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History of Beer

Discover the Fascinating and Highly Interesting History of Beer

Beer is a beverage that has been around for centuries, and its evolution over the years has led to the perfect taste and kickback that it provides today.
Rahul Thadani
Last Updated: Jan 27, 2018
Adapa - Babylonian God Also Called Oannes
Beer is one of the most loved alcoholic beverages around the world, but not every beer drinker knows enough about its history. Beer has been around for centuries, so to accurately ascertain its exact date and manner of origin is not possible, but we can get a fair idea of the same by analyzing the different cultures that have brewed beer for centuries, and what this implies.
According to many experts, beer can be traced back to ancient African and Sumerian tribes, when they were in their prime, 6,000 years ago. The art of beer brewing can be even older than that, but the earliest indicators show that beer was prevalent at least 6,000 years ago. In fact, a Sumerian Goddess going by the name of Ninkasi was also referred to as the Goddess of brewing. The act of fermenting beer and brewing it is said to have occurred completely by accident when a piece of bread got wet and was then left to become a watery pulp.
The Hymn of Ninkasi was a popular prayer of the Sumerians, and in addition to being an offering to the Goddess, it is also said to possess the recipe for brewing beer as it was originally discovered. Even the ancient epic of Gilgamesh talks about how Enkidu, the primordial primitive man, was taught the art of drinking beer and eventually learned to brew it as well.
The Babylonians' Role in Beer-making
When the Sumerian empire fell, the Babylonians became the masters of the land and the recipe for brewing beer was passed down to them. It is said that the Babylonians knew how to make 20 different types of beer. This beer was traded with the Egyptians and it soon spread to their culture as well. In fact, it spread to such an extent that Egyptians started distributing it to all the people based on a ration quota which was determined by the profession of each individual.
Even the Chinese and Japanese eventually got their hands on some beer and started brewing their own version of it with rice. This led to the rise of many different types of beer all around the world. Beer was used to cure illnesses and also used as a sort of divine gift that people gave each other on auspicious occasions. The timeline is full of great reverence to the beverage, before people realized the concept of intoxication and 'being drunk'.
The Romans and the Greeks in Beer History
When the Romans and the Greeks arrived on the scene, they too could not resist the temptation of beer. But they preferred wine, and viewed beer as a barbaric drink. So only the people who could not afford wine drank beer, but its alcoholic and intoxicating effect was viewed with great reverence as it was supposed to provide the drinker divine powers for a brief amount of time.
As time passed by, beer became more and more popular and it has been mentioned in many books and records that have been passed down. Fermentation techniques also improved, and the bitterness in the taste slowly subsided as well. More foam started appearing in the various brands of beer, and people also started using it as a tool for trade and barter exchanges. Hop was slowly introduced in the fermentation process, and then Louis Pasteur introduced the concept of carrying out the fermentation with the help of yeast. This increased the alcohol content of beer, and also helped purify it better, which further enhanced the taste, among other brewer's yeast benefits.
The Germans then mastered the art of fermentation and started brewing the beer in the mountains where the low temperatures would help get rid of impurities and thus enhance the taste and the alcohol content of beer.
Beer in America
In America around 6 billion gallons of beer are brewed on an annual basis, and this all started when the pilgrims first came to America. Many monks and monasteries used to brew and sell beer as 'liquid bread' and this made it a very popular drink amongst them. Its origins in America can thus be traced to the very beginning of American history itself.
When the Prohibition was implemented, all beer breweries were shut down, and post-Prohibition only a few breweries opened up again. Thus the number of breweries reduced drastically, but the production and the consumption of beer also hovered at very high levels. Beer was first packaged in cans in America in 1935, and it has spread to other parts of the world since then.
It would take weeks to understand the humble beginnings and the evolution of beer, but this article gives a basic gist of the process. Beer is one of the most loved beverages around the world today, and it will always continue to be so.