“The mouth of a Perfectly Content man is Filled with Beer”

Believe it or not, the title is actually an ancient Egyptian proverb.  The same drink people crack open when watching a ball game was used to pay for the Pyramids.  Beer itself can actually be traced back to nearly the origin of human society, because we are a simple breed of animal with simple needs.

Just how old is the wheat drink?  One of the oldest references to beer was on a clay tablet to Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of Brewing Beer (not even joking, there’s one for brewing, one for beer and one for enjoying beer) which explains the process for brewing.  The Hymn to Ninkasi dates back to roughly 1900 BCE, though even before the hymn, the Ebla tablets from 2500 BCE refer to at least 20 varieties of beers that were produced and sold in the city of Ebla in Syria.  There are also archaeological evidence pieces with chemical evidence of brewing (potsherds with random fermentation residue on them) that date back to anywhere between 5000 and 3600 BCE.    Egyptians and Mesopotamians would use beer as an offering piece to the gods and kept it close to home in their societies, often with several gods who were dedicated to the craft of inebriation.

For most of the early history of beer, the production of it was a woman’s job.  As the craft expanded, slowly it began to become a profession that only men could do.  European tribes of Celts and Germans slowly moved the product into Europe around 3000 BCE, but it wasn’t until 822 that the drink began to resemble the beers of today.  Most European beers of the time were fruity and honeyed (and on some occasions purposefully spiked with narcotic drugs) and utterly lacked hops.  The beers of today that contain hops are a result of an unintentional joint effort by Charlemagne and Benedict of Nursia.  The Emperor of the Holy Romans and the Patron Saint of Europe brought the people of today the beers they consume.  History.

In the 6th century, Benedict of Nursia established his Benedictine order of monks who preached asceticism, charity and self-sustainability.  Monks would reside in monasteries off from the urban centers where they would farm and produce enough to keep themselves going.  As part of their creed, the monks were dedicated to helping any person who needed it, which meant the monasteries became waypoints along the roads where cheap food and drink could be had as well as a place to sleep without risk of fatality to animals or bandits.  The monks soon found that producing beer was an easy way to aid travelers (it was one of the few “sanitary” drinks of the age and was served to people of all ages and types), make money (monks would run the same grains through the process upwards of 3 times.  The first brewing would be the highest quality and would be sold for profit, the second would be mediocre and would go to the guests, and the third run through would be a nasty dirty swill that the monks would drink) and provide the monks with sustenance while they fasted.  In 817, Charlemagne ordered Adalard of Corbie to become the Abbot of the Corbie Benedictine monastery in France.  Adalard is attributed to have been the first to add hops to the beer, making hop filled beer a French dish rather than a Bavarian one as most people think.

Only 5 years after his monumental addition, Adalard died and was later sainted (not for adding hops to beer though).  He remains in the Catholic pantheon of saints and is currently a patron saint of gardeners.  His feast day is January 2nd, when you can drink a toast to his clever creation.

Citations; proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy. -Benjamin Franklin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer#History
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_beer
http://www.livescience.com/10221-beer-lubricated-rise-civilization-study-suggests.html
http://www.livescience.com/8023-canned-beer-turns-75.html
http://www.piney.com/BabNinkasi.html
http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/beer.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebla_tablets

Word is that Russians say Adalard invented the taco.  I truly wish I could cite this, for it is awesome.
http://ithinkaboutbeer.com/2013/05/09/the-brewing-monks-a-brief-history-of-the-trappist-order-and-monastic-brewing/
http://www.drunkenhistory.com/monks
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adalhard_of_Corbie
http://www.examiner.com/article/hops-were-not-always-the-star-of-beer
http://www.bubblews.com/news/828045-st-adalhard-of-corbie-benedictine-abbot

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