Beer History

The Beginnings of Brewing Beer in the Slavic Region

The first mention of the brewing industry in the area of former Czechoslovakia is dated 993 and was found in the Brevnov monastery. Many monasteries, later aristocratic estates and burgesses, were entitled to brew beer. Brewing beer in Banska Bystrica began more than five hundred years ago. The tradition of brewing beer in the city under the Urpin hill started as early as in 1501, when the city was granted the so-called brewing rights as a privilege. In 1516 a Bavarian king Wilhelm IV passed a bill (known as Reinheitsgebot) which became an important milestone. It guaranteed purity and quality of the beverage by determining three main ingredients, and it ordered each brewery to brew beer according to precise rules. It stated that to brew beer only malt, hops and clean water could be used. It prohibited the use of any other ingredients when brewing or selling beer. This bill remains the oldest valid food law in the world, and German breweries see that the recipe, which is several hundred years old and tried and tested, is strictly observed even today. As the quality of beer rose, so did the export and trade of beer.

Beer as an Important Product of International Trade

In the 15th century Bremen was the biggest exporter of beer in Europe. It was a primary supplier of beer for the Netherlands, England and the northern countries. In the 16th century Hamburg became an important brewing town. It had more than 600 independent breweries which exported their beer as far as India. In those times breweries were the biggest and most stable contributors to the treasuries of various rulers, which surely made them happy. However, many of these breweries had to fight for their consumers just as they do today. For this reason, they started to invent various types of beer. Dark beer was brewed in the Bavarian town of Einback for the first time, and quickly became popular in both near and distant countries.

The Steam Engine Brought About Revolution in Brewing Beer

Brewing beer remained the same until the 19th century when James Watt’s steam engine brought about a revolution in the whole industrial world. Carl von Linde crowned his efforts by inventing refrigeration. It was already known that good beer had to be brewed and stored at the right temperature. Naturally, some of these temperatures could only be achieved during the winter and the invention of refrigeration therefore enabled year-round production. For example, to produce quality lager, temperatures of 4 - 10 oC are necessary. The first refrigeration facility was tested in a Munich brewery, and from there it has been successfully spread out all over the world. The invention of the steam engine affected not only production of beer, but also beer transportation as this could then be carried out by rail.

Pasteurization and Storing Beer

In 1876 Louis Pasteur published his paper "Etudes sur la Biere" (Studies about Beer). Based on his knowledge in the field of microorganisms he was the first to suggest that breweries start pasteurizing their product. This led to extending the shelf life and quality of beer which enabled further development of trade with this commodity, and mass distribution of beer to all continents. The year 1842 was a breakthrough point in modern European brewing industry – the first pale lager was brewed in the Plzen brewery, and gave name to a new type of beer known worldwide as Pils or Pilsner.

Initially, beer was stored and transported in wooden kegs. Later traditional wooden kegs were replaced by metal ones. These were first introduced in 1964. Finally, their cleaning and filling was truly hygienically safe and easy at the same time. Tapping and draughting of beer from these kegs has made the work of serving staff much easier. With this the history of beer draws to a close, but millions of beer fans around the world write new chapters every day.

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