Beer: Wikis


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Leffe, a Belgian beer, served in its own branded glasses
Schlenkerla Rauchbier straight from the cask

Beer is the world's oldest[1] and most widely consumed[2] alcoholic beverage and the third most popular drink overall after water and tea.[3] It is produced by the brewing and fermentation of starches, mainly derived from cereal grains—most commonly malted barley, although wheat, maize (corn), and rice are widely used. Most beer is flavoured with hops, which add bitterness and act as a natural preservative, though other flavourings such as herbs or fruit may occasionally be included.

Some of humanity's earliest known writings refer to the production and distribution of beer: the Code of Hammurabi included laws regulating beer and beer parlours,[4] and "The Hymn to Ninkasi," a prayer to the Mesopotamian goddess of beer, served as both a prayer and as a method of remembering the recipe for beer in a culture with few literate people.[5][6] Today, the brewing industry is a global business, consisting of several dominant multinational companies and many thousands of smaller producers ranging from brewpubs to regional breweries.

The basics of brewing beer are shared across national and cultural boundaries. Beers are commonly categorized into two main types—the globally popular pale lagers, and the regionally distinct ales,[7] which are further categorised into other varieties such as pale ale, stout and brown ale. The strength of beer is usually around 4% to 6% alcohol by volume (abv.) though may range from less than 1% abv., to over 20% abv. in rare cases.

Beer forms part of the culture of beer-drinking nations and is associated with social traditions such as beer festivals, as well as a rich pub culture involving activities like pub crawling and pub games such as bar billiards.



Egyptian wooden model of beer making in ancient Egypt, Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, San Jose, California

Beer is one of the world's oldest prepared beverages, possibly dating back to the early Neolithic or 9000 BC, and is recorded in the written history of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.[8] The earliest Sumerian writings contain references to a type of beer. A prayer to the goddess Ninkasi, known as "The Hymn to Ninkasi", serves as both a prayer as well as a method of remembering the recipe for beer in a culture with few literate people.[5][6] A beer made from rice, which, unlike sake, didn't use the amylolytic process, and was probably prepared for fementation by mastication or malting,[9] was made in China around 7,000 BC.[10]

As almost any substance containing carbohydrates, mainly sugars or starch, can naturally undergo fermentation, it is likely that beer-like beverages were independently invented among various cultures throughout the world. The invention of bread and beer has been argued to be responsible for humanity's ability to develop technology and build civilisation.[11][12][13] The earliest known chemical evidence of beer dates to circa 3500–3100 BC from the site of Godin Tepe in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran.[14]

Beer was spread through Europe by Germanic and Celtic tribes as far back as 3000 BC,[15] and it was mainly brewed on a domestic scale.[16] The product that the early Europeans drank might not be recognised as beer by most people today. Alongside the basic starch source, the early European beers might contain fruits, honey, numerous types of plants, spices and other substances such as narcotic herbs.[17] What they did not contain was hops, as that was a later addition first mentioned in Europe around 822 by a Carolingian Abbot[18] and again in 1067 by Abbess Hildegard of Bingen.[19]

Beer produced before the Industrial Revolution continued to be made and sold on a domestic scale, although by the 7th century AD, beer was also being produced and sold by European monasteries. During the Industrial Revolution, the production of beer moved from artisanal manufacture to industrial manufacture, and domestic manufacture ceased to be significant by the end of the 19th century.[20] The development of hydrometers and thermometers changed brewing by allowing the brewer more control of the process and greater knowledge of the results.

Today, the brewing industry is a global business, consisting of several dominant multinational companies and many thousands of smaller producers ranging from brewpubs to regional breweries.[21] As of 2006, more than 133 billion liters (35 billion gallons), the equivalent of a cube 510 metres on a side, of beer are sold per year, producing total global revenues of $294.5 billion (£147.7 billion).[22]


The process of making beer is known as brewing. A dedicated building for the making of beer is called a brewery, though beer can be made in the home and has been for much of its history. A company that makes beer is called either a brewery or a brewing company. Beer made on a domestic scale for non-commercial reasons is classed as homebrewing regardless of where it is made, though most homebrewed beer is made in the home. Brewing beer is subject to legislation and taxation in developed countries, which from the late 19th century largely restricted brewing to a commercial operation only. However, the UK government relaxed legislation in 1963, followed by Australia in 1972 and the USA in 1979, allowing homebrewing to become a popular hobby.[23]

A 16th-century brewery

The purpose of brewing is to convert the starch source into a sugary liquid called wort and to convert the wort into the alcoholic beverage known as beer in a fermentation process effected by yeast.

Diagram illustrating the process of brewing beer
Hot Water Tank

The first step, where the wort is prepared by mixing the starch source (normally malted barley) with hot water, is known as "mashing". Hot water (known as "liquor" in brewing terms) is mixed with crushed malt or malts (known as "grist") in a mash tun.[24] The mashing process takes around 1 to 2 hours,[25] during which the starches are converted to sugars, and then the sweet wort is drained off the grains. The grains are now washed in a process known as "sparging". This washing allows the brewer to gather as much of the fermentable liquid from the grains as possible. The process of filtering the spent grain from the wort and sparge water is called wort separation. The traditional process for wort separation is lautering, in which the grain bed itself serves as the filter medium. Some modern breweries prefer the use of filter frames which allow a more finely ground grist.[26] Most modern breweries use a continuous sparge, collecting the original wort and the sparge water together. However, it is possible to collect a second or even third wash with the not quite spent grains as separate batches. Each run would produce a weaker wort and thus a weaker beer. This process is known as second (and third) runnings. Brewing with several runnings is called parti gyle brewing.[27]

The sweet wort collected from sparging is put into a kettle, or "copper", (so called because these vessels were traditionally made from copper)[28] and boiled, usually for about one hour. During boiling, water in the wort evaporates, but the sugars and other components of the wort remain; this allows more efficient use of the starch sources in the beer. Boiling also destroys any remaining enzymes left over from the mashing stage. Hops are added during boiling as a source of bitterness, flavour and aroma. Hops may be added at more than one point during the boil. The longer the hops are boiled, the more bitterness they contribute, but the less hop flavour and aroma remains in the beer.[29]

After boiling, the hopped wort is now cooled, ready for the yeast. In some breweries, the hopped wort may pass through a hopback, which is a small vat filled with hops, to add aromatic hop flavouring and to act as a filter; but usually the hopped wort is simply cooled for the fermenter, where the yeast is added. During fermentation, the wort becomes beer in a process which requires a week to months depending on the type of yeast and strength of the beer. In addition to producing alcohol, fine particulate matter suspended in the wort settles during fermentation. Once fermentation is complete, the yeast also settles, leaving the beer clear.[30]

Fermentation is sometimes carried out in two stages, primary and secondary. Once most of the alcohol has been produced during primary fermentation, the beer is transferred to a new vessel and allowed a period of secondary fermentation. Secondary fermentation is used when the beer requires long storage before packaging or greater clarity.[31] When the beer has fermented, it is packaged either into casks for cask ale or kegs, aluminium cans, or bottles for other sorts of beer.[32]


Malted barley before roasting

The basic ingredients of beer are water; a starch source, such as malted barley, able to be fermented (converted into alcohol); a brewer's yeast to produce the fermentation; and a flavouring such as hops.[33] A mixture of starch sources may be used, with a secondary starch source, such as maize (corn), rice or sugar, often being termed an adjunct, especially when used as a lower-cost substitute for malted barley.[34] Less widely used starch sources include millet, sorghum and cassava root in Africa, potato in Brazil, and agave in Mexico, among others.[35] The amount of each starch source in a beer recipe is collectively called the grain bill.


