Erik Lars Myers, founder, CEO and head brewer at Mystery Brewing Company, talks about the history of beer, including how it connects to charity, nutrition and humans' first development of agriculture.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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welcome to stuff. You missed an industry from how support stuck low and welcome to the paragraph. I am crazy. They Wilson and highly bride is on these very, very well deserved vacations and egg. Though I have a special guest with me, that is Eric Lars Myers. He is founder Theo and head brewer at Mister Brewing Company, president of the North Carolina crap, brewer, skilled and co, author of North Carolina Craft, beer and breweries, and if you have guest already? He is here to talk to me today about the history of beer Eric, Tracy. I am very glad to have you on Eric, is also a friend of mine, so just to put that out there at the beginning. So thank you so
for being on the show to day Eric AM excited the psyche about the history of beer. I have questions that some of them are questions that I've been current curious about. Some of them are things that listeners have asked us about on the show before so I am very happy to have somebody on the show. He was very knowledgeable about this, so a while back, we did a pod cast on the history of cheese and one of the things that we talked about in that high cost was about how to make cheese, civilization has to have animals that they have in a pastor that would produce more milk than their own young needed to survive and that the civilization would have to know how to milk those animals and how to have some way of storing the milk to make cheese out of it later. So, how does that compared to what a civilization needs to make beer? Well?
in a lot of ways. It's not that dissimilar. What it really needs is grain beer is, and has been for a thousands and thousands and thousands of years a Green based alcoholic beverage. So really it at the end of the day, what people needed was green and water and someplace to let it set so that it could go through natural fermentation process and so without without agriculture, without fields of grain, it's hard to have an upgrade to actually do that. There's a lot of them. There's a lot of theory that says that why human settled down to stop being a numeric Roger in General is because they had figured out how to make beer, and you know it: it's really heavy to carry around giant pots of water, and so in order to sit down and really get couldn't drunk. You need to do in one place, and so that's why they settled villages. I think it is just as much evidence that says that they figured out how to help Africa,
and a consistent food source, and so that's probably why they were hanging out, but I think there is probably a great secondary to that area. good motivation absolutely wants people figured out how to domestic grain and actually have the surround over for use. I can imagine that be the mistake of making beer which in a sort of imagine. This is drain sitting in a jar somewhere that gets left that during a rainstorm awe and then He doesn't really necessarily want to clean it up very quickly. It ferments and no more. in animal goes and drink certain. Then somebody realises that animals have a great time or maybe even tries it themselves. That seems like maybe not an easy mistake to make runaway too governor to make be here, but I imagine I can imagine a world in which it happened so doing
the idea of you that was that made that first mistake and invented beer or how long ago it was so this there is usually talk about eight to ten thousand years oh really read around when people were actually settling down in in a stop being enigmatic culture into the fertile crescent area of the world. In terms of you know what civilization you You're back skew Sumerians in this kind of thing, but it probably predates initiative organised in cities or cultures So there are in several cultures, gods and goddesses of beer or of brewing. Do you? Do you have any cool stories about these figures in mythology? So the one? Why does the real thing that comes to mind? The most of the gods in in history that have to do with dear, are actually goddesses Nan Cassio,
my from Marianne Culture in which may cause he was the goddess of beer. A lot of the other gods and goddesses through history were were also women, because women, really the people that made there for a really long time to wait until the industrial revolution in beer was women's work. You know, is the stuff that you had to do in the home and in the end, The kitchen is using a lot of the same ingredients that you're using to make bread, so it made a lot of sense to have female goddesses flora. Forbear they're, the ones that comes to mind in budget Only in a christian tradition is Saint Brigitte in Ireland, she's the patron Saint of Ireland and dumb. and she's gonna be one of those appropriated saints got picked up as there is. The church was spreading because she actually her existence, predates
