We all enjoy a long, cool beer after a hard day’s work and you’ll no doubt remember your dad drinking beer when you were a kid (we all do). Indeed, every generation since time began drank beer, albeit in a cruder form than the golden nectar we enjoy today. The earliest beer that we know was made from barley was from around 5000 BC in what is now Iran, while the ancient Egyptians and Chinese also told of a brew made from grain. How do we know this? Chemical tests carried out on ancient pottery proves they were making beer and for all we know, making ale goes back even earlier.
We believe that cereal fermentation would sometime naturally occur and people realised this and began experimenting with grains, fruit and developed their own particular brew. Beer making occurred in all parts of the world and as we travelled and exchanged cultures, beer makers compared and experimented.
Fast forward a few millennia to Europe in the 10-12th centuries and beer, much like bread, was a staple part of the ordinary people’s diet. In England, Scotland and Wales, all social classes drank beer, even the aristocracy, as barley was a favourite crop for the farming community. Wine only really developed in warmer countries where grapes could be grown, so beer was the major drink and there would be many variations, with other things added for taste.
The microbrewing industry is booming today, with fine craft beer in NZ available online and if lagers and pale ale are your favourite, you can order a selection and home in on the one that really hits the spot. It is most definitely an art to brew premium beer and there are quite a few master brewers who got together to form a microbrewery that enables them to create amazing beers.
Once we moved into the Industrial Revolution, we mastered the art of mass-producing huge batches of beer and each region went its own way; the Scandinavians and Germans preferring lager type beers, while the British focused on bitters and pale ales, while also brewing a range of dark stout beers. In the US, prohibition pretty much killed off the beer industry, with illegal stills taking over, and after that, the market turned towards lager beers.
Beer will always be a part of human culture and thanks the thousands of years of development, we now have some fantastic beers, all of which can be acquired online.