The History of Beer: From Ancient Sumerians to German Monks

The history of beer dates back to prehistoric antiquity, when the Sumerians discovered the fermentation process (about 6000 years ago). Babylonians and Egyptians developed the art of brewing beer, and passed it to the Romans, who considered it a barbaric drink. The Teutons, the ancient Germans, regarded beer as a sacrifice to the gods. They began producing the first graduation beer in the early Hallstatt Period (around 800 BC).

In the Middle Ages, brewing beer became the favorite occupation of monks, who served it with their meals. Few countries are as famous for their beer traditions as Germany. Learn more about the history of German beer, popular styles and the local craft beer scene. True, modern beer styles were developed mainly in Europe (especially in Germany).

But through research, we now know that beer was first enjoyed in ancient Mesopotamia. To understand the important event of 500 years ago, let's go even further. The Germans were brewing beer as early as the 10th century with a mixture of herbs called gruit. Brewing beer was seen as a woman's responsibility, along with baking bread.

Often, women from different families shared a space for brewing and baking. It was around the time that Weihenstephan Brewing, known by her Hefe Weissbier, fell under the control of the state of Bavaria. Weihenstephan is the oldest brewery in the world and continues to produce world-class beers to this day. Weihenstephan officially started brewing beer in 1040, when the monks of the monastery of Weihenstephan, in the city of Freising, obtained a license to brew and sell beer. Its documented history of brewing beer in the monastery dates back even further to 768 AD, when the first mention of hops was recorded in the monastery.

That year, the Church began collecting 10% of annual hop products from a nearby hop farm as a tax. When the troops prevailed, the general had a glassmaker make a glass boot to fulfill his promise without trying his own feet and to avoid spoiling the beer in his leather boot. Cologne brewers use highly fermented and cold-conditioned ale yeast to make a crunchy and tremendously drinkable beer. However, almost all German brewers brew their beer with only four ingredients, as set out in the Deutsches Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Act). Varying in color, Bock beers tend to be stronger than Pilsner beers, with a graduation between 6.3 and 7.5 percent and generally have a sweet, bready-yeasty taste. He analyzes the early history of brewing, explaining how from about the 8th to the 12th centuries, monks were the mass producers of beer in the Netherlands and Germany.

Over time, beer became increasingly popular in Germany, especially after the introduction of the Beer Purity Act in the 16th century. Münchener Bier is a beer from Munich protected by EU legislation with PGI status, first published under relevant laws in 1998. Due to the above-mentioned reduction in the ingredients needed to brew beer with hops, taxes on hops and grains were eventually incorporated into taxes on pasta. As international and long-distance trade became more and more frequent, import taxes were imposed in Germany and the Netherlands to protect domestic brewers, and export taxes were levied due to the lucrative nature of brewing. Breweries in the Netherlands often relied on peat as a heat source to prepare wort for beer, while German breweries used more wood. Taxes imposed on beer served as a stable form of government income because beer was a cheap drink that was a safe alternative to water during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

The only difference is how easy these beers are to drink; the crisp and refreshing texture of Kölsch means you can put a few more than you would in Düsseldorf. The alcohol content by volume, or ABV, of beers in Germany is usually between 4.7% and 5.4% for most traditional beers. German Weissbiers are obviously more complex than their ancient Sumerian predecessors and are legally obliged to be at least 50% malted wheat and, in most cases, they are unfiltered and look hazy due to the excess yeast left in the beer.