In Mesopotamia, brewing was a respected occupation and was mostly conducted by women funnily enough. The Mesopotamian brew’s main ingredient was twice baked barley. Mmmm… that sounds delicious.
In Babylonia, it was also women, particularly priestesses that did the lion’s share of brewing. In 2100 BC, King Hammurabi made laws governing tavern keepers, so it’s clear that the ingestion of beer was quite widespread by then. Here’s a receipt for the purchase of “best” beer from a brewer around 2050 BC in the Sumerian city of Umma in Ancient Iraq.
China independently happened upon a similar processes for brewing themselves around 7000BC. Was it a coincidence, or was it the universal beer gods spreading their mighty knowledge seeds on a thirsty people? Probably a coincidence I’d say.
A Greek chap called Xenophon wrote about beer drinking in Armenia in the 5th century BC:
“There were stores within of wheat and barley and vegetables, and wine made from barley in great big bowls; the grains of barley malt lay floating in the beverage up to the lip of the vessel, and reeds lay in them, some longer, some shorter, without joints; when you were thirsty you must take one of these into your mouth, and suck. The beverage without admixture of water was very strong, and of a delicious flavour to certain palates, but the taste must be acquired.”
5000 years ago the Egyptians were bang into their beer already. It was part of the Pharaoh’s daily diet and was used in religious ceremonies. Beer was regarded as the proper and most appropriate gift to give to a Pharaoh and was also sacrificed to the only beings more important than the Pharaohs – the gods. Below is a model that was part of an Egyptian funeral collection. It shows an Egyptian brewery/bakery in action:
So the amber nectar was truly held in high regard. The Egyptians even used beer to treat ailments. It’s certainly relieved some of my aches and pains over the years (and occasionally added to them).
It seems that the Greeks have the Egyptians to thank for the knowledge of brewing, they seem to have shown them their methods. Sophoclese in 450BC said that the best diet for a Greek was bread, meat, assorted veggies and beer. I agree. However, in general, although beer was produced in Greece, Israel and Italy it was seen as inferior to wine. But what do they know?
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