good, thousands and Christianity in Ireland, but she is rumoured to have actually made a lake of dear to feed the poor and then turned water into beer for a leper colony out. His offers a really great stories in which she has spontaneously created beer and all of these places, which is in a lot of ways, kind of adverse do on a daily basis, turn water into beer. She also has a really great poem about in Heaven, this lake of Beer, which is which is the outstanding. The thing that I really want to point out, though, is that there's a lot of theory that says that when you're reading the Bible, a lot of what is referred to as wine is power We beer, because the area in which the Bible is actually set in history, is actually more green Its culture than a wine based culture, people, want really making a lot fermented fritz, they were probably making fermented honey from grain beverages. So for the most part, would you looking at
get a translation of the Bible with something that was done in classic cultures like you're wrong when they had a very wine heavy history. So at a time when you're reading, sitting about about wine in the Bible, they're, probably actually talking about need some sort of bland thereof, rather than some of their traditional enough. This all these ideas, if somebody drinking red wine, mother somewhere in the fertile crescent which really inaccurate. I had never thought about that, but that makes a lot of sense. They put the climate. There is not quite as suitable to growing a bunch of red wine grapes, and you know you look at the pictures, particular classic paintings of biblical times, and there is always the snow idea that you were in this incredibly fertile environment of his grapes and and this wine and in this kind of thing, but in the end
scheme of things. That really would not have been the case. We are talking about a dream culture and an area that it had green based, alcoholic beverages for thousands of years before the time of crisis, so we're talking about how, for a really long time making beer was women's work, but there is also this association between beer and monks and monastic life. Where does that come from so the the history of monks in beer really goes back to this idea of of charity and helping travellers in the poor when it comes to monastic traditions, so people were a lot of monks, retreating beer not only to sustain themselves and just have a really important sources of water and liquid within their own monastery that the ability to be able to help travellers and help the poorest charity to give something as a nutritional value for people for a long time. Beer was really closely related to food,
Really, it still is in a lot of ways, because it was a really great waited to make sort of liquid bread a lot of good nutritional value, it would probably wasn't is alcoholic. Is we really think about these time that in these days, but they did have something that people would price as both the source of nutrition and a source of frustration So in a lot of ways is charity work. It's turned in to this really great thing, particularly in trappers, monasteries in Europe. in. There is also one of the: U S where the funds from beer making actually to a lot of charity, we're gonna, keeping them the route on the buildings at the monastery in down now consecrate stuff, so it SAM, it's always sort of dinner. An arm of charity in an arm of food and beverage is justified. Beware operating through life rather than those months, just really likened to get super drunk these of hops
no monastery, actions of great stuff like this, but in the greens in the things it was really about clean. He then you haven't a big party over time, so you just mentioned that beer in the past with a lot more related to food. I know listeners have asked us before about how this this perception that near the founders of of the United States were basically drink, beer all the time. Does that mean that they were just kind of drunk all the time or was the beer that they were drinking a lot different from the beer that there is today or or is that whole idea just a. Oh, I would actually say it's probably a little economy and a little common be there was
only a lot of alcohol consumption throughout history in and I think that the idea that people were just a little bit drunk all the time after the most part, with probably not that much of a rich if you're talking about times, particularly as the funding of this country in which are an essential handful of people, decided to fight against the largest empire. The world had seen at that point in the british empire. I feel, like you, gotta, be a little drunk too in a decide to go through positive up. Is that of about, but. there would have been a lot different as you get closer to our time in history. It is really becoming more and more like the beer we have today, but the father you go back the more They really fast fermented beverage that is probably fairly low and alcohol for the most part and it's gonna be consumed for nutrition and probably not really forward
