Beer is one of the world’s oldest prepared beverages; possibly dating back to the early Neolithic or 9500 BC, when cereal was first farmed, and is recorded in the written history of ancient Iraq and ancient Egypt. Archaeologists speculate that beer was instrumental in the formation of civilizations.
The earliest known chemical evidence of barley beer dates to circa 3500–3100 BC from the site of Godin Tepe in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran. Some of the earliest Sumerian writings contain references to beer; examples include a prayer to the goddess Ninkasi, known as “The Hymn to Ninkasi”, which served as both a prayer as well as a method of remembering the recipe for beer in a culture with few literate people.
Almost any substance containing sugar can naturally undergo alcoholic fermentation. It is likely that many cultures, on observing that a sweet liquid could be obtained from a source of starch, independently invented beer. Bread and beer increased prosperity to a level that allowed time for development of other technologies and contributed to the building of civilizations.
Beer was spread through Europe by Germanic and Celtic tribes as far back as 3000 BC, and it was mainly brewed on a domestic scale. The product that the early Europeans drank might not be recognized as beer by most people today. Alongside the basic starch source, the early European beers might contain fruits, honey, numerous types of plants, spices and other substances such as narcotic herbs.
In 1516, William IV, Duke of Bavaria, adopted the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law), according to which the only allowed ingredients of beer are water, hops and barley-malt. Beer produced before the Industrial Revolution continued to be made and sold on a domestic scale, although by the 7th century AD, beer was also being produced and sold by European monasteries. During the Industrial Revolution, the production of beer moved from artisanal manufacture to industrial manufacture, and domestic manufacture ceased to be significant by the end of the 19th century.
During the long trips on the trade routes with India along with voyages to the New World, the English began hopping up their beers. The addition of hops acted as a preservative during long voyages to America as well as the sweltering heat of an Indian summer. Since then Americans have not looked back as IPA’s continue to be the craft beer of choice.
Today, the brewing industry is a global business, in America alone there were 2,768 ,768 craft breweries operated for some or all of 2013, comprised of 1,237 brewpubs, 1,412 microbreweries and 119 regional craft breweries. Craft brewers currently provide an estimated 110,273 jobs in the U.S., including serving staff in brewpubs. Growth of the craft brewing industry in 2013 was 18% by volume and 20% by dollars compared to growth in 2012 of 15% by volume and 17% by dollars.