Author Topic: History of Carbonation in Beer  (Read 1050 times)

Offline skee1080

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History of Carbonation in Beer
« on: December 16, 2010, 10:05:08 AM »
I'm posting this in a number of different beer & homebrewing forums in hopes of hearing some different perspectives.  I teach an "introduction to beer" class through a wine academy in DC, and I had a student ask me a rather interesting question last night that I was at a loss to answer.  She was curious as to why beer was carbonated--not how it was carbonated, but the history behind why beer is carbonated where wine (with the exception of champagne and other sparkling wines obviously) and other alcoholic beverages are not.  After some googling, I haven't come up with an answer.  It's the first time I haven't been able to answer a question on the spot, so I want to find out the history for future classes.  Any ideas?

Online BrewArk

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Re: History of Carbonation in Beer
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2010, 10:53:25 AM »
Oddly enough I was asked the same question last weekend, & was stumped by it. ???
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: History of Carbonation in Beer
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2010, 11:03:24 AM »
My guess is that, because beer was (and in some places, still is) often consumed young and while still fermenting it would have had some level of carbonation still in the beer.  I don't know much about primitive wine making to know if it was consumed young too, but since you pretty much had to ferment the grapes right away at the end of the growing season, most of the wine probably would have been flat by the time you got around to drinking it.  But that's just a guess.
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Offline redbeerman

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Re: History of Carbonation in Beer
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2010, 12:38:37 PM »
I would agree with Tom.  It may have been served from the fermentation vessel before fermentation was complete.  Or that new beer was made by adding some of the old beer to the fermentable wort (yeast for fermentation, krausening, etc.)
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Offline euge

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Re: History of Carbonation in Beer
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2010, 12:44:40 PM »
^^^^^ This was my inkling. Beer was most likely consumed within days of fermentation- it's still pretty fizzy at that point. Otherwise it soured.
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Offline skee1080

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Re: History of Carbonation in Beer
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2010, 12:51:48 PM »
^^^^^ This was my inkling. Beer was most likely consumed within days of fermentation- it's still pretty fizzy at that point. Otherwise it soured.

That's probably makes the most sense of everything I've read so far in the various forums I posted in.  I'd still love to find some sort of definitive source of information on the subject, but I do agree with you.  I'm gonna do some more research and if I find out anything more, I'll be sure to post an update to this thread.

Offline Kaiser

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Re: History of Carbonation in Beer
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2010, 01:02:22 PM »
I wonder if this guy can help you: http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/search?q=

He writes a lot about beer history.

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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: History of Carbonation in Beer
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2010, 01:07:45 PM »
I am sure beer was consumed young, with carbonation, in olden times.  In some parts of the wine world, there are wines that are consumed young and fizzy, Federweisser is a fall drink in Germany for example.  

The origianal poster should read Charles Bamforth's "Grape vs. Grain".  He also talked at length about the inportance of the head on the beer to appearance and aroma, in this one that I checked out from the library.
http://www.audible.com/pd?productID=BK_RECO_003614

This might be a good one too, but I have not read it yet.
http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/Chemistry/FoodChemistry/~~/dmlldz11c2EmY2k9OTc4MDE5NTMwNTQyNQ==
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Offline skee1080

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Re: History of Carbonation in Beer
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2010, 01:10:04 PM »
The origianal poster should read Charles Bamforth's "Grape vs. Grain".
Funny you should mention that--it's on my book shelf right now and next in line for reading!  Maybe it'll shed some light...

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Re: History of Carbonation in Beer
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2010, 04:04:27 AM »
Even the ancient Egyptians drank most of their beer young. They would stick hollow reeds(straws) in the fermenters(clay vessels) to imbibe of the lively fizzy beverage. On the other hand, no matter how high quality a wine is, it can taste like rocket fueled fruit juice if it is not aged. I'm sure the taste buds of old learned that real quick and has become a rule of thumb to age wine at least a year after fermentation before drinking. Most of the C02 has dissipated by that time. Modern wineries degas their wines to remove any traces of C02 except as you have pointed out Champagne and that takes quite a bit of effort and time to make the bubbly well....errrr bubbly.