Beer is composed mostly of water. Regions have water with different mineral components; as a result, different regions were originally better suited to making certain types of beer, thus giving them a regional character.[36] For example, Dublin has hard water well suited to making stout, such as Guinness; while Pilzen has soft water well suited to making pale lager, such as Pilsner Urquell.[36] The waters of Burton in England contain gypsum, which benefits making pale ale to such a degree that brewers of pale ales will add gypsum to the local water in a process known as Burtonisation.[37]

Starch source

The starch source in a beer provides the fermentable material and is a key determinant of the strength and flavour of the beer. The most common starch source used in beer is malted grain. Grain is malted by soaking it in water, allowing it to begin germination, and then drying the partially germinated grain in a kiln. Malting grain produces enzymes that convert starches in the grain into fermentable sugars.[38] Different roasting times and temperatures are used to produce different colours of malt from the same grain. Darker malts will produce darker beers.[39]

Nearly all beer includes barley malt as the majority of the starch. This is because of its fibrous husk, which is not only important in the sparging stage of brewing (in which water is washed over the mashed barley grains to form the wort), but also as a rich source of amylase, a digestive enzyme which facilitates conversion of starch into sugars. Other malted and unmalted grains (including wheat, rice, oats, and rye, and less frequently, corn and sorghum) may be used. In recent years, a few brewers have produced gluten-free beer made with sorghum with no barley malt for those who cannot consume gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, and rye.[40]


Flavouring beer is the sole major commercial use of hops.[41] The flower of the hop vine is used as a flavouring and preservative agent in nearly all beer made today. The flowers themselves are often called "hops".

Hop cone in a Hallertau, Germany, hop yard

Hops were used by monastery breweries, such as Corvey in Westphalia, Germany, from 822 AD,[20][42] though the date normally given for widespread cultivation of hops for use in beer is the thirteenth century.[20][42] Before the thirteenth century, and until the sixteenth century, during which hops took over as the dominant flavouring, beer was flavoured with other plants; for instance, Glechoma hederacea. Combinations of various aromatic herbs, berries, and even ingredients like wormwood would be combined into a mixture known as gruit and used as hops are now used.[43] Some beers today, such as Fraoch' by the Scottish Heather Ales company[44] and Cervoise Lancelot by the French Brasserie-Lancelot company,[45] use plants other than hops for flavouring.

Hops contain several characteristics that brewers desire in beer. Hops contribute a bitterness that balances the sweetness of the malt; the bitterness of beers is measured on the International Bitterness Units scale. Hops contribute floral, citrus, and herbal aromas and flavours to beer. Hops have an antibiotic effect that favours the activity of brewer's yeast over less desirable microorganisms, and hops aids in "head retention",[46][47] the length of time that a foamy head created by carbonation will last. The acidity of hops is a preservative.[48][49]


Yeast is the microorganism that is responsible for fermentation in beer. Yeast metabolises the sugars extracted from grains, which produces alcohol and carbon dioxide, and thereby turns wort into beer. In addition to fermenting the beer, yeast influences the character and flavour.[50] The dominant types of yeast used to make beer are ale yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and lager yeast (Saccharomyces uvarum); their use distinguishes ale and lager.[51] Brettanomyces ferments lambics,[52] and Torulaspora delbrueckii ferments Bavarian weissbier.[53] Before the role of yeast in fermentation was understood, fermentation involved wild or airborne yeasts. A few styles such as lambics rely on this method today, but most modern fermentation adds pure yeast cultures.[54]

Clarifying agent

Some brewers add one or more clarifying agents to beer, which typically precipitate (collect as a solid) out of the beer along with protein solids and are found only in trace amounts in the finished product. This process makes the beer appear bright and clean, rather than the cloudy appearance of ethnic and older styles of beer such as wheat beers.[55]

Examples of clarifying agents include isinglass, obtained from swimbladders of fish; Irish moss, a seaweed; kappa carrageenan, from the seaweed Kappaphycus cottonii; Polyclar (artificial); and gelatin.[56] If a beer is marked "suitable for Vegans", it was clarified either with seaweed or with artificial agents.[57]


Kriek, a variety of beer brewed with cherries

While there are many types of beer brewed, the basics of brewing beer are shared across national and cultural boundaries.[58] The traditional European brewing regions—Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Poland, the Czech Republic, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Austria—have local varieties of beer. In some countries, notably the USA, Canada, and Australia, brewers have adapted European styles to such an extent that they have effectively created their own indigenous types.[59]

Despite the regional variations, beer is categorised into two main types based on the temperature of the brewing which influences the behaviour of yeast used during the brewing process—lagers, which are brewed at a low temperature, and the more regionally distinct ales, brewed at a higher temperature.[60] Ales are further categorised into other varieties such as pale ale, stout and brown ale.

Michael Jackson, in his 1977 book The World Guide To Beer, categorised beers from around the world in local style groups suggested by local customs and names.[61] Fred Eckhardt furthered Jackson's work in The Essentials of Beer Style in 1989.

The most common method of categorising beer is by the behaviour of the yeast used in the fermentation process. In this method, beers using a fast-acting yeast which leaves behind residual sugars are termed "ales", while beers using a slower-acting yeast, fermented at lower temperatures, which removes most of the sugars, leaving a clean, dry beer, are termed "lagers". Differences between some ales and lagers can be difficult to categorise. Steam beer, Kölsch, Alt, and some modern British Golden Summer Beers use elements of both lager and ale production. Baltic Porter and Bière de Garde may be produced by either lager or ale methods or a combination of both. However, lager production results in a cleaner-tasting, drier and lighter beer than ale.[62]


Cask ale hand pumps with pump clips detailing the beers and their breweries

An ale is commonly defined by the strain of yeast used and the fermenting temperature. Ales are normally brewed with top-fermenting yeasts (most commonly Saccharomyces cerevisiae), though a number of British brewers, including Fullers and Weltons,[63] use ale yeast strains that have less-pronounced top-fermentation characteristics. The important distinction for ales is that they are fermented at higher temperatures and thus ferment more quickly than lagers.

