Beer is among the oldest alcoholic drinks invented by humans. It was recorded in ancient inscriptions of Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. It is believed that beer was discovered when cereal containing sugar underwent fermentation after being exposed to wild yeast. During the Middle Ages, beer was a common alcoholic beverage, especially in areas where it was difficult to cultivate grapes and where grains were easily accessible.
The Introduction Of Hops
In medieval times, beer brewing was performed at home. But by the 15th century, beermaking was performed by professionals, instead of a family-oriented activity.
The beer brewing industry started when hops were introduced in northern Germany. Hops significantly improved the flavour and quality of beer and the brewing process. Brewers in Germany also used large kettles of different sizes to produce much larger batches.
Far East Beer Production
Beer was also developed in the Far East using malted grain. The process was quite inefficient and it used a type of mould that’s cultivated from rice. Malt-based alcoholic beverages in China didn’t preserve well and it eventually fell out of favour until beer disappeared from Chinese society. By the end of the Tang Dynasty, beer was no longer produced. On the other hand, wine made of rice and various fruits became increasingly popular.
The Industrialisation Of Beer
When the steam engine became a much more efficient mode of transportation in 1760’s, the industrialisation of beer was made possible. The brewery process improved when hydrometers and thermometers were used for the first time to increase attenuation and efficiency. Before the 19th century, brewers dried malt over fires and it wasn’t shielded from smoke in the kiln. Consequently, beer at the time has smoky flavours and they continued to find ways to reduce the smokiness.
Prior to Prohibition, breweries in the US often produce heavier beers than most people were used to. In early 1920’s, most breweries in the US went out of business and some produced soft drinks instead. To increase profit, some illegal breweries watered down their heavy beer. However, breweries were eventually consolidated and quality control standards were enacted to allow mass-production. After World War 2, the competition in the beer market was intense, with many breweries acquiring their rivals to obtain the distribution systems and more loyal customers. As of today, there are about 2,500 breweries in the United States and some non-craft breweries.
The modern beermaking industry was revolutionized when Morton W. Coutts developed the continuous fermentation technique in 1953. Beer could flow through sealed tanks and ferment under pressure. During the bottling process, beer doesn’t come into contact with the atmosphere. Further improvements were made, but some traditional brewers still refuse to embrace the new methods for fear of losing the unique characteristics. Some brewers still use open Burton Union sets to maintain the traditional flavour and quality of beer.
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