you're gonna get some beer that little bit higher and alcohol, particularly by the probably seventeen eighteen hundred people, had a much better idea of how to make beer that was. There was a pie and alcohol in really consistent, but before that, when you're talking middle ages and upwards its it sound. It is much more. A gas in people didn't really know what was happening during fermentation. It was the seventeen hundreds before or eighteen hundreds before people knew the east with the thing up until then they just called it got his good. They would put the ingredients and the same vessel that it was before and then bubbles would happen and then that would get drunk and that's really great, but it's not a really fantastic way to me really consistent, well, one beverage, so yeah think little call may look I'll be. I think there is a lot of drinking. You know you think you can look at the history of a lot of european cultures. That shows that no there's, probably a period in which
very much. Everybody in England was consuming gin at the same time, so tat people were probably a little drunk, but probably not in the same types of ways that we think about it now all right. Well, before we move on to some more questions about beer history, we're going to take a brief pause for a word from a sponsor
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we bring the car rights. Your house rode out now. That's easy least ok to get back into our discussion about some beer history, there's a story that is widely repeated. That's about how pilgrims landed at Plymouth rack because they were out of beer. Is there any truth to that? Their absolute is my favorite stories to tell him it's worth so. Basically, because there was such a great source of nutrition in water, it was the thing that people tended to keep on votes, prolongation wages. When you put water and a cast in a big barrel and put it in the end, the whole ship and go across the ocean that water is gonna, go rancid pretty quickly in our waters, the building block of life as the great substrate
Syria and Multi grow in him and you're putting water inside. But there on the matter how great unclean that barrel is this, a certain amount of wrought, that's gonna, sit into that would and things are going to grow, so it was a great way to get people sick in it. It was a very clearly before the times of reverse ass, missus and dissemination, so many little verve something to keep you hydrated throughout an ocean voyage. The most sensible way to do that was beer, particularly because beer has hops Hopson Antibacterial and, of course, there has at the hall on alcohol someone of an innocent dick and would actually stop a lot of harmful bacterial growing it. There are few to no human pathogens, they can live in beer
So if it turns out to be a really great safe source of drinking water for these languages, when you couldn't have to bring water with so when they were on their way across the EU and they packed enough beer to keep him going on a trip, but when they got to in other planning on fourteen with journeys things like this, but when they got there, they realise that not only with their running out appear, but they had a really plan for the coming winter says it could make sure they had beer to keep going so when they landed, they did so out of necessity. They probably if they had more beer, could have man found a much more temperate and nice place to live in New Hampshire as problems that New Hampshire, your lovely, but by their first winters. There were probably recall So why are they really had to get on land and find a good source of water? This is running water through wicked, actually build a brewery and have a good source of water for the winter.
No, we ve talked a lot about people making beer and monasteries and women making beer in the kitchen window, making beer really turn into an industry like everything else of the industrial revolution, thanks industrial revolution It has done so much for us, your prior to the industrial revolution. Beer was really something to happen in the home. It was. It was happening in men are houses in farm houses and all the different places were. Basically, you were looking for a good way to preserve
green for a long time and, of course, preserve the source of hydrogen as well. So there is a famous german beer purity law that people still follow today. That's the Rhine Heights about tell me about how that was originally set down and why it has become so prominent even still today, so the one hundred of us really interesting, because in general it sort of a tree. stricken more than it is a beer purity law. At the time in Germany, you had an area which was growing alot of barley, and a lot of wheat and barley is particularly well suited for brewing because of its it's broken content, and it starts. Content in wheat is not because it has high protein content and that it does not have enough enzymes converted and statues in the shutters and without getting really nerdy into science. Suffice to say that we'd, better for bread farthest
For so at this point in history, there is a lot of of local green production in, but not a lot of restrictions and where things were going in The rain hudsucker, though, is one of many trade restrictions at popped up just under control, where ingredients were moving off from a trade, research and standpoint. So that, though, the fifteen sixteen purely law, which is what the rain had about the people virtue the fines that beer must be made out of barley, hops in water and that's it. It also defines how much beer should be sold for one Fenech premises defiance in the leg.
