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Food, Fermentation and Micro-organisms Charles W. Bamforth Copyright © 2005 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd
The word beer comes from the Latin word Bibere (to drink). It is a beverage whose history can be traced back to between 6000 and 8000 years and the process, being increasingly regulated and well controlled because of tremendous strides in the understanding of it, has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. The basic ingredients for most beers are malted barley, water, hops and yeast; indeed, the 500-year-old Bavarian purity law (the Reinheitsgebot) restricts brewers to these ingredients for beer to be brewed in Germany. Most other brewers worldwide have much greater flexibility in their production process opportunities, yet the largest companies are ever mindful of the importance of tradition.
Compared to most other alcoholic beverages, beer is relatively low in alcohol. The highest average strength of beer (alcohol by volume (ABV) indicates the millilitres of ethanol per 100 ml of beer) in any country worldwide is 5.1% and the lowest is 3.9%. By contrast, the ABV of wines is typically in the range 11-15%.
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