A history of beer: the ingredients behind an American favorite

The tradition of beer dates back almost as far as humanity, with early records indicating the beginning of its existence in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and its inevitable spread across the world. It’s presence in America is evidenced by the arrival of the first European colonists, though throughout history the rules on possession and consumption have changed. For example, changes with the ratification of the 18th Amendment in 1919 resulted in the prohibition of alcoholic beverage sales, manufacturing, and transportation during an era now known as Prohibition.

Throughout its long and often tumultuous history, the simple ingredients in beer have made it easy to create, experiment with and consume, contributing to a wide range of diverse flavor profiles. Variations in its four main ingredients (water, yeast, grain and hops) not only influence taste but also factors such as alcohol content, aroma, color, body and maltiness. Many times, experienced brewers will add ingredients to their beer specific to the regions of the world in which they live, creating beer profiles specific to a certain country, or even specific areas of that country. These culturally and regionally specific beers often pair well with local cuisine. For example, lighter beers will pair well with lamb or ribs, spicy foods or seafood, salads or even spicy appetizers. Meanwhile, darker beers pair better with heavier foods like burgers, pizza, fish or game meats.

Whether you’re just starting out or looking to advance your hospitality career, Prince George’s Community College students can not only learn about the history of beer, but also how to differentiate between various flavors and profiles. Not in the hospitality industry, but interested in enhancing your knowledge? PGCC also has a number of other resources, including beverage tips and tricks of the trade.

For more information, visit www.pgcc.edu.

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