“Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy. “-Ben Franklin (Probably)
Why is Beer so Wondrous?
Beer is a delicious drink! But what is beer? How did it come to be? There are many mysteries behind the delicious beverage we all love and enjoy. But we can start to understand this elixir better if we go back to its early roots. Let us take a trip back into history to find out!
The History of Beer
Imagine a time thousands of years in the past. You are a member of a group of early humans whom have just finished gathering, drying and grinding grains for nutrition to last you from harvest throughout the long barren winter. Someone has left a bundle of these grains on a table next to a vessel of collected water. A scuffle breaks out and you accidentally knock the grains into the vessel! Refusing to clean up the mess, you leave the vessel to sit, unlidded for several weeks. You notice the vessel bubble and churn, dreading the foul mess you will have to eventually clean up. Imagine your surprise one day, when upon inspection of the vessel, you are met with a sweet and malty aroma. Against all wisdom, you lean in for a quick taste and discover a savory and sour flavor with hints of cereal. Glorious nectar of the Gods that’s good! You invite your friends over to share in the wealth of this new libation and with each cupful laughter and much merriment abound! You, my friend, have discovered and enjoyed beer! Prost!
The Brewing Process
Brewing has come a long way from those early days. Many different varieties of grain are now combined and heated with water to construct a myriad of beer bases, with each beer style starting out essentially as grain tea. This tea, known as mash, can be steeped at many different temperatures in order to pull out different sugars for different styles. The mash is then boiled as a means of disinfecting and starting with a blank microbial state before fermentation. It is at this point that the flowers of the hop plant are added. Many different hops can be used both for their antibacterial properties and for their ability to add bitterness to the brew, helping to contrast the sweetness of the malt.
Boiling releases these bittering acids, leaving the perfect elixir, known as wort, ready for cooling. Once cooled to room temperature, cultivated yeast strains are added to start fermentation. The unique grain, hop, yeast combinations are what produce the many different styles of beer. Keeping the beer in sanitized vessels after the boil is essential to the purity of the flavor of the beer and to prevent spoilage and souring. In anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, beer is born! The beverage is then carbonated and bottled, canned, kegged, or simply run through lines out to the taps in the tasting room to be enjoyed! Slánte!
Beer is Mighty!
We may never know the first beer ever made, but we can always know the next beer to be enjoyed. The magic of beer will never cease to amaze, as ordinary grain is transformed into extraordinary beverage. This transformation has been ongoing for thousands of years and is responsible for the rise of human civilization. Beer has fueled negotiations and partnerships, and continues to be the third most popular beverage in the world behind water and tea. So let us raise a glass to this unassuming but undeniably amazing invention. Cheers!