Category: alcohol

The day before prohibition: Pictures of people drinking beer…

The day before prohibition: Pictures of people drinking beer before 1920.

A delightful… aroma and flavor. 1950s.

A delightful… aroma and flavor. 1950s.

Soviet anti-alcohol posters in the 1970s and 1980s.

Soviet anti-alcohol posters in the 1970s and 1980s.

A memorable picnic in the 1940s.

A memorable picnic in the 1940s.

BEER: BEER is one of the oldest intoxicating b…

BEER: 

BEER is one of the oldest intoxicating beverages consumed by human beings. Even a cursory survey of history makes clear that, after human beings have taken care of the essential needs of food, shelter, and rudimentary laws for the community, their next immediate concern is developing intoxicants. Evidence of early beer brewing has been confirmed by finds at the Sumerian settlement of Godin Tepe in modern-day Iran going back to between 3500-3100 BCE but intoxicants had already become an integral aspect of daily human life long before. Scholar Jean Bottero writes:

“In ancient Mesopotamia, among the oldest `civilized people’ in the world, alchoholic beverages were part of the festivities as soon as a simple repast bordered on a feast. Although beer, brewed chiefly from a barley base, remained the `national drink’, wine was not uncommon.” (84)

Although wine was consumed in Mesopotamia, it never reached the level of popularity that beer maintained for thousands of years. Sumerians loved beer so much they ascribed the creation of it to the gods and beer plays a prominent role in many of the Sumerian myths, among them, Inanna and the God of Wisdom and The Epic of Gilgamesh. The Sumerian Hymn to Ninkasi, written down in 1800 BCE but understood to be much older, is both a praise song to the Sumerian goddess of beer and a recipe for brewing.

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Beer In Ancient Egypt

Beer was a staple in ancient Egypt. Called hqt (heqet), it was drunk by all ages, and all classes. It was so important that wages were sometimes paid in beer. Workmen at the pyramids of the Giza Plateau were given beer, three times daily – five kinds of beer and four kinds of wine have been found by archaeologists at the site.

The beer drunk by these ancient people was probably very similar to the way beer is still produced in Sudan today. The beer seems to have been not very intoxicating. It was nutritious, and rather sweet, without bubbles, and thick – so thick that the beer had to be strained by drinking it with wooden straws.

That’s not to say ancient Egyptian beer was non-alcoholic. There are plenty of records of ancient Egyptians drinking beer at festivals, getting drunk, and having what sounds like great parties.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania, July 17, 1927

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania, July 17, 1927

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York, November 24, 1914

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York, November 24, 1914

The Topeka Daily Capital, Kansas, June 1, 1904

The Topeka Daily Capital, Kansas, June 1, 1904

Harrisburg Telegraph, Pennsylvania, January 1, 1930

Harrisburg Telegraph, Pennsylvania, January 1, 1930