The History of Beer and Wine into the Modern Era

In the beginning was the beer! Researchers are even assuming today that beer has made people sedentary. The sedentary nature of the Stone Age began about 10,000 years ago. Until then, he had been a hunter-gatherer and had searched the caves in the night. But then something happened. There was a transformation that was so profound that it was known in science as a neolithic revolution.

Man no longer moved from cave to cave. He sought a piece of land, built a hut, and began to cultivate corn. For a long time, it was thought that man had grown grain because he wanted to make bread from it. Today it is assumed that the baking is such a complex process that it was developed with certainty only later probably.

Before the man could bake, he took the grain and brewed beer! Probably this happened by chance. Grains were probably kept in some water under the heat of the sun. As the temperature of the water rose, the grain germinated. When the fermentation process began, the most primitive type of beer was produced of a fermented and alcoholic cereal juice.

Scientists can argue about what was first, bread or beer. At the beginning of the Bronze Age, when the first real settlements arose, the man had finally learned both to bake and brew.

The beer of the Sumerians

The first settlements of the Bronze Age originated in a region which is today called fertile crescent. It begins in the west of today's Northern Egypt and stretches along the northern end of the Arabian Peninsula almost to the Black Sea. Between Euphrates and Tigris in Mesopotamia, the Sumerians built the first cities of the earth about 10,000 years ago.

They loved beer, and today one knows that the Sumerians knew at least nine different beer varieties. They wrote a piece of praise for the beer that they dedicated to their goddess Ninkasi. It is you who make the malt spring up in a jug, the waves rise, the waves fall.

The earliest written evidence for Beer comes from the Mesopotamian city of Uruk. The Sumerians had recorded important economic figures on small clay tablets. On the basis of these figures, scientists were able to calculate the quantity of barley and malt the Sumerians estimated for a certain amount of beer. They baked a kind of bread from the fermented grain. Then they blended it with herbs and put it in water to create beer. To this, they boiled the mass in large pots.

Today, however, it is certain that the Sumerians dried the fermented grain in the sun and produce their beer from barley and wheat.

The ancient Egyptians loved their beer

In excavations in Israel, seventeen caves were found in which the Egyptians brewed beer around 3500 BC. The archaeologists discovered remnants of ancient ceramic tubs in the caves, which were very popular among the Egyptian beer brewers. The Egyptians had thus, with the neighboring Sumerians, discovered their love for the beer.

From ancient murals and reliefs found in the Nile Valley, it is very clear how the Egyptians brewed their beer, how they drank it, and how they treated it. Quite obviously, some people were already quenching the thirst. At certain festivals, where things were sacrificed to gods, it was even a duty to drink until they fell. This was part of the ritual.

Therefore, wealthy citizens ensured that two slaves accompanied them on their way home. Thanks to the writings and the wall drawings from the Nile Valley, one today knows quite well how the Egyptians brewed their beer. For this purpose they germinated barley grains. They were crushed and ground on a grindstone. The brewers blended them with normal wheat flour.

There was a dough from which they baked bread. The bread was crumbled again, mixed with fermented dates and mixed with water. Thanks to the dates, the mush began to ferment. Then the ancient Egyptians left everything long enough, seethed everything, and had beer. While the Sumerians were cooking, the Egyptians adhered to the technique of cold brewing.

For the Egyptians, the beer was sacred. Beer was kept in jugs alongside the dead in the graves. By the way, the hieroglyphs for meal were made up of the two signs of beer and bread. Beer and bread were the synonym for food.

Beer or wine? A big question in Rome and Athens

With the Greeks and Romans the wine entered the history. However, they also discovered beer as an extremely important food. Both in Rome and in Athens Beer was self-brewed. At the same time, the Romans specialized in importing exotic beers from their vast empire, which they stored in the cool cellars. Since Romans were gourmets, they got the beer from all the world.

