Beer is one of the oldest and most widely consumed
alcoholic drinks in the world, and the third most popular drink
overall after water and tea.
Beer is brewed from cereal
grains—most commonly from malted barley, though wheat, maize (corn),
and rice are also used. During the brewing process, fermentation of
the starch sugars in the wort produces ethanol and carbonation in the
resulting beer. Most modern beer is brewed with hops, which add
bitterness and other flavours and act as a natural preservative and
stabilizing agent. Other flavouring agents such as gruit, herbs, or
fruits may be included or used instead of hops. In commercial brewing,
the natural carbonation effect is often removed during processing and
replaced with forced carbonation.
Some of humanity's earliest known writings refer to the production and
distribution of beer: the
Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi included laws regulating
beer and beer parlours, 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
Beer is distributed in bottles and cans and is also commonly available
on draught, particularly in pubs and bars. 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 strength of modern beer is usually
around 4% to 6% alcohol by volume (ABV), although it may vary between
0.5% and 20%, with some breweries creating examples of 40% ABV and
Beer forms part of the culture of many 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.
Various legal definitions of beer exist in different countries.
Historically, the most famous of these was the Reinheitsgebot, which
applied to parts of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire and
Germany and required
beer to be made from only water, hops, and barley. Today in Canada,
the Canadian Government's Food and Drug Regulations state that beer
must have alcohol content that ranges from 1.1% to 8.6%, though it
also includes a stipulation that it could be greater than 8.6% and
Beer in South Korea
Beer in South Korea must have less than 25%
ABV, which means that it has to be 25 mL of alcohol or less per 100 mL
of solution, and can be considered ‘lite’ only if it has less than
30 kcal per 100ml. Additionally, beer in South Korea must use only
water, hops, and starches (wheat, rice, barley, corn, or potato) as
ingredients in the brewing process. In Singapore, beer must have
at minimum 1.0% alcohol by volume concentration at 20 °C. It is
often brewed from a mixture of grains like malt, sugars or its
equivalent, and hops or other vegetables.
9 Health effects
10 Society and culture
11 Related drinks
13 See also
15 Further reading
16 External links
Main article: History of beer
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. There is some
evidence that beer was produced at
Göbekli Tepe during the
Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN). (The PPN is lasted from around 8500
BC to 5500 BC.) The earliest clear chemical evidence of barley beer
dates to about 3500–3100 BC, from the site of
Godin Tepe in the
Zagros Mountains of western Iran. It is possible, but not
proven, that it dates back even further — to about 10,000 BC, when
cereal was first farmed.
Beer is recorded in the written history
of ancient Iraq and ancient Egypt, and archaeologists speculate
that beer was instrumental in the formation of civilizations.
Approximately 5000 years ago, workers in the city of
Uruk (modern day
Iraq) were paid by their employers in beer. During the building of
the Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt, each worker got a daily ration of
four to five litres of beer, which served as both nutrition and
refreshment that was crucial to the pyramids' construction.
Some of the earliest Sumerian writings contain references to beer;
examples include a prayer to the goddess Ninkasi, known as "The Hymn
to Ninkasi", which served as both a prayer as well as a method of
remembering the recipe for beer in a culture with few literate people,
and the ancient advice (Fill your belly. Day and night make merry) to
Gilgamesh, recorded in the Epic of Gilgamesh, by the ale-wife Siduri
may, at least in part, have referred to the consumption of beer.
Ebla tablets, discovered in 1974 in Ebla, Syria, show that beer
was produced in the city in 2500 BC. A fermented beverage using
rice and fruit was made in China around 7000 BC. Unlike sake, mold was
not used to saccharify the rice (amylolytic fermentation); the rice
was probably prepared for fermentation by chewing or malting.
Almost any substance containing sugar can naturally undergo alcoholic
fermentation. It is likely that many cultures, on observing that a
sweet liquid could be obtained from a source of starch, independently
Bread and beer increased prosperity to a level that
allowed time for development of other technologies and contributed to
the building of civilizations.