Ale is typically fermented at temperatures between 15 and 24°C (60 and 75°F). At these temperatures, yeast produces significant amounts of esters and other secondary flavour and aroma products, and the result is often a beer with slightly "fruity" compounds resembling apple, pear, pineapple, banana, plum, or prune, among others.[64]

A pint of ale in a dimpled glass jug or mug.

Typically ales have a sweeter, fuller body than lagers.

Before the introduction of hops into England from the Netherlands in the 15th century, the name "ale" was exclusively applied to unhopped fermented beverages, the term beer being gradually introduced to describe a brew with an infusion of hops. This distinction no longer applies.[65] The word ale may come from the Old English ealu, in turn from the Proto-Indo-European base *alut-, which holds connotations of "sorcery, magic, possession, intoxication".[66]

Real ale is the term coined by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in 1973[67] for "beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide". It is applied to bottle conditioned and cask conditioned beers.


Lambic, a beer of Belgium, is naturally fermented using wild yeasts, rather than cultivated. Many of these are not strains of brewer's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and may have significant differences in aroma and sourness. Yeast varieties such as Brettanomyces bruxellensis and Brettanomyces lambicus are common in lambics. In addition, other organisms such as Lactobacillus bacteria produce acids which contribute to the sourness.[68]


Stout and porter are dark beers made using roasted malts or roast barley, and typically brewed with slow fermenting yeast. There are a number of variations including Baltic porter, dry stout, and Imperial stout. The name Porter was first used in 1721 to describe a dark brown beer popular with the street and river porters of London.[69] This same beer later also became known as stout, though the word stout had been used as early as 1677.[70] The history and development of stout and porter are intertwined.[71]

German wheat beer

Wheat beer is brewed with a large proportion of wheat although it often also contains a significant proportion of malted barley. Wheat beers are usually top-fermented (in Germany they have to be by law).[72] The flavour of wheat beers varies considerably, depending upon the specific style.


Lager is the English name for cool fermenting beers of Central European origin. Pale lagers are the most commonly consumed beers in the world. The name lager comes from the German lagern for "to store", as brewers around Bavaria stored beer in cool cellars and caves during the warm summer months. These brewers noticed that the beers continued to ferment, and to also clear of sediment, when stored in cool conditions.[73]

Lager yeast is a cool bottom-fermenting yeast (Saccharomyces pastorianus) and typically undergoes primary fermentation at 7–12 °C (45–54 °F) (the fermentation phase), and then is given a long secondary fermentation at 0–4 °C (32–39 °F) (the lagering phase). During the secondary stage, the lager clears and mellows. The cooler conditions also inhibit the natural production of esters and other byproducts, resulting in a "cleaner"-tasting beer.[74]

Modern methods of producing lager were pioneered by Gabriel Sedlmayr the Younger, who perfected dark brown lagers at the Spaten Brewery in Bavaria, and Anton Dreher, who began brewing a lager (now known as Vienna lager), probably of amber-red colour, in Vienna in 1840–1841. With improved modern yeast strains, most lager breweries use only short periods of cold storage, typically 1–3 weeks.


Beer colour is determined by the malt.[75] The most common colour is a pale amber produced from using pale malts. Pale lager and pale ale are terms used for beers made from malt dried with coke. Coke was first used for roasting malt in 1642, but it was not until around 1703 that the term pale ale was used.[76][77]

Paulaner dunkel - a dark lager

In terms of sales volume, most of today's beer is based on the pale lager brewed in 1842 in the town of Pilsen in the present-day Czech Republic.[78] The modern pale lager is light in colour with a noticeable carbonation (fizzy bubbles) and a typical alcohol by volume content of around 5%. The Pilsner Urquell, Bitburger, and Heineken brands of beer are typical examples of pale lager, as are the American brands Budweiser, Coors, and Miller.

Dark beers are usually brewed from a pale malt or lager malt base with a small proportion of darker malt added to achieve the desired shade. Other colourants—such as caramel—are also widely used to darken beers. Very dark beers, such as stout, use dark or patent malts that have been roasted longer. Some have roasted unmalted barley.[79][80]

Alcoholic strength

Beer ranges from less than 3% alcohol by volume (abv) to around 14% abv, though this strength has been increased to around 20% by re-pitching with champagne yeast,[81] and to 41% abv by the freeze-distilling process.[82] The alcohol content of beer varies by local practice[83] or beer style. The pale lagers that most consumers are familiar with fall in the range of 4–6%, with a typical abv of 5%.[84] The customary strength of British ales is quite low, with many session beers being around 4% abv.[85] Some beers, such as table beer are of such low alcohol content (1%–4%) that they are served instead of soft drinks in some schools.[86]

The alcohol in beer comes primarily from the metabolism of sugars that are produced during fermentation. The quantity of fermentable sugars in the wort and the variety of yeast used to ferment the wort are the primary factors that determine the amount of alcohol in the final beer. Additional fermentable sugars are sometimes added to increase alcohol content, and enzymes are often added to the wort for certain styles of beer (primarily "light" beers) to convert more complex carbohydrates (starches) to fermentable sugars. Alcohol is a byproduct of yeast metabolism and is toxic to the yeast; typical brewing yeast cannot survive at alcohol concentrations above 12% by volume. Low temperatures and too little fermentation time decreases the effectiveness of yeasts and consequently decreases the alcohol content.

Exceptionally strong beers

The strength of beers has climbed during the later years of the 20th century. Vetter 33, a 10.5% abv (33 degrees Plato, hence Vetter "33"), doppelbock, was listed in the 1994 Guinness Book of World Records as the strongest beer at that time,[87][88] though Samichlaus, by the Swiss brewer Hürlimann, had also been listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the strongest at 14% abv.[89][90][91]

Since then, some brewers have used champagne yeasts to increase the alcohol content of their beers. Samuel Adams reached 20% abv with Millennium,[81] and then surpassed that amount to 25.6% abv with Utopias. The strongest beer brewed in Britain was Baz's Super Brew by Parish Brewery, a 23% abv beer.[92][93] The beer that is claimed to be the strongest yet made is Sink The Bismarck!, a 41% abv IPA,[82] made by BrewDog, who also made Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a 32% abv Imperial Stout, using the eisbock method of freeze distilling - in November 2009 the brewery freeze distilled a 10% ale, gradually removing the ice until the beer reached 32% abv.[94][95] The German brewery Schorschbräu's Schorschbock—a 31% abv eisbock,[96][97][98] and Hair of the Dog's Dave—a 29% abv barley wine made in 1994, both used the same freeze distilling method.[99]

Related beverages

Around the world, there are a number of traditional and ancient starch-based beverages classed as beer. In Africa, there are various ethnic beers made from sorghum or millet, such as Oshikundu[100] in Namibia and Tella in Ethiopia.[101] Kyrgyzstan also has a beer made from millet; it is a low alcohol, somewhat porridge-like drink called "Bozo".[102] Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet and Sikkim also use millet in Chhaang, a popular semi-fermented rice/millet drink in the eastern Himalayas.[103] Further east in China are found Huangjiu and Choujiu—traditional rice-based beverages related to beer.

