A Story of Crafting Beer

Liquid amber spilled from the glass, slid across the smooth table. It was not very blokey to overfill my glass, but I wondered how blokey one had to be to savour the taste and flavours of craft beers?

In years past, there were the lagers, the pilseners, the draught beers. Drinkers sought to find their staple, in icy cold supply from the bar tap. And if the company, the crowd, music or ambiance suited, the amber liquid flowed in good stead.

Today, much has changed. Just as Continental and Asian food flavours have spilled across the globe, so too have craft beers created a fresh wave of excitement.

Imagination seems boundless, as true artisans in micro breweries turn their hand and unique skill to creation of subtle and more bold variants.

And eager enthusiasts line up like marathon triathletes, ready to go the distance, in search of the newest and amazing craft beers. Yet where did it all begin?

The story of beer, and craft beer, began many years ago – about 6000 of them, give or take a couple of hundred years. You see, there was, and still is, an island between two rivers. A very big island. A hot dry island where everyone got thirsty, a lot. Luckily, the two rivers provided enough water, and eventually the locals learner to grow and cultivate a few crops, mostly grains.

The wife of a poor farmer had been out gathering a few grains from their meagre crops in the field and was caught in a rare rain shower over the dry island. She quickly gathered up all her things and hurried her sandaled feet home to try and make some breads. The next day was hot and humid after the rainfall and she returned to the fields in the late afternoon. She discovered she had missed a pot, half full with grains and now topped up with water from the rain. The hot sun had been heating it all day. She poured the water from the grains, and collected a few more ripe grains before returning home. She busied herself with the evening meals and left the wet pot of grains until morning.

Taking the pot from the warm hearth, the woman set about crushing the grains, before pouring off the excess liquid into another bowl. Her tired husband later came to the kitchen looking for water and consumed the liquid in two quick gulps, before complaining that it tasted strange. This was met with apologies from his good wife.

Stepping out into the heat of the day, the man was soon reeling and swaying slightly, much to the bewilderment of his farming friends, who wondered what his problem was. It was, for the poor farmer, a very pleasant afternoon indeed. That night he asked his wife about the liquid from the pot and requested her to make some more.

When the farmer had sufficient brown liquid, he took it to the fields for his friends to taste, and ask their opinion. Ultimately, he and his friends were late home that night, yet arrived laughing and singing together. And his friends ask for more liquid.

A few weeks on, and the man was trading the brown brew with his friends, and afternoons in the field were memorable. Mostly memorable by their wives, who came in search of their errant husbands. The men were all sitting or reclining, mumbling to each other as they drank their bowls of brew. Words stumbled from their mouths, words like ER, AH, BBIR. These words moved more slowly later on, so they sounded much more like AHH, OHH, BEER. Their wives complained that they were all babbling like babies, so the men laughed and called themselves barbeerlonians. The women began referring to the men as suffering from miso pot mania, but the men were seldom in a fit state to say or remember that.

Sometimes the men could not talk properly, so they used small sticks to scratch crude forms in the soft clays. Further along down in history, other men would, after a few drinks, call these marks cuniforms. And refer to the makers of these marks as Mesopotamians, yet again altering original words after a few amber liquids.

The man and his wife continued to brew their special brown liquid and trade it for various items, which they then traded for other goods. Eventually, he went from being a poor farmer to the richest man in barbeerlonia.

Years later, on a fine and hot day, his friend was sitting over against a wall, having drunk a little too much and worked a little too less. His angry wife came by on her way to the market. After some cursory remarks to him she threw a hard loaf of leavened bread at him. It bounced off his head and turned easily away in the dirt. He suddenly had a wheelie good idea. But that’s another story!

Of course 3 centuries on, the Romans invaded the dry island, hoping to become more civilised and learn the crafts of barbeerlonia. The influence of such civilisation fermented, leading the Romans to use a similar process for grapes, which they later tailored to accompany their fine meals. If meat was one of their dishes, and it was a furry animal, their fermented grape juice of choice was called Ari. Baby sheep was another tasty specialisation and went well with Orgini.

Motor forward to modern times and you can truly appreciate the beginnings of craft beers, and why they are integral to human culture, from both a social and sporting perspective. Craft Beers – the source of all good inventions and intentions, and probably created by a woman.

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