History of Beer

Although the British are exceptionally good at drinking beer we were sadly not the inventors of the fine drink.

It is believed beer was being brewed as far back as 3000BC, well before Jesus Christ came onto the scene, as the Babylonians were keen farmers of wheat and barley. Even the Egyptians only thought it right to take time out from the building of the great pyramids to sample an ancient beverage or two.

However it wasn’t until the middle ages that beer became popular among Europeans. Although promoters of the drink found their work cut out as the beer being brewed had no way of being kept cool, so production was restricted to the colder months from September to April. They also had to contend with Roman historians, such as Tacitus, who often wrote criticising beers 'reputable' qualities as a drink.

This may go some way to explaining why Romans were able to reintroduce wine to society so readily across Europe. Although this trend never really caught on in England, as our climate doesn’t really favour growing grapes but rather thrived on cereal production.

Moving into the 11th century

England started importing hops from Holland. As a result the general public were now privy to a choice of two types of beverage; the hopped variety was called ‘beer’ and the unhopped ‘ale’.

The hopped variety was able to tame the sweetness of ale with its bitter taste and distinctive aroma. People loved this new taste and not surprisingly by the 18th century all beers were made with hops.

It was during this time clean water was scarce so its no wonder beer became the peoples source for ‘clean’ liquid refreshment, and as such people didn’t drink pints as we do today but drank beer by the gallon.

Beer was a lot more potent back then too.

Inevitably the health of the nation suffered and Londoners in particular bore the brunt of societies addiction if not to gin, then to beer.

The problem was heightened during the Industrial Revolution with the introduction of refrigeration and the construction of large breweries across England. This gave people access to beer all year round but by the 1920’s the politicians in United States had had enough and they introduced prohibition, which near wiped out the US brewing industry, even though bootlegging was thought to be rife. 1933 saw an end to the ban and so too Americas love of beer as bottled lager over took it in the race to quench their thirst.

So as you can see Beer it seems has always received a bad press throughout history, but the media are slowly beginning to recognise its merits, in the same way connoisseurs sniff out a fine wine. The public’s perception towards beer is also changing, as thankfully it is no longer drunk as a substitute for clean water but can still be appreciated for its refreshing taste.