August 2018 / by wanderers

All About Beer

…as old as human civilization is an integral part of human evolution. Beer was ‘discovered’ by accident, anthropologists believe, 10000 years ago! In the earliest ages, beer being the ONLY source of balanced nutrition, the search for such a nutritious food is what drove our ancestors out of their caves, few anthropologists opine! This lead to them settling down for farming…..and the rest is history!

Beer was a safe alternative to water; the currency of tender; a sacred offering to God… and always a social drink!

For us, beer is a sacred offering to our fellow travellers…. YOU!

Beer was probably discovered independently by many ancient cultures – Mesopotamia (region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, in what is known today as Iraq) (6000 BC); Egypt (5000 BC); Nubia, Africa (4000 BC) have the earliest records of brewing of beer. A beer drinking scene carved on a 6000-year-old Mesopotamian clay tablet is the earliest known evidence of beer. Ancient Mesopotamian beer was a sweet, thick brew made from malted barley, dates and honey. Because it was unfiltered, people used straws to penetrate the layer of solids that floated on top of the beer.

The most detailed painting of ancient Egyptian brewing scenes is on an Old Kingdom wall in the tomb of Ti, a high official in the pharaoh’s court, who was buried in the royal city of Saqqara.

Brewing scenes from the Tomb of Ti

To read the scenes, start at the bottom left.

Lower register:

Grain is drawn from the stores (A), measured (B), and then registered (C). The grain is then pounded (D), ground on a grinding stone (E), and the resulting meal is sieved (F).

Middle register:

Special bread is made for brewing. First, the grain is moistened (G). Then, the dough is kneaded (H) and worked into an oblong load (I). A worker carries a tray of these prepared loaves to the brewer (J). The loaves are placed in moulds and stacked up and heated only slightly – the centres are left uncooked (K). Liquid is added to the bread (L) and, while still in the mould, the bread is placed on a stand and broken up by hand (M).

Upper register:

Yeast and perhaps a flavouring substance is added (N) at the beginning of fermentation. A brewery official supervises the work (O). A pair of workers strains the beer (P). Other workers fill (Q) and seal (R) the jars. The authenticity is guaranteed by stamping the wet clay on the stopper, probably with a personal or royal seal (S).

It is from these ancient lands, barley cultivation and brewing of beer spread to Europe and established itself as a vital social and refreshing drink!

The earliest known brewers of beer were women.

The earliest known usage of Hops – the female flowers of the vine Humulus lupulus in brewing was just about 1200 years ago. Hops were used for its excellent preservative characters. The bitterness and aroma that hops impart in beer were incidental, at that time. However, with the progress in preservation technologies, hops are currently used for their aromatic and bittering properties. Hop harvesting is a huge social event in Europe, linked with the migrating families all across Europe.

Ancient Beer Facts

  • Prized possessions were often buried with the remains of important officials in ancient Mesopotamia. A glittering metal tube discovered in one tomb proved to be a golden straw for sipping beer.
  • Barley for brewing was so important to the early Romans that they honoured the grain on their gold and silver coins.
  • Historians have called beer the national drink of ancient Egypt. The pharaohs appointed a “royal chief beer inspector” to protect its quality.
  • Long before the time of Confucius, the Chinese brewed with millet, a cereal grain. According to very old sacred books, beer played an important role in early Chinese religious rituals.

Want to know how beer is revered across cultures and civilisations?

Beer Styles

Taxonomy of Beer