Beer: A History Essay

This essay has a total of 4456 words and 19 pages.

Beer: A History

The first and most important step in brewing is cleanliness. "Brewing is ninety percent
janitorial," said Frederick Bowman, founder of Portland Brewing. (Bowman) The first step
in the actual brewing process is malting. Malting is what is done to the barley to prepare
it for brewing. The steps of the malting process release the starches that are contained
in the barley, while minimizing haze and off-flavors. Grain is allowed to soak in 60° F.
water to increase the moisture content of the grain to about 40-45%. The grain is usually
spread out on the floor of the germination room, or some other container. These grains are
kept at a temperature of about 60° F. The germination is complete when the sprout has
grown to about 3/4 the length of the grain and the hard part of the grain, or the shell,
has turned soft. The goal for germination is for the starches within the grain to break
down into shorter lengths. At this shorter length stage, the grain is called green malt.
Kilning is the next stage after the grains have sprouted. Kilning is the process of drying
the grain in the kiln where the temperature is slowly raised during the 30-35 hour period.
After kilning, the result is finished malt, with soluble starches and developed enzymes.
These grains each have a different and distinct flavor depending on how long they are
cooked in the kiln. (Porter)


After the malting, the grain is ready for milling. Milling is the cracking, and crushing
of the grain. This procedure is controlled carefully so as to break the grain while
keeping the husk as large and as intact as possible. Milling allows the grain to absorb
the water it will be mixed with later as the water will extract sugars from the malt. The
malt will now be mixed with warm water in the mash tun. This vessel holds the grain and
water mixture for a period of time. Two important things will take place in this step. One
is to break down proteins to the more soluble and usable amino acids, providing food for
the yeast and foam for a nice head on the beer. The second thing is to break down the
starch to simple sugars so yeast can convert them to alcohol and carbon dioxide. (Porter)


Mash filtration consists of filtering the converted mash by gravity or pressure in a
lauter tub or mash filter to separate the insoluble matter in the malt from the soluble
sugars and nitrogen compounds. The sugar liquid recovered is called wort, pronounced wert,
or sweet wort. Boiling the wort is best but is also the most expensive method,
Microbreweries generally use this method. The sweet wort is boiled and treated with hops
in the brew kettle in a planned schedule, usually somewhere between 30 and 90 minutes. The
boiling has many effects: all bacteria are killed, it produces color and flavor compounds,
the so-called browning compounds, from the malt and sugars. Boiling the wort extracts
bitter and aromatic flavor compounds from the hops, and volatilizes most of the harsh
hydrocarbons. It sterilizes the wort and stops all enzyme action. (Porter)


The boiled wort is strained to remove the hops and then transferred to a holding tank
called the hot wort tank. The insoluble matter, called trub, is centrifugal separated in
the whirl pool tank. The wort is now passed through a heat exchanger that rapidly cools
the liquid. Cooling is necessary in order to add the yeast. Yeast is unable to ferment or
grow at high temperatures, so cooling the wort to about 70°F is needed. Here is where
hydrometer readings are taken to record the amount of sugar in the wort by measuring the
density of the liquid. This is called the specific gravity. The specific gravity is used
in determining the alcohol content of the finished beer. The more sugar there is, the more
dense the liquid. The higher the specific gravity, the more sugars there are available for
fermentation, producing more alcohol. (Porter)


It is here in the fermentation tank that the yeast changes the sugars into alcohol over a
period of days or weeks, depending on the style of beer being brewed. Ferment is taken
from the Latin "to boil". Watching the yeast in active fermentation, one can understand
the reason the word is used. Fermentation begins with pitching, or adding the yeast to the
cooled wort. Pitching can only be done when the wort is at the proper temperature, around
70°-80°F. Fermentation temperatures also can vary depending upon the type of yeast used.
Fermentation temperatures for ales are 55°-65°F., while for lagers 40°-55°F. is used.
(Porter)


