EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 07: Charles Douglas Barr enjoys a pint outside The Last Drop pub in the Grassmarket on October 7, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. New restrictions seeing all pubs and restaurants across central Scotland to be closed under new measures aimed at tackling a surge in coronavirus cases announced by Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
This Ancient Drinking Song May Actually Be The First Recipe For Beer
By Nico Danilovich
Despite popular belief, beer doesn't originate from Europe, nor do the drinking songs that go along with it. For that, one must look further east to Sumer, the earliest known civilization, located in what is now Iraq, and it's there that perhaps the first recipe for beer emerged through song.
According to historian Peter Damerow, the first known recipe for beer is almost 4,000 years old. In what is now Turkey, Sumerian clay tablets were uncovered, which recorded a hymn to Ninkasi, the goddess of brewing. The hymn's form makes it clear these lyrics were meant to be sung and not only praise Ninkasi but also describe the brewing process for early beer.
First, dough is mixed with sweet aromatics and baked alongside hulled grains. Malt, honey, and wine are added before everything ferments in a vat, and finally, the beer is poured out and filtered. The song's musical nature spread by word of mouth and made it easy for illiterate brewers to remember the recipe for their beer.
The drink itself has been resurrected in modern times by Anchor Brewing Company, named "Ninkasi" after the goddess that inspired it, and throughout the process, many were surprised by how similar ancient brewing techniques and modern production practices are. Some musicians have also re-created the song as spoken-word or rock and jazz inspirations.