Beer is the second most consumed beverage after water and tea. Egyptians archived the brewing process on papyrus scrolls (would now be under the vintage category) around 5000 B.C ( B.C could now stand for Before Covid19). Personally, it took most of my twenties to understand and develop a taste for beer, but the Egyptians brewed beer with anything they could find such as dates, pomegranates, and other indigenous herbs. The primitive cultures of Mesopotamia around 10,000 B.C were the first brewers, but not the first to document it. I guess they were still discovering the writing material.
During the early middle ages is when a modern beer was brewed. While the key ingredients were fermentable sugar, water, and barley, hops were still not used in the process. German monks around the 1500s then started using wild hops to add the bitterness and used it as a preservative for better shelf-life of the beer.
In 1040 the Weihenstephan brewery founded from a Benedictine monastery in 740 A.D by a monk named Korbinian, is the world’s oldest brewery.
Abbott Arnold secured the brewing rights and license from a neighboring monastery to brew beer. The brewery is almost 1000 years old and now a center for research about brewing and brewing technology.
Weihenstephan’s wheat beer makes up about 88 percent of the brewery’s total output. The capacity at the brewery is about 230,000 hectolitres, (around 6 million gallons). This was enough to last five days of celebration of the marriage between Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.
That was the first Oktoberfest celebration and it has not stopped ever since. The fest goes on for 16–18 days starting mid/ end of September because the days are longer and warmer and calls for a chilled beer.
Method of Preparation of the Oldest Wheat Beer
The Weihenstephan Brewery is the oldest and so is the craft of brewing it. The barley or wheat grains used are cultivated in Bavaria and made into a beer mash. The hops added in the boiling wort, are grown north of Weihenstephan in Hallertau.
The beer matures in storage cellars, 15metres beneath the monastery garden for 30 days. It is then filtered, bottled, and packaged to give us a taste of a Premium Bavaricum.
Duke Wilhelm IV’s beer purity regulation issued in Ingolstadt in 1516 called the Reinheitsgebot that limited the ingredients to barley, hops, and water used to brew beer.
The aim was to protect drinkers from high prices; to ban the use of wheat in beer to make more bread, and to stop brewers from adding toxic and hallucinogenic ingredients as preservatives or flavorings. It eventually became a law in the north and thus the whole country in 1906.
Oldest Brewery in Asia
Mohan Meakin established in 1855 is a large group of companies that started with Asia’s first brewery by Edward Dyer at Kasauli in the Himalayan mountains in India under the name of Dyer Breweries.
Its headquarter is in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. Lion Beer is the main brand first sold by Dyer Breweries in the 1840s.
It is fascinating to be alive and witness the Weihenstephan brewery history and unique brewing techniques. If only we could be as certain to ever visit it post this pandemic. Let’s, Prost! to that!
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A food scientist giving a taste of my writing.