The liquid bread.
Beer is the most consumed fermented beverage in the world, and is produced all around the planet. The first historical evidence of beer was found during excavations in Nineveh, located in modern-day northern Iraq, in tablets of clay dating back to 3000 BC.
Beer has always been associated with cereals, and it is much more likely that its origin goes back to the first cereal crops from around 6000 BC. At that time, man relied on mother nature for planting barley and on indigenous yeasts from the air for inoculating the must (sugar extract), which triggered the fermentation process.
In the Middle Ages, abbeys diffused knowledge in certain crafts, including brewing beer. The monks were allowed to drink unlimited amounts of beer because the quality of the drinking water was unsanitary. Over that period, the main ingredient of beer was “Gruit”, a herbal mixture commercialized by a family from Bruges. A little while later, thanks to their privileges, abbeys started to use a new element, hops, because it helped preserve the beer. In Belgium, the Abbey of Affligem became the first to grow hops in the Flanders fields.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, more and more regulations were drawn up to ensure that good beers were brewed. In Germany, the “Reinheitsgebot” (1516) stated that beer could be brewed exclusively from barley, hops and water. In Halle, in Flemish Brabant, a city account from 1559 refers to the mash for brewing “lambiek” beer. From the seventeenth century onwards, regional beers were created and brewers started to export their beers outside of their own region.
The end of the eighteenth century marked the end of the abbeys’ privileges. In 1783, the Emperor Joseph II dissolved the abbeys because they infringed upon the breweries. Several abbeys and their breweries were also destroyed during the French Revolution.
It wasn’t until the nineteenth century and the invention of the steam engine, the artificial cold and the discovery and reproduction of yeast that our current beers were born. These new technologies revolutionized the art of beer brewing. The natural fermentation which took place randomly in the past has become today a process controlled by the best master brewers.
The nineteenth century marked a new chapter in beer history with the breakthrough of the Czech pilsner (1839), which was an instant success in the world of cloudy and dark (regional) beers. During the Industrial Revolution, scientists gained a better insight into the brewing process and yeast culture in general.
The First World War was the final blow for several Belgian breweries, when the German occupying forces seized the copper vats, equipment and their vehicles. Only half of the nearly 3,200 breweries survived it. The breweries, which slowly picked up where they left off, were dealt a new, heavy blow during the economic crisis of the 1930s and then the Second World War. There were only 775 breweries left in 1946.Nowadays, there are only a few natural and spontaneous fermentation beers. Belgium brews one of the best beers of that type, the “Lambic”, in a valley of the river Senne.
Belgian Beers tasting tour in Brussels.
Belgian Beer Tasting Tour Brussels: taste some of the best Belgian beers in Brussels. This visit will make you discover the history of beer in Belgium, a true iconic Belgian drink.
Brussels private Beer tasting tour: come and discover the history of beer in Belgium, a true symbol of the country and taste the best Belgian beers in the unmissable and mythical bars of the historic center of the Capital.
Learn more about the Belgian beer – Wikipedia