Beer – The Cradle of Civilization
We’ve posted a number of posts and polls here on The Brew Club, but it’s worth mentioning, as we start English Ale Month (announcement soon) that none of our posts have yet really captured the true cultural significance of beer.
Civilization is generally accepted as beginning when homo-sapiens first settled down to cultivate crops such as cereals. Prior to that they were ‘hunter gatherers’ living on fruit, berries and hunted animals. Fruit and berries are fine for making wine, but to brew beer you need cereals – primarily barley and that requires settling down, sowing and cultivating and finally harvesting the crop.
The Sumerians are credited with first brewing beer as far back as 2800 BC using barley loaves which could either be eaten or used as the start of a brew mash. Boiling bread and pouring off a broth is actually mentioned in The Bible (Judges 6: 19-20). The resulting brew incidentally, was known appropriately enough as ‘boosa’ and ancient Egyptian texts report that the Pharaoh’s court in 1800 BC would receive deliveries of 130 Jars of Beer a day. It was Aristotle (384-322 BC) who first described Ales as ‘barley wine’.
Further afield, in northern climates that wouldn’t support vineyards, the development of ‘wine made from Barley’ gathered apace, and the Roman scholar ‘Pliny the Younger’ – who lived between 62 and 113AD) reported that by his time at least 195 types of ‘barley wines’ had been recorded in the European reaches of the Roman Empire.
So, refreshing and reinvigorating, but as you raise your glass on April 1st remember, you’re also celebrating the very birth of civilization.
And sorry, this ISN’T an April Fool post!