History of Beer in Europe

For most beer enthusiasts, there is nothing like a European river cruise with an itinerary that showcases a variety of beers. This fermented beverage might not have originated in Europe, but most will agree that the best beers in the world are brewed here. But where did beer originate, and what is the history of beer in Europe?

Beer’s exact origination point is widely debated, but many historians believe that prehistoric nomads made beer from grain and water long before they learned how to make bread. What is certain is that there are Babylonian clay tablets that date back to 4300 BC, which detail recipes for beer.

Now, let us look at a short but concise history of beer in Europe:

  • 179 BC. The Romans are widely regarded to have been the first civilization in Europe to brew beer and historians estimate that they started somewhere around this time. 
  • 55 BC. Roman legions introduce beer to Northern Europe.
  • 500-1000 AD. During the first half of the Middle Ages, beer brewing begins to be widely practiced in Europe. Production of this beverage was largely restricted to monasteries and convents though.
  • 1000 AD. Hops is first used in the brewing process.
  • 1200 AD. The brewing of beer becomes a commercial enterprise in Germany, Austria, and England.
  • 1420. German brewers develop the lager method of brewing. Up to then all beers were ales.
  • 1516. The Bavarian brewing guild introduce Das Reinheitsgebot (The Purity Law) which makes it illegal to use any ingredients but water, barley, and hops when brewing beer.
  • 1880. The introduction of The Free Mash Tun Act. Since 1660 Malt was prohibited to be used for brewing in England. This purity act was replaced by The Free Mash Tun Act because colonial sugar growers wanted sugar cane to be used to brew beer. This new act enabled "the brewer to brew from what he pleases and have a perfect choice of his materials and methods." 

Since then, beer has come a long way and today countries like the Netherlands and Belgium have become known as homes to some of the world’s best beers. The Dutch and Belgian waterways are therefore the perfect choice for those who are looking for a European river cruise that showcases some of the best beers from this part of Europe. If you’re lucky enough to sample these time tried beers, you’ll be one of the proud few able to distinguish them as the best beers in the world! Cheers!     

Company Bio

AmaWaterways was founded in 2002 and provides all-inclusive river cruise vacations through Europe, Africa, and Asia. With a range of on and off-board activities, AmaWaterways offers a river cruise vacation experience that is unlike any other.