A Brief History of Beer

You know you love beer. Obviously, that’s why you’re here. But how much do you know about what you’re drinking?

Beer is one of the world’s oldest drinks, with the first beers being made as early as 9500 BC, although what we brew and drink today is very different. Early beers were made with water and grains (barley, wheat, rye, etc.), which were subject to spontaneous fermentation due to the wild yeasts in the air reacting with newly-domesticated cereal grains. Records show that beer was popular in Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome- although the Romans preferred wine.

Originally, gruit (a mixture of various herbs) was used to flavor beers. In the 9th century, hops were used for the first time in brewing. It took a while to become popular because of the difficulty in getting the proportions right. During the Middle Ages, beer went from being brewed at home to being brewed by medium-size business operations of 8-10 people.

In 1516, the Duke of Bavaria, William IV, adopted the German Beer Purity Law called Reinheitsgebot, which limits the ingredients in beer to water, barley, and hops. Yeast was added to the list after Louis Pasteur discovered it in 1857.

The Industrial Revolution was a big game-changer for beer. The invention of the steam engine led to the industrialization of the brewing process. The addition of the thermometer and hydrometer allowed brewers to increase efficiency, and began to shape the brewing industry into the one we know today.