Beer & Ales and the History Behind Them:
In Germany in the early part of the present century, excavators discovered a jug whose contents proved to be beer mash, which had been made some sixteen centuries ago-probably the oldest bottle of beer in existence. And yet that mash had been made when the beer industry was thousands of years old, for the history of brewing is as old as recorded history some seven thousand years.
Archaeologists have found hieroglyphics which mean “brewing”. They have found jugs which were used for beer, and chemicals analysis has proved that barley was used. They have even found some of the yeast cells by which beer was fermented. In ancient days the brew-master and baker were the same man. Nobility and priesthood were interested in brewing, and there was a close association between religious ceremonies and beer.
According to Pliny, the Egyptians made wine from corn. The Greeks learned the art of preparing beer from the Egyptians.
Through the ages, in every country from Egypt to the New World, evidence of beer has been recorded in all languages. Medieval history is replete with references to brewing and its importance in the development of civilization. Even the Kaffir races of darkest African made, and still make, a kind of beer from millet, while the natives of Nubia, Abyssina, and other parts of Africa prepared a fermented beverage which they called bousa.
The Russian quass or kvass from black bread (rye), the Chinese samshu, and the Japenese Sake’ from rice, are all beers of ancient origin.
Contrary to popular opinion, the “mead” which Friar Tuck and Little John qualified in such great quantities in Sherwood Forest with Robin Hood was not a beer. Mead, in reality, was the name for a drink made from fermented honey and water, flavored with herbs.
Had it not been for the lack of beer and food, the Pilgrims Fathers in the Mayflower would have continued their journey to Virginia, where they had intended to make their home. Instead, they landed at Plymouth Rock, because, as recorded in their Journal: “We could not now take time for further search or considerations, our victuals being spent, especially our beer.”
Although the Pilgrims called their brew beer, it was really ale that they used, as lager beer was first introduced into America by the Germans in 1840. Although most of the households brewed their own beer, the records show that a brewery was in operation by 1637. Probably William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, was the first to operate a brewery on a large commercial scale, at Pennsbury in Bucks County. Another early brewery was that of the Dutch brewer Jacobus who had his first brewery and beer garden at what is now the corner of Pearl Street and Old Slip in New York City.
Among early Americans who were brewers or had financial interests in breweries were George Washington, James Oglethorpe, Israel Putnman, Samuel Adams, and Thomas Chittenden, the first Governor of Vermont. They were all men of integrity and standing, so the industry started in America under excellent auspices.