January 13, 2010 by liquor
The brewing of beer appears to be one of the oldest processes known to man. Barley grain has been cultivated since 6000BC by the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. Initially brewing occurred by accident as barley loaves fermented having been left out in the rain. Having flavoured the ‘brew’ with dates and honey the ‘beer’ was drunk. Beer was even used as a currency in ancient Egypt. Egyptian brewing was destroyed around 800AD by the spread of Islam.
In Europe today the principal producers of beer are Germany and the Czech Republic, but beer was not brewed in these parts until 800BC. Having crushed many of the Germanic tribes around 100BC the Romans (who had fermented wine for many an age) took the beer brewing knowledge and spread it to the rest of the continent
Beer was brought to Britain principally by the Danes and the Saxons. During the dark and middle ages beer was brewed in the monasteries. During the black death (and since in times of water borne disease epidemics) beer proved a valuable and safe source of liquid to the population, due to its alcoholic content.
In 1516 the Bavarian Dukes Wilhelm IV and Ludwig X created the German Purity Law, which stated that only barley, hops, yeast and water could be used to brew beer. Today few breweries comply with the purity law.
The industrial revolution lead to the construction of many large breweries in England. The microscope revolutionised scientific understanding, allowed the discovery of yeast and detailed analysis of the fermentation process ( this work was predominantly carried out by Louis Pasteur). New specialised forms of yeast were cultivated, allowing the production of a range of lagers and beers.
During the 1920′s prohibition in the United States virtually destroyed the US brewing industry. Even today beers’ popularity in the US is dwarfed by that of lager.
In more recent times the refrigerator has allowed year-round storage and enjoyment of beer. The legalisation of home brewing in the UK in 1978 has only increased the country’s love of the liquid. Most recently of all beer is trying to become more sexy and encourage a new generation to drink beer over lager.
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