3 fun facts on beer history for impressing your beer buddy
By Ng U-Sern and Mili Lim
Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute
Beer, not just a beverage but a culture.
An awareness of the depth of beer beyond its consumption as an end product is underrated amongst the majority of beer drinkers. Here are some conversation-worthy facts to get the beer talk rolling and impress your beer buddies with.
Let’s delve into it…hop first
1. ONE OF THE OLDEST SURVIVING BEER RECIPES IN EXISTENCE…
…is ‘The Hymn To Ninkasi’ which dates back to around 1800 BCE.
Where is this from?
Originating from Sumer in southern Mesopotamia (or now known as Iraq), the beer recipe in the form of a poem was etched into a clay tablet.
Why a poem?
One probably reason presented by Joshua J. Mark in his 2011 article ‘The Hymn to Ninkasi, Goddess of Beer’ is that –
“In an age where few people were literate, the Hymn to Ninkasi, with its steady cadence, provided an easy way to remember the recipe for brewing beer.”
2. GETTING PAID IN BEER…
…and bread was a convention for pyramid labourers in 2686-2181 BC. (Probably why the pyramids in all its glory still stands strong today.)
Egyptians and their beer
Beer was more than just subsistence wage for pyramid labourers. Wealthy Egyptians would sometimes offer beer to the gods and beer was often also buried in tombs with the deceased to carry them to the afterlife.
3. THE CLAIM THAT PEOPLE IN MEDIEVAL EUROPE DRANK MORE BEER THAN WATER MAY BE A HALF-TRUTH.
The lack of water sanitation during that period made it safer to drink beer because it was free of waterborne pathogens.
Why a half-truth?
Some modern beliefs lean to the idea that beer was a substitute for water. However, this may be a halt-truth because while contaminated water was a concern, there were already established guidelines for knowing what water was drinkable during that period.
Food history blogger Jim Chevallier says:
“There is no specific reason then to believe that people of the time drank proportionately less water than we do today”.
Rather it could have been more of “Beer if I have it, or water if I have no beer”.