History of Beer
Beer is one of the world's oldest beverages, with the history of beer dating back to the 6th millennium BC, and being recorded in the written history of Ancient Iraq. The earliest known chemical evidence of beer dates to circa 3500–3100 BC from the site of Godin Tepe in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran. Beer may have been known in Neolithic Europe as far back as 3000 BC, though was mainly brewed on a domestic scale. Beer drinking accessories, such as mugs, have also been found in Israel, and date back to nearly 2,000 BC.
Historical documentation shows that around 5,000 years ago, ancient Chinese civilizations were brewing a beer-like substance known as “Kui”. In fact, a clay tablet found in what was ancient Mesopotamia, indicated that brewing was a fairly well respected occupation during the time, and that the majority of brewers were women.
Early traces of beer and the brewing process have been found in ancient Babylonia as well. At the time, brewers were women as well, but also Priestesses. Some types of beers were used especially in religious ceremonies. In 2,100 BC, the Babylonian king Hammurabi included regulations governing tavern keepers in his law code for the kingdom.
Beer was part of the daily diet of Egyptian Pharaohs over 5,000 years ago. Then, it was made from baked barley bread, and was also used as a sacrament in religious practices.
The role of beer in Egyptian society was far greater than just a drink. Often, beer was prescribed to treat various illnesses. Beer was considered to be the most proper gift to give to Egyptian Pharaohs, and it was also offered as a sacrifice to the gods.
Based on historical evidence, it appears that the Egyptians taught the Greeks the beer brewing process. The Greek writer Sophocles (450 BC) discussed the concept of moderation when it came to consuming beer in Greek culture, and believed that the best diet for Greeks consisted of bread, meats, various types of vegetables, and beer or zythos as they called it. The Greeks later taught the Roman civilization the process of brewing, who in turn later taught the early British/Anglo-Saxons tribes.
The process of brewing beer grew tremendously during the rise of Christianity. This was primarily because of the roles that monks had in the production of beer. Monasteries were some of the first organizations to brew beer as a trade. Monks built breweries as part of their efforts to provide food, shelter and drink to various travelers and pilgrims. A large amount of Christian saints have relationships to brewing. Saint Augustine of Hippo, Saint Luke the Evangelist, and Saint Nicholas all are considered to be patrons of brewing. Emperor Charlemagne, the ruler of the Christian kingdom around 770 AD considered beer to be an important part of living, and is often thought to have trained Christian brewers himself. Like in ancient times, women were the primary brewers during the medieval times. Women took over brewing after the monasteries had really established the process.
As almost any substance containing carbohydrates, mainly sugar or starch, can naturally undergo fermentation, it is likely that beer-like beverages were independently invented among various cultures throughout the world. The invention of bread and beer has been argued to be responsible for humanity's ability to develop technology and build civilization.
Beer produced before the Industrial Revolution continued to be made and sold on a domestic scale, although by the 7th century AD beer was also being produced and sold by European monasteries. During the Industrial Revolution, the production of beer moved from artisanal manufacture to industrial manufacture, and domestic manufacture ceased to be significant by the end of the 19th century. The development of hydrometers and thermometers changed brewing by allowing the brewer more control of the process, and greater knowledge of the results.