It was hunter gatherers who created the first craft brew. During that time of foraging for berries and going out for a hunt, hoping that one of your tribesmen actually catches something edible, humans decided that they need more beer. Thus agriculture and what we consider modern civilization is born. This isn’t true exactly, but I like to believe that man decided to evolve due to their desire for more beer.
If you are ever in San Diego this year and fancy yourself a a fan of fermented alcoholic beverages, then head over to Balboa park and see the Museum of Man’s Beerology exhibit. With the exception of caffeinated beverages and water, beer is the most widespread drink in the world. So it is important to learn how beer has shaped our culture and civilization since its inception. I will proceed with a synthesized version of my experience, but do yourself and see the exhibit with your own sober eyes.
Mesopotamia is considered the cradle of civilization. One of the first places in the world where man decided to stop foraging wild plants and animals and start domesticating life. The ancient land, now modern day Iraq, was the first know discoveries of the human race specifically domesticating wheat and barley. Two key ingredients in brewing beer.
The reason some consider modern civilization something that was shaped by home brewing is because farming is hard! It was easier to spend the day hunting and gathering as opposed to planting very tiny grains which you wouldn’t see any short term results. If you take a look at the home brewing community today, it makes sense that people are willing to put a lot more effort to create a very high quality of beer. Even early civilizations recognized this. So when your brewery tour guide tells you that modern civilization started with beer, it may be quite possible.
Religion, Beer, and the Incas
For the Incas, beer consumption was a reflection of the heavenly order. They created a corn beer called the Chicha, which they drank out of a vessel called a kero. The Sapa Inca drank from a golden kero, his wife Coya Inca drank from a silver kero, and everyone else drank from a colorful wooden kero.
China, Millet, and Rice
Chinese cultures across time are notoriously efficient when it comes to agriculture and were the first to develop farming technologies such as the iron plow. Although known for their cultivation of rice, millet was once a more important crop and was an important ingredient in making beer in China. The oldest liquid beer ever discovered was a millet and rice beer preserved inside a three thousand year old bronze vessel from a Shang Dynasty Tomb.
This is just foam on top of the beer when it comes to the information that Beerology provides. Other facts include a display of ancient growlers, information on Amazonian head-hunters who chewed and spit poisonous roots to create their fist beer, and much more.
If you are a home brewer or simply just a big fan of beer like I am, I recommend making a stop at Beerology.