Based on the current trend, if you look out of your window right now you probably will see a new brewery being built. It seems that every week there is a new one that pops up, especially here in Virginia. A law was passed back in 2012 that allowed Virginia breweries to serve beer on the premises without having a restaurant on site, and boy have the craft breweries been a comin’.
But what is this sudsy liquid that they pour into our glasses? Where did it come from and who made it taste so good? Apparently the Egyptians and Mesopotamians were the first people to realize that certain grains spontaneously fermented to make a refreshing drink. Beer back then was a little different because you had to use a reed as a straw to avoid the bitter solids left over from fermentation.
Beer spread throughout the world and was a popular drink during the Roman empire before wine took over as the top choice to party. But the tribes and communities outside of the Roman Empire continued to drink the suds in and around the area we now know as Germany. The rest is history.
The word “Beer” comes from their German word “Bier” which is probably a distant cousin to “Biber”, meaning “a drink” in Latin. We will forgive the Latin word for being one letter short of becoming a drunk twenty something with too many tattoos (see: Bieber). Beer has been used as a way to enjoy life, and even as a form of payment all the way back when the Egyptians were building the Pyramids.
The Brewery though has changed drastically throughout the years. At first, most beers were brewed at home and were flavored with gruit (what a farmer says when asked the question “how did this plant get here?”) which is a mixture of herbs that tries to make the barley flavor a little more palatable. It wasn’t until the Germans started standardizing the production of beer that people really started using hops to make the flavor of beer have a bittery sweet after taste.
Of course the Industrial Revolution changed everything, because new inventions made it easier to make a consistent beer and make it faster. But we have all heard plenty of Industrial Revolution stories (if you know what I mean). Now a days, when we go into a brewery and the bar tender pulls the draft with a nice aromatic head, we get to enjoy the long and storied process that beer has gone through in order to taste so good. So the next time you sit down to have a brew, remember all the hops that were sacrificed throughout the years to perfect the liquid gold your about to gulp down and pour one out for them. Or not. Cheers!
PS: Here is a list of the top breweries in the US for your enjoyment!