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May 27, 2024

Making Beer Is Easy!

By John Dowling


Dowling's have been brewing beer over 30 years. How did we get started? When was the very first attempt?

Gosh, it was quite a few years ago. Maybe 1970 or 71. I returned home to my parents' house for the weekend from schooling in New York City. I opened the back door and entered the kitchen. There was a smell of fresh baked bread. Wonderful! My parents were not home -- nobody was home. I checked the oven hoping to find a loaf of warm bread cooling. I checked the counter top, the cupboards. No bread!

Being caught up in school, times were busy. And it wasn't until the next day -- when the house stilled smelled like fresh baked bread, I finally asked Mom, "Did you make bread recently?" She said, "No. You smell the yeast, I guess I'm used to it. Your brother is experimenting in the basement." The basement! Was he baking?

Now, the basement was not really a basement as you would know one. This was a home in the Northeast. It was a cellar, cool and damp. Damp is a good environment. The perfect setting for brewing beer in midsummer, early fall. As a matter of fact, monks centuries ago would brew and lager their beers in the damp caves of the Alps. And that was the place my brother began experimenting with home brew recipes. Our cellar, not the Alps. Darn!

Brewing yeast was not as available in the '70's as it is today. So he brewed in his early days with bread yeast. Made our cellar and house smell great!

My brother's first brewed beverage ... Well, it was different, charming and offered "some" characteristics of champagne. Actually, it was closer to cider. But it was good! It packed a punch! And it was this path, a path traveled by many, that led to brewing a malt beverage, known and loved by millions of people as "Real Beer!" Brewed at home!     :>) ...

My brother continued to brew, and in 1990 introduced me again to the finer elements, recipes, ingredients and techniques of home brewing. Friends always enjoyed our home-brewed recipes and said they wished they could brew like that. So we started selling brewing supplies and kits to our friends. I then expanded to The Park & Swap in Phoenix, Arizona and into two mail order catalogs.

Our slogan for home brewing: "We design beers and ales for home brewing pails."

Brewing: It's fun! It's easy! And you also can make beer money making beer. We'll talk about that later. For now, order and enjoy the book, the stories, and the recipes. We would love to hear from you, so please write or email with your comments and your brewing history.

1. History of Fermentation

5,000 years ago. In a small town. Perhaps unlike your small town. The Circle K wasn't open yet. The Seven-Eleven wasn't going to be built for thousands and thousands of years. Wayne's bakery on the corner kept unusual inconvenient hours for you, the customer. The bread that you purchased from Wayne became hard and crusty by the time you got it home, because the bag wasn't invented. As a matter of fact, the air tight bread box was an open-weave scrap of cloth, and so your bread did not remain fresh for long. As you went off to work all day on the pyramid, you left your hard crusty bread to soak in water. Kind of a make-shift crock pot-bread box to keep your bread moist and eatable.

Well, you know how work goes; a 22-hour shift on the pyramid turns into three or four days of overtime for the boss. When you return home you find your bread sitting in a bubbling froth of sorts -- mmmm. You're tired, you have nothing else in the cupboards. (You don't have cupboards.)

So you partake of this frothing bread beverage. Before you know it, a euphoric feeling is about you. You forget about your day at the Pyramid and your boss and how tired you are, and you're up all night singing and dancing with your coworkers. Wow! Sound familiar?

Maybe I did add a little romance to the written history story that "Necessity is the mother of all inventions." However, a crust of, or chunk of bread left in standing water with a little airborne yeast and you have the first home-brewed fermented beverage. Along with no tax, no cans or bottles and no plastic rings to discard or recycle. Imagine, 5,000 years ago, the after hours work "Happy Hour" in a bowl. Pyramid guys are Kewl!

Maybe, maybe not the first "Happy Hour." But that was the beginning of a fermented beverage. Centuries later brewers pointed at the froth and pondered if this was the reason the beverage became euphoric. It was not until the mid 1800's when a man named Louis Pasteur, a bacteriologist, offered scientific evidence on the fermentation process.

2. Germany: Beer Bier Bir History

No matter how you spell it -- it's still beer. No matter what you drink it in, a Molle, Halbe, Seidel or Krugerl, it's still a wonderful mug of beer!

The oldest recorded beer recipe was some 4500 years B.C, written by the ancient Sumerians, living between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. The secret of liquid bread -- mmm -- yummy beer!

