Home Beer Brew

Oct 11, 2015

Tscaz_olkrus_ubt“From ancient Mesopotamia to the modern day, beer has played an important role as the very foundation of civilization.”¹

As the very foundation of civilization. That’s an extraordinary statement. Who knew that the Craftsman rye pale ale we enjoyed yesterday evening had such a crucial lineage?

Professor Linda Raley of Texas Tech University writes that even before figuring out how to bake a good loaf of bread, prehistoric nomads made beer. So now we know prehistoric folks, before they could even read or write—which defines when they officially/historically “became” humans—mixed grain and water and got down to the task of fermentin’. Some would applaud their ability to prioritize.

In 4300 BC, Raley continues, “Babylonian clay tablets detail recipes for beer.” Babylonian’s experimented and successfully created 20 varieties of beer. For those who revel in the taste of a brew or two, contemplate that the cold one you’re holding in your hand has been in the refining process for over 6,000 years. Doesn’t it taste even better?


Credit: Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz as found on

Image of wall painting circa 1350 BC. Credit: Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz as found on


“Beer at this time was so valued that it was sometimes used to pay workers as part of their daily wages” (which for many beer lovers would still be considered a stellar idea).

Belgians, Germans, Irish, and English have Roman legions to thank as the army introduced beer to Northern Europe in 55 BC. We don’t even want to contemplate a world without Guinness, Jupiler, Newcastle, and Augustiner, so except for the war and pillage, we thank them for a worldly service. We suppose a shout out should be given to Julius Caesar as his subjugation of Gaul concluded in 51 BC. In the midst of the eight-year Gallic Wars, as a day of fighting concludes, perhaps conquerors and the conquered alike, took a breath, took a seat, and raised a brewski or two.

Gregory Smith of the How-to Homebrew Beer magazine wrote…

History tells us that Julius Caesar was stabbed in the back by Brutus in 44 BC. If everyone had just been a little patient, Caesar’s passion for a mug of beer would have killed him off without the mess of the Ides of March stabbing. In fact it was probably the Roman passion for a good beer that killed off the entire Empire. (“Brew Julius Caesar’s Beer,” 1997)

It was the lead in the storage jars and serving mugs, mate. Drinking oneself to death—by lead poisoning—”was very common in the years of the Roman Empire (from 753 BC until around 476 AD),” Smith states.


Source: Egyptian Museum, San Jose CA

Source: Egyptian Museum, San Jose CA


Around 1000 AD, Professor Raley writes, hops began to be used in the brewing of beer, and while in 1489, German’s first brewing guild, Brauerei Beck, was founded, just a few years later, Christopher Columbus found American Natives making beer from corn and black birch sap.

A few more fun, arbitrary, and important beer facts:

  • Late 1500’s Queen Elizabeth I of England drank strong ale for breakfast.
  • 1587 the first beer brewed in New World at Sir Walter Raleigh’s colony in Virginia–but the colonists sent requests to England for better beer.
  • 1620 Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock because the beer supplies were running low (see, beer lovers have their priorities in line).
  • 1674 Harvard College has its own brewhouse.
  • George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had their own private brewhouses.
  • 1810 Munich establishes Oktoberfest as an official celebration.
  • 1909 Teddy Roosevelt brought over 500 gal. of beer on safari in Africa.
  • 1935 the beer can is introduced (American Can Co. & Kreuger Brewing).
  • 1938 Elise Miller John heads Miller Brewing for 8 years as the first and only woman ever to run a major brewing company.
  • 1976 New Albion is the first in the rebirth of brewpubs and microbreweries in the US opening in California.

Now that one’s mouth is watering and one considers pausing to read this in order to go grab a cold one, contemplate the idea of creating one’s own brew, a home brew. Hmmm…

Ernest Miller conducts a hands-on home beer brewing workshop on October 10, at the Arboretum. Students will learn beer history and the basics of beer making, while sampling various beers (priorities!) and making a half gallon of beer to finish fermenting at home.

Naturally, participants must be 21 years of age or older.


Home Beer Brewing
Saturday, Oct. 17th, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Arboretum, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia 91007
Cost: $30, members; $35 non-members
RSVP required; call 1.626.821.4623
For more info, visit


The mouth of a perfectly contented man is filled with beer.
—Egyptian saying, circa 2200 BC (






¹ “A Concise Timetable of Beer History” (1998) by Professor Linda Raley, Texas Tech University, found at

Other source information culled from

Photo, top right, by © 2005 by Tomasz Sienicki [user: tsca, mail: tomasz.sienicki at] (Own work) [CC BY 2.5 (, GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

Image, beer steins by Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.






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