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All About Beer History Header

"Beer is living proof that God loves us and
wants us to be happy." Benjamin Franklin

And when Benjamin Franklin was touting the benefits of good beer, he did it at Tun Tavern, built at Penn's Landing, Philadelphia, PA in 1685.

At the first meeting of the "Free & Accepted Masons" in 1732, Franklin honorably led the Society of Free Masons as their Grand Master. In 1749, the oldest known existing charity in the US, "Saint Andrew's Society," convened for the first time at Tun Tavern.

What is Beer?
What is beer?
Beer is obtained by the alcoholic fermentation of a malted cereal, usually barley malt with or without other starchy material, and to which hops have been added. The word "lager" is derived from the German verb "lagern" and means "to store."

What is lager beer?
Lager Beer, which accounts for about 90% of all malt beverage production in America, is distinguished by the fact that the wort (the resulting brew of malt, prepared cereals like corn or rice, hops and water) is fermented by yeast of the bottom fermentation type (i.e. yeast which settles to the bottom of the fermenting tanks), and then is stored in refrigerated cellars for maturing and clarification.

What is the average composition of beer?
A typical American beer will contain 91% water, 4.6% carbohydrates in the form of maltose and dextrins, 0.5% protein substances, 0.2% mineral salts, and 3.59% alcohol by weight. It also contains such essential vitamins as thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, panthithenic acid and pyridoxine, among others. All of the constituents of beer are readily assimilated.

What is bock beer?
Usually prepared for consumption in the spring, bock is a heavy beer, dark brown in color and richer in taste than lager.

What is porter?
Also a top-fermentation beer, porter is heavier and darker than ale, more malty in flavor, less hoppy but sweeter in taste. Some high dried and roasted malt is used.

What is malt liquor?
A bottom fermented beer, malt liquor is made from a wort containing a high percentage of fermentable sugars. The product is generally fruit and spicy in flavor and has a somewhat higher alcohol content than regular beer.

What is ale?
A most popular drink in England, ale is fermented by yeast of the top-fermenting type. It has a pale bright color, a rather pronounced hop flavor and a more tart taste than lager. Its alcohol content is higher than lager, being from 4.0 to 5.0% alcohol by weight.

What is stout?
Top-fermented, stout is similar to porter. Very dark in color, it has a strong malt flavor and a sweet taste, but is heavier than porter and has a stronger hop character.

What is near beer?
Near beer, or cereal beverage, is a bottom-fermented beer from which most of the alcohol has been removed so that it contains less than 0.5% alcohol. Its taste is somewhat less "beery" in character than that of regular beer.

How is Beer Made?

What is the mashing process?
A fundamental step in brewing, mashing is the mixing of the dry material (the malt and the adjunct) with water in proper relative quantities at a suitable temperature for the proper length of time. The resultant solution is called "wort" and the sum of the soluble matter in wort is called "extract." It is the wort extract that is then used to make the beer; the residue (spent grains) is usually sold as fodder.

What is meant by yield?
The word "yield" refers to the pounds of dry extract obtained from the raw materials used.

What is understood by fermentation in a brewery?
Fermentation is the process of splitting sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide by the action of yeast. It is probably the most decisive phase in the entire brewing process for the attainment of brews of fine taste and aroma.

What is brewers' yeast?
It is a unicellular organism belonging to the group of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This group is divided into two major classes; top-fermenting and bottom-fermenting. Because of the importance of fermentation, the care breweries take in preserving the purity of their yeast is easily understandable.

How long is beer normally stored?
The young fermented beer is allowed to mature or age for a period of one to two months.

Why is beer filtered prior to bottling or racking?
To obtain brilliancy and clarity (since all yeast and protein matter is not deposited completely) beer is filtered prior to bottling or racking.

What is meant by pasteurization?
Resulting from the research of the French scientist, Louis Pasteur, pasteurization represents the heat treatment of beer in order to kill or inhibit yeast and bacteria. It increases the biological stability (and shelf-life) of beer and is accomplished by passing the bottled beer through heated water or heated water spray prior to cartoning. Draught beer is not pasteurized.

About Beer Making and History
The Components of Beer

What is barley? Why is it preferred as the basic material for brewing?
Barley is a very hardy cereal, maturing more quickly than wheat, rye or oats. There are numerous types of barley, all of which are classified by botanists as belonging to one branch of the grasses. It is preferred because it can be more easily malted for brewing purposes than any other cereal, and the solubles extracted from barley malt are of a more desirable character and more complete than those extracted from other grains. The use of barley malt produces smoother performance in the brew house, such as quick conversion and good straining.

How old is beer making?
The oldest inscribed clay document extant, thought to date back to the ancient Babylonia of 6000B.C., is interpreted as depicting a scene of the preparation of a crude type of beer for sacrificial purposes. Hops or similar bittering plants are thought to have first been used around 3000B.C. and in the imperial Egypt of the Pharaohs (about 3000B.C.) beer represented an important food item in the daily diet.

What is malt?
Having undergone steeping, germinating and kilning procedures, grain is termed malt. It differs from the original grain in that it contains less moisture (thus is more suitable for storing and grinding); the endosperm (the starch-bearing portion of the grain) becomes more mellow; and the enzymatic values of malt (its ability to effect chemical changes) are greatly increased. Also, the flavor and aroma are more readily extracted and converted.

What brought about the brewing of lager beer in the United States?
Before the introduction of ice machines and refrigeration, brewers were compelled to stop malting and brewing in May. Thus to meet demands during the hot summer months, they had to brew "auf lager" into storage. Lager was introduced into the U.S. about 1840.

What are hops - as used in brewing?
Hops are perennials belonging to the group of nettles. The female plants bear cone-shaped formations, representing clusters of blossoms. It is this cone that is processed for use in beer. Hops impart a bitter flavor and pleasant aroma to beer, increasing the refreshing quality and stimulating digestion. They help to clarify the wort and assist in preserving beer.

Ben Franklin History Picture

More Information Resources for the History of Beer

A History of Beer and Brewing
by Ian S. Hornsey ( ISBN-13: 978-0854046300 )



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