Beer is the third most popular beverage on earth, after water and tea, and for many it’s a thing of cultish devotion. We seek out the newest releases from our favorite craft breweries, we spend our weekends in our favorite beer bar, we go to massive beer festivals, we talk about it with our friends, and some of us even brew it ourselves. Even if you’re not a complete beer nerd, we bet you’re thinking about cracking open a cold one right now.
Anthropologist Alan D. Eames, known as the “Indiana Jones of Beer,” claimed to have found what he called the “world’s oldest beer advertisement” on his global quest to learn about the origins of beer. According to Eames, the 4,000-year-old Mesopotamian stone tablet featured a large-busted woman holding goblets of beer in each hand, with the tagline, “Drink Elba, the beer with the heart of a lion.”
Hops, which both preserve beer and give it its characteristic bitterness, actually come from the same family of flowering plants, Cannabaceae, as marijuana.
In ancient times, beer was brewed almost exclusively by women. Brewing was a well-respected occupation in ancient Mesopotamia, and in ancient Babylonia, brewers also doubled as priestesses.
British brewers faced a problem in attempting to ship beer to India: It would go rancid during the long voyage. So they added as much alcohol and hops as they could to the beer (both known preservation techniques) to help the beer survive the journey, inventing a new beer style in the process: India Pale Ale.
The most expensive beer ever sold at auction was a bottle of Cantillon Loerik, a gueuze that was only brewed once, in 1998, and is therefore extremely rare. It sold in April 2014 for $2,583.
During the construction of the Great Pyramids in Giza, each worker received a daily ration of four to five liters of beer.
China is the fastest-growing beer market in the world, and consumes more of it than any other country. The Chinese consume more than twice as much beer as Americans do!
You’ve probably heard the Ben Franklin quote, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Sadly, he never said that. What he did say was, “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy,” which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
The majority of the world’s beer is brewed by massive conglomerates, and many of your favorite “craft” breweries are owned by them. For example, Anheuser-Busch InBev owns Blue Point, Elysian, and Goose Island.