President Obama’s “Beer Summit” was surely not the first time leaders sat with their citizens and enjoyed a glass of the tasty beverage. Beer is actually one of the oldest beverages in the world, next to tea. Beer can be traced back to Sumer, African tribes and Egypt. The oldest proven records of beer are about 6,000 years old and refer to the Sumerians. Sumeria is between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers including Southern Mesopotamia and the ancient cities of Babylon and Ur.
Excerpt from A History of Beer:
“It is said that the Sumerians discovered the fermentation process by chance. No one knows today exactly how this occurred, but it could be that a piece of bread or grain became wet and a short time later, it began to ferment and a inebriating pulp resulted. These early accounts, with pictograms of what is recognizably barley, show bread being baked then crumbled into water to make a mash, which is then made into a drink that is recorded as having made people feel “exhilarated, wonderful and blissful!” It could be that baked bread was a convenient method of storing and transporting a resource for making beer. The Sumerians were able to repeat this process and are assumed to be he first civilized culture to brew beer. They had discovered a “divine drink” which certainly was a gift from the gods.
The Egyptians carried on the tradition of beer brewing. They also used unbaked bread dough for making beer and added dates to the brew to improve the taste. The importance of beer brewing in ancient Egypt can be seen from the fact that the scribes created an extra hieroglyph for “brewer”.
Although beer as we know it had its origins in Mesopotamia, fermented beverages of some sort or another were produced in various forms around the world. For example, Chang is a Tibetan beer and Chicha is a corn beer and kumis is a drink produced from fermented camel milk. The word beer comes from the Latin word bibere, meaning “to drink”, and the Spanish word cerveza originates from the Greek goddess of agriculture, Ceres.”