There are different types aging techniques. Of these are Rhu, Lagering, Secondary
Fermentation or Krauesening. Rhu, which means, rest, is usually a short period of two to
seven days in which the beer is cooled and the yeast that did not settle in the
fermentation vessel now will settle. This results in a reduction in yeasty flavors in the
beer and makes filtration easier. Lagering, from the German, means, to store. This is a
longer period, seven to fourteen days, during which the temperature falls more slowly,
reducing yeasty and sulfur flavors. The beer also clarifies and mellows. Secondary
Fermentation usually takes ten to fourteen days and involves transferring beer out of the
fermentation vessels before its yeast has completely fermented the sugars, and allowing
the rest of the fermentation to continue cool and slow. Krauesening is a delicate process
in which fermented beer, after being transferred to another vessel, is mixed with young
beer that has just started to ferment. (Jackson)


Beer will naturally tend to turn cloudy when it is cooled to temperatures near freezing.
To prevent this, an extract of the papaya, papain is often used to prevent this. The beer
is then either filtered, centrifuged, or both to remove any yeast and insoluble matter.
Diatomaceous earth, siliceous skeletons of ancient marine organisms, or cotton pulp is
used as a filtration medium. Some beers are filtered twice. Beer must be either
pasteurized or sterile filtered to protect it from the continued growth of any stray
yeast. The beer is now ready to be filled into bottles or kegs. (Porter)


About 13,000 years ago, early humans discontinued their nomadic hunting and gathering
techniques and settled down to farm. Grain was one of the first domesticated crops that
early farming methods. The oldest records found of brewing were in Sumeria dating back six
thousand years ago. Sumeria lied between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, encircling
Southern Mesopotamia, in the area of the ancient cities of Babylon and Ur. Sumerians most
likely discovered the brewing process by chance. No one knows today exactly how beer was
first discovered.


The earliest account of beer brewing was an engraving in the Sumerian language. This
engraving is a picture of barley, followed by bread being baked, crumbled into water for
mash, and then made into intoxicating drink. Baking bread was probably the most convenient
way to store the source for making beer. In Russia, this method is still used to make a
version of beer called kvass. Sumerians were the first able to repeat the process of
brewing and are assumed to be he first civilized culture to brew beer. They had discovered
a spiritual drink that they offered to their gods. (Alabev)


Although beer as we know it had its origins in Mesopotamia, fermented beverages of some
sort or another were produced in various forms around the world. For example, Chicha is a
corn beer and kumiss is a drink produced from fermented camel milk. The word beer comes
from the Latin word bibere, meaning, "to drink", and the root of the Spanish word cerveza
originates from the Greek goddess of agriculture, Ceres. (Alabev)


The Sumerian Empire collapsed during the 2nd millennium b.c. and the Babylonians became
the rulers of Mesopotamia. Their culture was derived from that of the Sumerians so they
also mastered the art of brewing beer. The Babylonians knew how to brew 20 different types
of beer. Of these, 8 were brewed from pure emmer, 8 from pure barley and 4 from a mixture
of grains. (Alabev)


Hammurabi, an important Babylonian king and founder of an empire, decreed the oldest known
collection of laws. One of these laws established a daily beer ration. This ration was
dependent on the social standing of the individual. For example, a normal worker received
2 liters, civil servants 3 liters, and administrators and high priests 5 liters per day.
In these ancient times beer was not sold, but exchanged for barley. Beer at this time was
cloudy and unfiltered. As beer brewing was a household art, it was also women's work. King
Hammurabi once ordered a female saloonkeeper drowned because she exchanged silver for
beer. Drowning was also the punishment for serving low quality beer. (Alabev)


