History of Alcohol – Part II

Posted on: June 27th, 2010 by Carla Johnson No Comments

Sumer (circa 2500 BC)

Region in ancient Mesopotamia, modern day Iran

Capital city was Uruk, probably largest in the world at the time

Brewing and drinking alcohol was a big part of the Sumerian life

Brewed a form of beer they called “kash”

• Made from a grain, converted into “happir” bread, fermented then grapes and honey added

• It was unfiltered, so you needed to drink it with a straw

Documented the brewing quality and amounts

Made 8 types from barley, 8 from wheat and 3 from mixed grains

Drinking was documented and regulated

A quote from the famous Sumerian poem, and possibly the oldest written work in existence, called Gilgamesh” (circa 2000 B.C.) translated into English

Enkidu knew nothing about eating bread for food,

And of drinking beer he had not been taught.

The harlot spoke to Enkidu saying,

‘Eat the food, Enkidu. It is the way one lives.

Drink the beer, as is the custom of the land.”

Enkidu ate the food until he was sated.

He drank the jugs – 7 jugs! He became expansive and sang with joy!”


Egypt (circa 3400 BC)

World’s oldest brewery found in the ruins of the city of Hierakonpolis

The common person drank beer & the rulers drank wine

Sumerian-style beer brewed

Could produce up to 3,000 gallons a day

Also the site of a significant pottery business

Main products were jugs and cups for beer

Very large number of relics remain

Beer was unquestionably a big part of the lifestyle

Many different varietals of wine

Wine was made and traded throughout the Middle East, mostly modern Israel & Palestine


More on ancient Egyptian brews in the next installment…

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