Where it can be sold and all kinds of wonderful things that have nothing to do with the actual ingredients of beer it because it was referred to as the beer purity law. I think people tend to look back at it with this sort of nostalgic idea of like oh. This is when there was great. Ah you know, but you gotta understand that were they even New EAST was right, like these doesn't in the run had about they had to amend the rain had sketched out in the eating fifties. To put this into it, and I just totally made up eighteen fifties had no idea, that's true, but it was really live after this was discovered by the way pastor of Cross Barbarian Germany that they said oh well. I guess we have to put them to the latter. Wasn't chemic beer, but it's uh! It's been pervasive. Light was actually lie in Germany until the formation of the EU
the EU came in its still consider that a great way to make beer, but it couldn't be something that defined beer for other countries within the confines of the EU, and so they had to allow other ingredients in beer. The hilarious part about it is that there are plenty of classic styles and Germany that don't need the rain had about, and people have just found ways around it. You know you could get people permission to make beer with wheat and all kinds of stuff like that. Others. There's lots of beers in Germany that have been assault added and coriander in all of these other things than earth are added to the beard, but somehow people sort of ignore the fact that that does not fall under the rain had been there still wonderful classic german styles, the taste delicious. In America we tend to Romania,
as a kind of it in every sphere, particularly that the german style logger varies in which you know this dear can't get more peer than Essen, and it's over it's a wonderful romantic ideal that is doesn't really bear truth to the rest of the world, because you got a world full of blue and cultures in which putting all kinds of other things into beer is perfectly fine. In those things can make amazing flavors in over that IRAN has good, but we wouldn't have rye beers, and we wouldn't have must have our belgian styles and you'd never have a fruit beer and all of the great stuff we innovate. Entry in America would not exist with the rain had to put in place. On the other hand, it is the the base of all beer all beer is made with the
radiance of barley, house, water and now used in its the is the simplest easiest way to make beer. So all of those things are additions not instead of right. I say just mention these wonderful beer styles and in Germany and in Belgium there are so many vastly vastly different styles of beer today that taste so much different from one another I did all of these different styles come about, so in others there is a lot of fun stories out in the world about how different styles were created, and most of them are just stories. There's not a lot of evidence that shows that any particular style was invented here. There most of them grew out of local burn traditions, despairing with, but they had.
Local, locally available to them that the type of water that they were burned with unethical rivers, in that the green and hops and ingredients near them in the world, should have came together, naturally, to create the types of beers that eventually became associated with styles, so a lot of style sorcerer worked backwards. I think that my guess is that until home brewing came a really are prevalent hobby and you ask the people didn't really think about a lifestyles up until then. We have it
it categorize things in America. We really liked. It depends in boxes, which is funny because we tend to elect to break out of this boxes as often as possible, but I suspect that for the most part, a lot of the defined cycles that we deal with today are so modern inventions by way of meaning that the revision of the carbon is that some time in the past, if you do a hundred years, somebody said always kept these things. Industry Why not? Because any one thing was intended as an invented style, believe couple that comes to mind are of pills that Morocco is the sort of architectural pills there. It's, that is the very first pills in the world. It was made first and kills in the Czech Republic, basically because there is a brewery there that was making
making headway with the new modern process that didn't leave the the monster darker smoke leaps. It is the first time you had. He really right light sleep mouth in pills in the Czech Republic has incredibly soft water and, of course, a lot of local hot. The Czech Republic and Poland. Those altogether really made the first beer of its type. Is this really bright, clear? Happy, but not better nor beer? And it's called the pills there, because it originated in pills, Czech Republic and from their people really like that beer, instead of repeating it in its essentially how we have most of the light loggers that we have in the world today are built, offers that sort of typical, Posner style, but for a really long time. Any given dear me, in Germany, was named after the town that it was from Austria Bohemia, which is why you have to wonder, or
other things of Vienna, Logger or Munich logger. All kinds of these great styles just built out of the fact that they were made in a town using what was local rather than something that somebody try to invent specifically say. I have a few more beer questions tree will gets you after another quick word from answer me Jackie, so you having found a little Patrick's quickly, Harding yeah two year old son age. I'm really sorry! I have to go, though unleashing a car, so I gotta get all those dealerships you now you should get the roadway rode out. It lets you LISA Car, where from your phone? Oh wow, that's really cool. Oh, but you know I still have to go in to negotiate rates and keep track of those taxes. And these sorry, but no you don't roto, does all that, for you too, they apply discounts calculate all the fees. The taxes the praises re here clears the shoe that is pretty cool. They even deliver the Cartier House.
