Did you know? Ancient Egyptians enjoyed a cold one every now and then. In fact, they were the first civilization to nail the art of brewing beer. Sorry Irish, you showed up late to the party—even though you currently ARE the party.
To be clear, Egyptians didn’t invent beer. That honor goes to the Sumerians. But the Egyptians’ brewing process was so legendary that it was chronicled by the Greeks at the time. Writer Xenophon offered an explanation that aptly applies to beer tasting to this day. In 400 BC he tested the beer and claimed, “the beverage without admixture of water was very strong, and of a delicious flavour to certain palates, but the taste must be acquired.” My aunt says the same thing, like many her age she prefers brandy.
So how did Egyptians surpass the Sumerian brewing methods? Well, by altering them slightly. The Sumerians made their beer rather heavy, instead of smooth, light, and palatable for a wide array of drinkers. Egyptians realized that beer could be improved in this way, and they were right. The Egyptian beer is much more similar to today’s beer.
Back in those days, beer was considered a gift of the gods (and it still is to many of us). The God Osiris was believed to have given humanity the gifts of culture and bestowed upon them the art of agriculture.
Going back even further in time, there was an event called ‘The Festival of Drunkenness’ which was first observed in the Middle Kingdom of Egypt between 2040-1782 BC. It was essentially an ancient version of St. Patrick’s Day where participants would drink too much, pass out, then be rudely awakened to the pounding of drums. Wouldn’t it be simpler to just take some aspirin and be done with it? Not for the ancient Egyptians evidently, they liked to get all sorts of kinky.
If you look on ancient temple walls, you’ll notice a recognition of the escapades in the form of euphemistic paintings invoking Mut, a fertility goddess.
It’s also been widely claimed that women were the first brewers in Egypt. Over time, this would change as beer became a state-funded industry—yes, they took their beer that seriously.
This St. Patty’s Day, celebrate the Irish but remember the Egyptians. Enjoy some Irish whiskey and some Egyptian beer, if you can find some. These days, your local Bevmo should have everything you need.