Xenophon noted that during his travels, beer was being produced in
Beer was spread through Europe by Germanic and Celtic tribes as far
back as 3000 BC, and it was mainly brewed on a domestic scale.
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. What
they did not contain was hops, as that was a later addition, first
mentioned in Europe around 822 by a Carolingian Abbot and again in
1067 by abbess Hildegard of Bingen.
In 1516, William IV, Duke of Bavaria, adopted the Reinheitsgebot
(purity law), perhaps the oldest food-quality regulation still in use
in the 21st century, according to which the only allowed ingredients
of beer are water, hops and barley-malt.
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. The development of hydrometers and
thermometers changed brewing by allowing the brewer more control of
the process and greater knowledge of the results.
As of 2007, 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. As of 2006,
more than 133 billion litres (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). In 2010, China's
beer consumption hit 450 million hectolitres (45 billion litres), or
nearly twice that of the United States, but only 5 per cent sold were
premium draught beers, compared with 50 per cent in France and
Diagram illustrating the process of brewing beer
Hot water tank
Add yeast to
Cask or keg
Main article: Brewing
A 16th-century brewery
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 classified as homebrewing
regardless of where it is made, though most homebrewed beer is made in
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 US in 1978, allowing homebrewing to become a popular
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.
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. The mashing process
takes around 1 to 2 hours, 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.
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.
The sweet wort collected from sparging is put into a kettle, or
"copper" (so called because these vessels were traditionally made from
copper), 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.
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
ethanol, fine particulate matter suspended in the wort settles during
fermentation. Once fermentation is complete, the yeast also settles,
leaving the beer clear.
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. When the beer has fermented, it is packaged either into
casks for cask ale or kegs, aluminium cans, or bottles for other sorts
Malted barley before roasting
The basic ingredients of beer are water; a starch source, such as
malted barley, able to be saccharified (converted to sugars) then
fermented (converted into ethanol and carbon dioxide); a brewer's
yeast to produce the fermentation; and a flavouring such as hops.
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. Less widely used starch sources include millet, sorghum
and cassava root in Africa, and potato in Brazil, and agave in Mexico,
among others. The amount of each starch source in a beer recipe is
collectively called the grain bill.
Water is the main ingredient of beer, accounting for 93% of its
weight. Though water itself is, ideally, flavorless, its level of
dissolved minerals, specifically, bicarbonate ion, does influence
beer's finished taste. Due to the mineral properties of each
region's water, specific areas were originally the sole producers of
certain types of beer, each identifiable by regional
characteristics. Regional geology accords that Dublin's hard water
is well-suited to making stout, such as Guinness, while the Plzeň
Region's soft water is ideal for brewing
Pilsner (pale lager), such as
Pilsner Urquell. 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
The starch source, termed as the "mash ingredients", 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. Different
roasting times and temperatures are used to produce different colours
of malt from the same grain. Darker malts will produce darker
beers. Nearly all beer includes barley malt as the majority of the
starch. This is because its fibrous hull remains attached to the grain
during threshing. After malting, barley is milled, which finally
removes the hull, breaking it into large pieces. These pieces remain
with the grain during the mash, and act as a filter bed during
lautering, when sweet wort is separated from insoluble grain material.
Other malted and unmalted grains (including wheat, rice, oats, and
rye, and less frequently, corn and sorghum) may be used. Some 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.
Hop cone in a Hallertau, Germany, hop yard
Flavouring beer is the sole major commercial use of hops. 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". The first historical mention of the use of hops in beer was
from 822 AD in monastery rules written by Adalhard the Elder, also
known as Adalard of Corbie, though the date normally given for
widespread cultivation of hops for use in beer is the thirteenth
century. 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, grains
of paradise or alehoof. 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. Some beers
today, such as Fraoch' by the Scottish Heather Ales company and
Cervoise Lancelot by the French Brasserie-Lancelot company, 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
Hops contribute floral, citrus, and herbal aromas and flavours
Hops have an antibiotic effect that favours the activity of
brewer's yeast over less desirable microorganisms and aids in "head
retention", the length of time that a foamy head created by
carbonation will last. The acidity of hops is a preservative.
