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Beer, where did it all start?

Updated: Oct 11, 2020

With October 7th being Canadian beer day, I wanted to know where it all started? The first fermented beverages are thought to have emerged alongside cereal agriculture development some 12,000 years ago.

It isn’t easy to attribute the invention of beer to a particular culture or time period. Still, the world’s first fermented beverages most likely emerged alongside cereal agriculture development some 12,000 years ago. As hunter-gatherer tribes settled into agrarian civilizations that were based on staple crops like wheat, rice, barley and maize, they may have stumbled upon the fermentation process and started brewing beer. A Chinese concoction made from rice, honey and fruit is the earliest known alcoholic beverage dating back 9000 years ago. Still, the first barley beer was most likely born in the Middle East. While people were undoubtedly drinking it much earlier, there are well-documented beer production sources that date back about 5,000 years to the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia. Archeologists have discovered ceramic vessels dating back to 3400 B.C. with beer residue within them. A hymn from 1800 B.C.’s referred to as a “Hymn to Ninkasi”—an ode to the Sumerian goddess of beer—describes a recipe for a treasured ancient brew made by the female priestesses. This nutrient-rich brew was a cornerstone of the Sumerian diet. There is some reference to beer being a safer alternative to drinking water from nearby rivers and canals often contaminated by animal waste.

Alulu Beer receipt-This records a purchase of "best" beer from a brewer. Sumerian city of Umma in ancient Iraq


Source: By Ur-Amma, the scribe who created the text, Dr Tom L. Lee who photographed it, SilkTork who created the image. - Email from Dr Tom L. Lee - as used in http://www.ratebeer.com/Story.asp?StoryID=216 by SilkTork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10277184


Beer consumption continued to grow under the Babylonian Empire. Still, few ancient cultures loved drinking beer as much as the Egyptians did. Workers along the Nile were often paid in beer due to it being nutritious and sweet. Everyone from pharaohs to peasants, including the children, drank beer as part of their everyday diet. Many of these ancient beers were flavoured with unique additives such as mandrake, dates and olive oil. More modern-tasting variations would not arrive until the Middle Ages when Christian monks and other artisans began brewing beers seasoned with hops.

Source: By Marknesbitt - [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2267537

Looking for travel options that include beer tasting? Check out some sample itineraries here https://www.thewanderingfoodie.ca/copy-of-personal-travel-guides


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