Timeline: How beer went from brilliant mistake to hipsterific

Everywhere you look, there’s a tap handle ready to pour you a nice tall pint of IPA. The rise in popularity of craft beer is astounding, but also, in some ways, predictable. Beer is one of the oldest beverages in human history. It dates back to roughly 5,000 B.C. One could say it’s essentially in our DNA.

And while beer may seem mysterious in some ways, it’s really just grain, water and yeast. Of course, there are many styles and flavors —  from blood orange to beer that’s been soaked in aromatic hops to whoknowswhat — but beer just is as simple as bread.

What happens if you dive into the mystery and origins of beer a little more? How did that tap handle ready to pour you that IPA actually get there? Time to explore!


Beer was made by mistake. Either someone left a bowl of primitive cereal out in water for a week that collected errant yeasts from the air or some farmer collecting grain in a field left a bag of it behind during a rainstorm. Either way the stuff fermented and beer – human existence’s best mistake – was created.


For a long time, the first known historical reference to beer’s existence was the infamous Ninkasi poem, a nearly 4,000-year old Sumerian verse written in reverence to the goddess of beer. Recently, though, pottery with beer residue on it was unearthed in China, dating back more than 1,000 years before the Ninkasi poem.

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