They regularly offered beer to their gods, probably in thanks for their precious harvest of barley. Beer, according to historical study, documents this beverage as an everyday drink at that time. Villagers were allowed 6 mugs of this glorious fermented beverage. I'm not sure if this practice would work in the NY village just before rush hour, but we modern day people take care of it as the all important end of the workday: Happy Hour w/eatables.

Beer was the all-important beverage of the Old World. You could say that long before "light, dry, and ice beer" conquered the New World-people, beer was drunk by kings and slaves. The Spaniards, the Persians, the Africans all drank beer.

The Babylonians turned almost 50% of their grain crop into producing beer. It is known that they could produce over 20 different varieties of beer. Offering the lighter beers, by their design, to the slaves. Yes, lighter beer uses less ingredients and more water ... Sounds like beer we grew up with here in the US of A! Hope the King-of-beers did not consider us slave drinkers.

Well ... Thank goodness for the German Purity Law adopted in the 1500's. This is one of the oldest beer provision laws to protect us, the consumer, and still remains in effect in Germany. It was ordered that beer can be brewed only from barley malt, hops, water and yeast.

Today all breweries in Germany, as well as other countries such as Switzerland and Austria abide, with no exceptions, by this law of the 1500's.

Yet, there are those in History who use adjuncts to employ artificial flavors and artificial colors ... Boo on that brew!

3. Beer Tips

Many -- probably all -- store-bought canned and bottled beers have some fifty adjuncts added to their content to employ color, flavors and conversion or to prevent oxidation and gushing. I know, why is it not on the label? It is recorded in the Library of Congress: Congressional Record, March 12, 1973 pp. 7407 - 7408. (Scroll down, please.)

Some of these additives found in store-bought beers probably increase that next morning "ouch, my head really hurts!" Of course, if you drink too much of anything ...

But, how would you like to find some of these chemicals in your child's cereal or can of soup? A loaf a bread? Well, if it was found in a loaf of bread, the predictably of fermentation would be best explained as not-to-occur.

Here are some of the adjuncts employed. And I think it wise not to ingest anything you can not pronounce or spell. Especially if a euphoric feeling comes about after consumption. Even if it has little artificial color names like: F.D. & C blue No. 1, F.D. & C Red No. 40 or even a cute F.D. & C Yellow No.5.

Artificial flavors: Acetic acid, Adipic acid, Anethole, Benzaldehyde, Citric acid, Decanal, Ethanal. Ethyl acetate, Ethyl isobutyrate. Look at the sodium: Sodium bisulfite, Sodium hydrosulfite, Sodium metabisulfite. Hope I didn't misspell one! Little to much acid in these flavors. Reminds me of Heartburn, or something you would find in floor wax. Even sounds a little like a 70's lifestyle, doesn't it? Pooh! There should be a slogan for not taking these artificial colors or flavors.

I know! Let's just say, N. O! To artificial flavors, colors and chemicals. Boom!

There are other unsettling aspects to this I will expose to you the consumer about the use of adjuncts to our food or beverages. It is wrong that they do not put this on a label. Yet, you can see, there is not room here for me to list all of them. But that is not an accurate excuse to leave adjuncts off labels and put them in filing cabinets. Hardly! You the consumer would probably think twice upon making your purchase, based on desire of adjucnt consumption. And that is your choice as a consumer -- to know what you are purchasing and consuming. Without labels, you are without the freedom to choose. And that is not an acceptable choice!

In the 1500's Germany recorded law clarifying the exact accepted ingredients to produce beer. Which leads me to this point. You can toss any roots, bark, rice, corn into a fermenter. Pour an ample supply of dextrose sugar ... And Wah-Lah! You have not beer! You have created a fermented alcoholic solution. A solution that can be artificially flavored and colored and called B ** r. Well, it can be called that. But, it is not real beer. It was not accepted as beer in the 1500's and it is not today! The only difference between and now, is breweries have and use artificial flavors and colors for what they label as not fermented solutions, but as a their brand name and our beer. Believe me when I say, "This brand is not for me, lol!"

OK, I have one more and then we will get back to the romantic history of Real Beer. As a matter of fact I'm sipping a delicious Red Barrel Ale I made (It's after 5pm).

Do you remember these TV beer ads, where the spokesperson would be standing next to a mountain stream, and recites the script on clean, crisp flavor of their beer because they use nothing but pure mountain waters. They make it sound so good and flavorful? Puff! Water is a neutral solution. One without taste. So, what are they saying?

Yes! It is good that they use clean water. Thank you brewery guys! Water from a mud puddle, pond or polluted river would be everything but neutral tasting.

