La cervesa en la història dels monestirs medievals del nord d’Europa

La història de la cervesa ve de molt lluny, les grans civilitzacions clàssiques ja eren coneixedores de les tècniques mes senzilles per elaborar aquesta beguda de grans propietats  nutritives. Ara bé, un dels episodis mes rellevants en relació a la història de la cervesa es el monopoli que van mantenir sobre aquest aliment clau els monjos de les diferents comunitats religioses del nord d’Europa durant l’Edat Mitjana.

Els monjos trapencs van ser els primers que van començar a produir cervesa, com una eina mes de vida en base al seu treball i per assegurar l’allotjament dels peregrins. Des del s. VIII ja hi ha constància de la producció d’aquest producte alimentari, però serà a partir del s. XIII quan la producció de cervesa passa a ser un mètode de subsistència a una font d’ingressos i en un art gastronòmic de primera magnitud.

Aquest es el cas de Villers-la Ville, una abadia de Bèlgica que produïa cervesa per bona part de la població i que acompanyava altres aliments com la col, ceba i el pa. La cervesa era me barata i saludable que l’aigua i la llet, sovint contaminades i transmissores d’infeccions, ja que rebia al menys una cocció que eliminava els bacteris. Cada monestir mantenia la fòrmula en secret i la guardava curosament perquè no caigués en gent sense escrúpols.

La fòrmula de la cervesa es mes complicada del que es podria pensar inicialment: Civada, aigua, sucre i llevat formen la base del producte. Les herbes son un complement  indispensable per lograr una bona mixtura: canyella, anís, safrà, llorer, coriandre, romaní, milfulles i pell de taronja fan donen el toc clau. I, finalment, els ous, la sal i el carbó seran els aglutinadors preferents.

Hi havia diferents tiratges de cervesa segons qualitats i destinataris. Així, la primera tirada “prima melior” s’oferia a hostes il.lustres i alts dignataris. La segona “secunda” als treballadors i burgesos, mentre que la tercera “tertia” era consumida per peregrins i pobres. Els monjos elaboraven una cervesa mer rica i alcoholitzada “cervesa dels pares” mentre que les monges en feien una mes suau “cervesa d’abadia”.

Els religiosos estaven autoritzats a consumir fins a 5 litres diaris. En temps de Quaresma era l’únic aliment permès “exclòs del pecat”. El consum de cervesa entre la població podia pujar fins a 1,3 litres/dia i els infants bevien cervesa de 3 graus d’alcohol, que el permetia defensar-se millor contra les malalties vinculades amb la llet com a la tuberculosi. Així doncs, els monestirs nordeuropeus podien arribar a produir perfectament fins a 300.000 litres/any !!.

Els factors religiosos i del “mal” estaran força presents en l’elaboració cervesera.  Axí doncs hi havia tota una litúrgia pel que fa a la preparació del producte. Amulets, herbes protectores defensaven el resultat final vers les “bruixes de la cervesa”. Moltes dones serien cremades per acusacions d’aquest tipus fins ben entrat el s. XV.

El creixement del negoci  de la cervesa medieval va fer que nobles i reis fiquessin  l’ull sobre la producció dels monestirs i comencessin a fiscalitzar amb impostos als centres productors i a legislar la collita de les herbes necessàries per la seva elaboració. Una mescla coneguda com a “Gruit”.

Però en la història de la cervesa medieval hi haurà un nou element que revolucionarà la producció d’aquest aliment: el llúpol, una planta que ja es coneixia en època romana, que donarà un gust mes lleuger davant la mixtura del Gruit, i que millorarà les possibilitats de conservació, la qual cosa afavorirà el seu transport i comercialització.

El llúpol permetrà l’expansió del producte i la difusió permetrà que comencin a generar-se associacions cerveseres laiques conegudes com Guildes que lluitaràn contra les exempcions que gaudien els monjos i afavoriran l’ensenyament de la producció cervesera amb la figura del bracejador. Un aprenentatge de tres anys del qual estaven exclosos els excomunicats, concubines i bastards. L’enfrontament entre laics i religiosos derivarà en una especialització de productes. Els primers produiran una cervesa mes lleugera i barata, mentre que els segons uns productes mer aromatitzats, nutritius i cars.

En els països mediterranis, la producció de cervesa, no va tenir un gran èxit inicialment ja que el líquid de consum prioritari era el vi, el qual se li atribuïa la representació terrenal de la sang de Crist. Però al nord d’Europa era una qüestió de supervivència, donada l’abundància de les matèries primeres, el seu aport nutritiu i el fet que els preceptes religiosos  era vistos amb mes condescendència pels seus habitants. Serà fins el segle XVI quan l’Emperador Carles I d’Espanya i V d’Alemanya fundi al Monestir de Yuste l’única cerveseria del sud d’Europa.

Per saber-ne mes sobre la història de la cervesa consulteu els següents recursos electrònics:

–  Cervesa en català, la pàgina mes cervesera dels PaÏsos Catalans (web)

–  Cervesa en català (blog)

A les biblioteques universitàries catalanes teniu abundant bibliografia sobre la història de la cervesa de la qual volem destacar el llibre A History of beer and brewing [Recurs electrònic] / Ian Hornsey.- Cambridge : Royal Society of Chemistry, 2003 disponible exclusivament per la xarxa de les biblioteques de la UAB [Catàleg UAB] a través del portal de llibres electrònics de la Royal Society of Chemistry. Podeu també consultar l’edició de Sabadell Universitat 2005 amb un programa especial sobre el paper de la fermentació dels aliments al llarg de la història amb diferents aportacions que podeu consultar en línia.

How Beer Saved the World (1/3) Discovery Channel

Font:

Cerveses amb pòsit medieval / per Gemma Aguilera i assessorament de José Enrique Ruiz Domènec.- Sapiens (num 97) novembre 2010.- p. 76-77. Podeu escoltar l’Entrevista que li fa el director del programa “Tots per tots” Ramón Company a la redactora de “Sapiens” Sonia Casas al programa del 18/11/2010

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