History21 Jan 2011 05:17 pm
Beer is the most widely consumed, and probably the oldest, alcoholic beverage in the world. Although we are not sure exactly when beer was first invented, we do know that it was one of the earliest products made as man began converting from nomadic lifestyles to agriculture.
The earliest evidence of beer comes to us through an ancient Sumerian tablet about 6,000 years old. The tablet depicts a group of individuals drinking beer from a communal bowl (and having a great time while they were at it). However, in ancient times beer was not nearly as tasty as it is today, and straws were frequently used to keep from tasting the bitter and acrid brewing residue.
Amazingly, some of humanity’s earliest known writings refer to the production and distribution of beer: the Code of Hammurabi included laws regulating beer and beer parlors. Hammurabi set up a daily beer ration for the people of Babylon: 2 liters for workers, 3 for civil servants and 5 liters for administrators and high priest. The Code also prescribed harsh punishment for tavern keepers who attempted to cheat their customers.
One of the earliest beer-making recipes now known dates from about the same time: “The Hymn to Ninkasi”, a prayer to the Mesopotamian goddess of brewing, served as both a prayer and also provide the earliest recipe for beer.
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