Instead of doing a brew view, I thought why not bring about some history. Who knows, maybe this will lead to some interesting discussion. Either way, history has always fascinated me, and maybe this will spark an interest for you as well.
Though I am sure the use of alcohol, or what could be considered alcohol, goes back many years, most likely descending to the ancient times. Every movie one has watched with Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece has been saturated with the drinking of wine. But my interest is not in wine, though I do enjoy it every so often, it exists more so in beer!!
And with this I give you BrewHistory: Beer, A Slight Introduction.
What we consider beer these days has much history dating back to Ancient England before Christ’s existence and grew tremendously during Roman occupation. In its early existence beer was not known by that title, but as ale. And in this time ale was brewed with three ingredients yeast, water, and malted grain. The use of hops came about more so for its preservative elements rather than its flavor adding principles. This dates back to Central Europe around the year 1150 AD. Eventually beginning with the use of hops, came about the title ‘beer,’ first seen in England as an import in the mid 1300’s. The first hops grown in England were by Flemish immigrants who settled in Kent, England around the 1500’s. it was with these hops that beer started to make its presence known in England. I guess it goes without saying, today a majority of English ales use East Kent hops, commonly seen in English IPAs and New Castle!!
Today we see a majority of beer being brewed at larger commercial breweries, this was not always as it was once. When beers were first brewed with hops, specifically in England it took place on estates, inns, and taverns. I guess what we would consider the modern day pub. In Buffalo there are places like this that produce and sell their own beer in the restaurant itself. One of my favorites being Gene McCarthy’s. Not just being known for the brewing aspect of its business, but also their food production. If there were large commercial breweries these tended to exist in larger cities, who had taverns that bought the beer. The domination of commercial brewing, which today is starting to feel the competition of craft brewing, holds its origin with the Industrial Revolution in the 1700’s. While experiencing the first wave of the Revolution, one also began to the see the growing and eventual dominating presence of commercial brewing.
In the previously mentioned taverns and inns who brewed their beer, it was typically women who were in charge of the brewing process. These women came to be known as alewives. Though men did maintain their involvement , it was through a town appointed position known as the aleconner. It was the responsibility of the aleconner to ensure that the beer was maintained at a proper quality and that they were properly priced as well.
One last interesting historical fact. A simple aspect of life which us in the modern age of preservation and refrigeration would not have to deal with, is the lack of temperature control with food and beverage. Due to the lack of refrigeration and temperature control, brewing was a seasonal activity in England. Beginning in October and concluding in the months of March and April with the increasingly warm temperatures. This began to take place with use of pale malts, a newer aspect in the old brewing process, because it was thought to ineffectively ferment in temperatures higher than 72 degrees F. So with cooler temperatures limited, the brewing process was suspended during the warmer months. Due to the preservative nature hops were thought to have around this time, to assist in the aging process worts produced in March were hopped almost 3x more than those in January.
I guess that is it for now, but I’m sure you remember me mentioning the use of pale malt, right? Excellent!!! With the genesis of pale malt also came the development of new beers, specifically speaking my favorite, the Pale Ale!! It is this creation of the Pale Ale which will be the next topic for BrewHistory!!
Hope you enjoyed this!! Please comment, add, or even ask some questions! This is the first of many I hope, but I can’t do it without the support of reader and fellow beer lovers!!!