As far back as 5,000 years ago, Scotland was brewing beer. Well, sort of...
The beer that existed in those days may have looked a little something like today's beers, but it certainly didn't taste or smell anything like it. While fermented bread would have been the source of alcohol for these ancient brews, the beer of the Neolithic Scotland region didn't contain any hops.
The first documented mention of hops was a few thousand years later, when ancient Roman author Pliny the Elder granted the plant a proper name (Humulus lupulus). Furthermore, the first known use of hops in brewing wasn't until about year 400 in Babylon, with widespread usage catching on much later - around the thirteenth century. [Read more: Hops History]
Apparently, Scotland missed the memo. Hops-less spruce and pine ales remained popular in the area as late as the 19th century. While it may be difficult to imagine beer without hops, thanks to Heather Ales Ltd., a division of Williams Bros Brewing, we don't have to; we can try it first-hand.