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Beer & World History

Beer & World History

One of the oldest beverages known to humankind, beer has an interesting and colorful history.


Anthropologists can only make an educated guess at how beer was invented. Most likely, it was by accident. They believe the discovery went something like this.

Nomadic hunter-gatherers collected wild grains for food. Somehow, possibly in a sudden rainstorm, a pool of warm water formed where the grain was stored. In a short time the grain fermented, turning the water into a thick dark liquid. Some adventurous soul among these primitive people sampled the liquid, and found that it tasted good. Man had discovered beer.

Beer and Civilization

So how did beer lead to civilization?

According to one prominent anthropologist, what lured our ancient ancestors out of their caves may not have been a thirst for knowledge, but a thirst for beer.

Dr. Solomon Katz theorizes that when man learned to ferment grain into beer more than 10,000 years ago, it became one of his most important sources of nutrition. Beer gave people protein that unfermented grain couldn’t supply. And besides, it tasted a whole lot better than unfermented grain.

But in order to have a steady supply of beer, it was necessary to have a steady supply of beer ingredients. Man had to give up his nomadic ways, settle down and begin farming. Once he did, civilization was just a stone’s throw away.

After civilization got rolling, beer was always an important part of it. Sumerian laborers received rations of beer. Egyptians made it from barley, Babylonians made it from wheat and Incas made it from corn.

And so it went, through the centuries. From ancient times to the present day, beer has been an important part of celebration and good fellowship.

Ancient Beer Facts

Some surprising findings that may be new to you.

  • Prized possessions were often buried with the remains of important officials in ancient Mesopotamia. A glittering metal tube discovered in one tomb proved to be a golden straw for sipping beer.
  • Barley for brewing was so important to the early Romans that they honored the grain on their gold and silver coins.
  • Historians have called beer the national drink of ancient Egypt. The pharaohs appointed a “royal chief beer inspector” to protect its quality.
  • Long before the time of Confucius, the Chinese brewed with millet, a cereal grain. According to very old sacred books, beer played an important role in early Chinese religious rituals.