Beer History

Beer has a long and interesting history but who has time read it all. Here is a top 15 points of beer history to give you just a flavor of the past.

  1. One of the earliest examples of writing is a beer recipe found in Mesopotamia and dates around 4000 BC. So beer has been around as long as human civilization.
  2. When drinking the water in many early towns would make you sick beer was considered the safe liquid to drink. Some places everyone drank beer including children.
  3. Beer would be a sweet barley drink if it was not countered by bittering. At first a combination of herbs and spices were used and called a Gruit. Latter Hops were discovered and is what is used in most beer today.
  4. 1516 German Rienheitsgebot laws (or purity laws) were put into effect allowing beer to contain only malted barley, water, hops and yeast. Before Louis Pasteur and the microscope discovered yeast it was thought that the brewing process was a gift from god and yeast was not regulated. The English and Belgium’s had no such law.
  5. Our Founding fathers were home brewers. Both Jefferson and Washington brew beer at home. Samuel Adams was a malter and brewer. Almost all towns and villages had a public house that served or brew beer and was often the center gathering place.
  6. First English ales and porter were brewed in the United States these were eventually replaced by German Lagers that became the dominant beer style.
  7. Refrigeration and railroads allow for large national brewers to grow.
  8. Dec. 1933 after ten years of prohibition the 21 amendment repealed it. The breweries that had survived by brewing root beer and near bear began brewing beer again.
  9. The three-tier system was put in place after Prohibition. This prevented brews from selling direct to consumer. Brewers had to sell to distributor who sold to bars, taverns, stores and restaurants that sold to consumers.
  10. A period of Consolidation – most local and small regional brewers sold out to a handful of national brewers.
  11. National brewers set a policy of striving for “flavor neutral” beer. It was believe that women who did most of the grocery shopping would be more likely to buy beer if it did not have a strong flavor.
  12. 1978 Jimmy Carter signs a law legalizing private home brewing of up to a 100 gallons of beer a year without tax or regulation. Home brewing begins.
  13. 1985 after a lobbing effort by some founding fathers of Oregon micro beer movement Bob Straubs signs a bill in Oregon legalizing the sell of beer from the brewer direct to the public.
  14. Shortly after the new law was pasted for brewers to sell beer direct to consumers McMenamin Bros. open the first brewpub – the Hillsdale Brewery and Public House. The brewpub movement had come to Oregon.
  15. Micro brewpub growth continues with one or two new brewpub opening every year in the Portland Metro area.