Whether it is an evening out with friends or a casual family get-together, one alcoholic beverage that rules every gathering is beer. Not many people may know this, but beer is the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world. The origin of beer dates back to some 5000 years, when it was brewed in China. Since then, beer has been one of the most sought after alcoholic beverages. Brewing is the earliest art known to man and is considered as old as agriculture or even bread. In fact, it is considered that beer or bread might have been a by-product of the other. In case you were always interested in the history of beer and wanted to know the background of this popular alcoholic drink, check out some interesting information about the same.
Around 5000 years ago, the Chinese brewed an alcoholic drink called ‘Kui’, which formed the basis for future beer. Archaeologists have found evidence in the form of clay tablets in ancient Mesopotamia, which dates back to almost 4000 years. On studying it, they found that brewing was actually a much respected profession and in fact some of the master brewers were women. Another significant fact is that in ancient Babylon, women brewers were also priestesses. There were certain types of beer that were reserved for certain religious ceremonies.
All Over the World
The 6th king of Babylon, Hammurabi included terms that regulated the business of those who owned local pubs in his Code of Law, in 2100 BC. The laws basically protected the consumer and also covered the sale of beer. In Babylon, beers were listed as dark beer, pale beer, red beer, three-fold beer, beer with a head, beer without a head, etc. In those times, beer was sipped through a straw and the king used a golden straw. The king’s straw was specially made long enough so as to reach from the beer container kept nearby to the throne. In Israel, beer mugs were used around 3000 years back. In fact, Noah had a good provision of beer in his ark, as is recorded in an Assyrian tablet, dating 2000 years back.
Beer in Egyptian Era
Egypt has an ancient history of the usage of beer. Almost 5000 years ago, the Pharaohs used to include beer as an important food item in their daily diet. The beer was prepared from lightly baked barley bread. It was a natural drink in Egypt and people belonging to the noble class as well as the ordinary peasant had it in their daily diet. In fact, the tombs of the dead also had beer among with other articles that was supposed to help the dead in his next birth. The patroness of beer brewing was Iris, the nature Goddess.
Beer in Greek & Roman Era
The Greeks were taught how to brew beer by the Egyptians. It was called Zythos and the Greeks stressed moderation. They emphasized on a diet that consisted of bread, meat, green vegetables and zythos. The Romans in turn were taught by the Greeks how to brew. Julius Caesar toasted his officers with beer after he crossed the River Rubicon. With the migration of Romans to Britain, the savage tribes inhabiting Britain also learnt the art of brewing and making beer. But it wasn’t until the Christian era that beer was really modified and made better.
Beer in Christian Era
Under the influence of the monasteries, beer was made better and the quality was improved. The monks constructed and set up the first breweries as a part of the hotel business that provided shelter food and drink to pilgrims and other weary travelers. The 3 major patrons of brewing were famous Christian saints including Saint Augustine of Hippo; Saint Luke the Evangelist and Saint Nicholas of Myra, popularly known as Santa Claus.
Beer in Medieval and Modern Times
During the medieval times, beer was brewed by women. Since they were responsible for cooking and preparing food, they were given the responsibility for brewing beer, which was considered to be a food drink. In England, a place where one could purchase beer and ale was marked with a chequered flag. This made it easy for the majority of the population, which could not read or write, to find a pub. Beer was usually called as British ale and was quite important in the society.
In the modern times, beer and ale are exchangeable terms. At the start of 15th century, ale was replaced by beer and was kept better than the English beer by bittering with preservatives like hops. Beer making was essentially a family operation until the middle of 16th century and wasn’t really used commercially. Christopher Columbus first took the European beer to America on his ships. The natives of Central America however, were making a brew of maize that resembled English beer. With time, beer was improved and was sold commercially.