It is blood, sweat and years of experimentation….
We are inextricably tied to beer. From the ancient Greeks who were said to worship the fermentation Gods to the clay tablets scratched with simplistic beer recipes dating back to 6,000 BC or even in more recent history when man drank beer in place of water because it was more sanitary. It is nearly impossible to find a time in history void of beer.
Of course in these more ancient, pre industrial days each brewer had his or her own style indicative of the people and region where they were located. This type of brewing was “craft” brewing and it continued this way until the turn of the century when the industrial revolution mechanized and eventually computerized the brewing process.
The few breweries left following Prohibition were equipped however to meet the instant demands of American beer drinkers. Canneries, bottling lines and plenty of distribution channels made beer available once again. Though there was something missing.
So what is happening today that makes our time in beer history unlike any other? The current trend in beer making is a throw back to pre industrial times. A time when man did not have thermometers and brewers were said to use the “rule of thumbr” to test if their beer had cooled enough to add yeast.
Today brewers have all the benefits of modern technology; such as refrigeration, thermometers, stainless steel tanks and plenty of distribution channels etc. Though unlike the mechanized factories making beer, today craft breweries are people making beer, like it used to be, only cleaner and safer.
Most of todays “craft” brewers started at home in their kitchen with a recipe book and an imagination. Driven at first by curiosity and the desire to drink beer, later driven by their neighbor’s desire to drink beer and finally by the whole community. Give us your beer!
That is when these curious men and women go from their home brew house using mom’s kettle and the tools from dad’s woodshop to a large facility of their own. It is not too uncommon to see a professional brewer stirring a pot with the spoon his mother used to smack his hand.
It is not a mechanized beginning and not a mechanized ending. It is craft all the way through. The beers they produce are as different and creative as the brew masters imagination. We have seen beers made with squash, pumpkin, rye, rice, honey, plums, figs and in some cases more hops than our poor little palettes can handle.
It is hard to say exactly what inspires these craftsman and women to be so bold and so daring, to put it all on the line and invest their lives into the art of brewing. Is it simply to make a buck? It doesn’t seem so. Today’s brewer is fulfilling the ancient duty of beer making.
This effort brings beer lovers a variety of beers never seen before. It is ever growing and ever changing, and as their quest to out do themselves increases so does our desire to appreciate these crazy creations.
We are the extended neighbors knocking on the door with our pitchers and empty glasses. The passion and ingenuity of today’s “craft brew masters” cannot be duplicated by a machine. Simply put, craft beer is a human thing.