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. The dominant types of yeast used to make beer are the
Saccharomyces cerevisiae and bottom-fermenting
Brettanomyces ferments lambics, and
Torulaspora delbrueckii ferments Bavarian weissbier. 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
Some brewers add one or more clarifying agents or finings 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. 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. If a beer is marked "suitable for
vegans", it was clarified either with seaweed or with artificial
Annual beer consumption per capita by country
Beer Exports by Country (2014) from Harvard Atlas of Economic
The history of breweries in the 21st century has been one of larger
breweries absorbing smaller breweries in order to ensure economy of
scale.[clarification needed] In 2002
South African Breweries
South African Breweries bought
the North American Miller
Brewing Company to found SABMiller, becoming
the second largest brewery, after North American Anheuser-Bush. In
2004 the Belgian
Interbrew was the third largest brewery by volume and
AmBev was the fifth largest. They merged into InBev,
becoming the largest brewery. In 2007,
Anheuser-Bush when it acquired Royal Grolsch, brewer of Dutch premium
Grolsch in 2007. In 2008, when
Anheuser-Busch (the third largest), the new
InBev company became again the largest brewer in the
world. As of 2015[update] AB
InBev remains the largest brewery,
SABMiller second, and
Heineken International third.
A microbrewery, or craft brewery, produces a limited amount of
beer. 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 (1.8 megalitres, 396 thousand
imperial gallons or 475 thousand US gallons) a year. A brewpub is
a type of microbrewery that incorporates a pub or other eating
establishment. The highest density of breweries in the world, most of
them microbreweries, exists in the German
Region of Franconia,
especially in the district of Upper Franconia, which has about 200
Weihenstephan brewery in Bavaria,
Germany, can trace its roots to the year 768, as a document from that
year refers to a hop garden in the area paying a tithe to the
monastery. The brewery was licensed by the City of
Freising in 1040,
and therefore is the oldest working brewery in the world.
Brewing at home is subject to regulation and prohibition in many
countries. Restrictions on homebrewing were lifted in the UK in
1963, Australia followed suit in 1972, and the US in 1978,
though individual states were allowed to pass their own laws limiting
The word ale comes from
Old English ealu (plural ealoþ), in turn from
Proto-Germanic *alu (plural *aluþ), ultimately from the
Proto-Indo-European base *h₂elut-, which holds connotations of
"sorcery, magic, possession, intoxication". The word beer
Old English bēor, from
Proto-Germanic *beuzą, probably
from Proto-Indo-European *bʰeusóm, originally "brewer's yeast, beer
dregs", although other theories have been provided connecting the word
Old English bēow, "barley", or Latin bibere, "to drink".
On the currency of two words for the same thing in the Germanic
languages, the 12th-century
Old Icelandic poem
Alvíssmál says, "Ale
it is called among men, but among the gods, beer."
Cask ale hand pumps with pump clips detailing the beers and their
While there are many types of beer brewed, the basics of brewing beer
are shared across national and cultural boundaries. The
traditional European brewing regions—Germany, Belgium, England and
the Czech Republic—have local varieties of beer.
English writer 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.
Fred Eckhardt furthered
Jackson's work in The Essentials of
Beer Style in 1989.
Top-fermented beers are most commonly produced with Saccharomyces
cerevisiae, a top-fermenting yeast which clumps and rises to the
surface, typically between 15 and 25 °C (59 and
77 °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.
After the introduction of hops into England from Flanders in the 15th
century, "ale" referred to an unhopped fermented beverage, "beer"
being used to describe a brew with an infusion of hops.
Real ale is the term coined by the
Campaign for Real Ale
Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in
1973 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.
Pale ale is a beer which uses a top-fermenting yeast and
predominantly pale malt. It is one of the world's major beer styles.
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.
This same beer later also became known as stout, though the word stout
had been used as early as 1677. The history and development of
stout and porter are intertwined.
