Did the Germans Invent the Original Brew?

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November 4, 2013 by Prost Brewing

Ancient Brewing - 16th c.

Many people may not know in detail the history of beer making, but most beer drinkers are at least aware of the fact that German beer has been around for a very long time. This well-aged reputation of German beer might lead some to ponder whether it was the Germans who invented the original brew!?!

It turns out that the Germans were not the first to engage in the art of brewing. Amazingly, brewing was invented at the same time as the first written language was being formed. Indeed, brewing got its start with mankind’s oldest civilization, the Sumerians of Mesopotamia.

Early writing tablet from Ancient Sumer recording the allocation of beer

Early writing tablet from Ancient Sumer recording the allocation of beer

These ancient Middle Easterners who lived in an area now part of southern Iraq are the original brewers, performing the art some 10,000 years ago at the dawn of history itself. This was a time when humans were making their transition from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a settled down lifestyle that was highly dependent upon agriculture. The Mesopotamians did not keep their brewing knowledge secret, passing it on to the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Egyptians. Then from them, the Greeks and Romans were able to learn the art as well.

However, none of the ancient forest-dwelling germanii ever made contact with these civilizations, making the art of brewing a practice that would have to be learned on their own. The archaeological evidence from Kasendorf, a small village in Northern Bavaria, tells us they did with the oldest evidence of brewing grains in Germany dating back to around 800 BCE in the form of an earthenware amphora. Inside the amphora were traces of black wheat ale that had been flavored with oak leaves.

Their method for making beer from grain was quite simple. The ancient germanii would crumble half-baked loaves of bread into crocks filled with water. The crocks were then left to sit, which we now know allowed yeast from the air and the surrounding environment to make its way into the water and bread mixture. This beer was not filtered and was thus often murky. Since some friendly bacterias would also make it into the mix, a sort of “sourdough” ferment took place that combined the fermenting power of yeast and bacteria, resulting in a more sour beer. Despite these differences from modern beer, this brew is still considered the very first kind of brew produced in Europe!

Thus, although the Germans are not credited with the creation of the original brew, they still hold the bragging rights for the original brew in Europe. German brewers such as Prost Brewing continue on with this legacy that began thousands of years ago!

Now that is something to Prost to! …. Prost!!!

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