No one really knows exactly how the first beer came into being…
Suffice it to say that, around 10,000 years ago, somebody let a primordial barley and hop concoction stand long enough for it to ferment. The result not only made anonymous history, it was the genesis of beer’s own special influence throughout the ages.
Here are a few examples of note:
It was the accepted practice in Babylonia, as early as 4000 years ago, that for a month after a wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer, and because their calendar was lunar-based, this period was called the “honey month” or what we know today as the “honeymoon.” I have also heard that the custom included one of the most resourceful bits of propaganda ever created for husbands. As the story went, if the groom drank mead for an entire moon, it would enhance the chances of his wife bearing a male heir. The bride, however, had to abstain from drinking alcohol at all. I’ll leave the punch lines to you.
After consuming a bucket or two of vibrant brew they called ‘aul,’ or ‘ale,’ a certain self-appointed breed of Vikings would head fearlessly into battle without armor, or even without shirts. In fact, the term “berserk” means “bare shirt” in Norse,and eventually took on the meaning of their wild behavior in battle. They believed that Odin’s favor was all they needed for protection, and if they were to die in combat, it was only because The Allfather decided it was their time to enter the hallowed halls of Valhalla. This was Odin’s great ‘Castle of the Chosen Slain,’ where ‘inductees’ would spend eternity in Viking nirvana, ie- fighting all day, having their wounds miraculously heal at sundown, and then partying all night, with generous quantities of ale at their beck and call.
Before thermometers were invented, brewers would dip a thumb or finger into the mix to find the right temperature for adding yeast. Too cold, and the yeast wouldn’t grow. Too hot, and the yeast would die. This practice is where we get the phrase, “rule of thumb.”
The first known consumer protection act arose with the German Beer Purity Law of 1516, known as Rheinheitsgebot. This decreed that, in order to be called ‘beer,’ a beverage could only consist of four ingredients: malt, hops, yeast and water. This is such a revered regulation that when the European Union facilitated the introduction of other beers into the German market, it took a court order for many stores to sell them. Most of those beers contained preservatives, and to a respectable German, that meant — and still does — that such beverages were not beer.
In 1740, Admiral Vernon of the British fleet decided to water down the navy’s rum. Needless to say, the sailors weren’t too pleased and called Admiral Vernon “Old Grog,” after the stiff wool grogram coats he wore. The term “grog” soon began to mean the watered down drink itself. When you were drunk on this grog,you were “groggy,” a word that has been expanded to include the effects of too much beer and is still in use today.
The Health Benefits of Beer Drinking
Cancer preventer – A compound found only in hops, which are used to make beer, have been discovered to prevent cancer. Of course we all know that hops are an ingredient in beer and therefore Xanthohumol has high hopes of making beer a new anti cancer drug. Xanthohumol flavinoids have been tested and its use is hoped to be a preventative treatment against prostate and colon cancer and even may be a form of hormone therapy for women.
Getting your vitamins – A friend of mine used to say there is a pork chop in every glass of beer but recent studies show that there is vitamin B6 in beer increases the level of vitamin B6 in a beer drinker’s blood which has been shown to decrease the level of homocysteine which increase the chances of heart disease.
Reducing chance of heart disease – alcohol drinkers had higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, often called the “good” cholesterol, which is a protective form of blood fat. The alcohol drinkers also had lower levels of fibrinogen, a protein that promotes blood clots, as well as elevated levels of other molecules (platelets) that prevent the clotting and stickiness of blood cells.
Reduction in Kidney stones – A Finnish-U.S. study of beer-drinking, middle-aged men was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1999. The report stated that an increase in beer consumption may reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. Results showed that there was a 40 percent lower risk of kidney stones in beer drinkers, but the researchers were stumped as to whether the results were due to water, alcohol or hops.
Defying the bad of X-Rays – Beer helps reduce chromosomal damage from radiation exposure thanks to beta-pseudouridine. According to a study by the Japanese researchers from the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, and the Tokyo University of Science Blood samples were taken from test subjects before and after they had drunk about 630ml of beer. Apparently, when the samples were exposed to X-rays and other types of radiation, after the subjects had drank the beer their samples showed at least 30% fewer aberrations in the blood cells.
Memory Booster – A Swedish team has shown that mice fed with moderate amounts of alcohol grew new nerve cells in the brain. The full implications of the Karolinska Institute research – which appears in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology – are unclear, but Stefan Brene told the BBC: “We believe that the increased production of new nerve cells during moderate alcohol consumption can be important for the development of alcohol addiction and other long-term effects of alcohol on the brain.”
Slow the Aging Process – In a study published in the March issue of International Immunopharmacology, scientists at Austria’s Innsbruck Medical University found that hops, a key ingredient in beer, affect the production of neopterin, a telltale sign of inflammation, and levels of the amino acid tryptophan (low levels are associated with more inflammation.)
Micro brewed beer
Micro brewed beer is often used to refer to beer that is brewed in the comforts of one’s home or in small pubs. The term started in the 70s in the UK to describe single units that make their own beer or traditional cask ale.
Before, the term micro brew was only used to characterize output volume and brewery size. In the US, it used to refer to breweries that produces less than 15,000 beer barrels in a year. But, now, it is fast becoming known as a next generation approach to beer brewing and experimentation, as well as customized service.
Beer aficionados will tell you that some of the world’s best brews are the ones done in microbreweries. Because makers of micro brew beer have the liberty to create their own concoctions and make experiments with flavor, a number of microbreweries gave starting banking on this popularity and sprouting all over the world.
