The history of beer brewing is fascinating; especially how it developed in the USA. Starting with Puritans sending hops to the colony of pilgrims at Plymouth Rock to the heydays of Detroit brewers after Prohibition. I encourage you to search out on the Internet and learn more about our hertitage of beer brewing. It doesn't seem to matter what your individual hertitage or ethnicity is; somewhere in your ancestory beer making is involved. Check it out! Following is a very, very condensed version of the history of beer that only briefly covers a few aspects of how beer ever came to be in the first place.
Did you ever wonder how Hops ended up in beer? The answer may surprise you. Nowdays, hops are added to beer mainly to create specific bitterness and flavors, but this was not always the focus.
Hops have unique antimicrobial properties and they act as a preservative. In past history, when there was no refrigeration, steam pasteurization, or hermetically-sealed processes, hops were added to fermenting grains to inhibit the bad bacterias and fungi that would create deadly poisonous brews. Drinking beer was high risk activity- you might get drunk; you might get dead! Men who could successfully brew batch after batch of brew that didn't kill you were called "masters" and were very respected. You can bet they carefully guarded their brewing recipes! (Believe it or not, religious monks had some of the best recipes!)
Beer that tasted good didn't come into the picture until later. Brew masters took note that hop cones from some plants brewed a more palatable beer than others, and started selecting specific female hop plants for cultivation. This selection process was very regional; Germans selected their favorite plants, Englishmen picked theirs, etc and so on. Each region developed beers with flavors that have become classics - German Pilsners, English Stouts, Scottish Ales . . .
All this history has led to today. Cross-breeding and creating new Hop varieties is leading to a craft brewing explosion of new beers with totally new flavors and profiles. New combinations of hops and malted grains used with new brewing techniques create new brews daily.
I hope this has piqued your interest and get you to investigate further. There is some really cool info out there that should not be forgotten!
Lynn, the head hop grower at Great Lakes Hops has over 30 years of experience in the horticultural field. Browse the blog articles here to find useful growing information for humulus lupulus, based on personal experience and observations at Great Lakes Hops.