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Beer Here!

Beer Here!
  • The Third Record-Book of the Society of ... (by )
  • Enforcing the Law against Gambling, Boot... (by )
  • The Prohibition Leaders of America (by )
  • This Side of Paradise (by )
  • Beer and 'Baccy : A Christmas Miscellany... (by )
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Many people around the globe clink glasses with other revelers when drinking beer or other spirits. Drinking beer, wine, cocktails, and spirits is a means of celebration and part of socializing. Whether we say cheers, salute, slainte, or kanpai, we should understand the history behind beer.

According to Heartland Brewery, a brewery chain in Manhattan, beer is the oldest recorded recipe in the world.  Historians believe that the primitive cultures of Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq) were the pioneers of brewing, although they didn’t document their practice. The ancient Egyptians, who used beer for religious ceremonies, were among the first to document the brewing process on papyrus scrolls around 5,000 B.C.

In Mesopotamia, the oldest trace of beer is recorded on a 6,000-year-old Sumerian tablet depicting people drinking from a communal bowl. Beer & Brewing Magazine states that Sumerians grew the grains and made them into a form of bread called bappir. They praised Ninkasi, a goddess whose name translates to “lady who fills the mouth.” A brewer to the gods, she taught people to make beer, which was called kas.

Beer eventually traveled to Egypt where it was enjoyed by the pharaoh, as well as workers and craftsman. Workers who built the pyramids received both beer and bread as compensation. The Egyptians also used beer for medicinal purposes and in burial ceremonies.

Europe’s vast barley crops provided ingredients for brewers, contributing beer as a big industry. The “Purity Law” is one of Germany’s major contributions to brewing. Introduced by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria in 1516, the law stated that beer should only be brewed from barley, hops, and water. Still in existence today, it has never been altered.
In 1620, the pilgrims who came over to North America on the Mayflower drank beer as a main source of hydration. The drinking water on board wasn’t safe and depleting supplies of beer explained why Plymouth Rock became a stopping point on their planned journey to Virginia.

During the 1700s, breweries opened in growing colonial cities.. They brewed beers that were just like the ones popular in England.

In the USA, Prohibition witnessed yet another dramatic influence in the production and consumption  of alcoholic beverages. In response to strident concern for domestic welfare, the U.S. Congress passed the 21st amendment to the United States Constitution, outlawing of the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. Many people rebelled, , which led to bootlegging—the illegal production and sale of liquor. It also sparked the debut of speakeasies—illegal, secretive drinking establishments. The social experiment failed miserably, and on December 5, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first and only repeal of a state-ratified, constitutional amendment.

During the 1970s and 1980s, microbreweries began popping up in England, and there was a rise of craft breweries in the American West. In recent years, global beverage companies have snapped up craft breweries as craft brews have been gobbling up shelf space and increased market share. Brewers Association reports that the number of operating breweries in the U.S. grew 16.6 percent from 2015 to 2016.

For more information, read The Prohibition Leaders of America by Benjamin Fish Austin; This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald; and Beer & ’Baccy: A Christmas Miscellany of Jovial Literature (anonymous).

By Regina Molaro

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