Beer is the oldest recorded recipe in the world. The ancient Egyptians first documented the brewing process on papyrus scrolls around 5,000 B.C.
These first beers were brewed with things like dates, pomegranates and other indigenous herbs. The Egyptians used beer for religious ceremonies, with the Pharaoh directing the brewing schedule and distribution to the masses.
Beer eventually made its way from the Middle East across the Mediterranean to Europe, where it became an integral part of life. This was especially true in Northern Europe where abundant barley crops provided ample raw ingredients for brewers. Beer was valued both for its nutritional value and because it was a safe alternative to drinking water.
It was during the early Middle Ages that what we think of as modern beer was born. Brewers had been using malted barley as the main source of fermentable sugar for hundreds of years, but the use of hops as a bittering and flavouring agent did not become common until around the twelfth century. Before that time, many different herbs and spices were used to balance the sweet malt flavours in beer; everything from spruce boughs to dried flowers to bitter roots had found their way into brew kettles. Around 1150 German monks began commonly using wild hops in beer and the ingredient quickly caught on. Brewers found that hops added a very pleasing, thirst quenching bitterness and as an added benefit, the hops acted as a natural preservative extending the life of their beers.
Along with Northern European countries like Germany and Belgium, the British Isles too, became a brewing center. Many styles of beer familiar to drinkers today have their roots here; pale ales, porters, and stouts have been brewed for hundreds of years. Beer has been such an integral part of life that the army issued daily beer rations to each soldier and the Royal Navy delivered beer to troops in even the furthest corners of the Empire.
There is a huge range of different beer styles, but each falls into one of two main categories – ale or lager.
Ales include bitters, milds, stouts, porters, barley wines, golden ales and old ales, use top-cropping yeast. This forms a thick head and the process is quite short, vigorous and carried out at higher temperatures than lager, typically 18 – 24ºC.
Lagers are brewed with mostly very lightly kilned malt. This produces different flavour characteristics from the pale malt used in ales, specific varieties of hops and bottom-cropping yeast. This does not form the thick yeast head associated with ale fermentations and fermentation takes place at a relatively low temperature (10 – 15ºC).
International Beer Day is a global celebration of beer, taking place in pubs, breweries, and gardens all over the world. It is a day for beer lovers everywhere to raise a toast to our brewers and bartenders and rejoice in the greatness of beer!
International Beer Day is celebrated in over 200 cities globally