What came first - beer or wine? Beer was produced in Mesopotamia at least 6,000 to maybe even 8,000 years ago. It is probably the first humanly produced alcoholic beverage before wine. Beer and wine were the earliest components of the drinking culture. In Egypt around 4,000 BC, half-baked bread was fermented with water to produce a type of beer. The god of fertility Osiris himself is said to have taught the Egyptians how to grow wine and produce beer. In the Sumerian Gilgamesh Epic, which reports on 2700 BC, the development of the primitive man Enkidu into a "cultivated man" is told. He is offered beer that he did not know until then. He drank seven cups of it and his heart became light. In this state he washed himself and thus became a human being.
In the codex of the Babylonian king Hammurabi (1728-1686 B.C.), laws on wine and beer are formulated. Among other things, it contains brewing regulations and price ceilings for beer. In Babylonia there are said to have been around 70 types of beer. The beers were flavoured with myrtle, saffron and aniseed, and (for which, incidentally, hops are used today) with ox gall and henbane. In the old cultures beer was mostly the everyday drink of the common people. Wine (especially better) was reserved for the ruling class and the priests due to the more complex production.
The Roman historian Tacitus (55-120) writes about the drinking habits of the Germanic tribes along the banks of the Rhine. He reports that viticulture is unknown to them. However, they bought it from the Celts (Gauls) and Romans. Some tribes, however, like those of the Suebi, had forbidden the purchase of wine. The predominant and preferred drink of the Germanic tribes was beer. The Romans made fun of it and Emperor Julian (331-363) wrote a famous mocking poem (excerpt): What are you - a wine? Where do you come from? I don't know you, I swear by wine. The wine tastes like the drink of the gods, but you taste like the stench of a goat. A production of beer on a larger scale began in Europe in the 9th century, at the time of Emperor Charlemagne (742-814). As with wine, it was the monasteries of the Roman Catholic Church that cultivated the brewing of beer. But it was not until the later Middle Ages that beer became a competitor to wine, mainly because wine was subject to high taxes and was much more expensive. In the 18th and 19th centuries, brewing beer finally developed into an important branch of the economy.
Water, hops and malt - nothing else. With this slogan a well-known brewery advertises. These three basic ingredients are also often mentioned in the purity laws of breweries, the oldest of which date back to the 15th century. This is to express that no additives are added. Surprisingly, yeast is not even mentioned as an ingredient. The simple reason is that in the past people did not even know about the effect of yeast as an essential part of the brewing process. This is because the fermentation took place spontaneously without human intervention by yeast fungi from the air. The malt is mostly made from barley, but also wheat, rice and corn by means of a fermentative process. By adding water and hops a mixture is prepared for fermentation. The use of hops was first mentioned in the 8th century. This gives the typical bitter, aromatic taste and also has a preservative effect.
Malt contains a high amount of fermentable sugar, which is then fermented using the yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is also used in wine. Compared to wine, beer generally has a lower alcohol content of between 3.5 and 6% vol. However, there are also strong beers with up to 12% and more. The many types of beer differ in the type of grain, fermentation method (top-fermented, bottom-fermented), hops, original wort, colour and possibly additives (e.g. Belgian raspberry beer). In traditional wine countries such as Germany and Austria, the consumption of beer is still higher than that of wine. Beer has long since lost its reputation as the "simple drink", and beer tastings are also available. By the way, rice wine is much more similar to beer than wine in terms of production. Beer is the classic drink in the custom of drinking in student fraternities.
During the prohibition in the USA from 1920 to 1933, beer was also affected by the ban, in accordance with the provisions defined in the "National Prohibition Act", as all beverages with an alcohol content of more than 0.5% by volume were considered "intoxicating drinks". The large beer producers survived this period by producing so-called near beer, but many thousands of smaller breweries disappeared from the market forever. See also other alcoholic beverages that are also not made from grapes, such as gin, rum, rice wine, whisky and vodka.
Light beer: Flo422, Gemeinfrei, Link
Altbier: By Johann H. Addicks, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, link
Pilsner: By Wolfgang Sauber - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Budweiser: Norbert F. J. Tischelmayer
Bottles: By Øyvind Holmstad - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link