History of beer and where to go to experience it

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It turns out that the art of brewing is actually an ancient method, and these countries offer historical experiences to go along with it.

Today, beer is regulated (and even banned in some countries) and is not legal for those under the age of 21 in the United States. How it is perceived and regulated today may make its important role in history as a grassroots team rather surprising. Beer is one of the oldest (and most important) drinks produced by mankind.

Today the Czech Republic has one of the best beer traditions and an impressive number of breweries, making it ideal for a beer tour. Alternatively, visit Belgium on a beer tour where their beer traditions are even listed by UNESCO.

The ancient history of beer

Beer can be produced from almost any grain that can spontaneously ferment with certain sugars due to the wild yeasts in the air. There have been chemical tests of ancient pottery jars which suggest that beer was produced 7,000 years ago in what is today Iran.


The first chemically confirmed barley beer dates from the 5th millennium BC in Iran. There are also written records of truly ancient beers, such as in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

  • Oldest proof: Up to 7,000 years ago
  • The oldest known recipe: Found on a Sumerian tablet from 6,000 years ago

A Sumerian tablet from 6000 years ago in Mesopotamia shows people drinking from reed straws from a common bowl of what could be beer. The evidence in China dates back to 5,000 years ago. It is believed that beer could have been produced in Europe during the Neolithic era.

  • Oldest recipe: The oldest recipe is found in a 3,900-year-old Sumerian poem honoring the patron goddess of brewing called Ninkasi


Bread and beer are two of the technologies that were considered essential to the civilization of mankind’s creation – as in the article “Ale’s Well with the World” in Scientific American.

Beer was an important source of calories and an important safe drink when the water was unsafe and contaminated.

Related: Looking For Good San Diego Beer Tours? You’re in luck, because here they are

The history of beer in Europe is that of the monks of the monasteries

It may seem strange that the European experts in brewing the alcoholic drink are the monks. But it is deeply rooted in the monasteries of Europe – even today. In the Middle Ages, beer was the most consumed drink in Europe.


  • Middle Ages: Beer was the most consumed drink in Europe

There was no age limit or regulation like today, instead pretty much everyone drank it – young and old (children included). Most of the brewing was done by women in order to earn a little more money for their household. At that time, the beer was often of poor quality.

  • Security: Beer was safer than drinking water.

But then the quality of the beer improved dramatically as the Cistercian monks mingled with the game. Beer The beer of the Industrial Revolution was mainly produced locally and often by European monasteries.

  • The monks: Expert brewers before the industrial revolution


There is evidence of brewing monasteries from the 5th century. These monasteries became prominent in the business – it was one of the few “vices” (so to speak) that monks were allowed to do.

  • Monasteries: More than 600 monasteries were preparing

At the top there were over 600 monasteries who happily brewed their drinks while brewing their own beer. The monks of that time followed a principle of self-sufficiency and it was also their duty to show hostility to pilgrims and visitors on the road. They had to provide visitors with food and drink – and beer was an important stable (that they could even earn some money).


  • Monk consumption: Monks drank up to 4 liters (over a gallon) of beer per day
  • Young: Monks relied on beer for food during fasting
  • On an empty stomach: Apparently, the monks could bear to drink on an empty stomach!

Monks were also among the few literate people in Europe and they kept careful records of their recipes and worked long and hard to improve their beers. Part of this was due to their belief that they were working for God and inferior beer would be an offense.

They also had to find new ways to mass produce beer to meet growing demand. To this end, they added hops. Hops had a number of advantages, especially as a preservative.


Related: 10 of America’s Best Cities for Beer, Hands down

Visit of the breweries of the monastery

Today, beer lovers in Europe take tours of historic breweries in the monasteries that produced beer long before the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of industrial breweries.

Two of the most famous monastic breweries in Prague are the Strahov Monastery and the Břevnov Monastery (although the monks no longer brew there).

According to Booking.com, some of the best monastic breweries in Europe are:

  • Belgium: Westvleteren brewery in Vleteren
  • The Netherlands: Brasserie De Koningshoeven in Berkel-Enschot
  • Austria: Engelszell Abbey in Engelhartszell
  • UK: Mount Saint Bernard Abbey in Whitwick
  • Italy: Tre Fontane Abbey in Rome


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