The Fascinating History of Beer

Beer has a fundamental role in the history of civilization. I wrote about it for Calorie Count a few years ago after hearing the story from a friend, a technical kind of guy who remembers every detail and then relates it back. You’ve been there; still, it was captivating. I’ve already made The Case for Fermented Foods, the essence of decomposition and metamorphosis and so, all of life. Nowadays, my daughter’s boyfriend brews beer and mead in bubbling cauldrons in their Brooklyn apartment. Stay tuned for more about that. The definitive guide to beer history is A History of Beer and Brewing by Ian Hornsey. I’ve condensed it here to a one minute read.

The History of Beer, Condensed

  • Around the world, prehistoric man discovers fermentation by chance occurrence as decaying fruit mixes with yeast, molds and bacteria in the air to produce alcohol.
  • 12,000 BC: Nomadic hunters and gatherers settle down to farm grain (presumably to make beer because bread-baking is unknown)
  • 7,000 BC: Brewing (i.e. intentionally making beer from grain or bread) is practiced in Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Israel, China, and South America.
  • 500 BC – 500 CE: Wine takes over as the preferred drink in the Western world.  Beer is for peasants.

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