The History Of Beer Is The History Of The World

According to Homer Simpson, beer is the cause of, and the solution to, all of life’s problems. Some scientists one-up Homer and claim that beer may be the origin of civilization

As any world-history student can tell you, the first civilizations emerged along the great river valleys of the world: the Tigris and Euphrates, the Ganges and Indus, the Yangtze and Yellow.

River valleys provided the fertile soils needed to grow the grains that humans were busy domesticating. The assumption had long been that it was the pursuit of stable food supplies that drove us to forego our hunter-gatherer lifestyles and cultivate those grains along the rivers. But some scientists now say it wasn’t hunger, but thirst, that sparked civilization. “A main motivation for settling down and domesticating crops was probably to make an alcoholic beverage of some kind,” archeologist Patrick McGovern told the Independent in 2010. “People wanted to be closer to their plants, so this leads to settlement.”  

Here’s how I think it went down.

One day approximately 7,000 years ago, someone hauled in a net full of fish from the river and called out, “Start the fires!” Fires were started, fish were thrown on the coals, and the weary fisher said, “I could really go for a cold one right about now.”   

Meaningful looks were exchanged, and one guy nodded and said, “I’ve been carrying these barley seeds. Give me a stick so I can furrow this rich soil and plant them.” And then a woman noted that she’s always loved the funky smell of the little cone-shaped flowers of this one vine, and perhaps those could balance out the maltiness of the barley. “I’ll plant some hops, too,” she added helpfully.