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Beer trivia

Who was Abbot Abalhard? What is Zythology? Become a beer trivia master with our A to Z of random beer facts.

A. is for Abbot Abalhard, who first recorded use of hops in beer in 822 A.D. at his Benedictine monastery in France.

B. is for Brewsters. Historically the brewing of beer was done by women who were known as “brewsters”.

C. is for Captain Cook, who brewed the first beer in New Zealand. It was made from molasses and bittered with “spruce” which was probably Manuka leaves. He made it to prevent scurvy in his crew. 

DDry is for dry-hopping, which is when hops are added to beer after it has fermented to create extra aroma. 

E. is for Egypt where labourers working on the pyramids were paid in beer.

F. is for Firkin, a mid-sized cask. It’s half the size of a keg and a quarter the size of a barrel.

G. is for Gruit, a herb mixture used for bittering and flavoring beer before hops came into fashion. Herbs included sweet gale, mugwort, yarrow, ivy, horehound and heather.

H. is for Hops which were regarded as a “pernicious weed” in England until the 17th century and banned from use – until then there was a distinction between ale (no hops) and foreign biere (with hops).

I. is for IBU (International Bitterness Unit) – a measure of how much bitterness hops add to beer.

J. is for Joel Polack, who built New Zealand’s first brewery in the Bay of Islands in 1835.

K. is for Kwispelbier, a Dutch beer for dogs made out of beef extract and malt.

L. is for Lambic, a sour wheat beer that is spontaneously fermented, aged and sometimes blended or mixed with other ingredients (such as fruit). Like Champagne in France, the name is protected in Belgium, due to the specific nature of the yeast in the area.

M. is for Michael Jackson, the world’s best known beer writer who died in 2007 – not to be confused with the singer of the same name.

N. is for Ninkasi the Sumerian goddess of beer.

O. is for Oktoberfest in Munich which originally started as a festival celebrating the 1810 marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

P. is for Prohibition which lasted from 1920 to 1933 in the United States. “What American needs now is a drink,” President Roosevelt said on proclaiming an end to that dark era.

Q. is for Quotes about beer, the most famous being, “Beer is proof god loves us and wants us to be happy” which is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but he actually didn’t say that. He said something similar about wine … no matter, it’s a great quote.

R. is for Reinheitsgebot, the so-called German purity law of 1516 which says beer must be made with only water, malt and hops (and yeast – though it hadn’t been `discovered’) at that point.

S. is for Small beer, an ancient term for low alcohol beer usually made with what brewers call the “second runnings” when rinsing sugar from malt.

T. is for Thompson, Hunter S, who said, “There is an ancient Celtic axiom that says ‘Good people drink good beer.’ Which is as true, then as now. Just look around you in any public bar and you will quickly see: Bad people drink bad beer. Think about it.”

U. is for Ultraviolet light – or sunshine as we call it – the worst friend your beer can make, as sunlight makes hops undergo a chemical reaction which causes an off-flavour known as skunking.

V. is for Vegetarians who can safely drink beer – unless it’s something like an oyster stout or Garage Project’s Umami Monster, which is made with dried bonito flakes!

W. is for Widget, the small device that sits in a can of beer to help make foam, invented by Guinness in 1989.

X. is for X, the letter often associated with beer, most famously in this part of the world with the Queensland brand XXXX (or Fourex). The Xs used to indicate the alcohol level; X being low alcohol table beer, XX was mild, XXX extra strength and XXXX was best quality.

Y. is for Yeast, the magical ingredient that turns raw beer (or wort) into actual beer. Before Yeast was isolated and identified by Louis Pasteur medieval brewers referred to its magical properties as “god’s gift”.

Z. is for Zythology: the study of beer.