Rich Romans therefore had not only Egyptian, but also Celtic and Germanic beer from the far north in the cellars, which tasted quite differently. Julius Caesar had drunk Celtic beer for the first time during his Gaul campaign. It was honeyed and sweet. Because it tasted so good to him, Celtic beer was even temporarily a fashion drink among chic Romans.

The ancient Greeks usually brewed themselves! Beer, however, was the drink of the poor, while the wealthy citizens and aristocrats preferred to drink wine. For the Greeks beer was mainly something the Egyptians and the poor people drank. The poet Aeschylus only called the Egyptians the people who drink barley wine. Those who do not know the beer, do not know what is good, is the title in a cuneiform text from Mesopotamia.

In antiquity, alcohol was regarded as a rather inscrutable phenomenon in which some felt closer to the gods, and others even experienced revelations. For this reason, alcohol and worship were common throughout antiquity. Whoever sacrificed to the gods also had to drink! This was the case for the ancient Egyptians, as well as for the Romans, Celts, and Germans. All cultures also had a God who was solely responsible for alcohol.

Beer from the barrel - the Celts have invented it!

Even in the far north and in Central Europe far from the fertile crescent, brewing beer became very important in the Bronze Age. In the Celtic settlements, scientists researched six pits in which carbonated barley grains were found. The pits were built about 2500 years ago. The archeologists were able to reconstruct the beer recipe of the Celts from the finds.

Apparently, they had germinated barley with water in the mines. They then ignited fire on the pit edge, so that the barley could dry. The Celts had not yet known hops, but for this they added bilberries, wormwood, and carrot seeds to their drink. During the brewing process, honey was also added to the liquid. The Celtic beer must therefore have been very spicy and sweet. It is probable that in their work with the grain the Celts have even developed the malt, as we know it today.

After the Celtic territories had been conquered by the Romans in Gaul, the beer lost its importance. It became the drink of everyday life and the poor people. The drink of the upper class was imported wine. The middle class drank wheat beer with honey, but most drank simple beer called Curma. They used a mug together, drink in small sips, no more than a mouthful, but they drank regularly.

Curma was brewed from barley, while the more elegant beer of the middle class was made from wheat called Cervesia, a term that every Asterix knows today. The Celts loved their beer. Whether Curma or Cervesia, it is clear that the Celts kept their beer in barrels and tapped it directly from the barrel. The Romans found this idea so good that they took it over and the wine barrel was born shortly thereafter.

The Teutons were always on bear skins, holding bear filled horns in their hands and drinking from morning to night. They could endure hunger and cold, but not thirst.

The Scandinavian countries had to fight for their bread and their beer, because the cultivation of grain was not easy in the lands covered with virgin forests. They also developed a very specific method for the production of malt and avoided the complicated technique in which bread had to be baked. However, they brewed their beer with great enthusiasm, which consisted mostly of burnt grain and honey.

Then the first temples emerged and the priests were given the right to the first harvest. This included beer. Apparently, the barrels that were delivered to the temples were usually filled with rather thin beer. The priests began to brew their own beer, who developed alcohol-rich beers, to which they were very devoted. It is a fact that every priest was allowed to drink five liters of beer a day.

In the Middle Ages, temples were the centers of research and knowledge. The priests loved their beer, and they could also deal with it thoroughly. They also had the brilliant idea to use hops instead of barley. Hops made the beer more bitter, but also more durable. Hop is a plant that came from the East to Central Europe. Its original home is located in the northern Himalayas. The route of the Hop to Europe is therefore still full of myths and unanswered questions.

The priests offered their ever-improving beer for sale and made a flourishing business from it. One temple after another received the license. In the Middle Ages came the first cities, which brewed their own beer apart from the temples. Since there were complaints about bad beer, beer rules were set up in the cities for the first time.

A beer maker who makes bad beer was to be punished. In some places, only barley could be used. It was not about the purity of the beer, but about avoiding famine. Everything else should be used for baking and not for brewing. Around the same time, Europe also got its first court breweries, because the princes no longer wanted to depend on cities or temples.