Mild ale has a predominantly malty palate. It is usually dark coloured
with an abv of 3% to 3.6%, although there are lighter hued milds as
well as stronger examples reaching 6% abv and higher.
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. The flavour of wheat beers
varies considerably, depending upon the specific style.
Kriek, a variety of beer brewed with cherries
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
Brettanomyces lambicus are common in lambics. In
addition, other organisms such as
Lactobacillus bacteria produce acids
which contribute to the sourness.
Lager is cool fermented beer. 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.
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
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 is measured and assessed by bitterness, by strength and by
colour. The perceived bitterness is measured by the International
Bitterness Units scale (IBU), defined in co-operation between the
American Society of
Brewing Chemists and the European Brewery
Convention. The international scale was a development of the
European Bitterness Units scale, often abbreviated as EBU, and the
bitterness values should be identical.
Paulaner dunkel – a dark lager
Beer colour is determined by the malt. 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 the fuel coke. Coke
was first used for roasting malt in 1642, but it was not until around
1703 that the term pale ale was used.
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. 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.
Beer measurement § Strength
Beer ranges from less than 3% alcohol by volume (abv) to around 14%
abv, though this strength can be increased to around 20% by
re-pitching with champagne yeast, and to 55% abv by the
freeze-distilling process. The alcohol content of beer varies by
local practice 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%. The customary strength of British ales is quite low, with
many session beers being around 4% abv. 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.
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
by-product of yeast metabolism and is toxic to the yeast in higher
concentrations; 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.
The weakest beers are dealcoholized beers, which typically have less
than 0.05% alcohol (also called "near beer") and light beers, which
usually have 4% alcohol.
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, though Samichlaus, by the
Swiss brewer Hürlimann, had also been listed by the
Guinness Book of
World Records as the strongest at 14% abv. Since then,
some brewers have used champagne yeasts to increase the alcohol
content of their beers. Samuel Adams reached 20% abv with
Millennium, 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. In September 2011, the
BrewDog produced Ghost Deer, which, at 28%, they
claim to be the world's strongest beer produced by fermentation
The product claimed to be the strongest beer made is Schorschbräu's
2011 Schorschbock 57 with 57,5%. It was preceded by The End
of History, a 55% Belgian ale, made by
BrewDog in 2010. The same
company had previously made Sink The Bismarck!, a 41% abv IPA,
and Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a 32% abv Imperial stout. Each of these
beers are made using the eisbock method of fractional freezing, in
which a strong ale is partially frozen and the ice is repeatedly
removed, until the desired strength is reached, a process
that may class the product as spirits rather than beer. The
German brewery Schorschbräu's Schorschbock, a 31% abv
eisbock, and Hair of the Dog's Dave, a 29% abv barley
wine made in 1994, used the same fractional freezing method. A
60% abv blend of beer with whiskey was jokingly claimed as the
strongest beer by a Dutch brewery in July 2010.
Draught beer and
A selection of cask beers
Draught beer from a pressurised keg using a lever-style dispenser and
a spout 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 traditional pubs, the pull levers for major beer brands may
include the beer's logo and trademark.
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. 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.
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 11–13 °C or 52–55 °F), 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
Draught beer's environmental impact can be 68% lower than bottled beer
due to packaging differences. 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). The loss of
natural habitat potential from the 6-pack of micro-brew beer is
estimated to be 2.5 square metres (26 square feet). Downstream
emissions from distribution, retail, storage and disposal of waste can
be over 45% of a bottled micro-brew beer's CO2 emissions. 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 bottle and Beverage can
Assortment of beer bottles
Most beers are cleared of yeast by filtering when packaged in bottles
and cans. However, bottle conditioned beers retain some
yeast—either by being unfiltered, or by being filtered and then
reseeded with fresh yeast. 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 wheat beer, 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. People either drink from the can or
pour the beer into a glass. A technology developed by Crown Holdings
for the 2010
FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup is the 'full aperture' can, so named
because the entire lid is removed during the opening process, turning
the can into a drinking cup. 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.
Plastic (PET) bottles are used by some breweries.
