Who Invented Beer? A Look at the History of Brewing

According to Czech legend, the deity Radegast, god of hospitality, is credited with inventing beer. Ancient Sumerians also had a patron goddess of brewing, Ninkasi. The earliest solid evidence of beer production dates back to the Sumerian period around 4,000 BC. During an archaeological excavation in Mesopotamia, a tablet was discovered showing villagers drinking a beverage from a bowl with straws.

The Chinese were the first to brew beer in 7000 BC. C., known as kui. In the West, however, the process now recognized as brewing began in Mesopotamia, in the settlement of Godin Tepe, now in present-day Iran, between 3500 and 3100 BC. Evidence of beer brewing has been confirmed between these dates, but it is likely that brewing in Sumer (southern Mesopotamia, present-day Iraq) was in practice much earlier.

Surprisingly, most factory owners were women in their homes with bippar barley bread baked twice or the priestesses of Ninkasi. The receipt for Alulu beer from Ur in 2050 BC was a test of the commercialization of beer at the time. The Babylonians brewed several types of beer classified into 20 different categories, depending on the characteristics of the beer. This drink became a regular commodity in the commodity trade with Egypt over time. Gall, dating back to 820 AD, is the oldest existing brewery plan showing a Benedictine monastery with beer facilities.

Based on this document, you can conclude that the production level of monastic breweries was approximately 100 gallons (378.5 l) per day. The monks also improved the brewing process and emphasized the importance of cleaning and disinfection in the Middle Ages. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the first commercial breweries were established based on the production model of the monasteries. Beer was the result of the Agricultural Revolution (c. It is said that beer was not invented but discovered, however, brewing was an active option and the ancient Egyptians produced and consumed it in large volumes. By analyzing ancient pottery, Patrick McGovern is resurrecting the libations that nourished civilization.

It is just after sunrise at Dogfish Head Brewery in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where the ambition of the morning is to resurrect an Egyptian beer whose recipe dates back thousands of years. True alcohol enthusiasts will try just about anything to evoke the libations of yesteryear - goats will be slaughtered to create fresh wineskins so that the harvest acquires an authentic matching flavor. They brew beer in ceramics tempered with manure or boil it by dropping it on hot rocks. The Anchor Steam Brewery, in San Francisco, once screened the ingredients of a 4,000-year-old hymn to Ninkasi, the goddess of Sumerian beer. Widely published in academic journals and books, McGovern's research has shed light on agriculture, medicine and trade routes during pre-biblical times. But this is where Calagione's smile comes in - it has also inspired a couple of Dogfish Head offerings including Midas Touch - a beer based on decrepit soft drinks recovered from 700 BC from King Midas' tomb - who has received more medals than any other Dogfish creation.

To devise this latest Egyptian drink, McGovern and Calagione toured acres of spice stalls in Cairo's Khan el-Khalili market collecting ingredients by hand amid squawks from soon-to-be-decapitated chickens and under camera surveillance for “Brew Masters” - a Discovery Channel reality show about Calagione's business. The ancients could season their drinks with all kinds of unpredictable things: olive oil, marsh myrtle, cheese, meadowsweet, mugwort, carrot - not to mention hallucinogens such as hemp and poppy. But McGovern and Calagione based their Egyptian selections on McGovern's work with Pharaoh Scorpion I's tomb where a curious combination of savory thyme and coriander appeared in libations buried with him in 3150 BC. They decided that za'atar - a potent blend of Middle Eastern spices including oregano - was a suitable substitute.

They also harvested local yeast which could be descended from old varieties (many commercial beers are made from manufactured crops). Petri dishes filled with sugar were left overnight at an Egyptian date farm to capture airborne wild yeast cells then mailed to a Belgian laboratory where organisms were isolated and cultured in large numbers. Back at Dogfish Head ingredient tea now inexplicably smells like pineapple! McGovern advises brewers to use less za'atar; they comply. Spices are poured into a stainless steel pot to be stewed with barley sugar and...