A Brief History of Beer

Beer has a very ancient history and a place in many societies since ancient times.

Some may not believe this but Sumerians were sure of it: Drinking beer was a necessity for man. After all, beer was the delighting drink that turned Enkidu from an animal to a civilized man. Half-brute Enkidu was wandering the steppes with his animals and ate grass and drank water. Gilgamesh, king of the city of Uruk, had sent the beautiful girl Shamkat to him. And she thought her how to live like a civilized person.

This was necessary. Enkidu did not know how to eat bread or how to drink beer. Shamkat had opened Enkidu’s mouth and said ‘’Eat bread Enkidu, it’s a part of life itself. And drink beer, a tradition of earth.’’ Enkidu ate until he was full. He drank beer, seven pitchers of it. His soul was soothed and he felt joy. His heart filled with mirth and his face was glowing, he cleaned himself. He rubbed his body with oil. He was a ‘’person’’ now.

This is how an epic dating back to 1600 B.C reflects upon the existence of beer. But consumption and production of beer purely for entertainment and pleasure purposes among Southern Mesopotamians was not until 4th Century B.C. Information about beer brewing dates back to forgotten and black pages of the history.

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Beer History

Opinions on beer and beer’s roots differ a lot. One of those opinions is that beer’s roots date back to Sumerians, Babylonians and Ancient Egypt. There are also several thesis statements based on passages from Colomb’s discovery of the Americas, reflecting upon the locals brewing and consuming beer. According to Chinese sources, beer’s roots date back to 2300 B.C. Also, looking at the findings from the Amazons, beer’s roots could be traced back to even further to the past. It is claimed that rainforests were home to brewers in 10.000 B.C. Even though these claims unearth the possible roots of beer, much of the historians and researchers believe that Sumerian thesis is the most consistent and verifiable.

The first condition of beer production is raising grain. It is estimated that the first beer was founded by chance when a piece of bread was fermented after it got wet in 10.000 B.C. In the years 5000 B.C between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates were home to many grain farms. It is believed that the grain was used to produce both bread and beer. One of the oldest remainings of beer’s tracable history stands in today’s Iraq, Mosul. A signet which describes to men drinking beer from twisted plant sticks. Archaic tablets in Uruk in today’s Iraq dating back to 300s reveals us that the word beer was ‘’Ka’’ those times. It is still referred as the oldest writing about beer today.

The 5000 years old tablets which are displayed on Louvre Museum in Paris tells us a lot about how Sumerians used to ferment grain and produce beer. The tablets are names ‘’Monument bleu’’.  These tablets describe how wheat is separated from its shell and the final product ‘’Ka’’ is produced in order to be presented to Nin-Harra, Goddess of Fertility.

A hymn in the name of the Sumerian Goddess of Beer Ninka-i describes the process of making beer like this: At first wet barley were germinated (malted). The green malt was dried and its rootlets were separated. It was grinded with a millstone and was made into a homogenous paste with water and beer bread. Beer bread was made out of grinded grain and kneaded scented plants.

And after some wait, the beer we all love and enjoy was produced.

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