Beer : The Story
BEER is the one word that gets everybody’s attention no matter when and where, and we all love cracking open a cold one, be it a weekend or not. It’s one of the highest selling alcohols in the world and is enjoyed but by amateur and veteran drinkers alike, but what if I were to tell you that beer helped in with the formation of civilization? Yes, you read that right. Just as a person living in the modern era, people in ancient times enjoyed a glass of beer after a long day of work. According to Egyptian historians, the laborers working in the construction of the Great Pyramids of Giza were given rations of 4-5 liters of beer a day for ‘nutritional' purposes. Makes you wanna build some pyramids now, doesn’t it?
People love beer, and always have. But that’s normal people, not the Mesopotamians. These guys took things to a whole new level, to the point where they had a goddess for beer! Ninkasi was her name and her prayer was not simply just a prayer, but also a method of remembering the recipe for the making of beer.
Most ancient civilizations had deities who personified alcohol. Some of the earliest examples of writings that humankind possesses pertains to beer and beer parlours, recorded in the Code Of Hammurabi, again by the Mesopotamians. As I said, they loved beer.
The oldest evidence of beer we have is at least 5000 years old (!) , found at the site of Godin Tepe in Western Iran. It may seem easy today to manufacture beer through industrial processes, but back in the day, a lot of work had to be put into it. Most of the beer produced in ancient times would not be considered beer today, mainly because it usually lacked the bitter taste that modern beer has. This bitterness usually comes through the addition of hop flowers, which wasn’t done until 822 AD. The ancients liked to have their fun with beer by adding ingredients such as carrots, cheese, honey, spices and many other ingredients, some of them even being hallucinogenics such as hemp and poppy. Imagine getting stoned over a glass of beer!
Fun fact : The oldest registered trademark in the modern world is that of Bass Brewery, a manufacturer of beer and ale.
But apart from general historical facts, it is important to know that this drink so dear to us has actually played a very instrumental role in the shaping of civilization as we know it. In the words of the historian Roger Prtoz, "When people of the ancient world realised they could make bread and beer from grain, they stopped roaming and settled down to cultivate cereals in recognisable communities.” Psychologically speaking, beer has always worked as a reward system to the working class of society and the very fact that it was consumed by the labourers working on the pyramids shows that a balance between work and play can create mountains.
So the next time you’re pouring yourself a glass after a long day at work, apart from all the fun, you’re also affecting the course of civilization!