Beer is the world’s oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic beverage and after water and tea is the third most popular drink overall. Currently China is the leading global beer producer with the Czech Republic the greatest consumers with an average of 143 litres of the amber gold sipped each year per person.
Join presenter Judith Jones along with travelers across the world as they uncover the extraordinary mysteries behind the delicious elixir.
Judith meets historian Peter Haydon to discover the origins of beer consumption where evidence dating back as early as 10,000BC reveals beer was being drunk in the Middle East and ancient Egypt. Beer originated in the Middle East, whilst on the other side of the globe in Mexico, the Aztecs created their own unique version of the drink. Further south in Peru, another great civilization, the Incas, were doing the same as Brianna Barnes discovers in the salt town of Morass whilst sampling a beer made from maize called Chicha. Across the ocean in South Africa, the age-old tradition of beer drinking plays a major role in local rituals and communal ceremonies which Justine Shapiro learns firsthand when she visits the Zulu town of Cape Flats.
In Europe, Katy Hasell is in the town of Ardennes in Belgium to learn about the monasteries, which during the Middle Ages, were the largest producers of beer across the continent. Some of these monasteries still brew beer in the age-old traditional way, as historian Peter Haydon discusses when he explains the most integral evolution in the history of brewing – the introduction of the Bavarian flower called hop. Hops where first used by the Germans and eventually came to be new norm in beer production across Europe. Another country as passionate about their beer as the UK is Germany. Here beer is so revered it is also the national drink and home to the world’s longest running and largest, ever popular beer festival, Oktoberfest. Much to her delight, Merrilees Parker visits Munich to experience the 16-day autumnal beer drinking celebrations.
Back in London, in the heart of the city under the arches in Bermondsey, micro- breweries are popping up with reinvented takes on traditional brewing methods and flavours, invigorating the once flailing beer industry. Judith meets beer blogger Nathan Nolan on a tour of Bermondsey’s Beer Mile and introduces her to the future of beer, rounding off her tour with a craft beer and food pairing session.
Study Guide: A Short History of Beer
with thanks to
THE GRIFFIN BREWERY – FULLERS.
FOURPURE BREWERY CO.
THE PROSPECT OF WHITBY.
THE GEORGE INN
THE BOTTLE SHOP
THE SOUTHWARK BREWING CO