The Andes in South America has Chicha, made from germinated maize (corn); while the indigenous peoples in Brazil have Cauim, a traditional beverage made since pre-Columbian times by chewing manioc so that enzymes present in human saliva can break down the starch into fermentable sugars;[104] this is similar to Masato in Peru.[105]

Some beers which are made from bread, which is linked to the earliest forms of beer, are Sahti in Finland, Kvass in Russia and the Ukraine, and Bouza in Sudan.

Brewing industry

Cropton, a typical UK microbrewery

The brewing industry is a global business, consisting of several dominant multinational companies and many thousands of smaller producers ranging from brewpubs to regional breweries.[21] More than 133 billion liters (35 billion gallons) are sold per year—producing total global revenues of $294.5 billion (£147.7 billion) in 2006.[22]

A microbrewery, or craft brewery, is a modern brewery which produces a limited amount of beer.[106] The maximum amount of beer a brewery can produce and still be classed as a microbrewery varies by region and by authority, though is usually around 15,000 barrels (18,000 hectolitres/ 475,000 US gallons) a year.[107] A brewpub is a type of microbrewery that incorporates a pub or other eating establishment.

SABMiller became the largest brewing company in the world when it acquired Royal Grolsch, brewer of Dutch premium beer brand Grolsch.[108] InBev was the second-largest beer-producing company in the world,[109] and Anheuser-Busch held the third spot, but after the merger between InBev and Anheuser-Busch, the new Anheuser-Busch InBev company is the largest brewer in the world.[110][111]



Draught beer keg fonts at the Delirium Café in Brussels

Draught beer from a pressurised keg is the most common method of dispensing in bars around the world. A metal keg is pressurised with carbon dioxide (CO2) gas which drives the beer to the dispensing tap or faucet. Some beers may be served with a nitrogen/carbon dioxide mixture. Nitrogen produces fine bubbles, resulting in a dense head and a creamy mouthfeel. Some types of beer can also be found in smaller, disposable kegs called beer balls.

In the 1980s, Guinness introduced the beer widget, a nitrogen-pressurised ball inside a can which creates a dense, tight head, similar to beer served from a nitrogen system.[112] The words draft and draught can be used as marketing terms to describe canned or bottled beers containing a beer widget, or which are cold-filtered rather than pasteurised.

A selection of cask beers

Cask-conditioned ales (or cask ales) are unfiltered and unpasteurised beers. These beers are termed "real ale" by the CAMRA organisation. Typically, when a cask arrives in a pub, it is placed horizontally on a frame called a "stillage" which is designed to hold it steady and at the right angle, and then allowed to cool to cellar temperature (typically between 12–14 degrees Celsius / 54–57 °F),[113] before being tapped and vented—a tap is driven through a (usually rubber) bung at the bottom of one end, and a hard spile or other implement is used to open a hole in the side of the cask, which is now uppermost. The act of stillaging and then venting a beer in this manner typically disturbs all the sediment, so it must be left for a suitable period to "drop" (clear) again, as well as to fully condition—this period can take anywhere from several hours to several days. At this point the beer is ready to sell, either being pulled through a beer line with a hand pump, or simply being "gravity-fed" directly into the glass.


Most beers are cleared of yeast by filtering when packaged in bottles and cans.[114] However, bottle conditioned beers retain some yeast—either by being unfiltered, or by being filtered and then reseeded with fresh yeast.[115] It is usually recommended that the beer be poured slowly, leaving any yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle. However, some drinkers prefer to pour in the yeast; this practice is customary with wheat beers. Typically, when serving a hefeweizen, 90% of the contents are poured, and the remainder is swirled to suspend the sediment before pouring it into the glass. Alternatively, the bottle may be inverted prior to opening. Glass bottles are always used for bottle conditioned beers.

Many beers are sold in cans, though there is considerable variation in the proportion between different countries. In Sweden in 2001, 63.9% of beer was sold in cans.[116] People either drink from the can or pour the beer into a glass. Cans protect the beer from light (thereby preventing "skunked" beer) and have a seal less prone to leaking over time than bottles. Cans were initially viewed as a technological breakthrough for maintaining the quality of a beer, then became commonly associated with less expensive, mass-produced beers, even though the quality of storage in cans is much like bottles.[117] Plastic (PET) bottles are used by some breweries.[118]

Serving temperature

Édouard Manet's The Waitress showing a woman serving beer

The temperature of a beer has an influence on a drinker's experience; warmer temperatures reveal the range of flavours in a beer; however, cooler temperatures are more refreshing. Most drinkers prefer pale lager to be served chilled, a low- or medium-strength pale ale to be served cool, while a strong barley wine or imperial stout to be served at room temperature.[119]

Beer writer Michael Jackson proposed a five-level scale for serving temperatures: well chilled (7 °C/45 °F) for "light" beers (pale lagers); chilled (8 °C/46 °F) for Berliner Weisse and other wheat beers; lightly chilled (9 °C/48 °F) for all dark lagers, altbier and German wheat beers; cellar temperature (13 °C/55 °F) for regular British ale, stout and most Belgian specialities; and room temperature (15.5 °C/59.9 °F) for strong dark ales (especially trappist beer) and barley wine.[120]

Drinking chilled beer is a social trend that began with the development of artificial refrigeration and by the 1870s, was spread in those countries that concentrated on brewing pale lager.[121] Chilling below 15.5 °C (59.9 °F) starts to reduce taste awareness[122] and reduces it significantly below 10 °C (50 °F);[123] while this is acceptable for beers without an appreciable aroma or taste profile, beers brewed with more than basic refreshment in mind reveal their flavours more when served unchilled—either cool or at room temperature.[124] Cask Marque, a non-profit UK beer organisation, has set a temperature standard range of 12°-14°C (53°-57°F) for cask ales to be served.[125]


Beer is consumed out of a variety of vessels, such as a glass, a beer stein, a mug, a pewter tankard, a beer bottle or a can. The shape of the glass from which beer is consumed can influence the perception of the beer and can define and accent the character of the style.[126] Breweries offer branded glassware intended only for their own beers as a marketing promotion, as this increases sales.[127]

The pouring process has an influence on a beer's presentation. The rate of flow from the tap or other serving vessel, tilt of the glass, and position of the pour (in the centre or down the side) into the glass all influence the end result, such as the size and longevity of the head, lacing (the pattern left by the head as it moves down the glass as the beer is drunk), and turbulence of the beer and its release of carbonation.[128]

Beer and society

Social context

Inside a tent at Munich's Oktoberfest—the world's largest beer festival

Various social traditions and activities are associated with beer drinking, such as playing cards, darts, bags, or other pub games; attending beer festivals, or visiting a series of different pubs in one evening; joining an organisation such as CAMRA; or rating beer.[129] Various drinking games, such as beer pong, flip cup and quarters are also popular.[130]

International consumption

Beer is considered to be a social lubricant in many societies,[131] and is consumed in countries all over the world. There are breweries in Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria, as well as African countries (see African beer). Sales of beer are four times that of wine, the second most popular alcoholic beverage.[132][133] In Russia, consumption is on the rise as younger generations are choosing beer over vodka.[134] In most societies, beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage.