Some cities experienced their golden age. They produced city beer and special export beer. Some of the towns became regular trading centers for beer. Later wars struck a trail in history. Temples and cities were destroyed. The old infrastructure and the so far known social fabric were no longer valid. Civil breweries and farm breweries later experienced an upswing, while many temple breweries never recovered from this war.

The Ladies Beer

The beer was brewed by women in the Middle Ages. Those who could not afford beer from the temples brewed together in the kitchen. The wife of the house was responsible for this. A pot of Beer was a dowry in many parts of Europe. Women also celebrated alcohol-rich brewing parties.

Beer - From Europe to India and China

Just as in Central Europe, beer brewing was known in Great Britain since the time of the Celts. The dark ale was exported to the New World in the 17th century despite all difficulties. Soon the women on the other side of the Atlantic began to take matters into their own hands. Even in American cities and the often far-off farms, the families produced their own beer.

It was not until the 19th century that English beer brewers succeeded in developing a beer that was so durable that it could be transported to India. It contained abundant hops and got the name India Pale Ale. It was so strong that in India it had to be thinned again with double the amount of water in order to drink it. In principle, however, breweries were established wherever the colonial lords came from the Old World.

Beer Brewing in the USA

Since the carriage of beer was difficult, it did not take long for the colonies to get their own breweries. In Manhattan, the first brewery was opened in the early 17th century. Until the beginning of the prohibition after the First World War, there were about 4500 breweries. Beer in the bottle had already prevailed in the USA in the 19th century.

At the beginning of the 19th century, beer was one of the most important beverages ever, replacing the water for a long time in many areas. The water in the cities was unhealthy and triggered cholera epidemics all over Europe in the mid-nineteenth century. It was, however, quite clear that a life with beer was a little safer. Even in the prisons the prisoners literally got beer every day, and the children were supplied with beer instead of water.

Despite the widespread love of beer, the brewers and the women who cooked their own beer at home in the kitchen had not yet discovered the secret of the yeast. The fermentation process was regarded as extremely mysterious. The old Teutons spit in the beer, which made beer from grain. They did not know that the honey they mixed in contained traces of yeast.

Beer Brewing had long been a matter of luck. In the 18th century it was assumed that only two of the ten brewing experiments were successful. However, it was recognized that women and bakers often had a happier hand with the beer than the beer brewers themselves thanks to the bread dough yeast germs that swarmed through the air. At the end of the 18th century the French explorer Lavoisier finally found the yeast.

The popular bottom fermented beer

In the course of the 19th century the established breweries expanded. The first effects of the emerging industrialization were noticeable. Malt could now be dried, for example, in large plants using steam engines. But the yeast was still a pain killer as their behavior was considered unpredictable. Bottom fermented beer, in which the yeast sinks to the ground, is produced at low temperatures. The fermentation process takes longer but the beer is also more durable and can, therefore, be exported more easily.

It was not until 1837 that three independent researchers proved that yeast was really responsible for the fermentation process, and from 1840 onwards, beer could be produced with sub-fermented yeast in Austria because of the use of very cold cellars for brewing.

The Bohemians used different hops, and they roasted their malt brighter. The Pilsner beer was born! But even in Pilsen, dealing with the yeast was still a sensation despite this success. At the end of the eighteenth century the microscope had been invented, and the French explorer, Louis Pasteur, was one of the first to use it with passion. In the course of his numerous studies, he also came across the yeast fungi and was able to analyze the chemical process during fermentation in numerous experiments.

The good old yeast also plays an important role in these trends. New yeast breeds give the beers new flavors. Thanks to yeast innovations, beer can taste like a carnation or honey, without the addition of artificial aromas. Especially the new Craft beer breweries have discovered this trend for themselves and are happy to experiment with all the possibilities offered by the yeast.

New and unusual directions are absolutely en vogue, and just like coffee today can also taste like vanilla and caramel, modern beer is also offered today with unusual flavors. Most of the wooden barrels have disappeared and are now used only on special occasions. Modern beer rests in modern steel drums.