The History of Beer: From Ancient Mesopotamia to Modern Times

Beer is a beverage that has been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years. It is produced by making and fermenting starches, derived mainly from cereal grains, most commonly malted barley, although wheat, corn (corn), rice and oats are also used. During the brewing process, the fermentation of starch sugars in the wort produces ethanol and carbonation in the resulting beer. The earliest evidence of beer production dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, around 7000 BC.

It is believed that humans, after attending to their immediate needs for food, shelter and rudimentary laws, sought to create some kind of intoxicant. Although beer, as it is recognized today, was developed in Europe (specifically in Germany), it was first enjoyed in ancient Mesopotamia. In the 13th century AD, beer finally began to be commercially produced in Germany, England and Austria. Chemical tests of ancient ceramic jars reveal that beer was produced around 3500 BC, in what is now Iran.

This was one of the first known biological engineering tasks in which the biological fermentation process was used. The Babylonians conquered Sumer and adopted their superior brewing skills. The Greeks largely despised beer as it was seen as the drink of their rivals and the conquered. However, some tests have been interpreted that establish the brewing date in Godin Tepe as early as 10,000 BC, when agriculture was first developed in the region. In 1765, major improvements in the efficiency of the steam engine made industrialization of beer a reality.

In some sectors, brewers are reluctant to adopt new technologies for fear of losing the traditional characteristics of their beer. The famous Alulu beer receipt from the city of Ur in 2050 BC shows that brewing had already been marketed at that time. These were the first precursors of the now famous Reinheitsgebot of 1516, Germany's much-vaunted “Beer Purity Act”. Once this was known, brewers switched to using mostly pale malt for all beers supplemented with a small amount of highly colored malt to achieve the right color for darker beers. The Thracians were also known to consume beer made from rye since the 5th century BC. Brewing continued at a good pace and eventually medium-sized operations with between eight and ten people replaced home brewing. It seems that beer has been a powerful motivation for Neolithic humans since almost any cereal containing certain sugars can undergo spontaneous fermentation due to the presence of wild yeasts in the air.

Beer has come a long way since its origins in Mesopotamia and is now enjoyed all over the world.