Health effects

Alcohol and Health
Short-term effects of alcohol
Long-term effects of alcohol
Alcohol and cardiovascular disease
Alcoholic liver disease
Alcoholic hepatitis
Alcohol and cancer
Alcohol and weight
Fetal alcohol syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Blackout (alcohol-related amnesia)
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
Recommended maximum intake
Wine and health

The main active ingredient of beer is alcohol, and therefore, the health effects of alcohol apply to beer. The moderate consumption of alcohol, including beer, is associated with a decreased risk of cardiac disease, stroke and cognitive decline.[135][136][137][138] The long-term effects of alcohol abuse, however, include the risk of developing alcoholism and alcoholic liver disease.

Overview of possible long-term effects of ethanol. Click to expand.

Brewer's yeast is known to be a rich source of nutrients; therefore, as expected, beer can contain significant amounts of nutrients, including magnesium, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, biotin, and B vitamins. In fact, beer is sometimes referred to as "liquid bread".[139] Some sources maintain that filtered beer loses much of its nutrition.[140][141]

A 2005 Japanese study found that low alcohol beer may possess strong anti-cancer properties.[142] Another study found nonalcoholic beer to mirror the cardiovascular benefits associated with moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages.[143] However, much research suggests that the primary health benefit from alcoholic beverages comes from the alcohol they contain.[144]

It is considered that overeating and lack of muscle tone is the main cause of a beer belly, rather than beer consumption. A recent study, however, found a link between binge drinking and a beer belly. But with most overconsumption, it is more a problem of improper exercise and overconsumption of carbohydrates than the product itself.[145] Several diet books quote beer as having the same glycemic index as maltose, a very high (and therefore undesirable) 110; however, the maltose undergoes metabolism by yeast during fermentation so that beer consists mostly of water, hop oils and only trace amounts of sugars, including maltose.[146]

Environmental impact

Draught beer's environmental impact can be 68% lower than bottled beer due to packaging differences.[147][148] Home brewing can reduce the environmental impact of beer via less packaging and transportation.[149]

A life cycle study of one beer brand, including grain production, brewing, bottling, distribution and waste management, shows that the CO2 emissions from a 6-pack of micro-brew beer is about 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds).[150] The loss of natural habitat potential from the 6-pack of micro-brew beer is estimated to be 2.5 square meters (26 square feet).[151]

Downstream emissions from distribution, retail, storage and disposal of waste can be over 45% of a bottled micro-brew beer's CO2 emissions.[150]

Where legal, the use of a refillable jug, reusable bottle or other reusable containers to transport draught beer from a store or a bar, rather than buying pre-bottled beer, can reduce the environmental impact of beer consumption.[152]


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  • Archeological Parameters For the Origins of Beer. Thomas W. Kavanagh.
  • The Complete Guide to World Beer, Roger Protz. ISBN 1-84442-865-6.
  • The Barbarian's Beverage: a history of beer in ancient Europe, Max Nelson. ISBN 0-415-31121-7.
  • The World Guide to Beer, Michael Jackson. ISBN 1-85076-000-4
  • The New World Guide to Beer, Michael Jackson. ISBN 0-89471-884-3
  • Beer: The Story of the Pint, Martyn Cornell. ISBN 0-7553-1165-5
  • Beer and Britannia: An Inebriated History of Britain, Peter Haydon. ISBN 0-7509-2748-8
  • The Book of Beer Knowledge: Essential Wisdom for the Discerning Drinker, a Useful Miscellany, Jeff Evans. ISBN 1-85249-198-1
  • Country House Brewing in England, 1500–1900, Pamela Sambrook. ISBN 1-85285-127-9
  • Ale, Beer and Brewsters in England: Women's Work in a Changing World, 1300–1600 , Judith M. Bennett. ISBN 0-19-512650-5
  • A History of Beer and Brewing, I. Hornsey. ISBN 0-85404-630-5
  • Beer: an Illustrated History, Brian Glover. ISBN 1-84038-597-9
  • Beer in America: The Early Years 1587–1840—Beer's Role in the Settling of America and the Birth of a Nation, Gregg Smith. ISBN 0-937381-65-9
  • Big Book of Beer, Adrian Tierney-Jones. ISBN 1-85249-212-0
  • Gone for a Burton: Memories from a Great British Heritage, Bob Ricketts. ISBN 1-905203-69-1
  • Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition, Phil Marowski. ISBN 0-937381-84-5
  • The World Encyclopedia of Beer, Brian Glover. ISBN 0-7548-0933-1
  • The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, Charlie Papazian ISBN 0-380-77287-6 (This is the seminal work on home brewing that is almost universally suggested to new hobbyist)
  • The Brewmaster's Table, Garrett Oliver. ISBN 0-06-000571-8
  • Vaughan, J. G.; C. A. Geissler (1997). The New Oxford Book of Food Plants. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-854825-7. 
  • Bacchus and Civic Order: The Culture of Drink in Early Modern Germany, Ann Tlusty. ISBN 0-8139-2045-0


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Beer is a popular alcoholic beverage.


  • Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.

Beer, the cause and solution to all of life's problems Phillip

(Originally: "To alcohol! The cause of--and solution to--all of life's problems." Homer Simpson, in the episode Homer vs. The Eighteenth Amendment.)

  • Well ya see, Norm, it's like this... A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo, and when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells, but naturally it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers.
  • Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn't drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.
  • It is nice when you can sit back with some friends, drink some beer and have a good time.
  • You can't have a Real Country unless you have a BEER and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a BEER.
  • Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
  • 24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence?
  • Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.
  • Beer, if drunk with moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.
  • I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.
  • Ich sitze hier und trinke mein gutes Wittenbergisch Bier und das Reich Gottes kommt von ganz alleine
    • Translation: I sit here and drink my good Wittenberg Beer, and the Kingdom of the God comes all by itself."
  • Wasser trinkt der Vierbeiner; der Mensch, der findet Bier feiner.
    • Translation: Water is drank by the four legged beast; man prefers it with hops, malts, and yeast."
      • German Trinkspruch
  • Beer, Helping Ugly People Get Laid Since 1844.
    • Jake Wane-Smith
  • One beer is no beer, two beers are half a beer, and three beers are one beer. But one beer is no beer!

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up beer in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Beer [1] is a town in Devon about 25 miles from Exeter. The name comes not from the alcoholic beverage but from the old English word bearu, meaning forest. The town rings a small cove with a big beach, with no harbor to speak of. Boats are pulled up onto the beach.

