Beer is one of the oldest beverages humans have produced, dating back to at least the 5000 BC in Iran, and 10,000 years ago in recorded in the written history of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. It is believed that beer was a thick sludge brewed in clay pots and fermented in the open air. Fermentation occurs when a cellular organism, usually yeast, consumes sugars that are contained in malted grain and releases alcohol and CO2 as the by product. Hops were eventually added to balance out the sweet flavor of beer.
In ancient Mesopotamian, clay tablets indicate that the majority of brewers were probably women, and that brewing was a fairly well respected occupation during the time, being the only profession in Mesopotamia which derived social sanction and divine protection from female deities/goddesses. During the building of the Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt, each worker got a daily ration of four to five liters of beer, which served as both nutrition and refreshment that was crucial to the pyramids’ construction.
Today most craft beer is made with barley, however in ancient times, many types of grain were used as it was available.
During the malting process, the grain was often cooked too much until the grain was burnt and therefore ancient beer always had a roasty flavor to it. Today, grain malting is an exact science and grain can be malted while also retaining a light color and flavor for deliciously crisp modern beer. Beer has a number of advantages beyond the intoxicating effects and taste, such as a high B vitamin content, the essential amino acid lysine and the fact it was safer to drink than water as the brewing process killed off bacteria and viruses.
It is believed that modern agriculture was invented to cultivate grain for making beer. In order to grow crops, human civilization transitioned from a nomadic lifestyle to farming. These farms lead to villages and communities being built. Therefore, brewing beer can be connected to the birth of human civilization.
Yeast is the most important ingredient in beer and was not discovered until 1857. A French microbiologist Louis Pasteur proved that alcoholic fermentation was conducted by living yeasts and not by a chemical catalyst. Pasteur also demonstrated that when heating up beer or wine, spoilage was prevented by killing off contaminate organisms. This technique now called Pasteurization is still used today.
Refrigeration is a fairly recent invention in the history of beer. Mechanical refrigeration was invented specifically for brewing In 1873 by Carl von Linde, working for the Spaten Brewery in Munich. Spaten still makes delicious beer today. In addition to year-round brewing, refrigeration allowed for the expanded availability of the colder-processed lager beers versus warm-fermented ales. Breweries could be larger and further from natural ice sources. The invention of mechanical refrigeration was a critical factor in the spread and later dominance of lager brewing throughout the world.
Modern beer has come a long way to get where it is today. From a clay pot of barley gruel, to a crisp, cold, carbonated, and refreshing beverage. Beer is the 3rd most consumed beverage in the world behind water and tea. It has become central to our culture and our lives. Beer is sustenance while also elevating our moods. So raise a glass and toast with us to the evolution beer!
-The Pubinno Team