Can you imagine restaurants composing TV campaigns touting the reason their food tastes so wonderfully good is because they cook with nothing but clean water? Not! And our dishes are clean because we use clean water ... again, not!

So, what are the breweries saying? Our beer tastes good because we use clean water that has no flavor? Or, our beer has no flavor but the clean water tastes good in our beer? Or, the fifty or so of our unfavorable adjuncts employed for artificial flavors and colors we use are really what you taste and see but you didn't know that because we're standing next to an unrelated mountain stream with no artificial colors and flavors?

Pow! Boo Hssss! There is nothing natural about artificial flavors and colors. Even if you use fresh water you're still adding artificial stuff with big names. We know, because we have the Congressional Record (not the beer label). So boo on those brew guys and let's support the Purity act of the 15th Century. Only 4 ingredients are needed to brew a natural healthy malt beverage known to us consumers as REAL BEER!

Will you know if you are drinking real beer? Yes! When you go to a micro-brewery, they promote varieties of flavors in their malt beverages. Remember 4500 years ago the Babylonians brewed over 20 varieties. And you probably remember they brewed lighter beers (less malt) for their slaves. Wonder what they called them?

Today some breweries promote their flavors as, dry, light, and ice. How could that description possibly compare to Pale, Golden, Amber, and Scotch Ales? Lager, Pilsner, Porter and Stouts? Now we're talking real beer, real flavor and no artificial additives!

4. The Mayflower To America

The year was 1620 and the Pilgrims were headed for the "Rock," Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. According to a diarist's record ... "For we could not now take time for further search or consideration: our victuals being much spent, especially our beere," Bummer, dudes, let's land this baby. Weather is bad, but we're almost out of beer!

Hey, beer was very important back then. On a long voyage water would stagnate quickly and could cause sickness. Beer would age and the malt beverage had nutritional benefits.

John Standish, a passenger, later to become a famous colonist, held the on-board all-important charge of beer barrels. This vital ship provision maintained a weekly diet of seven gallons of beer per passenger along with other edibles of fish, beef and bread. I'm not sure if this was offered to get them aboard, or to sustain, or to maintain passengers once aboard.

Long before the Pilgrims arrived, the British, around 1550 were brewing on the shores of an early Virginia Colony. And explorers in splendor tasted a corn-mash type beer brewed by native American Indians. Unlike now, back then, early Americans brewed with corn, inspired from necessity rather than economizing the use of barley. In early America, barley and hops were a very rare crop. Malts and hops had to be imported from overseas. The colonists would have used maize (or corn), molasses, bran, potatoes, spruce twigs, birch bark, pumpkins and other such things to create an alcoholic solution or beverage. Ginger Root and bay leaf were used as hops for flavoring.

A popular saying of the time: "If barley be wanted to make into malt, we must be content and this it no fault, for we can make liquor to sweeten our lips, of pumpkins and parsnips and walnut-tree chips."

I suppose this was our early American start to the production of corn products -- such known to these days as "whisky."

To discourage the import of imported beer, James Madison, at the first congress after the Revolutionary war, was compelled to offer a solution to inspire American brewing. A high duty on that imported beer stuff. It worked! By the time the 1800's rolled around there were about 140 breweries with at least one in every original colony. Go Americans -- Brew! Brew!

* * *

Making beer is easy, fast and fun using my step-by-step brewing secrets. Included are 25 of the greatest beer recipes in the world for you to learn and try. Recipes for the experienced brewer and the first time beginner. Beginners can learn how to brew great tasting beer in 3 days with my secrets. Light, Amber or Dark beers. Soon you will become a master brewer. It's all in the book. The name of the book is, "Beer From Then to Now" featuring the history of beer, from THEN, four thousand five hundred years ago, to NOW. Delicious, great tasting beer you can make and drink with friends. We also have exotic beers like the Great Grape! This is a hit for all beer drinkers, for special fun occasions. This will really impress you and your friends. That's not all. We cover the first Octoberfeast, German Beer. How Americans brewed history in the famous taverns of New England like the Green Dragon Tavern. Famous people like Sam Adams, plotting a huge party called the Boston Tea Party. All this history was brewed in Public Houses called Taverns to meet and discuss the latest news, sports and weather. Ok, maybe not sports. This is a beautiful 6" by 9" book to keep handy for brewing and reading. Also available in PDF and high quality audio CD. Order today. And! Start brewing an all natural healthy beer that does not contain harsh chemicals like store brands. The book is filled with techniques, tips and beer recipes for you to learn.

Article © John Dowling. All rights reserved.
Published on 2009-10-26
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