What do you mean you can't read it?

I'd actually be surprised if you could read it. That there is a receipt. It comes from the Sumerian city of Umma. (modern day Iraq). This receipt is about 4,000 years old. It records the sale of "best beer".

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No one really knows for sure how old beer is. But at Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, archeologists have found beer brewing troughs that are 11,000 years old.

Now, back then humans were hunter/gatherers. And since you need grain to brew beer, and grain back then was very hard to get, (collect the tiny seeds, remove the chaff, grind), it's supposed that beer was brewed only for special occasions.

But, these special occasions would have drawn different groups of nomads together. And beer would make them chatty. Also tipsy. But most importantly, it gave them a way to bond with other groups. This eventually led them to settle down ad grow grain full time. (at least, that's what some experts think. Others think grain was first grown for bread. I think it was a combination of both.)

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Most of these early brewers were the home brew kind. They didn't brew to sell. they brewed for family and friends.

However, dating back to Sumeria, we know there were people whose job it was to brew beer full time, and that they served it in public houses for money.

In Ancient Sumeria, however, if you wanted to brew and sell beer, you'd beter have been a woman. Men were forbidden from brewing by law. Ninkasi, the goddess of brewing, apparently didn't like men. The first evidence of laws regulating taverns appear with Hammurabi, about 2,000 BCE.

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The beer you would have bought in Sumeria wouldn't be like the beer you know today, though. Back then beer was thick. Really thick. Almost oatmeal thick. And it was chunky. it was drunk through special straws that filtered out the larger chunks.

As Rome started to gain traction, wine became the preferred drink. With the Romans, at least. Everyone else made their own beer.

After the fall of Rome, beer started to regain popularity again because cultivating grapes was a lot more expensive than cultivating grain. Durring the 'Dark Ages', beer was the common drink. People drank it instead of water. But then, given the quality of the water back then, you'd have drunk the beer as well.

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And, while this beer wasn't the thick sludge of Sumeria, it still isn't what you'd call beer. It had a much smaller alcohol content. You could drink beer all day and not get drunk. It was closer to the non alcoholic beers we have today than to real beer.

But, that was everyday beer. More powerful beer was still brewed. It was usually held for special occasions, like festivals or weddings.

Around the 15th century is when we start to see taverns brewing a more consistant beer for sale to the public. But, depending on demand, they would sometimes have to sell the beer early, and no one really liked the 'green beer'.

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But it wasn't until the late 18th century and the industrial revolution that we see beer as we know it take shape. that's because brewers could finally regulate ingredients exact enough to ensure a consistant product from one batch to the next.

So, next time you crack a cold one, take a moment to think about the long history of beer. And then have another.