Now that we know the invention of brewing led to the development of civilisation – you read it here first, remember – we thought it might be fun to look at some of the other innovations concerning beer and brewing. And we’re particularly interested in looking back at the moment, as we’re actually currently looking forward, standing as we are in Dusseldorf at the impressive interpack 2017 exhibition.
Starting our global history in Britannia
As mentioned in our last blog, brewing probably began in ancient Mesopotamia but, like all good news, it spread fast. Soon there were women brewing anywhere barley grew and none more enthusiastically than the sisters of Boudicca, for it must be said that, whatever the Britons had to be grateful to the Romans for, it wasn’t cereal fermentation. No, they were brewing well before Julius Caesar landed. In fact, Roman legionnaires used to buy beer from the local brewers
So, by the Middle Ages, beer was the beverage of choice of all good Christian folk in England, not to mention any remaining Saxons, Danes, Normans or other ex-pats with weird religions. According to histories of the time, the women were the brewers and these alewives, as they were termed, would put out an ale-wand to show when their beer was ready. In fact, so popular was beer that it was apparently drunk with every meal by serf and Seigneur alike. How little the British have changed …
Not much. Where there’s a Brit, there’s a tax …
The authorities of the later Middle Ages soon began to realise that they could make a groat or two out of selling beer and (naturally) men got involved in its brewing. They started up guilds, such as the Brewers Guild of 1342, which meant that beer was produced – and taxed – at source rather than being brewed by individual inns and taverns. The age of the big brewer had begun.
Hop to new and improved
Although beer had started as a straight fermentation of barley and continued with flavourings of mugwort and honey, hops were not widely used in brews until at the late 1300s. But hopped beer started being imported to England from the Netherlands and the Englishman’s love affair with his pint began.
However, there was a clear distinction between ale and ordinary beer. In the 15th Century, a beer that was not flavoured with hops was called an ale, while the use of hops made it a beer. Interestingly, brewers were not allowed to brew both, with the Brewers Company of London stating that no hops, herbs, or other like thing be put into any ale or liquore wherof ale shall be made — but only liquor (water), malt, and yeast.
Until 1700, beer was sold very young and any ageing was performed by the publican. However, certain brewers started making beer that was aged at the brewery and sold in a condition that meant it could be drunk immediately. This was called Porter. It was the brewing of porter that saw the most technological advances, such as the construction of large storage vats and the use of thermometers, which are still used today.
But then came temperance
But we’re going to draw a veil over that sorry blip in England’s proud brewing history and take a look at the dawning of the brewing age in other countries in a future blog.
Back to the future
Having touched on the innovations the Brits brought to brewing in our whistle-stop tour of early brewing on the sceptre isle, it’s only fitting that here in Dusseldorf we are exhibiting our own innovative product, the WaveGrip can carrier, which is simply the best multi-pack solution for cans in the entire world.
We are also proud to have entered into an agreement with Palmer Canning Systems whose own innovation knows no bounds – we’ll join them in early September at the California Craft Beer Summit in Sacramento, in case you are in sunny LA this fall. WaveGrip and Palmer Canning Systems – ‘can’ be the perfect fit!
Whatever the innovation, when it comes to cans, we’re both on it. And if you don’t believe us, just take a look.