A brief history of the beer

Beer is probably the oldest drink produced by man, when the Stone Age population became sedentary and started to grow barley, in 7000 BC in Mesopotamia. in fact, it is from barley that beer is born: to protect the cereal from mice and parasites, archaeologists have hypothesized that the barley was placed in containers filled with water in which a sort of fermentation took place. It was the first beer ever brewed and its fortunate history has continued through the peoples in the history of the world, up to us.

We do not know exactly who the first population that produced beer is: since many cereals, containing sugars, can ferment spontaneously thanks to the yeasts in the atmosphere, it is certainly possible that in several eras and in places very distant from each other different populations have reached different versions of this drink.
The first written record comes from Mesopotamia, where an ancient Sumerian tablet was found containing a sort of prayer to Ninkasi, the patron god of beer; here his recipe is described, using barley, water and bread. Even in the epic Gilgamesh, beer is mentioned, a sign that it was an established drink in popular culture.

Beer and similar fermented beverages quickly spread throughout the East, reaching Egypt and North Africa; the Greek people learned the art of its production starting from rye and the philosopher Plato dedicated a sentence to beer ("It must have been a wise man who invented beer").

When beer arrived in Rome, the art of its production took hold in Italy. It began to be considered the alcoholic drink "par excellence". Only during the Republican period, beer began to be considered a poor quality drink probably to devalue the customs of the Germanic barbarian peoples.

In any case, beer became the alcoholic drink of the people and the art of its preparation became more and more famous, reaching its peak during the Middle Ages. All the middle and upper social classes of Northern Europe knew beer and consumed it daily, also due to the difficulty of growing the vine to produce wine in cold climates. The high calorie content of medieval beer helped Nordic peoples withstand the cold climate and provided energy for hard work. For this reason, beer was served at every meal.

The discovery of hops in beer only took place in 800 AD. for the idea of ​​a French monk, who guessed the right proportion between the hops and the different ingredients.
Before hops, a spicy blend called gruit was used to make beer. During this period the preservative properties of hops were discovered: the beer had a longer shelf life now.
Hops allowed beer to be exported on long voyages by ship to eastern countries.
During the Middle Ages, numerous historic breweries were born in Europe and in particular in Germany, some of which are still active: such as the Bavarian Weihenstephaner brewery.
This is how the basis for a mass consumption of beer was born and in 1500 the Duke of Bavaria approved a law called "purity requirement" in which he decreed that beer was produced only with barley, water and hops (yeast was introduced in 1857 after the discovery by the microbiologist Pasteur).
During the 1500s the first Lager beers (bottom fermentation) were produced: it was typical that the beer was kept in very cold caves for a long time.

Subsequently, the industrial revolution marked a turning point for the European economy and the same was for the production of beer, which was industrialized: the first brewery to use this type of production was the Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh, founded in 1870. Productions were rationalized and synthesized in order to reduce costs and increase the volumes produced. The invention of the hydrometer and other innovative equipment increased the quality of the beer. From that moment, the brewers were able to learn the differences between malts, correct color, density and alcohol content.


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