A Brief Economic History of Beer

Eline Poelmans and Johan F. M. Swinnen

in The Economics of Beer

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199693801
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731884 | DOI:
A Brief Economic History of Beer

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This chapter presents a brief economy history of the evolution of beer production and consumption and the industrial organization of breweries. It discusses first the discovery and use of beer in ancient history, and the functioning of monasteries as centres of the beer economy in the early Middle Ages. It then presents an analysis of the innovation and taxation in brewing in the Middle Ages which triggered the decline of monasteries and growth of commercial breweries in Early Modern Times. It analyzes the globalization and new competition for beer in the Early Modern Times, as well as the scientific discoveries and the development of modern brewing in the 18th and 19th centuries. Finally, the growth and decline of different types of beer and the consolidation and globalization of breweries in the last two centuries are discussed.

Keywords: economic history; beer; brewing; innovation; taxation; monasteries; commercial breweries; competition; consolidation; globalization

Chapter.  11676 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Systems

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