History of Beer, Lift Your Beer Stein

By Kevin Johnson

Lager is the oldest alcoholic libation known to mankind. Proof of beer recipes date back as far as 4300 BC, on clay tablets in Babylon and scrolls in ancient Iraq. Beer was so highly valued in these Middle Eastern and Asian cultures that it was often used as payment to employees.

The grain used to supply beer early in its' history varied dependent on the culture. In Asia, rice and sorghum were used as the base for their lager. In Africa the grain of choice was millet and in South America it was corn. The refining process for beer during these times did not adequately separate the hulls of grain from the liquid. In an effort to strain the hulls from the beverage, these lagers were not consumed from beer steins but from a cup using a straw!

The Romans brought beer into Europe around 55 BC and it continued to be brewed by individuals in their houses till the middle ages. Priories and convents all though Europe between 500-1,000 AD took on the role of the primary producers of beer. Beer became a commodity for trade providing funds for these establishments. Weary travelers throughout this period of time who sought shelter at monasteries and convents along their route were welcomed not only with a grin but with a stein of lager!

By 1,000 AD hops began to be used as the primary grain in lager. Lager turned into a hallmark in the economies of England, Austria and obviously, Germany. Germany established a brewery guild and was known generally as a purist in the production of this valued libation. It was in 1516 that German Duke Wilhelm the IV declared that German lagers could only contain the four ingredients of hops, malt, yeast and water.

It was not till the 1500s that beer, via the pilgrims, found its way to America. Beer production was quickly embraced by the political and academic leaders of the time. William Penn, the originator of the state of Pennsylvania, owned an operated a brewery as did Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. The esteemed Harvard University also had its ' own brew house. Lager was a main libation for the soldiers in the revolutionary war. They each received a one quart ration of lager every day. So, the lager in your stein obviously had an outstanding role in the early beginnings of our country.

With so much history behind the origination of beer, it's enjoyable to drink a good lager from a decorative beer stein or glass that tells the story behind beer. Whether or not you are celebrating your heritage with a german beer stein or the return of an infantryman from deployment with a US Army glass beer stein, there are a wide variety of unique steins and glasses to celebrate the history of beer. Cheers!

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