The temperature of a beer has an influence on a drinker's experience;
warmer temperatures reveal the range of flavours in a beer but 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
Beer writer Michael Jackson proposed a five-level scale for serving
temperatures: well chilled (7 °C or 45 °F) for "light"
beers (pale lagers); chilled (8 °C or 46 °F) for Berliner
Weisse and other wheat beers; lightly chilled (9 °C or
48 °F) for all dark lagers, altbier and German wheat beers;
cellar temperature (13 °C or 55 °F) for regular British
ale, stout and most Belgian specialities; and room temperature
(15.5 °C or 60 °F) for strong dark ales (especially
trappist beer) and barley wine.
Drinking chilled beer began with the development of artificial
refrigeration and by the 1870s, was spread in those countries that
concentrated on brewing pale lager. Chilling beer makes it more
refreshing, though below 15.5 °C the chilling starts to
reduce taste awareness and reduces it significantly below
10 °C (50 °F).
Beer served unchilled—either cool or
at room temperature—reveal more of their flavours.
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
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; or at music
festivals and some bars and nightclubs, from a plastic cup. 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.
Breweries offer branded glassware intended only for their own beers as
a marketing promotion, as this increases sales of their product.
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 the release of carbonation. A
beer tower is a beer dispensing device, usually found in bars and
pubs, that consists of a cylinder attached to a beer cooling device at
Beer is dispensed from the beer tower into a drinking
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Short-term effects of alcohol consumption
Short-term effects of alcohol consumption and Long-term
effects of alcohol consumption
Beer contains ethanol, an alcohol, which has short and long-term
effects on the user when consumed. Different concentrations of alcohol
in the human body have different effects on a person. The effects of
alcohol depend on the amount an individual has drunk, the percentage
of alcohol in the beer and the timespan over which the consumption
took place, the amount of food eaten and whether an individual has
taken other prescription, over-the-counter or street drugs, among
other factors. Drinking enough to cause a blood alcohol concentration
(BAC) of 0.03%–0.12% typically causes an overall improvement in mood
and possible euphoria, increased self-confidence and sociability,
decreased anxiety, a flushed, red appearance in the face and impaired
judgement and fine muscle coordination. A BAC of 0.09% to 0.25% causes
lethargy, sedation, balance problems and blurred vision. A BAC from
0.18% to 0.30% causes profound confusion, impaired speech (e.g.,
slurred speech), staggering, dizziness and vomiting. A BAC from 0.25%
to 0.40% causes stupor, unconsciousness, anterograde amnesia, vomiting
(death may occur due to inhalation of vomit (pulmonary aspiration)
while unconscious) and respiratory depression (potentially
life-threatening). A BAC from 0.35% to 0.80% causes a coma
(unconsciousness), life-threatening respiratory depression and
possibly fatal alcohol poisoning. As with all alcoholic drinks,
drinking while driving, operating an aircraft or heavy machinery
increases the risk of an accident; many countries have severe criminal
penalties against drunk driving.
Consumption of small quantities of alcohol (less than one drink in
women and two in men) is associated with a decreased risk of cardiac
disease, stroke and diabetes mellitus. The long term health
effects of continuous, moderate or heavy alcohol consumption include
the risk of developing alcoholism and alcoholic liver disease.
Alcoholism, also known as "alcohol use disorder", is a broad term for
any drinking of alcohol that results in problems. It was
previously divided into two types: alcohol abuse and alcohol
dependence. In a medical context, alcoholism is said to
exist when two or more of the following conditions is present: a
person drinks large amounts over a long time period, has difficulty
cutting down, acquiring and drinking alcohol takes up a great deal of
time, alcohol is strongly desired, usage results in not fulfilling
responsibilities, usage results in social problems, usage results in
health problems, usage results in risky situations, withdrawal occurs
when stopping, and alcohol tolerance has occurred with use.
Alcoholism reduces a person's life expectancy by around ten years
and alcohol use is the third leading cause of early death in the
United States. No professional medical association recommends
that people who are nondrinkers should start drinking wine.
