A history of beer. The industrial revolution.

The Fahrenheit’s thermometer, the Watt steam engine, the densitometer, the coffee roaster, the studies on yeasts and frigorific cycles. These and other inventions, between the 18th and 19th century, revolutionized the beer industry.

 

Up to the 17th century, the quality of beer production in Europe had been gradually improved, but the true revolution took place in the first years of the 17th century, thanks to some inventions which changed people’s life in those times. The Fahrenheit’s thermometer (1760) and other inventions, such as the Watt steam engine (1765) and the densitometer (1770), made it possible for beer manufacturers to control some of the most important variables of the productive process, such as temperature and sugar density of the malt extract, which before were controlled with empirical systems with no precision at all. Also the invention of the coffee roaster, in England, by Daniel Wheeler (1815), made a contribution to the process and the improvement of the product. The invention of the coffee roaster, actually, made it possible to roast malt without undesired smells of smoke and to control the roast process.

The studies and discoveries by Pasteur on yeasts and alcoholic fermentation gave the opportunity to understand the chemistry of the transformation and, thus, to improve the production process and the possibility of long-term preservation (pasteurization). Also the industrial techniques of glass production contributed to improve the preservation of products and to ameliorate the possibilities of transportation. Around mid 19th century, the studies carried out by Carré and Linde on the fridge cycles gave impulse to the cold industry. In this period, the production system of the low fermentation beer was “patented”, as it was not anymore an accidental event connected with seasonal temperatures. Thanks to the temperature control through the whole beer production process, it was then possible to use yeasts working at lower temperatures.

In 1842 the master brewer Joef Groll, born in Bavaria but working in the brewery of Pils, a Bohemian town near Prague, invented a low fermentation system, which made it possible to produce beer at low temperatures all year long. He created a new brewery style and the beer produced through this process was named Pils or Pilsen, after the town of origin. The main character of this style is the dominant bitter taste and the light colour. A few years later, also breweries in Germany started producing low fermentation beer, giving birth to the so-called Lagers, pale beers less hopped than Pils. After the advent of the new systems of artificial production of cold, it became possible to produce, with continuity and a good quality level, the low fermentation beers that are nowadays the most diffused (90% of the market).