Ninkasi…Goddess of Beer
Well, we might as well admit it upfront…we like beer.
Make no mistake, we like Rum and most other adult libations, but a cold beer on a hot day, floating off of the Mud Key flats is pretty dog gone refreshing.
Got us thinking…who the heck came up with the idea of concocting some mix of grains to create beer? Being the eager beavers that we are, we did a little checking and came across Goddess Ninkasi.
Geez…we didn’t even know there was a Goddess of Beer….that’s how important beer was to many civilizations.
Here’s the history of beer in the time it takes you to quaff one down…and a snapshot on one very special brewery.
In fact…you need to go back 7,000 years. I know, I know…we’re asking about your ancient reincarnated self…but do you know what was happening back then?
The world population was about 5 million (remember, your great-great grandpa/ma to the nth degree was alive then) and they were just figuring things out…the wheel, urbanization, rice and maize was domesticated as was other areas of agriculture and civilizations in the far East, Central America and Europe emerging.
You’d be around until you were about 33 years old, then adios.
Beer was very artesian back then…no global brands. ;-)
Started more as a gruel that had to be sipped with a straw. Apparently beer brewing started by some left over barley sitting in a tub that had fermented. Then, for some unknown reason, one person decided to give it a try.
It was love at first taste…well, not really, but they got better at it. Seems cultures across the globe were discovering that process about the same time.
So here’s what’s fascinating…the invention of bread and beer have been argued as being responsible for humanity’s ability to develop technology and build civilizations…no kidding. How’s that for making a power statement!
Check out this quote from Roger Protz (The Complete Guide to World Beer), “When people of the ancient world realized they could make bread and beer from grain, they stopped roaming and settled down to cultivate cereals into recognizable communities.”
Whoa…I’m just enjoying a cold one on a sunny day down here in Key West…who knew the fate of mankind originated with beer.
OK, let’s jump a few thousand years…over that time they figured out adding hops, wood-smoked malts and other brewing nuances to their regions.
About 1,000AD a bunch of monks in Bavaria started up a commercial brewery (Weihenstephan Abbey Brewery) and built the foundation for mass production. Not surprising…monks, Bavaria, and making money on beer.
By the late middle ages the brewing industry in Northern Europe migrated to large-scale exports. I’m visualizing brewing and barreling and shipping back then…talk about back breaking. That barrel full of beer is pretty heavy.
Springing forward a couple hundred years to today… the USA ranks about 14th internationally in beer consumption, with the average per capita being about 20 gallons. Domestically, beer is a little over a $100B industry….with craft beers accounting for about 17-18% of that market and growing each year.
So from ancient Samaritans and middle-ages monks crafting their brews to modern day masters…we’ve come full circle.
Tip the bottle to Ninkasi and enjoy some sunshine, gentle breezes and ….
…take a moment to live life now.