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Beer: Distilled Flavor from the Depths of Time - History, Culture, and Thousands of Varieties!

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

Let's start with the emergence of beer. It was discovered by the Sumerians around 3100-3500 BCE by accident. The Sumerians, one of the societies that appreciated beer, continued the tradition of reciting the Ninkasa Hymn, which provided a beer recipe in the name of the Beer Goddess Ninkase, for years. Another example of the value of beer in Mesopotamian culture is seen in the Hammurabi Code; anyone caught tampering with the beer recipe was punished by drowning in the river.


Ancient Egypt was also an important period for beer culture. During this time, beer went beyond being just a beverage, and even the wages of workers building the pyramids were paid with beer.


In different geographical areas, beer was brewed in various ways. For example, some tribes in the Amazon region tried to make beer using corn instead of grains like barley or wheat, which were not available in their geography. In this unique method, tribe members gathered around a large vessel, each took a handful of corn from the center, chewed it, and then spat it back into the vessel. This special type of beer, fermented with enzymes from saliva, was called "Chicha." If someone offers you Chicha, I would recommend thinking twice before drinking it.





Let's move a bit closer to history. In medieval Europe, beer spread in a way that was quite different from what we might expect. Due to deadly diseases transmitted through water, people turned to beer as an alternative drink. The demand for beer increased because harmful microorganisms found in untreated water were absent in beer, which went through the boiling process.


One of the most crucial moments in the history of beer culture was in the year 1516 when the Bavarian Duke 4th Wilhelm issued the German Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot). This law was enacted to control the increasing prices of wheat, which was used in both bread and beer production. The unchanging components of this purity law were water, hops, barley, and yeast.


Beer producers have been divided into two camps since the enactment of this law. One side argues that the German Purity Law is essential for beer culture and should be preserved, while the other side believes that creating new recipes would contribute to the development of this culture.



As a result of the cold climate in Bavaria, monks started producing beer in monasteries and made a living from it. They conducted experiments with beer in monasteries, introduced hops to the brewing process, and refined the recipe. This monastery beer spread to the world with the image of monasteries as Trappist beers. Beer producers who wanted to take advantage of the reputation of beer brewed in monasteries used the monastery's recipes and images in their logos and released beers called "Abbey." Of course, they didn't forget to donate a portion of the profits to the monasteries


Until the 1800s, it was not known how fermentation occurred, until Louis Pasteur discovered fermentation in the mid-1800s. While drinking beer in a brewery, Pasteur began examining the beer under a microscope. He tried to separate good yeasts from bad ones to produce higher quality beer, but bad yeasts continued to mix in the mixture through the air and other means, so he tried a method to kill bad microorganisms definitively. He closed the beer's mouth and poured boiling water over it, thus killing the bad microorganisms and achieving fermentation, resulting in beer with a longer shelf life and better taste. In fact, we can say that pasteurization was discovered not for fruit juice or milk but for beer.


During the Industrial Revolution, an important development called the cooler emerged, which provided convenience in cooling lager beers according to the request of beer producers.




So, how did so many beer styles emerge?

As is known in history, beer factories were established next to water sources because the quality of water determines the quality of beer. In the town of Plzen in the Czech Republic, where the water was very clear, the famous Pilsner beer was produced in a factory, known for its clarity.


The beer style called Indian Pale Ale (IPA) emerged when English soldiers traveling to India had their beers spoiled due to the Indian heat. As a solution, English beer producers wrote a beer recipe suitable for this climate, containing more alcohol and hops. This beer type became more bitter and alcoholic due to the recipe.


In England, women used to brew beer in pubs near the ports. They accidentally collected leftover beers and excess amounts left at the bottom of glasses in a barrel. They sold these mixed beers to porters at cheaper prices at the end of the day. The porters who drank this mixed beer at the end of the night gave the beer the name "Porter." Since Porter was a mixed type of beer, it had a bitter and peculiar taste, and its color was brownish. When production was shifted to factories, manufacturers started producing Porter by roasting it more than the normal degree. However, the story doesn't end there. At that time, the rival of the English beer sector, the Irish, said, "We can do better," and introduced Stout Porter, which was more roasted and darker. Over time, Stout Porter lost its Porter part, and Stout took its place. Today, one of the most well-known brands, Guinness, is actually a Stout beer.



he history of beer has allowed people to socialize, come together, and celebrate happy moments in society. Beer has a deep-rooted heritage that goes back to the past of humanity and continues to be enjoyed with pleasure in the present day. Get ready to explore this unique adventure hidden in beer! Remember, a glass of beer is not just a drink; it is the story of a culture, history, and geography. Cheers!

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