Who Invented Beer?
As is the case with many other alcoholic beverages, it’s difficult to nail down the exact origin of beer. But it is believed that the world’s first fermented drinks emerged alongside the development of grain agriculture roughly 12,000 years ago.
The first barley beer was likely brewed in the Middle East, where evidence of production has been found dating back about 5,000 years to the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia. Archaeological evidence includes unearthed ceramic vessels from 3400 B.C. that contain beer residue. In addition, an 1800 B.C. ode to the Sumerian goddess of beer called the “Hymn to Ninkasi” describes a recipe for an ancient brew made by female priestesses.
One early civilization with a notable love of beer is ancient Egypt. Workers along the Nile were often compensated for their labor with rations of a nutritious, sweet brew. It was part of the everyday diet of everyone from peasants to pharaohs. Many of these ancient beers were flavored with additives like mandrake, dates, and olive oil.
While the earliest brews would have had a flavor profile much different than the beers of today, more modern-tasting beverages began to pop up around the Middle Ages. It was around this time that Christian monks began brewing beers seasoned with hops.
Hops are the flowers, or cones, of the Humulus lupulus plant. They are one of the four main ingredients in beer, along with malt, water, and yeast. In addition to providing the “hoppy” aroma, flavor, and bitterness to the brew, they also help the beverage stay fresher for longer and help it retain its head of foam.
Every modern beer on the market today contains hops. A similar beverage without hops is considered a “gruit” which is essentially a beer that is brewed with herbs like bog myrtle, yarrow, heather, or juniper instead of hops. There are a number of factors that determine how “hoppy” the end product tastes and smells, including the type of hops used and when they were added during the brewing process.
According to a recent study, beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in America, with 42% of adults naming it as their alcoholic drink of choice. It was followed most closely by wine at 34%. However, even though Americans do love their beer, the country didn’t even crack the top ten list of highest consumption per capita.
The country that drinks the most beer per capita is the Czech Republic, whose citizens consumed 137.38 liters (just over 36 gallons) per capita. And that’s not the only claim to fame the country has. The Czech Republic is also the birthplace of the pilsner, a popular type of pale lager.
Even though America only places 12th on the list of top beer-drinking countries per capita, the large population still makes it an important market for the beverage. The best-selling brand in America is Bud Light, with 14.3% of the market share. It’s followed by Coors Light (7.2%), Miller Light (6.1%), Budweiser (5.5%), and Michelob Ultra (4.3%).