The intoxicating history of beer

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The intoxicating history of beer

Most likely the first indi­vid­u­als to brew a beer like sub­stance were lazy farm­ers who invented this mar­velous bev­er­age com­pletely by acci­dent. These sloth­ful farm­ers left grains out­side and the grains were allowed to sit in water for an extended period of time. This caused nat­ural enzymes in the grain to con­vert the starches into sug­ars and then over a period of many weeks air­borne yeast con­verted the sug­ars into alco­hol. It didn’t taste very good but it gave the drinkers a cool buzzy feel­ing if they drank enough. This took place in var­i­ous regions of the world approx­i­mately 9000 years ago when grain cul­ti­va­tion was becom­ing common.

Over time indi­vid­u­als in dif­fer­ent regions of the world began exper­i­ment­ing with this intox­i­cat­ing elixir. These intre­pid brew­ers dis­cov­ered that if they col­lected the sug­ary liq­uid that is left over from steep­ing grains in hot water and then boiled it with bit­ter herbs or spices they ended up with a much tastier brew. What they did not real­ize was that by boil­ing this mix­ture to brew the beer they were killing off the harm­ful organ­isms that were liv­ing in the water,

Before the advent of proper san­i­tary prac­tices, water qual­ity lim­ited the num­ber of peo­ple that could live in close prox­im­ity. With all of the grains used, beer is also very nour­ish­ing. The health ben­e­fits of drink­ing beer rather than con­t­a­m­i­nated water quickly became evi­dent. Beer became the bev­er­age of choice. This allowed more peo­ple to live in close prox­im­ity to each other which allowed larger cities. More grain was needed to brew beer which led to advances in agriculture.

With­out bit­ter­ness beer would be cloy­ingly sweet. Many herbs and spices were used in dif­fer­ent regions to add the nec­es­sary bit­ter­ness. One par­tic­u­lar herb, the flow­ers of a fast grow­ing vine called hops, proved far supe­rior to all of the rest. Not only do hops pro­vide the right amount of bit­ter­ness and won­der­ful fla­vor com­bi­na­tions, they are also a preser­v­a­tive. No harm­ful organ­isms can grow in beer when hops are used. The first recorded use of hops hap­pened in the Haller­tau region of Ger­many around 1000 AD. By the 1400s hops replaced all other brew­ing herbs in Europe.

Beer played a major role in the found­ing of this nation. In 1620 the Mayflower was head­ing for the Vir­ginia Colony. Due to a nav­i­ga­tion error the ship ended up off the coast of what would become Boston. The ship was run­ning low on beer so rather than sail to the intended des­ti­na­tion the cap­tain left the colonists off at Ply­mouth. The brew house was one of the first build­ings built.

Even though the water in North Amer­ica was pris­tine, new colonists did not trust the water. Beer was believed to be essen­tial for sur­vival in the new world. Most vil­lage tav­erns brewed their own beer along with farm­ers. Large com­mer­cial brew­eries opened in cities.

Beer was one of the pri­mary fuels for the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion. Colonists would con­gre­gate in tav­erns, drink beer, and plot ways to answer England’s out­ra­geous taxes and poli­cies. On Decem­ber 16, 1773 a group of colonists gath­ered in Boston’s Green Dragon Tav­ern. Among them were Samuel Adams and John Han­cock. Bar­rels of beer were donated by John Han­cock. For­ti­fied by those bar­rels of beer the colonists, who called them­selves Sons of Lib­erty, climbed aboard ships anchored in Boston Har­bor and dumped copi­ous amounts of tea in the harbor.

After the rev­o­lu­tion beer played a major role in main­tain­ing lib­erty. Rather than rely on a stand­ing army the framers of the Con­sti­tu­tion relied on mili­tia units made up of the body of the peo­ple. Mem­bers of the mili­tia had to train in order to be effec­tive. At first get­ting the mili­tia mem­bers to attend train­ing proved dif­fi­cult. To encour­age greater atten­dance towns pro­vided bar­rels of beer, mak­ing sure the beer was con­sumed after train­ing. Free beer greatly increased attendance.