It's amazing. They deliver to your house. Well! Well, I better get to house. Then thanks. My great advice, Gray Party, welcomes The future of car leasing Roto gives access to hundreds of cars from dealerships all over your area online or on the roadmap. We give you Christy, we're pricing that includes discounts taxes in will, even though, The car right to your house so hit the road the easy way with road out So to get back to our beer, precision earlier we were talking about how beer used to be really made primarily by women, and today, at least in the United States, the beer industry seems to be pretty male dominated and beer is heavily marketed toward men with sometimes beers for women being marketed
girly beers. How did now for ambition? Come you sound very cigarette? Without it, then transition come about a world really come down to the industrial revolution when, when people were starting to create factories, factors were not a place for women for the most part, and beer became a really business as soon as you could make it really high quantities. move it round you could, you can sell it, make a lot of money, and so they came out and industry just like so many other things in our history and really out of a home and into the factory. It's really taken until over the last decade, or so for for women to really get back into the brewing industry in a really meaningful way. I think if you were to look at
brewing industry now, as opposed to five or ten years ago. You see a significant Hiram must have more significant number of women in it. I know from my experience, my staff at my worries about eighty five percent women and not because I do not particularly try to hire women so much, as does just with the best people with a job so. This is a lot more women interested in the industry now how women are particularly good, tasters up in a lot of the profession it is in the industry are women because they have very delicate and break it. Palates among these the best sort of blunders and sour beer industry, and in our way, and in a lot of the enormous storied burst in our country is setting the women as well. It's really nice to see it coming full circle, and becoming more of a co industry, because it really is worth started. So it seems like every year or so somebody fines,
old beer in a shipwreck either decides to drink it or decides to use the used to make a new beer. We ve talked about these. We do these episodes are unearthed episodes at the end of every year and it seems like we ve told that story couple of times. This busier were not. We have one that's about a surprising discovery of how early barley was being used to make beer in China, which is earlier than people previously thought, but like that, it's it seems to be just a very frequent thing of. Oh here is a shipwreck with some beer were either going to drink the spear or we're going to make regular gonna try to get the EAST and Asia and the new beer out of this year's east. How often does that actually turn out to be a good idea? Ah, I I would suspect the drinking beer is probably not a great idea,
even though its ban, cold and pressurized- and you know in down their comrades, doesn't taste very good, it could. I could be great, but I suspect that what's mostly happened in that follows in Lahti: he's death when EAST die they burst and you end up getting this contents of the cells inside of the beer and soda taste so associates of great mommy and have brought these labour, which is just not always pleasant. It can be very good, but not for the most part, beer, particularly really all the air from hundreds of years. It was really meant to be drunk fresh rather than eight two hundred years in the vote
the ocean and the east, on the other hand, there are surviving east cells, will almost definitely allow new fear to be made in I. I have not read about any successful beers being made from old, recovered bottles, but I have heard about these being recovered from Amber from prehistoric times sacrifices strains that have been used. beer in getting a sort of like, I believe it's dynamo beer, something on the West Coast, where somebody's actually Groovy EAST strain, that was there, was trapped and amber in. I was able to make their with it, so it's actually been done. I think that they have some particularly need flavour profiles, but they're, not that widely known about our used quite yet ass. I saw the last question:
for you, I know this is a question that you love to answer. There is a very famous quote about beer that is attributed to Ben Franklin, which says that a beer is proof that God loves us and wants to be happy yeah. It's one of the things that you know it's so pervasive in the beef industry in such a wonderful sentiment that it's hard to be really angry about, but I'm kind of a really pedantic nerd comes through a lot of things, and so this is one of the things that they cannot come about me, particularly because I've been I didn't say that actually actually have the quote that he wrote in someone aridity. Even those gonna take a minute here. We are version of water into one of the marriage, and Canada is as a miracle, but this conversion is did the goodness of God made everyday before our eyes. Behold the rain, which descends from Heaven upon her vineyards in which incorporates up with the Greeks to be changed into wine. The constant proof, the God loves us and loves, to see us happy