  • Beer Caves.
  • Pecorama, [2]. Su-F 10AM-5:30PM, Sa 10AM-1PM (Apr-Oct). A museum of model railways, Pecorama's prize feature is the Beer Heights Light Railway, a miniature railway that runs through the building's gardens. £5.75 (discounts for children and seniors).  edit
  • Beach. The beach at Beer is pebbled, with long rubber mats leading towards the water.
  • Beer Regatta.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BEER, a beverage obtained by a process of alcoholic fermentation mainly from cereals (chiefly malted barley), hops and water. The history of beer extends over several thousand years. According to Dr Bush, a beer made from malt or red barley is mentioned in Egyptian writings as early as the fourth dynasty.

It was called i or heqa. Papyri of the time of Seti I.

(1300 B.C.) allude to a person inebriated from over-indulgence in beer. In the second book (c. 77) of Herodotus (450 B.C.) we are told that the Egyptians, being without vines, made wine from barley (cf. Aesch. Suppl. 954); but as the grape is mentioned so frequently in Scripture and elsewhere as being most abundant there, and no record exists of the vine being destroyed, we must conclude that the historian was only partially acquainted with the productions of that most fertile country. Pliny (Natural History, xxii. 82) informs us that the Egyptians made wine from corn, and gives it the name of zythum, which, in the Greek, means drink from barley. The Greeks obtained their knowledge of the art of preparing beer from the Egyptians. The writings of Archilochus, the Parian poet and satirist who flourished about 650 B.C., contain evidence that the Greeks of his day were acquainted with the process of brewing. There is, in fact, little doubt that the discovery of beer and its use as an exhilarating beverage were nearly as early as those of the grape itself, though both the Greeks and the Romans despised it as a barbarian drink. Dioscorides mentions two kinds of beer, namely "vOos and Koup at, but he does not describe them sufficiently to enable us to distinguish them. Sophocles and other Greek writers, again, styled it f3pu-rov. In the time of Tacitus (1st century after Christ), according to him, beer was the usual drink of the Germans, and there can be little doubt that the method of malting barley was then known to them. Pliny (Nat. Hist. xxii. 82) mentions the use of beer in Spain under the name of celia and ceria and in Gaul under that of cerevisia; and elsewhere (xiv. 29) he says: - " The natives who inhabit the west of Europe have a liquid with which they intoxicate themselves, made from corn and water. The manner of making this liquid is somewhat different in Gaul, Spain and other countries, and it is called by different names, but its nature and properties are everywhere the same. The people in Spain in particular brew this liquid so well that it will keep good a long time. So exquisite is the cunning of mankind in gratifying their vicious appetites that they have thus invented a method to make water itself produce intoxication." The knowledge of the preparation of a fermented beverage from cereals in early times was not confined to Europe. Thus, according to Dr H. H. Mann, the Kaffir races of South Africa have made for ages - and still make - a kind of beer from millet, and 1 Lidzbarski, Handbuch der nordsemitischen Epigraphik, i. pp. 240, 377.

similarly the natives of Nubia, Abyssinia -and other parts of Africa prepare an intoxicating beverage, generally called bousa, from a variety of cereal grains. The Russian quass, made from barley and rye, the Chinese samshu, made from rice, and the Japanesesake are all of ancient origin. Roman historians mention the fact that the Britons in the south of England at the time of the Roman invasion brewed a species of ale from barley and wheat. The Romans much improved the methods of brewing in vogue among the Britons, and the Saxons - among whom ale had long been a common beverage - in their turn profited much by the instruction given to the original inhabitants of Great Britain by the Romans. We are informed by William of Malmes-. bury that in the reign of Henry II. the English were greatly addicted to drinking, and by that time the monasteries were already famous, both in England and on the continent, for the excellence of their ales. The waters of Burton-on-Trent began to be famous in the 13th century. The secret of their being so especially adapted for brewing was first discovered by some monks, who held land in the adjacent neighbourhood of Wetmore. There is a document dated 1295 in which it is stated that Matilda, daughter of Nicholas de Shoben, had re-leased to the abbot and convent of Burton-on-Trent certain tenements within and without the town; for which re-lease they granted her, daily for life, two white loaves from the monastery, two gallons of conventuaI beer, and one penny, besides seven gallons of beer for the men. The abbots of Burton apparently made their own malt, for it was a common covenant in leases of mills belonging to the abbey that the malt of the lords of the manor, both spiritual and temporal, should be ground free of charge. Robert Plot, in his Natural History of Staffordshire (1686), refers to the peculiar properties of the Burton waters, from which, he says, " by an art well known in this country good ale is made, in the management of which they have a knack of fining it in three days to that degree that it shall not only be potable, but is clear and palatable as we could desire any drink of this kind to be." In 1630 Burton beer began to be known in London, being sold at " Ye Peacocke " in Gray's Inn Lane, and according to the Spectator was in great demand amongst the visitors in Vauxhall. Until tea and coffee were introduced, beer and ale (see ALE) were, practically speaking, the only popular beverages accessible to the general body of consumers. Since the advent of tea, coffee, cocoa and mineral waters, the character of British beers has undergone a gradual modification, the strongly alcoholic, heavily hopped liquids consumed by the previous generation slowly giving place to the lighter beverages in vogue at the present time. The old " stock bitter " has given way to the " light dinner ale," and " porter " (so called from the fact that it was the popular drink amongst the market porters of the 18th century) has been largely replaced by " mild ale." A certain quantity of strong beer - such as heavy stouts and "stock " and " Scotch " ales - is still brewed nowadays,, but it is. not an increasing one. The demand is almost entirely for medium beers such as mild ale, light stout, and the better class of " bitter" beers, and light beers such as the light "family ales," " dinner ales " and lager.

The general run of beers contain from 3 to 6% of alcohol and 4 to 7% of solids, the remainder being water and certain flavouring and preservative matters derived from the malt, hops and other materials employed in their manufacture. The solid, i.e. non-volatile, matter contained in solution in beer consists mainly of maltose or malt sugar, of several varieties of dextrin (see Brewing), of substances which stand in an intermediate position between the sugars and the dextrins proper, and of a number of bodies containing nitrogen, such as the non-coagulable proteids, peptones, &c. In addition there is an appreciable quantity of mineral matter, chiefly phosphates and potash. Dietetically regarded, therefore, beer possesses considerable food value, and, moreover, the nutritious matter in beer is present in a readily assimilable form.

It is probable that the average adult member of the British working classes consumes not less than two pints of beer daily.

A reasonable calculation places the total proteids and carbohydrates consumed by the average worker at 140 and 400 grammes respectively. Taking the proteid content of the average beer at o 4% and the carbohydrate content at 4%, a simple calculation shows that about 3% of the total proteid and I I % of the total carbohydrate food of the average worker will be consumed in the shape of beer.

The chemical composition of beers of different types will be gathered from the following tables.

