The Egyptians were the first to refine the texture and taste of beer. After that, the Greeks and Romans carried on the beer-making tradition when there weren't grapes to make wine. Ancient Germans (Teutons) took their beer very seriously, even using it as a sacrifice to their beer gods.
During medieval times, monastery monks focused intently on making the best beer possible. Hops were first used in the 1000s, and it must have improved beer tremendously because priests baptized children with the beer made with it. By the 1200s beer was classified as ale (top-fermenting) or lager (bottom-fermenting). Germany brewed cold-temperature lagers, storing them in caves, while England brewed room-temperature ales and stored them in cellars.
In 1519, the Reinheitsgebot Law was enacted in Bavaria, Germany, requiring that all beer be made only from malt, hops, yeast, and water. By the mid-1500s a way to bottle beer with a cork was perfected, the most popular song was “John Barleycorn,” and there were over 17,000 taverns in England alone.
The Two Types of Beer
Beer is classified as ale or lager. Types of ales include stout, porter, bitter, wheat, lambic, brown, pale, Belgian, barley wine, amber, and cream. Types of lagers include bock, dry, light, ice, pilsner, and malt.
In 1978, U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed a bill legalizing home brewing of beer for the first time since Prohibition. People began experimenting, making their own home brews. Handcrafted beer combined with a high-tech era resulted in microbrews. Microbreweries sprouted up all over the country. The Institute for Brewing Studies reported explosive growth in this industry in the 1980s—and that growth was based on smallness.
The comparison of these beers to the corporate kind is to liken a hunk of rich-textured, whole-grain, home-baked bread to a slice of supermarket white. Words like tangy, full-bodied, robust, and flowery have real meaning in this context. There are microbreweries in most states now.