The Egyptians were brewers too. They used bread dough for making beer, and added dates to
the beer to add taste. Egyptian people along the Nile, Fellahs, still make beer the same
way today. Beer was such a way of life that the Egyptian scribes created a hieroglyph for
a brewer. After the Romans and Greeks succeeded Egypt, beer still was brewed. The
popularity of beer was recorded in the Mediterranean area before the growing of grapes for
wine took hold. Wine became the drink of the gods. Beer was brewed in the outskirts of the
Roman Empire because wine was difficult to obtain. Romans, who were mainly wine drinks,
considered beer a barbaric drink. Beer of this era could not be stored, was cloudy and
produced almost no foam. The oldest proof of beer being brewed on German soil, comes from
the early Hallstatt Period, about 800 BC. (Alabev)


The mood-altering effects of beer were considered supernatural by early civilizations, and
the state of intoxication was regarded as divine. People though beer must contain some
sort of spirit since drinking it possesses the drinker. Beer brewing played an important
role in people's daily lives. So stimulating was the recently discovered pleasure that
early people decided never to be without it. At a time before bread baking, beer was a
non-perishable food. Protected by alcohol, beer had good taste lasting far longer than any
other food. A vitamin-rich porridge used daily, beer is reported to have increased health
and longevity and reduced disease and malnutrition. The self-medicating properties of
alcohol-rich beer also eased the tensions and stresses of daily living in a hostile world.
(Buhner 35)


Beer was a driving force that led nomadic groups into village life. Ten thousand years ago
barley was domesticated and worshipped as a god in the highlands of southern Levant. With
the creation of writing, using a stylus on wet clay tablets, beer, its history and
mystery, became a large part of an ancient literary repertoire. Beer was considered a
valuable foodstuff and workers were often paid with jugs of beer. Fruits, best when
freshly picked during their short season, could be turned into wine but lacked the protein
value of beer, wrote Steven Buhner. (Buhner 60)


In many paintings of early monasteries you can see monks enjoying beer. After a short time
they began to brew more than for their own consumption. Through an alcohol licensing
charge, the monks received the right to sell beer. With this many monasteries developed
into well managed commercial businesses. Monasteries were so good at brewing that theirs
was of the highest quality and very popular. There were two may types of beer brewed, low
strength every day beer and, high strength special occasion beers. Brewing became the duty
of commercial brewers after the reformation and weakening of the church. These brewers
brewed under royal license and supplied the merchant class with beer. People of other
towns constantly wanted beer, and as a result brewing became a respectable trade. (Alabev)


The local sovereigns introduced beer taxes that began to fill their coffers. As the
monastery pubs did not have to pay these taxes because of their older, privileged brewery
status, they adversely affected this new source of income and the dukes and princes
quickly closed many of the monasteries. Emperor Sigismund was the first emperor to issue
such a decree. Even though the sovereigns closed many monastery breweries, we owe much to
the monks for being the first to develop the brewers' art. Monasteries had become the
centers for brewing as a result of their already being the centers of learning. The local
water supply was often contaminated, beer provided a safe drinking source and was promoted
by the authorities of the day. Throughout the Middle Ages, hops became widely used as a
way to make beer refreshing and also as a natural preservative. In fact, in France and
Germany, hops were documented as being cultivated in the ninth century. (Alabev)


Grut was a mixture of all sorts of herbs used to flavor beer. The flavoring license was
similar to a patent, allowing a brewery to produce its own flavoring mixture and became
the legal basis for every brewery and ensured a monopoly position for the respective brew
master. With the advent of hops as a flavoring, Grut was no longer necessary and therefore
the monopoly position of the breweries endangered. For this reason, the use of hops was
often simply and forcibly forbidden. Among other things, juniper berries, sweet gale ,
blackthorn, oak bark, wormwood, caraway seed, aniseed, bay leaves, yarrow, thorn apple,
gentian, rosemary, tansy, Saint-John's-wort, spruce chips, pine roots, and henbane found
their way into these Grut mixtures. Some of these herbs were poisonous, and others induced
hallucinations. As we know today, the hallucinogen Alkaloid, for example, is produced from
henbane during the brewing process. (Alabev)

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