Malt, hops, yeast and water – it really is that simple!
As the most widely consumed alcoholic drink on the planet, and third most popular thirst-quencher behind water and tea, let’s take a closer look at the centuries-old brewing processes of BEER!
We can thank prehistoric humans for their ‘beautiful mistake’ of leaving grains in water – which fermented – to produce the first Ale. This was then boiled to remove impurities and advocated by the clergy and doctors to be safer than water, which saved thousands of lives during the ‘Black Plague’ of the mid-1300s – the deadliest pandemic in history. If only drinking beer could prevent the spread of Covid-19!
In 1516 the Duke of Bavaria William IV adopted the Reinheitsgebot (purity law), which is considered the oldest food-quality regulation still in use in the 21st century. AND UNION’S collection of genuine Modernist Bavarian beers are crafted with the legacy and integrity of Reinheitsgebot, working with small, fifth generation, family-run breweries to produce a core range of seven beer styles.
The lowland countries, and particularly Germany, introduced hops to further stabilise the golden liquid. This extra layer of flavour (like adding gravy to pie and mash) saw Beer bypass Ale (its un-hopped, malty cousin) in popularity by the end of the 17th century. Hops only grows successfully at latitudes between 38- and 51-degrees so only a few geographically-blessed countries could make brewing a tradition.
For the next four centuries recipes were developed further by experimenting with malted grains (mostly barley), water, yeast and hops with variants emerging such as Lager, Pale Ale, Stout and India Pale Ale. See AND UNION’S Full Week of Flavour.
The popularity of beer spread across the planet and with growing demands, traditional brewing countries had to raise their game to grow their facilities and increase production. Economies of scale (increasing production and lowering costs with high volume) allured breweries to expand extensively, or merge to produce more for faster and cheaper.
Slowly but surely craftsmanship made way for fine-tuned mechanisation and despite efforts to uphold quality, originality was stunted. That genuine pie and mash with gravy was now microwaved and mass-produced.
In the 1970s home-brewing was rediscovered as beer lovers rebelled against the mass market of Big Beer Brother and by the 1990s – simultaneously with the evolution of home cooking – the ‘craft beer’ revolution began the march to challenge our tastebuds.
Since then craft brewers have tirelessly experimented on all beer styles (even the near forgotten ‘sour style’), elevated traditional recipes by mixing and matching components (particularly with hops) and pimped-up styles with additional ingredients like herbs and fruit.
The explosion of craft brewers has meant small scale beer made with care and flavours is stronger than ever, however none of this would have been possible without traditional brewing. Therefore it’s fair to say that tradition enabled craft and vice versa.
As the world speeds up, AND UNION refuses to rush. Brewing processes can take up to eight weeks, and all of our beers are unfiltered to allow a fuller, richer taste and aroma profile.
Lending new meaning to ‘drinking responsibly’, with an inner concern for how we treat the earth from where our natural ingredients are sourced, to make lagers, ales and wheat beers (including a non-alcohol version) – without the aid of fining agents to ensure vegan-friendly products.
Available across four continents in 18 countries, AND UNION does not pursue the faddish pursuits of flash-in-the-pan session beers, or overtly flavoured gimmicks, opting rather for building on a heritage of quality, evolved for the beer drinker of today. The past perfected in the present.
Written by Valerie Gonet