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Old 12-21-2007, 03:29 PM   #1
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Default Brewing history

We often see beers marketed with symbols of 1776 and the beginning of our country, the pre-prohibition :golden age" of brewing. My question is, how did they brew back then in the first place. Surely our founding fathers didn't have access to turkey fryers, propane, pressurized CO2, and most importantly good sanitation practices.

For example...lets say turn of the 19th century (1800)... how did brewers in the states get hops? What did they ferment and store in? How did they not end up with infections in every batch? How could any of their beer be of any quality as they did not have the strict environmental and ingredient controls we have over ours?

Thanks for any enlightenment!

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Old 12-21-2007, 03:32 PM   #2
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Rather than type it out...

http://www.coopsmaps.com/beer/history.html

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Old 12-21-2007, 03:33 PM   #3
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awesome link!
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Old 12-21-2007, 03:37 PM   #4
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There is a book on this subject called Ambitious Brew - The Story of American Beer that is supposed to be quite good.

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Old 12-21-2007, 03:39 PM   #5
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Historic beer is nothing like we drink today...especially the swill BMC tries to pawn off on the uninformed masses...

If you check back at the Egyptian hierogliphics/pictographs you'll notice they drank through a straw...through the kreusen would be my guess.

And before hydrometers it was all a guess...hit and miss...as to when the brew was done.

Incidently, do you know what they did when it wasn't ready? They WAITED!!!! Much like we are always telling the noobs to do before bottling...wait it out...learn patience!!!

Check out this link:

http://www.beerbooks.com/cgi/ps4.cgi...r_id=928528308

There's lots of American beer info in there, but you should check out:

Origin And History of Beer And Brewing From Prehistoric Times to the Beginning of Brewing Science And Technology

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Old 12-21-2007, 03:45 PM   #6
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I am trying to find the essay I have read before, but it stated that cider was enjoyed much more than beer in early US history. It was far easier to make and it was a great way to enjoy the apple harvest for a longer time than just autumn. Apparently cider fell out of popularity because of early temperance movements, much more so than beer or wine did. I'll see if I can find that article.

ETA:
I can't attest to the source of this article, other than the article being on George Mason University's website.

The author's a Dr. at the school... I requested a bibliography/reference list. I don't know if I'll get a reply.
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Old 12-21-2007, 03:55 PM   #7
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This is a great question!!! I can't wait to see what people turn up. I was thinking about this recently as I was reading through a book I was given entitled "How to make fine wines and beers at home for less than 10 cents per gallon", copywrited 1968... (don't have the author's name in memory, but I'll post when I get home).

It is really fascinating. He describes many different kinds of beer. In many cases he talks about the addition of grapes (or rather grape juice) to the wort for makeing beer. I was wondering how accurate it was.

In another case he describes "the finest beer in the world" as a Imperial Vienna (or something like that) where they add fresh concord grape juice to the beer just before serving...

Another interesting "fact" in the book is that Canada prohibited the sale of any American beer, due to the poor quality... I suspected this was an economic issue rather than a quality issue, if it were true... I found this document supporting the fact that American beer was effectively prohibited in Canada... http://www.dfait.gc.ca/department/hi...?intRefid=4770

He also talks about the lasting effects of prohibition on American Beer (i. e. breweries felt compelled to keep beer "light" so as not to reinvigorate the temperance movement again).


Anyway, the book got me to thinking... when did beer start, and how has it evolved?

I've read about early brewers (I think I even read a handwritten brewing recipe/ instructions from either Ben Franklin or George Washington)... a quick jaunt on the information superhighway led me to this:

http://beeractivist.wordpress.com/20...unding-father/

About half=way down the page is "George's recipe":

To Make Small Beer:
Take a large siffer full of bran hops to your taste-boil these 3 hours. Then strain our 30 gall[o]n into a cooler put in 3 gall[o]n molasses while the beer is scalding hot or rather draw the molasses into the cooler. Strain the beer on it while boiling hot, let this stand till it is little more than blood warm. Then put in a quart of ye[a]st if the weather is very cold cover it over with a blank[et] let it work in the cask-Leave the bung open till it is almost done working-Bottle it that day week it was brewed.”

I wonder what a "cooler" was to him?

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Old 12-21-2007, 04:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ma2brew
I am trying to find the essay I have read before, but it stated that cider was enjoyed much more than beer in early US history. It was far easier to make and it was a great way to enjoy the apple harvest for a longer time than just autumn. Apparently cider fell out of popularity because of early temperance movements, much more so than beer or wine did. I'll see if I can find that article.
That's also why Maureen Ogle got so much critic for her book Ambitour Brew. She basically stated the history of American beer with the German's in the midwest.

Beer was just not popular in the new world. What people were looking for in beer was not the flavor, like we do today, they needed a safe drink and cider was easier to make. Sure there were a few smaller brewers but that wasn't mainsteam except once the German's came to the midwest and started missing their beer and tried to brew it there.

Regarding sanitaion and such. Well, there was a lot of luck and praying involved before brewers knew about infections and yeast.

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Old 12-21-2007, 04:11 PM   #9
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Cider was also a good way to ensure that the entire apple harvest was used since you can make cider with the drops that aren't really good for much else.

I think Ambitious Brew also received a lot of criticism because it tells the pre- and post- prohibition story differently than accepted wisdom. Personally I found it an interesting read and thought it provided more than the typical anecdotal evidence for why BMC is what it is.

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Old 12-21-2007, 06:53 PM   #10
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but Happy Birthday! Good question!
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