Notable Dates in Beer History
1800 BC (Circa)
A “Hymn to Ninkasi,” the Sumerian goddess of beer, is inscribed on a tablet, about 4,000 years after men first leave evidence of brewing activity.
Saint Arnold of Metz is born, one of dozens of patron saints to beer, brewers and hop-pickers. He helps end a plague by convincing people to drink beer rather than impure water.
The Reinheitsgebot, instituted in Bavaria, is a beer “purity law” that remains today in revised form. The original laws permits beer to be made only with barley, hops and water, later acknowledging yeast and permitting wheat.
Heinrich Knaust writes the first extensive book on brewing in Germany, describing in detail about 150 different beers. He calls the “noble Hamburg beer the queen of all other wheat beers.”
The tavern that will become known as the Wayside Inn after being immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Tales of a Wayside Inn opens in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Nearly 300 years later it’s oldest continuously operating inn in the United States.
A storage vat at the Horse Shoe Brewery in London containing more than 300,000 gallons of porter collapses, knocking down brewery walls and flooding immediate area. Eight people are killed, “by drowning, injury, poisoning by porter fumes, or drunkenness.”
Prohibition, in the form of the 18th amendment, outlaws the sale of alcohol in the United States. Key dates to remember:
- The 18th Amendment is ratified on January 16, 1919 and goes into effect January 16, 1920.
- On March 23, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signs into law legislation permitting the sale of 3.2% a beer.
- On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment repeals the 18th Amendment.
Because it is not practical to ship beer, the HMS Menestheus, a British mine-laying ship, is converted into a floating brewery to supply beer to British and Allied troops in the Asian theater during World War II.
The late Michael Jackson, “The Beer Hunter”, drinks his first beer at the Castle Hill Hotel in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. Twenty years later he writes The World Guide to Beer, one of the inspirations for a “beer revolution.”
Development of Cascade hops begins in Corvallis, Oregon, in 1956. The hop is released to brewers in 1972 and becomes a hallmark aroma and flavor for beer from American small-batch brewers.
Hilton Harvest House in Boulder, Colorado, hosts a modest 20 breweries serving only 35 beers for the first Great American Beer Festival. Today the annual event features more than 2,000 beers.
Astronaut-homebrewer Bill Readdy blasts into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery carrying an unofficial package, a bag containing Cascades hops. Spinnakers Brewpub in Victoria, B.C., later makes a beer brewed with the hops that circled the earth 128 times.
Jack McDougall of New Jersey wins the first US Beerdrinker of the Year competition sponsored by Wynkoop Brewing in Denver. McDougall is an original member of the Bar Tourists of America, a loosely organized group that held its first tour in 1978.
Smithsonian Magazine states: “The best beers in the world today are being made in the US.”
The craft brewing sales share in 2012 was 6.5 percent by volume and 10.2 percent by dollars. 2,347 craft breweries operated for some or all of 2012, comprised of 1,132 brewpubs, 1,118 microbreweries and 97 regional craft breweries.
Craft brewers reached 7.8 percent volume of the total U.S. beer market. Additionally, craft dollar share of the total U.S. beer market reached 14.3 percent in 2013, as retail dollar value from craft brewers was estimated at $14.3 billion. More than 2,800 U.S. breweries operated for some or all of 2013, of which 99 percent were small and independent craft brewers as defined by the Brewers Association. Of those craft breweries, there were 1,237 brewpubs, 1,412 microbreweries and 119 regional craft breweries.
Stan Hieronymus has traveled the United States many times over while writing about beer for numerous publications. He’s author of seven books, including Brew Like a Monk and Brewing With Wheat and For the Love of Hops.