Saturday, June 26, 2010

History of Ale

History of Ale
Ale as it is known today, evolved into its present form from ancient beginnings. There is evidence that ale was first a form of low-alcohol mead.

The Anglo-Saxon word ealu and the Norse word ol, are early forms of the word “ale”, but they are related to the ancient Germanic world alu.

Alu however, refers to mead. How then did an ancient drink made from honey end up as a beverage made from malt & hops?

Ancient honey production was very crude when compared to modern bee keeping.

The gathering of the honey often involved the destruction of the hive, either buy the outright killing of the bees, or by a failure to leave sufficient honey within the hive to sustain it through the autumn and winter.

As the population of Northern Europe increased the honey production it seems could not keep pace. More water was probably added to mead to stretch the supply, thus lowering its alcohol content and eventually changing the character of the drink.

A distinction might then have been made between the stronger and more difficult to make “mead” and the less potent but more plentiful “ale”.

Eventually, this thinning of the mead into ale probably went as far as possible, and something had to augment the ingredient in the beverage.

The brewers would have been forced to use what was at hand, and that was the local grain, possible after it had been made into bread. So, first oats and then barley were used.
History of Ale

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