If you ask micro brew fans what makes this kind of beer so great, they will most definitely tell you it’s the distinct flavor. You see, microbrewed beer usually tastes richer and darker than its commercially and mass-produced counterparts. And because each pub or home microbrewery is likely to have its own distinct twist to beer making, you can be assured of a variety of flavors you are bound to taste.
Micro brew is not just for pubs, as said earlier. Some people prefer to brew their own beer at home, for personal pleasure. Home brews are perfect for private parties. In fact, some beer makers even use a home microbrewery as an excuse to invite people over.
However, it is important to note that not all states have legalized microbrewing. To know more information about this, as well as how to start your own micro brew setup at home, you might want to check out the American Homebrewers Association. They have a list of restrictions and how-tos on their Web site, which can help you get started or keep you in control.
You can also join a local micro brew club if there is on in your area. If you’re a bit antisocial, this might be the best place to start with because you deal with a fewer number of people. You can exchange notes and compare micro brew flavors with them, and even do joint projects on new tastes. To find out if there’s one in your vicinity, check the local directory.
Making your own beer or tasting one that’s customized makes a whole lot of difference to the beer drinking experience. If you previously thought the beers you buy from the supermarket are all there is, then you missed so much.
However, it’s not too late to start introducing yourself to the wonder that is micro brew. Who knows, you might actually learn to love it more than the commercial fare — just like any other person who has made the switch before you. Enjoy!
How to Brew Your Own Beer
Beer brewing has become increasingly popular because it produces a large amount of beer for a very little amount of money. There are three things to consider when brewing your own beer from home – equipment, ingredients and procedure.
• A 20 quart brew pot
• Large stirring spoon
• A basic tablespoon
• Measuring cup
• Glass jar
• Fermenter (plastic bucket)
• Air lock
• Rolling pin
● Malted Barley
1. Preparing the Ingredients – Crush the malted barley into suitable sizes using your rolling pin. This will break the grain into pieces and will extract the goodness of the grain when it’s inserted into hot water.
2. Boil the Wort – The ingredients for the wort are mixed with the amount stated on the beer recipe. This is called the “mash”. The mash is mixed together in the boiler and hot water is added. The mash is brought to a boil for approximately half an hour. Once it’s finished boiling, you must filter out the grains and add the hops. Boiling the hops will eliminate its bitter flavor. Boil the hops for approximately 10 minutes.
3. Fermentation – This is the most important step to beer brewing. Insert the yeast into the wort and leave it for approximately one week. If you use the correct amount of yeast, you will notice foam throughout the liquid within the first 24 hours. This foam indicates that the beer is fermenting accordingly.
4. Storage – Store your beer in tanks or package it in bottles or kegs until it is ready for consumption.
Streetwise Beer Making Secrets!
Beer making is a complicated process that involves several steps that should be carefully thought out. Here are some basic ideas that will help you to get started on your beer making adventure.
The first step in brewing is called malting. Malting involves steeping grain in water for several days until the grain begins to germinate or sprout. During germination, enzymes within the grain are converted to a type of sugar called maltose. At this point in the beer making, the grain becomes what is referred to as malt.
After several days, when the majority of the starch has been converted to sugar, the malt is heated and dried. This process of the beer making, called kilning, stops the malt from germinating any further. A portion of the malt may be further roasted to varying depths of colour and flavour to create different styles of beer.
After kilning, the dried malt is processed in a mill, which cracks the husks. The cracked malt is transferred to a container called a mash tun, and hot water is added. The malt steeps in the liquid, usually for one to two hours. This process of beer making, called mashing, breaks down the complex sugars in the grain and releases them in the water, producing a sweet liquid called wort.
In the next step of beer making, called brewing, the wort is transferred to a large brew kettle and boiled for up to two hours. During this stage of the brewing process, hops are added to the wort to provide a spicy flavour and bitterness that balances the sweetness of the wort.
After brewing, the wort is cooled and then strained to remove the hop leaves and other residue. The beer-making brewer transfers the wort to a container in which it can ferment. The first fermentation lasts from a few days to two weeks. When the yeast has consumed most of the fermentable sugar, the wort becomes beer.
Beer, You Never Look at a Pint in the Same Way Again
Simply, beer is a fermented combination of water, barley, yeast and hops. The major variation in any beer is the type of yeast used in the fermentation process.
Let’s look at the properties of this beverage. Water is the main ingredient of beer. In the past, the purity of the water influenced the final result and was specific to the region of the earth from which it came. Today, water is filtered of these impurities, although pure water supplies are still ideally preferred by elite brewers.
Barley malt is an extremely important ingredient in beer as it is the main source of fermentable sugar. Many new breweries use barley malt extract, in either syrup or powder form, as this form ferments much quicker. It also contains many minerals and vitamins that help the yeast to grow.
Without yeast, beer would not exist. Yeast is a unique single cell organism that eats sugar and expels alcohol and carbon dioxide, two of the more recognizable ingredients of beer. Yeast comes in several variations, of which there are two major categories that determine the type of beer produced; Ale yeast and Lager yeast. If yeast alone were used the beer would be extremely sweet and therefore another ingredient needs to be added to reach the final product.
Hops are the flowers of the hop plant, a climbing vine plant that grows well in many differing climates. Hops contain acids which add bitterness to beer. Adding bitterness to beer helps to balance the sweetness, as well as acting as a natural preservative. Add more hops to the mixture and you will get a more bitter taste. This kind of beer is extremely popular in Britian and is simply referred to as “Bitter” (the original names are always the best!).
Variations of these ingredients create different tasting beers as well as having an affect on the alcoholic content. When making your own beer many good resources are available which provide home brewing kits. It is important to read the ingredients of the packets in order to ascertain which has the best mixture according to your needs. One quick tip which many home brewers fail to adhere to is this: “Use fresh still water”!