A. English Beers.

Number. Original Gravity. Alcohol %. Extractives(Solids)%.
I.' 1055.13 4.17 6


2.1 1055.64 4'47 5.7
3.2 1071


5'57 7.3
Number. Original Gravity. Alcohol %. Extractives(Solids)%.
I. 1046.81 4'15 4.0
2. 1047.69 4.23 4.1
3 . 1047.79 4.61 3.2
4. 1050.30 4.53 4'2
5. 1038.31 3.81 3.5
Number. Original Gravity. Alcohol %. Extractives(Solids)%.
1.3 1059


4'77 5.8
2.4 1068.58 5.48 7.1.
3.4 1076.80 6.68 5.9
Number. Original Gravity. Alcohol %. Extractives(Solids)%.
1.5 1072'92 6.14 6


2.6 1054.26 4'73 4.5
3.6 1081.62 6.02 8.8
4.7 1054.11 3.90 6.5

(Analyses by J. L. Baker, Hulton & P. Schidrowitz.) I. Mild Ales. II. Light Bitters and Ales. III. Pale and Stock Ales. IV. Stouts and Porter. The figures in the above tables are very fairly representative of different classes of British and Irish beers. It will be noticed that the Mild Ales are of medium original gravity 8 and alcoholic strength, but contain a relatively large proportion of solid matter. The Light Bitters and Ales are of a low original gravity, but compared with the Mild Ales the proportion of alcohol to solids is higher. The Pale and Stock Ales, which represent the more expensive bottle beers, are analytically of much the same character as the Light Bitters, except that the figures all round are much higher. The Stouts, as a rule, are characterized by a high gravity, and contain relatively more solids (as compared with alcohol) than do the heavy beers of light colour. With 1 London Ales. 2 Strong Burton Mild Ale.

Fairly representative of " Pale Ales." 4 Heavy Stock Ales. 5 Irish Stout.

6 Nos. 2 and 3 are respectively " single " and " double " London Stouts from the same brewery. 7 London Porter or Cooper.

8 The specific gravity, or " gravity " as it is always termed in the industry, of the brewer is moo times the specific gravity of the physicist. This is purely a matter of convention and convenience. Thus when a brewer speaks of a wort of a " gravity " of 1045 (tenforty-five) he means a wort having a specific gravity of 1.045. Each unit in the brewer's scale of specific gravity is termed a " degree of gravity." The wort referred to above, therefore, possesses fortyfive degrees of gravity. The " original gravity," it may here be mentioned, represents the specific gravity of the wort (see Brewing) before fermentation. The solids in the original wort may be ascertained by dividing the excess of the gravity over moo by 3.86. Thus in the case of Mild Ale No. 1 the excess of the original gravity over 1000 is 1055.13 - moo =55.13. Dividing this by 3.86 we get 14.28, which indicates that the wort from which the beer was manufactured contained 14.28% of solids. In the trade the gravity of a beer (or rather of the wort from which it is derived) is generally expressed in pounds per barrel. This means the excess in weight of a barrel of the wort over the weight of a barrel of water. The weight of a barrel (36 gallons) of water is 360 Ib; in the above example the weight of a barrel of the beer wort is 360 X 1.0 55 1 3 =379.8. The gravity of the wort in lb is therefore 379'8-360= 19.8. The beer which is made from this wort would also be called a 19.8 lb beer, the reference in all cases being to the original wort.

Description. OriginalGravity. Alcohol %. Extractives(Solids) %.
Munich Draught Dark 1056.4 3.76 6.58
Light 1048.0 3'18 5.55
4'05 3'92
„ Export . 1054'3 3'68 6'32
„ „ . 1059-5 4'15 7'48
„ Bock Beer 9 . 1076.6 4'53 10.05
Pilsener Bottle . 1047.7 3'47 4.90
„ Draught 1044.3 3.25 4'58
Berlin Dark. . 1055'2 3.82 6'17
„ Light. . 1056.5 4'36 5.46
„ Weissbier. . 1033.1 2.64 3.01

regard to the proportions of the various matters constituting the extractives (solids) in English beers, roughly 20-30% consists of maltose and 20-50% of dextrinous matter. In mild ales the proportion of maltose to dextrin is high (roughly I: I), thus accounting for the full sweet taste of these beers. Pale and stock ales, on the other hand, which are of a " dry " character, contain relatively more dextrin, the general ratio being about I: I z or r: 2. The mineral matter (" ash ") of beers is generally in the neighbourhood of 0.2 to 0.3%, of which about one-fourth is phosphoric acid. The proteid (" nitrogenous matters ") content of beers varies very widely according to character and strength, the usual limits being o 3 to o 8%, with an average of roughly 0.4% B. Continental Beers. (Analyses by A. Doemens.) It will be seen that, broadly speaking, the original gravity of German and Austrian beers is lower than that of English beers, and this also applies to the alcohol. On the other hand, the foreign beers are relatively very rich in solids, and the extractives: alcohol ratio is high. (See Brewing.) C. American Beers And Ales.

Description. Gravity. Origina Alcohol °? Extractives(Solids) %.
21. . 1046-1055'
Bottom Fermenta- 6 3'5643' 1482 5761.405083
tion Beers 3. 1063.4
(Lager Type). 4. 1046.0 2 68 5.96
5 1051 7 3'42 5.86
Top Fermenta- 1. 1084.2 5-89 8.60
tion Ales 2. 1073.5 6.46 5.69
(British Type). 3. 1068


5.50 5.53

(Analyses by M. Wallerstein.) It will be noted that the American beers (i.e. bottom fermentation products of the lager type) are very similar in composition to the German beers, but that the ales are very much heavier than the general run of the corresponding British products.

Consumption per
Country. Total Production (Gallons). Head of Popu-
lation (Gallons).
1905. 1885. 1905. 1885.
German Empire . 1,538,240,000 932,228,000 26.3 19.8
United States . 1,434,114,180 494, 8 54, 000 19.9 8.8
United Kingdom I, 22 7,933,4 681 ° 993,759, 000 27.90 10 27.1

Production and Consumption.-(For manufacture of beer, see Brewing.) Germany is the greatest beer-producing nation, if liquid bulk be taken as a criterion; the United States comes next, and the United Kingdom occupies the third place in this regard. The consumption per head, however, is slightly greater in the United Kingdom than in Germany, and very much greater than is the case in the United States. The 1905 figures with regard to the total production and consumption of the three great beer-producing countries, together with those for 1885, are as under: 9 A particularly heavy beer, only brewed at certain times in the year.

10 The maxima of production and consumption were reached in 1899/1900, when the production amounted to 1,337,509,116 gallons (at the standard gravity) and consumption to 32.28 gallons per head.

