Beer history

Every single one of us happened to hear myths about things that happened in the past. Those myths teach us things about the way of life, and entertain us in a special way. But, if you were not paying attention, you would believe that those myths were actually happened somewhere, sometime through the history of mankind. So it seems the story of an ancient drink, that men forgot where, when and how it is created. We are talking about beer, the most special drink among so many others. Follow us to a journey through it´s history and legend.

So many great people wrote about beer, and all of them agreed that this is the oldest drink, which wasn´t invented or created, but it was discovered by luck. A forgotten wet piece of barley bread was enough for people to make the first stage of fermentation. The first beer created 5500 to 6000 years before. The Mesopotamians were the first who found out the way to make beer and then the Egyptians, with the bless of Pharaoh, developed it and exported it to other countries and to Europe, around 2000 BC. Herodotus and many other ancient historical writers, mentioned recipes and methods of creating the “barley wine”, as they called the ale, back at Egypt.

At first, for creating beer they user unprocessed barley and wheat, it had dark colour and was low of alcohol. The first brewers didn´t know anything about brewery, but from their own experience knew that they should clean very good their brewing containers before they use them again, because it was very likely that the new product could be stronger in alcohol. Lactic acid bakteria was giving a light sour taste to the drink. Hop was unknown back then, so they never used it. Hop was used for the first time back at 1097 AD and since then it is one of the basic ingredients of beer, having this characteristic taste and smell.

Babylonians used unmalted emmer wheat and malted barley. So, their beer had a fruity and tart taste. It had a dark or a light brown color, depending their requirements. The first stage of fermentation was happening after they mashed the bread with heat water. After that, the rough beer was transferred to smaller containers and was stored in cold and dump cellars, where the second fermentation was happening.

From the other hand, Egyptians was using only malted barley and they created a darker beer. They were pouring salt and plants like mandrake into beer to balance the sweetness of malt.

Back at the 8th century AD the brewery at the Egypt stopped because the Islamic Invasion and the Koran that banned the drinking of alcohol. But the brewing secrets were already transferred to the Bavaria and Bohemia and spread to the northern countries, and also to the British Isles across the sea.

Brewery usually was one of the works that a woman should do at home, in Europe. They were creating beer in parallel with bread, as the ingredients were almost the same. These women were known as “Ale wifes”, and a good one was held in great esteem. The first pubs were their houses, where people gathered to drink and buy beer. The woman who managed to make the best beer was the most disarable bride.

At the beginning of the 1st century AD, the production of beer passed to the monasteries. The monks found a great drink to accompany their meals, and also for their diet, because it was allowed and also was extremely nutritious. A few years later they were selling their beer, as it´s exceptional quality made it the best selling beer in Europe. There were around 400 to 500 monastery breweries only in Germany. As soon as the lords of the time understood the profit of selling beer, taxed the monastery breweries so high, that the most of them stopped the beer production.

At the time, the Scandinavians and the Germans were using a mixture of herbs and plants, called “gruit” or “grut”, in beer making. The grut had seeds, anise, rosemary, berries among others. But some of these plants were poisonous, giving bad taste to the beer or making disillusions to those who drink it. So, in a time full of superstitions, the women who made those “poisonous” beers thought that were witches. Many of them burnt. The last witch burn was in 1591 AD. Those woman were called as “Beer witches”.

All the above changed at the end of the 16th century, by using the hops as one of the basic ingredients of beer. By the 1516 the duke of Bavaria Wilheim IV established a law about the specifications of the beer production, with main ingredients the water, the malted barley and hops.


Did you know...

The word "Cash" comes from the word "Kash" which was the name of the beer in Agypt. That is how the workers at the pyramids named their beer, which was also their payment for their work.