Where was Beer Invented?

Beer is arguably the greatest beverage ever invented and it’s sometimes referred to as the ‘Nectar of the Gods.’ When pondering on the magnificent qualities of this complicated liquid, the thought of its origins often comes to mind.Who were the sheer geniuses to invent such an amazing thing and where were they from? Unfortunately the beginnings of beer date back so far in the past that we can’t know for sure exactly who is responsible, but here are the best 3 theories.

The Ancient Sumerians
According to some historians the first evidence of beer was on a 6,000 year old Sumerian tablet. Etched into the stone was a picture of a group of people drinking from reed straws out of a communal bowl, which is presumed to be containing beer. The location of the potential founders of beer is in modern day Iran, and recent testing of ancient pottery from this group shows that they were in fact brewing beer nearly 7,000 years ago. The Sumerians not only brewed this wonderful liquid, but also celebrated Ninsaki, the patron goddess of brewing . Contained inside of a poem honoring the brewing goddess is what is considered to be the oldest beer recipe in existence. The recipe is said to be 3,900 years old and describes the creation of beer from barley using bread. There were similar tribes in nearby areas, such as the Babylonians, who also were brewing beer around the same time period, but according to the ancient history of Mesopotamia the Sumerians were the first to pull the trigger in brewing the legendary beverage.

The Chinese
While the civilizations of the Middle East were beginning to discover the secrets of how to make beer their neighbors to the East were doing the same thing. It is hard to prove whether the Chinese were brewing before, after or around the same time period as the Sumerians, but there is definitely proof that the cultures discovered the trade independently from one another. In small, individual batches archaeologists have discovered evidence of brewing alcoholic drinks that could be classified as beer dating back to 7,000 B.C. Their beer was originally brewed for use in ancestral worship, funerals and rituals for their leaders.

First Civilization to Mass Produce Cereal
When trying to decipher what civilization first discovered the ‘Nectar of the Gods,’ it’s important to take into account that many cultures kept better records of their history than others. Just because archaeological evidence supports the idea that Sumerians and Chinese cultures were definitely brewing way back in the day, doesn’t mean other cultures didn’t discover the same thing, but just never wrote it down. In fact, it is possible for cereals with certain types of sugar to spontaneously ferment from wild yeast that lives in the air. This means that beer or similar alcoholic beverage could have easily been made by mistake by any tribe or culture that had domesticated cereal grains. It is probably the most fair to say that whatever civilization was the first to domesticate cereal should technically be credited as the founders of beer!

By Alex Vere Nicoll