Some of the earliest commercial breweries operated at farms on or near which barley was grown. Adding a maltings and a brewery to a farm made sound sense economically, not just for adding value to the crop but also for providing winter employment agricultural labourers.
The practice of ageing brown ales in oak casks has likely been around since soon after the introduction of hops to brewing, many centuries ago. Before hops were introduced, ale would soon oxidise to become malt vinegar. Adding hops allowed brewers to preserve beers longer, a crucial step in making them tradable commodities.