History of Beer

Although there are many types of beverages which are available in the world today, one drink which continues to remain popular is none other than beer. It is interesting to see how beer was first made and how it went on gaining more and more popularity. Let us look a bit into the history of beer and step back into simpler times where people moved from being food gatherers to settlers and started cultivating crops.  This sets the stage for the invention of beer.

Though it may be difficult to state the exact time and culture where beer was invented it has been rumoured to coincide with the time when cereal domestication began. Around 7000 years ago beer was produced in Persia.  In Mesopotamia the oldest beer dates back to 6000 years ago. Some say the oldest beer recipe shows how this beverage was produced from barley via bread and this dates back to the Sumerian period about 3900 BC in a poem about Ninkasi (Sumerian goddess of beer). Around 3000 BC there may have been some twenty kinds of beer which the Babylonians brewed and this was usually served with a straw and is believed to be bitter in taste. Beer history also involves Egypt (1500 BC) as evidence is found showing beer and malt in the tombs of Pharaohs.

Old fortress on the top of the Monk's mountain in Salzburg, AustEuropean monasteries produced and also sold beer by the seventh century AD and beer popularity spread across the European continent as a result. During the Middle Ages, beer was one of the most common drinks served to royalty and common-folk alike.  In the ninth century beer began to see hops used as a flavoring and it could be said that hopped beer reached its perfection in Bohemia’s medieval towns sometime in the thirteenth century. The purity law (Reinheitsgebot) was adopted by William IV, Duke of Bavaria and this is believed to be the oldest food regulation being used through the twentieth century.

Shh... Monk

Barrels of standardized sizes came with the new scale of operations which were initiated by the towns on Germany and these facilitated exports on a huge scale. barrelThus from brewing at home beer moved to the mid-sized operations and this helped beer spread to places like Holland, Flanders, and England where it reached in the fifteenth century.


Vintage Beer Tin SignA turning point for beer came through the Industrial Revolution and during this period the production of this beverage shifted from artisan and craft production to industrial manufacturing. Beer was part of many cultures around the world, yet high volume brewing to serve the masses was enabled by development of hydrometers and thermometers and enhanced control over the brewing process.  In the USA the brewing industry saw huge consolidation in the years post World War II. Note the rise of beer brands like Coors, Budweiser, Miller and a handful of other major competitors.

The brewing industry has become a large-scale export business which started from a small-scale domestic industry in the northern Europe during the late middle Ages. The quantity of beer sold per year runs in billions of gallons and the revenues amount to billions of dollars. And even though beer is now a huge global business with major corporate interests involved, the last few decades have seen a renewed interest in craft beers, or low volume beers produced by smaller companies, especially in the USA.  Beer is a great beverage that comes in all sorts of flavors and prices and is enjoyed by millions (billions?) around the world every day.

Still Life with a keg of beer and draft beer by the glass.