Who made the first beer?

Brewing Secrets of the Ancients: Who Made the First Beer?

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Every sip of beer tells a story, one steeped in ancient traditions. So, who really made the first beer? The ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia, around 4000 BCE, crafted an early brew with fermented grains and water. Beer’s rich history is anchored by this revelation, connecting today’s beer enthusiasts with the first brewers of the past. The discovery in Mesopotamia is a cornerstone for exploring beer’s origins. Immerse yourself in the intrigue and tradition behind your favourite drink, and learn why the Sumerians hold the coveted title in the annals of beer-making. Jump in this Delorian with us, and let’s go back to the first beer.  

The Mesopotamian Mastery of Brewing

When one explores the annals of history to unearth who made the first beer, the paths inevitably lead back to the sun-drenched plains of Mesopotamia. Imagine a bustling marketplace in ancient Sumer, the air filled with the fragrance of spices and grains. Amidst this backdrop, the Sumerians were penning the first chapters of the beer saga.

These early beer concoctions were not the amber liquids we’re familiar with today. Instead, they resembled a grainy porridge, often sipped through straws to avoid the thick residues. It wasn’t merely a recreational beverage; it played an integral role in society. From religious ceremonies to daily wages, beer’s influence was pervasive.

But why were the Sumerians so enamoured with this brew? It wasn’t just about the intoxicating effects. For them, beer symbolised social unity and religious reverence. Intriguingly, they even inscribed hymns honouring Ninkasi, the brewing goddess, embedding their techniques in poetic form. The roots of brewing are often traced back to these ingenious pioneers. 

However, our journey doesn’t end here. Researchers found pottery fragments in Jiahu, China, dating back to 7,000 BCE. These shards hint at a brew combining rice, honey, and fruit. 

This ancient concoction doesn’t just mark the timeline of beer; it showcases the innovative spirit of our ancestors, underscoring how intrinsic the act of brewing has been to societies across eras and continents. Understanding beer’s origins offers a bridge linking modern drinkers to those first adventurous souls who experimented with fermenting grains.

Brewsters: Was the first beer brewed by a woman?

A salute to ancient women! It’s paramount we recognise women’s influential role in beer’s story. In fact, brewing was a revered responsibility, primarily shouldered by women.

Was beer invented by a woman?
Was beer invented by a woman?

Dubbed ‘brewsters‘, these women were the heartbeat of ancient brewing, especially in the Mesopotamian landscape. The significance of women in brewing is evident in the mythology of the time. As already discussed, the goddess of brewing, Ninkasi, was worshipped and adored, and her hymn not only praises her but also details a beer recipe, encapsulating the art and science of ancient brewing.

Yet, it wasn’t solely in Mesopotamia where women held the brewing baton. From Africa to ancient Europe, brewing often remained a domestic chore, synonymous with female roles. They crafted these brews for family consumption, ceremonies, and even as valuable trade commodities.

So, what shifted this balance? As brewing transitioned from a household endeavour to a commercial one, with the rise of taverns and public houses, men began to dominate the scene. However, the legacy of the ancient brewsters remains indelible.

The link between women and the dawn of brewing challenges many modern perceptions. Recognising their pivotal role not only answers the question of beer’s origins but also highlights the profound influence of women in shaping cultures and traditions.

As you savour your next pint, take a moment to appreciate the deep-rooted history and the female hands that might have crafted the first such brews. Their legacy, imbued in every frothy sip, is a testament to their innovation and mastery.

The Pillar of Brewing History: The World’s Most Ancient Brewery

Many ask, ‘What is the oldest brewery in the world?”. To answer that, we are taken on a journey through the misty European landscapes and periods of brewing mastery. Such a search isn’t merely about statistics and dates but a story of tradition, resilience, and craftsmanship.

Nestled in the picturesque region of Bavaria, Germany, stands the Weihenstephan Brewery, an institution that boldly answers our question. Founded atop Weihenstephan Hill, it boasts a brewing legacy that stretches back to 768 AD. While the brewery claims its official beer-making started in 1040 AD — marked by its brewing license — the weight of its heritage is undeniably profound.

What is the oldest brewery in the world?
What is the oldest brewery in the world?

To comprehend what is the oldest brewery in the world is to appreciate the tapestry of time. Imagine, for a moment, a brewery that has weathered the ebb and flow of empires, witnessed the march of technology and remained faithful to the craft. At Weihenstephan, brewing isn’t merely a process but a chronicle of human endeavour.

Each pint poured from this esteemed establishment is a testament to centuries of perfected techniques passed down through generations. It’s a fusion of age-old wisdom with modern innovation, creating brews that resonate with history.


From the pioneering Sumerians to the enigmatic role of women in brewing’s evolution, we’ve uncovered the fascinating history of this beloved beverage. With each step, we stand on ancient grounds, such as the world’s oldest brewery, Weihenstephan, unravelling the secrets of its past. This exploration is a historical account and a celebration of humanity’s timeless love for this golden elixir. As beer enthusiasts, we are not simply drinking a beverage but partaking in a legacy crafted and refined over millennia. So, cheers to the history in every pint!

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