It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
We're coming, thankfully, to the end of a long, difficult year but beer has held it's own and will
continue to do so. Because of that I think we might reflect a bit on beer and how it has impacted
civilizations around the world for so long. To put it simply, beer has been an integral part of many
cultures for thousands of years and we're all better off for it.. Yes, thousands. Until recently, the
earliest evidence of beer could be traced back 9,000 years ago to China but new archaeological
evidence found in Israel shows brewing goes back 13,000 years. Even you weren't around then
Bill. Oh, just teasing.
It seems making beer goes back to ancient Mesopotamia which was located in parts of modern-day
Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey and Syria. Indeed, the area was a hotbed for beer according to historians.
Brewing was especially important to Sumerians, The average Sumerian consumed up to one liter of
beer a day. I guess that means we're part Sumerian and maybe a bit more so. .
In many cultures, brewing was considered a domestic chore. Because of that beer was primarily
crafted by women as a domestic chore Today, in my opinion, there are far too few women brewers
and drinkers for that matter. If more women drank beer we'd probably have more female brewers.
We can discuss that some other time Bill but let me say that beer even helped women carve their
place in business back then as many opened taverns to sell their brews
Beer making was a real industry in ancient times as it is today. It wasn’t simple homebrewing, where
everybody was just making their own brew to get through the day. It was a large-scale enterprise.
Even before the time of the pharaohs, beer was being mass produced. with some societies
producing over 200 gallons a day at their breweries. That's impressive.
How about another tidbit I found? Beer was used as payment for workers. Laborers were given
beer three times a day as a form of payment In Egypt and i Mesopotamia, there’s evidence that
beer was used a form of currency for labor and to barter for almost any item. Hey, maybe
BeerNexus management could pay us in beer.
Since those long ago days societies have experienced many calamities but beer has survived and
prospered. While this pandemic has caused many of us to worry about the future of our favorite
beverage we shouldn't, not even a little bit. A look at beer history will show you that.
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next time!.
Hello Gina -
I'm impressed at your historical research. Of course I knew it already since, as you suggested, I
saw it all first hand. I'm only laughing on the outside. Seriously though, your point is well taken.
Beer's place as an integral part of our society is secure. When this pandemic ends beer will be
fine. Don't worry about pub and breweries being shutdown or closing. History is a good teacher,,
and as you've shown, places will reopen and new ones will spring up. Beer won't be back simply
because it never left.
I really enjoyed your look back, way back, so let me chip in by saying it wasn’t just ancient
civilizations that used beer to drive business and play a role in society .In the U.S.,during the
Industrial Revolution of the mid-1800s, factories were starting to pop up, farming was becoming
modernized, railroads were connecting the country and beer was at the center of it all. The titans
of American beer like Anheuser-Busch grew enormously during this period, due to such
innovations as mechanical refrigeration. Prior to refrigeration, most brewing operations in the U.S.
were quite small, as it was hard to ship products without spoilage. Once you had mechanically
refrigerated rail cars and, eventually, fleets of refrigerated trucks, factory-type breweries
appeared and beer brands went regional and national.
How's this for a statistic Gina, - the beer industry is currently responsible for well over 2 million
jobs in the USA. Breathtaking don't you think? And there are over 25,000 breweries worldwide,
spread among more than 200 countries and territories. That is a lot of beer and no pandemic is
going to stop it.
One reason for that, I think, is that beer has brought humans together from the very start. Beer,
beyond doubt, is a very social beverage and it always has been. We've all seen pictures from
those ancient societies that you mentioned where there is a large group of people surrounding a
jug with a lot of reeds sticking out of it. The people are all conversing most likely talking over
social happenings and maybe even doing some business negotiating. Getting together over a
beer has been going on for centuries and it's not going away.
It was beer that gave rise to the American saloon, which were centers of social life during the
second half of the 1800s when millions of European immigrants began to work in new factories
and stockyards. When these immigrants, our ancestors Gina, came to places like New York City
or Boston or elsewhere, they went to saloons for beer. They often didn’t speak English, so the
saloons quickly became a place for men to end their workday, socialize over a pint, and learn the
ways of their new country from language to politics. And they would never would have gone
there if it wasn't for beer.
Gina, you picked a great topic for our end of 2020 column. We may have a lot of things to worry
about in 2021 but beer isn't one of them.
Here's looking at you, Gina