The earliest alcoholic drink in history is a 9,000 years old Neolithic grog brewed in China’s Yellow River Valley. However, barley beer seems to have been born in the Middle East. The Sumerians in Mesopotamia were the earliest brewers. The evidence that support this assumption includes a 4,000-year-old hymn to the Sumerian beer goddess and a 3100-3000 BC beer recipe on a clay tablet.
Beer brewing also flourished in ancient Egypt. According to Smithsonian magazine, Egyptian pyramid builders were partly paid with beer. Interestingly, according to The Atlantic, the beer in Ancient Egypt was brewed by women.
Monks and nuns also played a great role in the evolution of beer. The practice of monastic brewing appears to have started in medieval times. Some monks began brewing and selling beer to live according to The Rule of Saint Benedict. The rule requires monks and nuns to live by their sweat and not accept charity.
Still, during the Medieval Times, water was usually contaminated. The beer was safer to drink than water. Monks were encouraged to brew and drink beer rather than drink germs-carrying water.
We can also trace the development of modern breweries to monks. Archeologists found the oldest drawings of a modern brewery in the Swiss monastery of Saint Gall. The drawings date back to AD 820. They show three breweries each producing beer for different groups of people. There was a brewery for monks, monastery guests, and pilgrims and the poor.
In 1200 AD, beer brewing monks discovered that adding hops can give beer its distinctive bitter edge. Hops are today referred to as “the spice of beer”.
In 1685, France’s La Trappe monastery set the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance. Beers that are brewed per the order are called Trappist beers.
In the 17th Century, The Paulaner monks of Bavaria started producing a Lent beer called Doppelbock. The “liquid bread” was excellent for fasting monks.
Monks and artisans continued experimenting with beer, and this led to modern beer flavors. The first beer bottle in history was sold in 1850. Today, beer is wildly popular. There are thousands of breweries across the world and numerous beer flavors and brands.
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