People have been appreciating beer and making their own beer for at least 12,000 years, and it may well be that the beer drunk many centuries ago was just as tasty as the drink we enjoy today. The ancient Sumerians felt that homebrewing beer was a woman’s job and they even had their own goddess of beer, whom they named Ninkasi. Homebrewing became popular with agriculture, which arrived when civilization was born.
In Colonial Virginia in 1587, the first beer made with corn was produced, and homebrewing was so important that one of the first buildings constructed in Plymouth was a brewery. Of course, back then they could not just go out to the local beer store; the only way to get beer was to make it yourself.
In those days it was the responsibility of the men to go out hunting and provide food for the colonies, and just like in Sumerian society, it was the role of the women to make the beer. Not only did beer taste better than the rather nasty tasting water which the colonists had access to, but homebrewing also meant that the potentially harmful pathogens were removed from the water.
Many of the founding fathers of the US enjoyed homebrewing their own beer, including both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Or more accurately, their wives made the beer, as it was still considered to be something the women did.
One of the most famous events of the 20th century occurred in 1919 – the Prohibition – which meant that homebrewing beer at home was suddenly illegal. Bootlegging became popular, and this illegally obtained beer was the only way to get a drink of beer.
The 21st amendment ended the Prohibition in 1933 and made homebrewing popular once more. However, this amendment actually left out the word beer, meaning that anyone who brewed their own beer was technically breaking the law. This didn’t stop home brewing becoming popular all over the country.
The amendment that made brewing your own beer legal was signed in 1978, meaning that anyone making their own beer was now not breaking the law. In addition, a law went into effect in 1979 stating that beer brewed for consumption at home should not be taxed.
Brewing beer at home continues to be popular and it is a fascinating and affordable way to enjoy a glass or two of beer. The Maltose Falcons, founded in 1964, is just one of the many homebrewing beer clubs.