Beer is one of the world’s most popular drinks, with a huge range of styles and flavors to choose from. There’s a beer to suit every taste and occasion, from hoppy IPAs to rich dark stouts.
The history of beer goes back 10 to 8 thousand years, although it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that brewing was widely practiced. Its origins are unknown, but archaeological finds have revealed that the Sumerians brewed their own version. Beer has been consumed as a drink, food, and even salary throughout many cultures.
When making beer, water is boiled to create a sweet brew called wort. This is then rapidly cooled so that yeast (the single-celled organisms that do the fermentation) can be added, which is called “pitching.” The yeast consumes the sugar and releases alcohol and carbon dioxide. The young beer is then transferred to conditioning tanks, where it can spend a few days or several weeks (or even a year or more in some cases) aging.
As it ages, the beer develops its characteristics and its flavor can be enhanced by adding additional ingredients like spices or fruits. A well-aged beer has more complex flavors and a smoother, fuller body than fresher beers.