In 1992, a research team from the Applied Science Center for Archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania made a discovery that was publicized within archaeology circles (and college campuses) around the world.These researchers had analyzed a small amount of organic residue from inside an ancient pottery vessel that had been retrieved from the Zagros Mountains of Western Iran. When the residue from this clay pot (which itself was dated circa 3500-3100 B.C.E.) was analyzed, the results revealed the presence of oxalate ion. Since oxalate, and calcium oxalate in particular, collect in only a few places, this finding could mean only one thing—this pot had been used to brew beer. The 5,000-year-old residue, the archaeologists concluded, was the earliest chemical evidence for the origins of beer in the world.

Although this discovery attracted its share of headlines, it was but one of many events in the remarkable historical record of beer making (Figure 9-1). Beers were widely prepared and consumed in Egypt and other Middle Eastern counties from ancient days and then spread west into Europe and the British Isles. Despite the introduction of Islam in the eighth century, and its prohibition against alcohol consumption, beer making and consumption continued to grow throughout Europe during the Middle Ages.

During that time, beer making was considered an art, performed by skilled craftsmen. Many of the early breweries were located within various European monasteries, which created a tradition of brewing expertise and in-novation.The use of hops in beer as a flavoring agent, for example, was first practiced by monks, as was the use of bottom-fermenting yeasts (discussed below).Although beer manufacture was practiced throughout Europe, it was of particular cultural and economic importance in Great Britain and Germany, which became the epicenters for brewing technology.

By the late eighteenth century, and especially by the mid-1800s, beer making was one of the first food processes to become industrialized. Although monastery-based breweries were still common, many small breweries began to form, serving their product directly on the premises (much like the brew pubs that are popular even today). Eventually, some of the larger breweries contained not only production facilities, but also the beginning of what we might now consider to be quality control laboratories. And although these breweries were located mainly in Europe and England, beer making had also spread to North America and the American colonies.

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Brew Your Own Beer

Brew Your Own Beer

Discover How To Become Your Own Brew Master, With Brew Your Own Beer. It takes more than a recipe to make a great beer. Just using the right ingredients doesn't mean your beer will taste like it was meant to. Most of the time it’s the way a beer is made and served that makes it either an exceptional beer or one that gets dumped into the nearest flower pot.

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