Skip navigation
E. Mankind's Oldest Biotechnology . . .

Narrator: This is Science Today. Brewing is pretty much mankind's oldest biotechnology. In fact, beer has been brewed for some eight thousand years and according to brewing scientist Charles Bamforth of the University of California, Davis, the first brewing happened by accident.

Bamforth: Somebody in those dim and distant days got some barely wet and it started to sprout and they found that they could stop it sprouting if hey dried it and when they did that and they tasted it, they thought - well, it tastes better. And again, they got the malt wet and then stray organisms came in, some yeast and they turned some of it alcohol and they tasted that and they thought - well, that's even better and it makes us feel nice and cozy and warm as well.

Narrator: Ale was the standard beverage of choice in Northern Europe for centuries until lager was developed.

Bamforth: Lager developed because an edict was brought in so they had to brew beer earlier in the year and need to store it, so that it would be O.K. when the time came around to drink it. And so they realized that if you chilled it down, you could store it and hence, the product was born.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.