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Varieties of Beer

  1. Ale: This is an ancient beer preferred by quite a lot of people. This beer is brewed using the top fermenting yeast. It has a sweet and fruity taste. As all the sugars are not converted in to alcohol it is also not very strong. Ales are a perfect drink to have with grilled steak or even the Nachos.
  2. Lager: This type of beer with a crisp taste and carbonation is the best drink to offer at a party where spicy food, Mexican or Indian food is served. It tastes well even with a pizza. The color of the lager depends on the environment in which it is brewed.
  3. Porter: This is a malty, delicious and strong type of beer that originated in England. Porter is a dark beer with a bitter taste. This is usually served with meat foods such as beef, lamb, chicken and pork.
  4. Stout: This beer originated in Ireland – it is dark in color with a coffee flavor. There are other varieties of stouts with sweet, milk, bitter and oatmeal flavor. Most of people prefer to drink it on its own as its strong flavor makes it hard to eat anything after having it.
  5. Pilsner: This is a clear, golden colored sparkling beer. This hop flavored beer is stronger than lager. Pilsner is a light beer and can be served with almost every type of food.

A short history of Beer

sumarian beer fest bas reliefBeer has been around for almost 5000 years according to ancient Mesopotamian writings which describe daily rations of beer and bread to workers. Before commercial breweries, beer was made at home by women. Breweries emerged with the rise of Christian monasteries and institutions that produced beer first for their own consumption and as payment for goods. This industrialization of brewing shifted the responsibility of making beer from women to men (pictured right: Impression of a Sumerian cylinder seal. Early Dynastic period pre 2nd Millenium BC depicting persons drinking beer together from a large vessel using long stalks.

The oldest existing commercial brewery in the world is believed to be in Germany. The Welhenstephan Brewery in Freising, Bavaria 1040 AD. However, the Weltenburg Abbey Brewery can trace its beer-brewing tradition to at least 1050 AD, claiming the Weihenstephan document is controversial. There is a third Czech Republic Brewery, the Zatec brewery which claims it can prove that it paid a beer tax in 1004 AD. D.G.

beermaking in Colonial AmericaPhoto left:  Beer making in 18th Century America

In 1612, Adrian Block & Hans Christiansen establish the first known brewery in the New World on the southern tip of New Amsterdam (Manhattan). Yuengling & Son in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, is the oldest existing American brewery.  Founder David Yuengling carved aging cellars deep into the rocky hillside on which the brewery is perched. During prohibition, the company made near beer (de-alcoholized beer) and dairy products. Today, the brewery is still in the hands of the Yuengling family. 

Beer has been an important beverage in America more than 100 years before the Revolutionary War. Early colonists of the North American continent led a simple life. The typical immigrant from Europe had only three things on their mind: where to get food, how to secure shelter, and when would they get their next beer1.

Even through the prohibition period in America, beer and alcohol alike were both heavily desired. Like any popular nationally-produced product with a rich history, beer can be a source of patriotismand national pride. However, the American brewing industry has changed drastically over time. Well over four thousand breweriesexisted in the US in 1873[1]. Two years after Prohibition was repealed, only 750 breweries operated in the US. During the early 1980’s, there were only eighty breweries in the US, and the top six US “macro” breweries controlled over ninety percent of US beer production[2]. All-American lagers, some made with rice and corn, were primarily produced during this time by the largest breweries. But the American craft brewing industry was beginning to produce flavorful and unique craft ales and lagers.

In 2007, there were 1,463 operating breweries, most of them small craft breweries. But while there is a great variety of beer available today, there is an increasing trend for breweries to be purchased by other breweries. Many of these breweries are not American, and beer that was once entirely American is now produced by foreign-owned companies. American breweries may also produce beer that appears to be foreign. There are different factors that may lead one to judge a beer as truly American, so follow the steps below to choose a real American beer.