Brewed in America: A History of Beer and Ale in the United States

Brewed in America: A History of Beer and Ale in the United States

Brewed in America: A History of Beer and Ale in the United States

Brewed in America: A History of Beer and Ale in the United States

Excerpt

Beer has always been part of man's diet. Every society studied by archaeologists and historians yields evidence of a traditional beverage which may be called beer. At certain periods of history, it has been regarded primarily as a food product, nourishing, stimulating and wholesome; at others, it has been used as a medicine or a tonic. Since the word "beer" itself embraces such a wide variety of beverages, it is certain that the beer drunk five thousand or more years ago barely resembled the beers of today. It may be granted, however, that common to both of them are the process of fermentation and the use of some sort of grain (usually barley) as basic ingredient.

Most people are apt to think of hops as the characteristic element in the recipe for beer, but in fact hops are mostly a flavoring device, much like vanilla in baking, and have appeared relatively recently in the history of brewing. This is only one of many misconceptions about beer and brewing. It is the object of this book to correct some of these prevalent mistakes and to clarify for the general reader not only what brewing is in the United States today, but what it has been in the past and what it has meant.

Contrary to the popular notion, beer did not appear suddenly in this country around 1850 when German-born brewers began to introduce a specific type well known in their homeland, lager. There was a brewing tradition in America which had begun some two hundred years before. This earlier, English style of brewing had become established during the Colonial period and was carried on with fair success after the Revolution. The conduct of this trade and the men who were engaged in it form an integral part of early American history. Indeed, brewing was one of the earliest native industries.

But there is no contesting the fact that the homesick German brewers and their lager bier, once established, to all intents and purposes took over the American brewing industry and have ever since been . . .

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