The history of beer – King Tut and the magic microbes

Egypt: Thebes

The hieroglyphs read, “Beer, allowing ugly people to have sex since 5998 BCE.” (Photo credit: Brooklyn Museum)

As word etymologist John Ciardi said, “Fermentation and civilization are inseparable.”

We humans have been putting microbes to work for us for over 8,000 years, starting in ancient Egypt. If you watched the Discovery channel’s Brew Masters episode, Ancient Ale, you’ll know that beer and bread are closely aligned. Archeologists suspect that a piece of bread fell into a vat of soaking grain, making a gruel with yeast to begin the fermentation process. In those days, beer was used as payment for work.

Nowadays, we consume over 34,000,000,000 gallons of beer annually for the pleasure of simply slaking our thirst.