries, beer hobbyists, and beer snobs.

Tomorrow: How Beer Is Made


ยป by Madfish Willie on October 16 :: Permalink :: Comments (0) :: Beer Stuff

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