A note from DaT­e­chGugy: I hope you enjoyed Jon Fournier’s piece. Remem­ber we will be judg­ing the entries in Da Mag­nif­i­cent try­outs by hits both to their post and to DaTip­Jar So if you like Jon Fournier’s work please con­sider shar­ing this post, and if you hit DaTip­jar because of it don’t for­get to men­tion Jon Fournier’s post is the rea­son you did so.

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Most likely the first individuals to brew a beer like substance were lazy farmers who invented this marvelous beverage completely by accident.  These slothful farmers left grains outside and the grains were allowed to sit in water for an extended period of time.  This caused natural enzymes in the grain to convert the starches into sugars and then over a period of many weeks airborne yeast converted the sugars into alcohol.   It didn’t taste very good but it gave the drinkers a cool buzzy feeling if they drank enough.  This took place in various regions of the world approximately 9000 years ago when grain cultivation was becoming common.

Over time individuals in different regions of the world began experimenting with this intoxicating elixir.  These intrepid brewers discovered that if they collected the sugary liquid that is left over from steeping grains in hot water and then boiled it with bitter herbs or spices they ended up with a much tastier brew.  What they did not realize was that by boiling this mixture to brew the beer they were killing off the harmful organisms that were living in the water,

Before the advent of proper sanitary practices, water quality limited the number of people that could live in close proximity.  With all of the grains used, beer is also very nourishing.  The health benefits of drinking beer rather than contaminated water quickly became evident.  Beer became the beverage of choice.  This allowed more people to live in close proximity to each other which allowed larger cities.  More grain was needed to brew beer which led to advances in agriculture.

Without bitterness beer would be cloyingly sweet.  Many herbs and spices were used in different regions to add the necessary bitterness.  One particular herb, the flowers of a fast growing vine called hops, proved far superior to all of the rest.  Not only do hops provide the right amount of bitterness and wonderful flavor combinations, they are also a preservative.  No harmful organisms can grow in beer when hops are used.  The first recorded use of hops happened in the Hallertau region of Germany around 1000 AD.   By the 1400s hops replaced all other brewing herbs in Europe.

Beer played a major role in the founding of this nation.  In 1620 the Mayflower was heading for the Virginia Colony.  Due to a navigation error the ship ended up off the coast of what would become Boston.  The ship was running low on beer so rather than sail to the intended destination the captain left the colonists off at Plymouth.  The brew house was one of the first buildings built.

Even though the water in North America was pristine, new colonists did not trust the water.  Beer was believed to be essential for survival in the new world.  Most village taverns brewed their own beer along with farmers.    Large commercial breweries opened in cities.

Beer was one of the primary fuels for the American Revolution.  Colonists would congregate in taverns, drink beer, and plot ways to answer England’s outrageous taxes and policies.  On December 16, 1773 a group of colonists gathered in Boston’s Green Dragon Tavern.  Among them were Samuel Adams and John Hancock.  Barrels of beer were donated by John Hancock.  Fortified by those barrels of beer the colonists, who called themselves Sons of Liberty, climbed aboard ships anchored in Boston Harbor and dumped copious amounts of tea in the harbor.

After the revolution beer played a major role in maintaining liberty.  Rather than rely on a standing army the framers of the Constitution relied on militia units made up of the body of the people.  Members of the militia had to train in order to be effective.  At first getting the militia members to attend training proved difficult.  To encourage greater attendance towns provided barrels of beer, making sure the beer was consumed after training.  Free beer greatly increased attendance.

A note from DaTechGugy: I hope you enjoyed Jon Fournier’s piece. Remember we will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent tryouts by hits both to their post and to DaTipJar So if you like Jon Fournier’s work please consider sharing this post, and if you hit DaTipjar because of it don’t forget to mention Jon Fournier’s post is the reason you did so.

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Plus of course all subscribers get my weekly podcast emailed directly to you before it goes up anywhere else.

Choose a Subscription level
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