We’ve been drinking beer for thousands of years and it might just be one of the most important beverages ever made. Seriously though.
You may not realize this, but whenever you’re holding a glass of beer in your hand, you’re essentially holding enough power to start civilization as we know it!
Here are 10 facts you need to know about beer:
1. Beer was first created by humans as long ago as the 5th millennium B.C…. that’s almost 7,000 years ago! Most likely first brewed by early civilizations in Mesopotamia, beer was a crucial drink for the development of modern civilizations. The Sumerians even prayed to Ninkasi, the goddess of beer and brewing, on a daily basis. The “Hymn of Ninkasi”, written in 1800 B.C., is considered to be the oldest beer recipe in the history.
2. The Mesopotamians weren’t the only ones to pray to the gods in thanks of beer. Cultures all over the world became obsessed with the sweet, sweet fermented beverage. On the other side of the world, the Aztec prayed to Tezcatzontecatl, the god of pulque, a traditional alcoholic beverage similar to beer and made from fermented juice of the maque plant, a type of agave. The Aztec were so stoked about pulque and Tezcatzontecatl that they built a huge pyramid on Tepozteco Mountain to worship him and his divine drink!
3. Beer didn’t just sustain ancient civilizations. Even the good ol’ US of A was founded on beer. In the early days of the American colonies, George Washington and his fellow Founding Fathers would meet in a tavern and plan the revolution over a glass of beer. These Sons of Liberty, as they became known, frequently met at Fraunces Tavern in downtown New York city. You can still grab a cold one at Fraunces Tavern today and drink in the company of some serious American history.
4. Today, Americans still love beer and drink more than ever before. On average, an American will drink about 23 gallons of beer a year. That’s more than enough beer to fill two standard carry-on suitcases!
5. During the construction of the Pyramids of Giza, laborers were paid in beer rations! Each laborer received the equivalent of about 10 bottles of beer a day. Since it took close to 20 years to build the Pyramids and, assuming a laborer worked almost that whole time, each worker potentially consumed more than 9,000 gallons of beer. That’s about 380 gallons a year – or more than four average bathtubs full of beer!
6. Now it’s no surprise that humans love drinking, but it wasn’t until 2013 when a study was finally revealed just how much we love to crack open a brewski. Turns out, the flavor of beer alone is strong enough to prompt the release of dopamine, one of the main pleasure chemicals of the brain. Beer sprayed in tiny amounts on the subjects’ tongues significantly increased their desire to drink. So even if you’re not drinking enough beer to get drunk, the taste of beer alone can make you feel great!
7. How exactly do you make this amazing nectar of the gods, you might be asking? Well, through a little process called fermentation! Ok, fermentation isn’t a just little process at all – it actually helps make all the alcohol found behind the bar, everything from Absinthe to Zinfandels. Fermentation, the process of converting starch to ethanol and carbon dioxide, can only happen with the help of a fun little one-celled fungus that we call yeast!
8. So here’s how beer works: First you start with a grain (often barley or wheat) that gets malted, meaning it is germinated a tiny bit and heated to help break it down. After the malted grain is milled and water is added, the starches start to convert into sugars. At this point you add our good friend yeast, who eats and converts the sugars through its own metabolism to create ethanol and carbon dioxide, resulting in the sweet fermented beverage we call beer!
9. Over the thousands of years that we’ve been making beer, humans have experimented with all kinds of yeasts and recipes to create a variety of flavors. There are now more types of beer than ever before – more than we can even count. There are tens of thousands of breweries around the world, so, by our best estimates, there are likely well over a million brands of beer being brewed every year.
10. Humans love to celebrate beer. Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany is considered the largest beer festival in the world. Over six million people attend every year!
Check out this Sound Cool at Parties video for some more crazy beer facts!