Beer is more than just the most widely consumed and oldest man-made beverage. It wasn’t even created for leisurely consumption. Rather, its existence was sorted to play an important role in the day-to-day lives. From religion to medicine, beers have influenced the early cultures globally and have changed the way our societies work today. What was once treated akin to god, a symbol of health and prosperity, and a life-saving elixir, has definitely carried various civilisation on its shoulders.
BEER’S ANCIENT ORIGINS
What now is a refreshing beverage and a social liaison, dates back over 13,000 years. Evidence suggests that Beer’s early life began in Mesopotamia in circa 6000BC. Made from an array of cereals, fermented grain water was served in large communal Amphoras and drunk by the elites from reed straws. May be that’s where communal drinking began, or may be a sign of world’s first bar! Archaeological evidence suggests Pharos indulging in creating, serving, and imbibing the good nectar of Beers. By the 5000BC, it had become an imperative part of the daily diet of denizens across the continent. So much so, that the workers at the Pyramids of Giza were rationed five litres of beer as a part of their daily needs.
BEER RELIGION, INVENTIONS, LIFESTYLE
A poem honouring the goddess of brewing, called Ninkasi, can be traced back to the ancient Iraq (then Mesopotamia), circa 3900BC. It reads the earliest documented recipe of making beer! This poem was known to even the youngest kid in the family. You ask why? Beer, once fermented, had alcohol, enzymes, bacterias, and other substances that were deemed anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-septic, anti-oxidants, and much more. Basically, Beers were a life-saving drug against meals cooked with infected meats and waters. In the era of improper hygiene, absence of food science, HACCP, and FSSAI, beers what kept one alive. And much like the mothers cooking meals in our families today, they were the key professional brewers of the society then. Brewing became a much respected profession, much like a doctor’s. It this why they mothers are godsend?
Fast forward to the Middle Ages, it explains a lot why monks and monasteries are invested in brewing beers. They are medicine, a meal, and an honourable profession that does the job of the almighty – saving lives. Isn’t it?
BEERS AS SALARIES
Imagine getting crates of beers as a part of your monthly salaries, wouldn’t that be swell! People of Uruk (Mesopotamia), about 5000 years ago, were paid for their work, in the currency of Beer. Those who drank beers stayed healthier and flourished, marking it, in itself, a lifestyle-defining proposition. Much like how salt, sugar, and wines were regarded as a currency and status-defining proposition in various eras across human history, it could be said that there were beers that set this trend in motion.
5,000 years ago, Beer was an essential component of staple meal of Pharaohs. Made out of baked barley and breads these beers were sanctioned to workers making Pyramids as refreshment and meal. Each worker got daily ration of four to five litres. Not only did it keep them hydrated, and spirited, it also brought better nutrition than mere water. And not to forget, it was a quick meal too!
From religion, medicine, currency, to luxury, Beers have proven to be amongst the most important beverages of the world. They have saved, carried, defined, and nurtured civilisation, our societies, and our habits. With popularity of beer on a constant rise in modern times, next time you sip a beer, do remember to bow to it first!