Category: beer

Sapporo is the oldest beer company in Japan. It was founded in 1876, less than 10 years after the Meiji Restoration.

A pet dog and his owner enjoy a beer at the pub, October 1931.

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


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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I feel wonderful drinking beer, in a blissful mood, with joy in my heart and a happy liver.

LIFE Magazine, February 18, 1952

Twenty years ago, a team of divers found the wreck of the Sydney Cove. In 1796, the ship set sail from Calcutta, India, for Sydney, Australia. It sank along the way, taking 31,500 liters of tightly-sealed alcohol to the ocean floor. They were so well-sealed, in fact, that modern divers were surprised to discover that some bottles were still good!

Analyses revealed that the Sydney Cove was carrying port, grapes, and beer. The beer was an especially exciting find, because beer is a living thing, filled with yeasts for fermentation.  Brewers with Australia’s oldest brewery are hoping to use that yeast to create 18th-century-style beer.

First, they isolated the yeast from one of the beer bottles. They were excited to discovered that not only was the yeast 220 years old, but it was a rare hybrid strain, totally different from those used in modern beer. They had to experiment a lot to find a drink that was drinkable to modern tongues. One brewer described it as “taming” the yeast!

The result, The Wreck Preservation Ale, goes on sale this month.

The Daily Journal, Vineland, New Jersey, July 28, 1934

The Evening News, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, August 7, 1912

Beer was a staple of the Irish diet, as much as bread, according to new research. Masons hewing stone at a Dublin quarry in 1565 were allotted 12 to 14 pints of ale a day, when doing extreme labor. That’s the highest amount. But the lowest daily amount is still pretty high: household staff at Dublin Castle, and Elizabethan soldiers stationed in Ireland, were drinking up to 8 pints of hopped ale a day.

In the 1500s, Irish beers had higher oat contents than English beers. Oat beer was reportedly thicker, and more bitter, than beer made predominantly with barley. They also have 400 to 500 calories a pint. You could drink nothing but beer, and get enough calories for your day!