so he was really thing that about wine. Infrequent didn't really like beer all that much like a lot of things here. That's true- and this is a wonderful historic curmudgeon, but she actually thought there. Beer is a sort of very lazy man's beverage. She used to work in a printing house in in London and the people that drove him the most nuts through the people that were drinking beer. She'll, be there the people that universal values are. What is this? Not a quote from him says they wanna do see from this. In several instances of the water American, as they called me, was stronger than themselves. You drink, strong beer, we hadn't alehouse boy who attended always in the house to supply the workmen, my companions, the press, drink every day, a paint before breakfast, a pint at breakfast of his bread and cheese, a fight between breakfast and dinner, a painted dinner, a pint than the avenue at six o clock and another. When he had done his days work I thought of the detestable customs. Have you got a lot of pain,
Yeah, whatever it is, you know there was probably going back to you know what they're, not people were drunk all the time you have. You probably were in particularly in some What's in America history, when you're living in urban setting, it's not going to be the best smelling wonderful place to deem enough there's, probably a certain amount of escape isn't to be had, but he was just not a big fan of beer at any time, so it SAM. It's always one of those things that can address me nuts, when you see him quota that way, not because it isn't a beautiful sentiment and one that he actually meant You know that you can look at it another way, right. God makes rainfall upon the fields of gross barley that contained a situation to beer, but that's not what he said. It's a great sentiment. It's gonna, like those those wonderful you know
on the internet, that say, you shouldn't believe everything he read signed. Abraham, Lincoln, right or the internet has been attributed because it sort of close but are having taken Franklin, appear So is there anything else about beer that you just want to make sure and a beer history that you want to make sure that our listeners know about before we wrap up of gas. If I would have been prepared to that question, I probably would have something better than no. I think this has been a lot of fun and in in really great thank you so so much for being on the show Eric say once again that was Eric Lars Myers founders. And had brewer misery brewing company company among a lot of other things and instead of our normal listener mail
today I am actually reporting us from our land, a studio which does not typical anymore Erica's joining us by a Skype. I have some long overdue shouts to people who have sent things to us in the mail after just embarrassing long time of of getting them getting through everything. That's on my desk. So, thanks to Christina for sending a bookmark with a picture of beauty
Estonia lease on it. After hearing my disastrous story about my shawl that did not come out the way I intended in our knitting episode thanks to Ashley for sending hands, smokescreen cards that say happy cake day. They are delightful. Thank you to blaze for sending handmaid hats and necklaces. Also after our nipping knitting episodes, Kara sent a copy of in all its theory, which is the book of first person accounts of the blizzard of eighteen. Eighty eight that we talked about in that episode, Marilla from parable books sent us a series of books. She wrote and illustrated Ethan sent a documentary. He made called ghosts of the west end of the bonanza trail. Intaglio sent us some adieu.
herbal crochet animals. They are of a bunny and a kitten. My apologies for just an embarrassing delay and thanking all these folks and if I accidentally duplicated somebody Holly is already thanked on the show, as she is very often are our male. Thank you person. If you would like to write to us about this or any other pod cast where history pot gas, at how stuff works, dot com were also on Facebook, at Facebook, dot, com, Slash missed in history and on Twitter. It missed in history. Our tumblr is missed in history, that tumblr dot com and our pinterest as pensions, dot, com, slash, mists and history, which we can also find a site Instagram at Miss in history. Comes you, our parent companies website, which is how stuff works, dot com, where you will find all sorts of information, including a lot about the science of here? You can also come to our website, missin history, dot com to find shone out where this is all about other episodes. We will have a link to where you can find Eric's book about North Carolina, craft, beer and breweries. You will also find
showed its or I'll be up there. How you I have worked on ends and video is. We have good and been putting up recently from our recent trip to Boston Massachusetts. You can do all that and a whole lot more at how stuff works, dot, com or a myth in history that the more on this and thousands of other topics is. It has to work. Second,.
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