In summer time we all need cool and refreshing drinks. The two most consumed drinks (vodka and tea) wouldn’t be of that help in the summer heath but the third most spread-out beverage, i.e. beer, is preferred in a great number of countries. It’s said that regular beer consumers get a bierbauch (beer belly literally translated from German) but despite this they love it and never give up on it because it’s refreshing, salutary and ancient.
Yes, it’s ancient as it’s thought to have been brewed about 6000 years back. And because everything starts accidently in science and in nature, beer is supposed to have been “created” all of a sudden as well. It’s a myth of course, but who knows? Most probably a piece of bread or a grain fell down into water and it underwent a spontaneous fermentation. Thus this new beverage flourished in Sumer (southern Iraq) and according to the historic evidence, its Goddess was Ninkasi. The hymn dedicated to her was, actually, the first beer recipe and the alcohol beverage was called “divine” for two reasons. Firstly, it was a drink dedicated to the Goddess. And secondly, after having drunk it people felt nice, amused and extremely happy and cheerful.
The “cheering-up” drink was later developed by the Babylons who were real masters in brewing since they produced 20 different types of beer. Their beers were prototypes of today’s beer (or more specifically of ale) and were unfiltered, dreggy and with residues. It’s an interesting fact that there exited daily beer limits imposed depending on the social status and of course, noblemen were allowed to drink up to 5 liters on a daily basis.
The Egyptians introduced changes to beer recipe by brewing beer from raw and not roasted dough. As to the ancient Greeks and Romans, their beer was also dreggy and with almost no foam. There is some evidence that it was a more popular drink even than wine in Hellenistic period and in Ancient Rome because it could change people’s mood easily and fast. They thought that beer had its own spirit that subordinated the soul and spirit of a drinker and that is why it was considered a supernatural drink.
Germanic tribes continued brewing beer later on but this time they used it either for their various rituals or for pleasure. After Christianity was introduced and monasteries started as the major religious institution, beer production underwent a real bloom and it did flourish enormously due to the efforts of monks who tried to better its quality, colour and taste.
Moving forward through history, we should have a look at the beer brewing of the medieval times. Mainly women brewed beer at home. As for England, there were special checked flags waving here and there showing the places that offered the “foody” drink (i.e. the nutrient and nourishing drink). The flag, actually, was in favour of the illiterate and uneducated citizens and subjects of the King. The prototype of the English beer was called ale. Unfortunately, it was entirely substituted with the sour-flavoured drink imported from Flandria by the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th centuries. The sour flavour of the Flandrian beer was due to the content of hopped malt which was an ideal preservative. And the drink was called beer.
I will open a bracket here and will tell you a few things about the origin of the names beer and ale. Beer is supposed to have stemmed from the Latin verb “bibere” (“to drink”). As for ale, it is of Germanic and also of North-European-Sacndinavian origin. Today the alcoholic beverage is often termed “cerveza” (coming from the Latin “cerevisia”) in Spanish and Portugal. As far as Slavic languages are concerned, the most common word for beer is “pivo” (literally “beverage”). Bracket closed.
In 1587 beer was brewed for the first time in the state of Virginia the New World but it was not among the most successful attempt and that’s why colonizers asked for an import of beer of better quality from England.
Beer brewing was a family craft till the 17th century. Later breweries appeared on the horizon and gained popularity at a rapid pace. And that’s why nowadays we have more than 9 million beer types and trademarks worldwide. And if you are a beer maniac, you will be lucky. You should only choose your beer and let it run through your veins. Cheers. 🙂