Brewing up the past

As I reflect on the research I have done for this project and what it means in my own life, I feel a closeness to the centuries past, that I am not quite sure I have felt before. When I taste my Hefe-Weizen clone of one of the oldest surviving wheat beer recipes, I can imagine that many were drinking something extremely similar in a Bavarian tavern 400 years ago. I can imagine them making the beer as well, perhaps with less overall knowledge of the chemistry going on, but nevertheless the same exact process.

Homebrewed clone of the Paulaner Hefe-Weizen recipe

Through chemical analysis of beer residue throughout history, we know that there were fermented grains being utilized for many thousands of years. However, what kinds of other ingredients, brewing processes and experimentation they had to do is still very much obscured. Through the texts and archaeological data I have looked at, I believe beer was very much perfected in the 15th and 16th centuries. They had found the very meticulous process (that is still being used today), they knew how fermentation worked and they knew a good beer consisted of grain, water and hops. It is very much thousands of years of experimentation that led to this modernization of beer. This beer I am drinking, the beer that was being drunk in Germany centuries ago and the beers that are going to be drank in the future are all due to the experimenters of the past, who were brave enough to venture out into the unknown. I believe it is our job to continue the legacy of those experimenters, by upholding the magnificent process they handed down to us and by continuing to exploring the boundaries of what is possible with this wonderful process we call fermentation.

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