A total of 3.3 million deaths (5.9% of all deaths) are believed to be
due to alcohol.
It is considered that overeating and lack of muscle tone is the main
cause of a beer belly, rather than beer consumption. A 2004 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.
Several diet books quote beer as having an undesirably high glycemic
index of 110, the same as maltose; however, the maltose in beer
undergoes metabolism by yeast during fermentation so that beer
consists mostly of water, hop oils and only trace amounts of sugars,
Beers vary in their nutritional content. The ingredients used to
make beer, including the yeast, provide a rich source of nutrients;
therefore beer may contain traceable amounts of nutrients, including
magnesium, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, biotin, chromium and B
Beer is sometimes referred to as "liquid bread", though
beer is not a meal in itself.
Society and culture
See also: Category:
A tent at Munich's Oktoberfest—the world's largest beer festival
In many societies, beer is the most popular alcoholic drink. Various
social traditions and activities are associated with beer drinking,
such as playing cards, darts, or other pub games; attending beer
festivals; engaging in zythology (the study of beer);
visiting a series of pubs in one evening; visiting breweries;
beer-oriented tourism; or rating beer. Drinking games, such as
beer pong, are also popular. A relatively new profession is that
of the beer sommelier, who informs restaurant patrons about beers and
Beer is considered to be a social lubricant in many
societies and is consumed in countries all over the world.
There are breweries in Middle Eastern countries such as Syria, and in
some African countries. Sales of beer are four times those of wine,
which is the second most popular alcoholic drink.
A study published in the Neuropsychopharmacology journal in 2013
revealed the finding that the flavour of beer alone could provoke
dopamine activity in the brain of the male participants, who wanted to
drink more as a result. The 49 men in the study were subject to
positron emission tomography scans, while a computer-controlled device
sprayed minute amounts of beer, water and a sports drink onto their
tongues. Compared with the taste of the sports drink, the taste of
beer significantly increased the participants desire to drink. Test
results indicated that the flavour of the beer triggered a dopamine
release, even though alcohol content in the spray was insufficient for
the purpose of becoming intoxicated.
Some breweries have developed beers to pair with
Malcolm Gluck disputed the need
to pair beer with food, while beer writers
Roger Protz and Melissa
Cole contested that claim.
See also: Category:Types of beer
Around the world, there are many traditional and ancient starch-based
drinks classed as beer. In Africa, there are various ethnic beers made
from sorghum or millet, such as Oshikundu in Namibia and
Kyrgyzstan also has a beer made from millet; it is a
low alcohol, somewhat porridge-like drink called "Bozo". Bhutan,
Sikkim also use millet in Chhaang, a popular
semi-fermented rice/millet drink in the eastern Himalayas.
Further east in China are found
Huangjiu and Choujiu—traditional
rice-based beverages related to beer.
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 an enzyme (amylase) present in human saliva can break down the
starch into fermentable sugars; this is similar to Masato in
Some beers which are made from bread, which is linked to the earliest
forms of beer, are
Sahti in Finland,
Kvass in Russia and Ukraine, and
Bouza in Sudan.
Beer contains the phenolic acids 4-hydroxyphenylacetic acid, vanillic
acid, caffeic acid, syringic acid, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, and
Alkaline hydrolysis experiments show that most of the
phenolic acids are present as bound forms and only a small portion can
be detected as free compounds. Hops, and beer made with it,
8-prenylnaringenin which is a potent phytoestrogen. Hop
also contains myrcene, humulene, xanthohumol, isoxanthohumol,
myrcenol, linalool, tannins, and resin. The alcohol 2M2B is a
component of hops brewing.
Barley, in the form of malt, brings the condensed tannins
prodelphinidins B3, B9 and C2 into beer. Tryptophol, tyrosol, and
phenylethanol are aromatic higher alcohols found in beer as
secondary products of alcoholic fermentation (products also known
as congeners) by Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Beer and breweries by region
Beer cake – a cake prepared with beer as a main ingredient
Beer ice cream
List of barley-based beverages
List of beverages
List of countries by beer consumption per capita
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