The Complete History of Beer
While I have discussed the history of wine previously, the history of beer may be just as interesting and span even farther back in time. Beer likely emerged alongside the Neolithic Revolution which is when ancient humans figured out agriculture for the first time around 10,000 years ago. Like beer today, ancient beer was made using grain, often barley, and ancient humans certainly grew a lot of barley.
The oldest mention of beer found so far comes from inscribed clay tablets originating from Mesopotamia, which is now Iran and Iraq, dating back 6,000 years. Moving from Mesopotamia and into ancient Egypt, the Egyptians were known to consume beer bread along with actual beer as a staple meal of the time. There is even a 4,000 year old poem which contains the oldest believed recipe for beer.
It’s pretty clear that humans have always had an attraction to this alcoholic beverage. But beer seems to be more important that. Some historians believe that if humans were not to have invented beer and bread, civilization never would have grew as much as it has.
Back in the olden days, beer was quite different. It had the consistency of porridge and was often consumed with a straw to avoid gulping down unpleasant chunks of fermented beer. It doesn’t sound too appetizing today, but the people at the time loved it. Once the ancient Romans came around, while they drank beer, they greatly preferred wine and taunted the Germanic tribes who wanted to stick with beer as their drink of choice. It was also around this time that beer started to be made with grains other than barley such as rye.
Interestingly, it is believed that beer-making was a female profession, and a highly respected one at that. In fact, the Mesopotamians even had a goddess specifically to honor the production of beer, named Ninkasi. In the ancient world, it seemed that everyone from every culture enjoyed beer, from the Chinese to the Greeks. Beer’s popularity only grew once the Middle Ages arrived.
The Middle Ages was also when hops were beginning to be used for the creation of beer, which is what we use for flavoring beer today. Hopped beer became quite popular during this time because it was cheap and easy to incorporate into beer and it improved the beer’s quality. This popularity persisted for hundreds of years. The late Middle Ages is when beer started to be produced on a more commercial scale as well, especially in Germany, then in England and the Netherlands.
However, the industrial production of beer truly took off in the Industrial Revolution. This allowed for more variation in beers as well as the ability to create huge quantities of the beverage, bottle it up, and ship it to other countries. Today, we have a large variety of beer made from different grains and flavored with everything from hops to citrus fruits and beyond available all over the world. Now, you know all about the history of beer.
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