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The History of Beer

One of the world’s oldest known alcoholic beverages, beer was brewed as early as 4,000 years ago in ancient Egypt and Babylon.

According to Egyptian legend, Osiris, the god of agriculture, taught humans to prepare beer. It has been a commercial product since the late middle ages. Today beer is legally defined in some countries, as in Germany, where the standard ingredients, apart from water, are germinated barley, hops, and yeast.

A few thousand years in the life of beer

Historians speculate that prehistoric nomads may have made beer from grain and water before learning to make bread.

4300 BC

Babylonian clay tablets detail recipes for beer.

1600 BC

Egyptian texts contain 100 medical prescriptions calling for beer.

49 BC 

Caesar toasted his troops after crossing the Rubicon, which began the Roman Civil War. Before the Middle Ages brewing was left to women to make since it was considered a food as well as celebration drink.

23 BC

Chinese brewed beer called "kiu."

1000 AD

hops begins to be used in the brewing process.


German brewers develop the lager method of brewing.


Columbus found Indians making beer from corn and black birch sap.

Late 1500s

Queen Elizabeth I of England drank strong ale for breakfast.


Molson brewery is founded in what is today Canada. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had their own private brewhouses. Samuel Adams operated commercial brewery. Soldiers in the revolutionary army received rations of a quart of beer a day.


Before the 1800s most beer was really ale.


the first golden lager is produced in Pilsen, Bohemia.


Pasteur unraveled the secrets of yeast in the fermentation process, and he also developed pasteurization to stabilize beers 22 years before the process was applied to milk.


Prohibition ends for beer (April 7).


the beer can is introduced (American Can Co. &
Kreuger Brewing).


Asahi Super Dry (Japan) introduces new beer category
(soon to follow is Michelob Dry).