The use of hop caused a real revolution in beer making. Hop growing in Europe was started during the great migration of people. Hop became the most important component of beer only in the 12th century. It gives beer a specific bitter taste and keeps it fresh for a long time. For the first time hop was added to beer during the reign of Carlos the Great, approximately 800 years ago. In Germany, hop was considered such a precious product, that it was even possible to pay taxes with it.
At first, beer making was up to housewives in Europe as well, but gradually, it became a strictly regulated trade. The brewers had the right to sell it, but in monasteries and noble families, it was just consumed as a drink. Beer making technology became more sophisticated in European monasteries. The monks were constantly experimenting, and the idea of using hop belonged to them too. By drinking beer, the monks could easily endure the Lent, as clerical principles did not prohibit taking “liquid bread”.
Europeans had a special concern about observing purity of beer. In 1516, in Bavaria, a very strict law on observing beer recipe was adopted. The law, called “the concept of purity” determined that the beer could only be made from barley, and later from malt, hops and pure water. Any deviation would be severely punished by the law. Those, who added water to the beer or falsified it, would be penalised, and the most noncompliant ones were drowned in beer casks.
On the American continent beer was introduced by European sailors in middle ages. However, Christopher Columbus, in 1502, was the one, who discovered, that the Americans prepared beer from maize and tree juice.
In China beer has been made from rice since ancient times. Europeans learned about Chinese beer from Marco Polo. Old Chinese document proves that the beer called “kiu” was made in China 300 years earlier B.C.
Drinks, similar to beer were not only made from grain. In Ceylon and Polynesia palm juice and fruit was used as raw material, in Africa- it was maize, in Persia –dates, in India honey from wild bees, also, banana, sugar-cane, and pepper.
There are some data about beer consumption in Caucasian peoples. The scientists assume, that people in Colchis owned the secret of beer making back in Argonauts’ times.