The chief point of interest in the preceding table is the enormous increase in the United States. In considering the figures, the character of the beer produced must be taken into consideration. Thus, although Germany produces roughly 25% more beer in liquid measurement than the United Kingdom, the latter actually uses about 50% more malt than is the case in the German breweries. According to a Viennese technical journal, the quantities of malt employed for the production of one hectolitre (22 gallons) of beer in the respective countries is o 40 cwt. in the German empire, o 72 cwt. in the United States, and 0.81 cwt. in the United Kingdom. In a sense, therefore, England may still claim pre-eminence as a beer-producing nation. Large as the per capita consumption in the United Kingdom may seem, it is considerably less than is the case in Bavaria, which stands at the head of the list with over 50 gallons, and in Belgium, which comes second with 47.7 gallons. In the city of Munich the consumption is actually over 70 gallons, that is to say, about 12 pints a day for every man, woman and child. It is curious to note that in Germany, which is usually regarded as a beerdrinking country par excellence, the consumption per head of this article is slightly less than in England, and that inversely the average German consumes more alcohol in the shape of spirits than does the inhabitant of the British Islands (consumption of spirits per head: Germany, 1.76 gallons; United Kingdom, 0.99 gallons). This is accounted for by the fact that the peasantry of the northern and eastern portions of the German empire consume spirits almost exclusively. In the British colonies beer is generally one of the staple drinks, but if we except Western Australia, where about 25 gallons per head of population are consumed, the demand is much smaller than in the United Kingdom. In Australia generally, the per capita consumption amounts to about 12 gallons, in New Zealand to 10 gallons, and in Canada to 5 gallons. (P. S.)

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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also béer



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A glass of beer.


Middle English bere, from Old English bēor, akin to Old Saxon bior, Old High German bior, Middle Low German & Middle Dutch bēr, Old Norse bjōrr (beer) (probably from Old English bēor); Dutch & German Bier (beer), Frisian biar (beer). Possibly related to Old English brēowan (to brew) and beorma (yeast, head of a beer).




countable and uncountable; plural beers

beer (countable and uncountable; plural beers)

  1. (uncountable) An alcoholic drink fermented from starch material commonly barley malt, often with hops or some other substance to impart a bitter flavor.
  2. (uncountable) A fermented extract of the roots and other parts of various plants, as spruce, ginger, sassafras, etc.
  3. (uncountable) A solution produced by steeping plant materials in water or another fluid.
  4. (countable) A glass of any of the above beverages.
  5. (countable) A variety of the above beverages.
  6. (Chinese English) Any alcoholic beverage.


Derived terms

Look at pages starting with beer.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.





  1. bear



Etymology 1


beer m. (plural beren, diminutive beertje, diminutive plural beertjes)

  1. bear (large predatory mammal of the family Ursidae)
  2. (metaphor) person who is physically impressive and/or crude
  3. (student slang) debt, credit
Derived terms



  1. Singular present imperfect form of beren.

Etymology 2


beer m. (plural beren, diminutive beertje, diminutive plural beertjes)

  1. boar (male porcine)
  2. protective external construction, notably against ice or supporting the weight of the main
Derived terms
  • steunbeer



  1. Singular present imperfect form of beren.

Etymology 3


beer m. (plural beren, diminutive beertje, diminutive plural beertjes)

  1. manure (excrement gathered in a pit to fertilize)



  1. Singular present imperfect form of beren.

Derived terms


  • M. J. Koenen & J. Endepols, Verklarend Handwoordenboek der Nederlandse Taal (tevens Vreemde-woordentolk), Groningen, Wolters-Noordhoff, 1969 (26th edition) [Dutch dictionary in Dutch]



Related to English beer.


beer n

  1. beer
  2. any alcoholic drink


Root singular Root plural Diminutive singular Diminutive plural
Nominative beer bere beerke beerkes
Genitive beers bere beerkes beerkes
Locative baer baere baerke baerkes
Dative¹ baerem baerer baeremske baeremskes
Accusative¹ beer berer beerke beerkes
  • Dative and accusative are nowadays obsolete, use nominative instead.

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Meaning: well.

  1. A place where a well was dug by the direction of Moses, at the forty-fourth station of the Hebrews in their wanderings (Num 21:16ff) in the wilderness of Moab. (See Well)
  2. A town in the tribe of Judah to which Jotham fled for fear of Abimelech (Jdg 9:21). Some have identified this place with Beeroth.
This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

Beer is also the name of a place in Devon, England - Beer (Devon)
File:Lager beer in
A glass of beer. This one is Viking, a beer from Iceland

Beer is an alcoholic drink. It is made with water, hops, barley (types of cereal grains), and yeast (a fungus that produces alcohol). Beer is made when the yeast 'eats' sugar taken from the barley and turns it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Making beer is called "brewing".

Beer is made by adding warm water to malted barley and other grains. The enzymes in the barley change the malted barley and other grains into simple sugars. This is called the mash. The water is then sparged (drained) from the grain. The water is now called wort. The wort is boiled and hops are added. Hops provide flavour and preserve the beer. After boiling the wort is cooled and yeast is added. The yeast turns the sugars into alcohol and the wort into beer.

Different beers can have different natures, depending on the ingredients used; for example, an ale uses top fermenting yeast. Top fermenting yeasts eat more sugar and produce more alcohol. A lager uses bottom fermenting yeast. Bottom fermenting yeasts eat less sugar and produce a crisper, cleaner taste. Adding hops makes the beer more bitter and aromatic. Specialty malts (different types of cooked barley) produce different flavours and colours. These flavours and colours are most notable in dark beers like Porter and Stout.

Different countries have different ways to make beer. In Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, and Slovakia, beer is usually made from just hops, malt, water, and yeast. This is because of the Reinheitsgebot. The Reinheitsgebot was a law that said says that beer can only be made from hops, malt, and water. Yeast was discovered after the Reinheitsgebot. The law was overturned by the European Union in 1992. In Belgium, however, beers are also have always been made with wheat, sugar, fruit, and other ingredients.

The history of beer

The earliest records of beer were written around 7000 years ago by the Sumerians. It is said that the Sumerians discovered the fermentation process by accident. It is not known exactly how this happened, but it could be that a piece of bread or grain became wet, and a short time later, it began to ferment and made a pulp that caused people to become drunk. A seal around 4,000 years old is a Sumerian "Hymn to Ninkasi", the goddess of brewing. This "hymn" is also a recipe for making beer. A description of the making of beer on this ancient engraving in the Sumerian language is the earliest account of what is easily recognised as barley, followed by a pictograph of bread being baked, crumbled into water to form a mash, and then made into a drink, that is recorded as having made people feel "...wonderful and blissful". It could even be possible that bread was first baked to be a way to make beer that is easy to carry around. The Sumerians were probably the first people to brew beer. They had found a "divine drink" -- they felt it was a gift from the gods.

Amount of alcohol in beer

Normal beers have around 4-6 % alcohol (for the volume, i.e. in 100ml beer there is 4-6ml alcohol). In brewing beer, the amount of alcohol can be made more or less quite easily. The Belgian types of beer are made by adding more sugar. Through the fermentation, this will then turn to alcohol. Today, there are beers with between 2% and about 16% of alcohol (about the same alcohol content as wine). Some beer labels say there is no alcohol in them because it was taken out later. This is not completely true, though. Beers "without alcohol" usually do have less than 1% of alcohol.

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