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BEERCULTURE

We wish to encourage beer culture to improve knowledge about one of civilisation’s most ancient products.

HISTORY OF BEER

Beer is one of civilisation’s most ancient products.

ITS ORIGIN AND EXPANSION

Its origins take us back 9,000 years to the Blue Nile (Sudan) where remains of a type of cereal called sorghum were identified, with evidence of fermentation. Centuries later, in 4000 BC, Sumerian tablets mention ‘sikaru’, a beverage made with fermented grains. Over 4,000 years ago, the Chinese also drank fermented wheat, barley, spelt, millet and rice, which they called ‘kiu’. In Mesopotamia, in the year 3000 BC, beer played an important ritual, commercial and medicinal role. The Egyptians called it ‘zythos’ and it became the national drink. This enabled its quick expansion through adjacent countries and the Mediterranean basin.

BEER IN SPAIN

The most ancient beer discoveries in Europe have been found in the Can Sadurní Cave in Begues (Barcelona): a ceramic container with remains of the drinkand mills with evidence of malted cereal that date back to 3000 BC. Up until this discovery, the remains that were thought to be the oldest were those found in the Valley of Ambrona (Soria), 4,400 years old, followed by those found at the archaeological site of Genó (Lleida), dating back to the Bronze Age (1200 BC). The first beer guild appeared in the 12th century, a period in which beer was used as a food supplement for pilgrims and the sick who were housed in inns and hospitals. These were controlled by monastic orders which gave way to the so-called ‘abbey beers’. In the Middle Ages, hops were added to their production, an ingredient that gives beer its characteristic bitterness.

ITS EXPANSION WITHIN SPAIN

But it was Emperor Charles V who introduced beer more forcefully in Spain, bringing with him a court of master brewers, experts in the artisan creation of this natural product. At the end of the 16th century, the first factories were established in Madrid, although breweries didn’t flourish until the end of the 19th. Beer, once considered a sacred drink reserved for the dominant classes for celebration of certain rites, has now become a product for everyone’s consumption, tied to social interaction.

INGREDIENTS

Beer is a natural beverage that contains no fat and provides vitamins, minerals and other substances. It possesses functional properties thanks to the essential ingredients with which it is made: water, yeast, malt and hops. For more information: Beer and Health Information Centre

WATER

Pure, of optimal composition, lightly mineralised. A beer’s identity and quality are dependent on the characteristics of the water.

MALT

Malt lends the beer essential nutritional elements that make up its body, foam and colour. It is obtained from the germination of barley grains, which are moistened until they reach an optimal point; the process is then stopped, reducing their moisture until they dry.

HOPS

This flower, of Asian origin, is the beer’s soul. A large part of beer’s aroma, bitterness and fresh sensation comes from hops. It is a plant that began to be used for its production in the 9th century for the purposes of sterilising and preserving the beer.

YEAST

This microscopic element is responsible for transforming the wort’s sugar into alcohol during fermentation.

BREWING PROCESS

Brewing of the beer

TYPES OF BEER

There are two fundamental ways of classifying beer:
(Source: Cerveceros de España)

BASED ON ITS DRY MALT EXTRACT

The Dry Malt Extract (DME) is the set of organic ingredients that make up the wort prior to fermentation, not including the water. Its amount is expressed in grams of DME per each 100 grams of wort.

  • Alcohol-free beer: Variable DME, between 2 and 4
  • Traditional Beer: DME over 11
  • Special Beer: DME over 13
  • Extra Special Beer: DME over 15

BASED ON THE TYPE OF FERMENTATION

  • Low fermentation beers or LAGER, are light and ferment at low temperatures (0 to 4º). They tend to be frothy and smooth. They can be classified based on their place of origin: Pils/Pilsen, Munich, Vienna, Dortmunder Export etc. Likewise, they can be classified by their different means of production: smoked, Bock, Steam, Rauchbier, rye, dark, seasonal etc.
  • High fermentation beers are those that ferment at greater temperatures than the previously mentioned beers (up to 24º). They can be differentiated into several categories: Ale, Stout and Porter
  • Spontaneous fermentation beers Fermentation with wild yeast vines. These beers include lambic, gueuze and faro.

BEER SECTOR

The activity of the Spanish beer sector represents a contribution of 7 billion euros to the national economy in terms of valued added. In fact, the value of beer in the market surpasses 15.5 billion euros, accounting for 1.3% of GDP.

Beer is the number one beverage in creating jobs in our country: over 344,000 jobs, directly or indirectly.

Beer consumption has continued to grow, today amounting to 40 million hectolitres, after an increase of 3.7%.

In 2017, 2.9 million hectolitres of beer were exported, representing an increase of more than 240% in the last 10 years.