Golden color, a rich white lather and a pleasant slightly bitter taste: these are the main peculiarities characterizing beer, a beverage almost as ancient as mankind and appreciated throughout millenniums. Integral part of many cultures, drunk with moderation, people appreciate this famous beverage for its unique characteristics: here is how beer was born and the secrets hiding behind one of the most ancient beverages of the world.
Beer: history of a millennial beverage
Beer has millennial origins: already during the third millennium in Mesopotamia this beverage was already drunk. The many cuneiform tablets found in the ancient Sumerian territories and the Egyptian remains and Babylonian tablets dating back to the same time are an evidence of its millennial origins. Right in Babylonia there were 19 famous beer types, and the production of this beverage was regulated by a series of laws included in the Hammurabi Code. Some of these laws set the beer price and those who disrespected these laws could be punished with death.
Also during the Ancient Egypt, beer was particularly appreciated and widely produced: some archeological excavations in fact have brought to light the most ancient written beer recipe, an evidence of how this beverage represented a true local custom.
Later on, it started to spread and to be produced also in the European territory: some Roman historians witness through their writings the diffusion of beer also among Celts and Romans. Vikings themselves gave to the golden beverage a mythological attribute: they believed in fact that the steins in the Walhalla, the room where heroes went after death, were full of beer. During the Middle Ages in Europe, the production of beer was a prerogative of ancient monasteries: monks themselves improved the traditional brewery technique, introducing the use of hops as a preservative.
It was only in the 19th century – with the rise of industrialization – that the beer production was mechanized: this progress determined a true turning point in the history of this beverage. After that, many scientific turning points arrived. The French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur made an interesting discover: he understood that the yeast able to provoke the beer fermentation was actually made by living beings. A discover that made possible a bigger and more precise control over the transformation of sugars into alcohol.
Among the protagonists of the beer history there is the Danish botanist Emil Christian Hansen: he dedicated his life to the study and classification of different species of yeasts with the aim of isolating the pure stock of the beer yeast. This way, he completely revolutionized the beer industry.
The secrets of the best beers produced in Italy and Wordlwide
The producing technique of beer has significantly changed over time and still today there are many substantial differences among the various beer factories. Nevertheless, generally speaking almost all beers are made up of main ingredients: barley, hops, water and yeast. The whole productive process can be divided in four phases: malt preparation, wort preparation, fermentation and maturation. The preparation of malt requires a process thanks to which malt reaches germination, through the constant exposure of temperature of 14° for about a week: this is how the green malt is obtained. Right after, it gets dried out, deprived of small roots grown during germination and finally milled.
At this point the wort gets prepared. A mix of milled malt, macerated in water and gradually warmed up: this operation allows to convert the starches in sugars. Then, the filtered mixture gets boiled and implemented with the hop, an element that gives to the beer the typical bitter taste. Once the temperature is decreased, the product obtained is ready for fermentation: thanks to yeasts, the sugars that are integral part of the wort, it turns into alcohol and carbon dioxide in about a week, exposed to high varied temperatures depending on the desired beer typology. Once the wort ferments, it is put in specific drums, and it starts maturation: beer gets then the aroma and the typical taste that characterizes beer together with the effervescence given by the carbon dioxide. The maturation can last from 3 weeks to some months depending on the beer typology, and once it terminates, the beverage is ready to be bottled and sold.
Beer, the many-faces beverage
There are endless beer typologies: from light beer to dark, sweet, bitter, based on wheat or barley. And these are just few examples. The typical taste of beer can change according to several factors like the qaulity of water used, the type of wort, the yeasts used or the production technique.
Among the most famous beers there is the pilsner, a traditional pale golden-lager, produced by thousands of breweries all over the world. However, the original pilsner is still a characteristic of the city of Plzeň, or Pilsen, in the Czech Republic. Its secret lies in its producing technique but also in the used ingredients: low-calcium water, high quality malt and selected yeasts.
Another great beer is the la Weissbier or Weizenbier, based on wheat and particularly famous in German. British specialties instead are mainly the porter, a high fermentation and proof beer obtained with stoat and roasted malt that gives it the dark color. The porter, created in London in XVIII century, should have been a “nutritive” beverage destined to those who used to do hard jobs. The stout, a very dark and full-bodied beer famous in Irland and all over the world thanks to the Guinness family, represents instead a variant of the classic porter. These are just few examples worth of mention in the international panorama of beers: each country today has its own specialty, each one waiting to be tasted!
How to taste beer at its best
Something to underestimate is undoubtedly the tasting: from a bottle rather than a can, tasting a beer is still a pleasure. Americans love to taste it iced, while many others prefer room-temperature beer or even on tap, dripped at the moment directly from drums.
It is a many-faces beverage that, drunk moderately, is particularly healthy: in fact, it contains important vitamins and minerals like riboflavin, folic acid, chromium and zinc and can represent an effective help in the prevention of cardiac issues and several skin problems. To be sit in front of a beer stein, to see its color and rethink to its ancient history increases for sure the pleasure.
Where to taste the best beer
Unconventional Rome Tours organizes the Rome Craft Beer Tour in order to taste beers in the maginifcent area of Campo de’ Fiori and Trastevere at the discovery of the related production. Contact us for further information: a team of professionals is available to give you all the itinerary details and to give you the chance to live an unconventional experience.