|Beer can also be romantic thanks to these guys|
It was the Romans who decided that beer was for the plebs and wine for the educated. Since then beer has always been considered a drink for the rough people from the northwest of what we now call Europe while wine fits to the description of a person from the south of the continent.
And maybe they were right. In the wild medieval cities it was much safer to drink beer than to drink normal tap water. The cities mainly consisted out of hard working craftsmen which couldn’t afford high priced wines. Local brewers could be found in each city creating their own specific flavored beer. Due to the low alcohol percentage the citizens could drink beer and still be able to continue to function as expected.
Although beer has always been seen as a drink for the plebs it has long been made by people which usually deserve respect; monks from (German or Belgian) cloisters and abbeys. The disciplined man made two kinds of beer; a light one which could be drunk all day long by citizens and the nuns and a heavier one which only was for special occasions organized by the monks or other religious persons.
Beer has been competing with wine for centuries. Beer has – if you compare price and quality –a big advantage to wine. Off course it is a completely different kind of drink with a different flavor, a different percentage of alcohol and it generally asks for another occasion; whether you would usually have a beer on a hot summer afternoon you probably rather have a full bodied red wine on a cold winter evening. But I am not sure whether this ‘general accepted idea’ is still true.
Lately beer has gained a more important role in culinary discourse. Beer isn’t just the cheap drink you have with your mates after work accompanied with some chips or salted peanuts. Beer has now become a (local) specialty again with delicate flavors which do not only add up to your night out with your friends, but also contribute to your drink in on a fancy terrace or to a delicious meal in a qualified restaurant.
With the growth of respect for beer also the number of brewers grows again. On a twice-a-month market in Milano the number of local brewers keeps growing. And also in the streets of Milano the appreciation for different kinds of beers goes up as I see more and more (brew)cafes open their doors.
It’s time to forget about the decision the Romans made a long, long time ago. Give beer another try and then decide whether it is really worth to leave this for the plebs only.