Among the many alcoholic beverages out there, beer is one of the favorites for a large number of people. It is enjoyed during celebrations, and as well as when watching a game or a movie at home. Beer is any fermented, alcoholic drink made with cereal grains like wheat or barley. Today, there are many different types of beer that you can buy from various brands and countries. If you love drinking beer, it’s likely that you also want to learn more about it. If you do, this post is perfect for you.
This article talks about everything you need to know about beer, including its history, the different types, and how it is made. In addition to that, it also presents different statistics about beer, such as its global market value, top-selling brands, top producers, and top consumers. All of these are presented in graphs and charts for further understanding. Also included are some interesting facts that you will learn about your favorite beverage.
History of Beer
The word “beer” is from the Latin word “bibere” and the German word “bie,” which means “to drink.” In Spanish, it is called “Cerveza” from the Latin word “cerevisia,” which means “of beer.”
The Ancient Origins of Beer
Did you know that the history of beer is quite literally the history of human civilization? Brewing beer did not originate with the Romans, but it started thousands of years earlier than that. It is quite challenging to attribute the invention of beer to a certain culture or time period. But most likely, the first fermented beverages in the world emerged alongside the development of cereal agriculture, which was around 12,000 years ago.
A 9,000-year-old Chinese concoction made from rice, fruit, and honey was the earliest known alcoholic beverage. However, the very first barley beer most likely originated from the Middle East. The product that became the most popular is credited to the Sumerians of Mesopotamia, which most likely began more than 10,000 years ago. The place is known as Godin Tepe, which is modern-day Iran, and it has provided evidence of beer brewing c. 3500.
There were also sites excavated in Sumer that suggest an even earlier date due to the ceramics and remains of beer jugs and residue found in other ancient containers. With this, the date of c. 4000 BCE is usually given when it comes to the creation of beer.
Beer in Mesopotamia
Beer is one of the most influential contributions of the Sumerians to the world, along with written language and a formal number system. When they made beer, they knew that they’d made something big. In fact, there was even a goddess of beer and brewing named Ninkasi. Back in 1800 BCE, a hymn was written for her, which doubled as a beer recipe. Since it was written in a song, it was quite easy to memorize even if they did not know how to read. In addition, the song was also the oldest beer recipe that was ever discovered.
According to Mental Floss, here’s an excerpt from the song:
“Ninkasi, you are the one who handles the dough with a big shovel…. you are the one who waters the malt set on the ground. … You are the one who soaks the malt in a jar, the waves rise, the waves fall…You are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large reed mats, coolness overcomes.”
The Sumerians also have a lot of words for beer, including sikaru, dida, and ebir, which all meant “beer mug.” The original beer brewers were women referred to as the priestesses of Ninkasi. They brewed beer regularly in their homes as part of their meal preparations. Back then, beer was made from bippar, or twice-baked barley bread, that was fermented. This is why beer brewing was always associated with baking.
Under the Babylonian rule, beer production in Mesopotamia increased dramatically and became more commercialized. Babylonians brewed different kinds of beer and classified them into 20 categories, depending on their characteristics. Later on, beer became a regular commodity in foreign trade, particularly in Egypt, where it was very popular.
Beer in Ancient Egypt
Aside from the Sumerians, Ancient Egyptians were also obsessive about their beer. For them, beer brewing knowledge was a gift from the god Osiris. That’s why drinking beer was incorporated into their religious ceremonies. Beer was so famous back then that the laborers who built the pyramids of Giza were supplied with about 10 pints of beer daily. It was also served at celebrations. In fact, as far as etiquette was concerned, people back then couldn’t leave a party when they could still walk straight, as it was the Egyptian equivalent of not finishing your meal.
The Addition of Hops to Beer
Back in ancient times, beer makers used many different ingredients in making beer, such as hemp, carrots, cheese, and bog myrtle. However, one component that is found virtually in all beer today took a while before it was introduced, which is hops. It is the ingredient that adds the bitter and floral taste of beer.
Back in the Middle Ages, Catholic monks sold homemade goods such as mustard, cheese, and sometimes beer to support themselves. They were likely the first ones to make beer with hops. In the mid-800s, a German Abbot from the monastery of Corvey in Germany named Adalard of Corbie referred to the use of hops in brewing. A few hundred years after that first written reference, Hildegard of Bingen, a German abbess, and eventual Catholic saint, wrote in her book “Physica Sacra” that “hops make a soul of a man sad and weigh down his inner organs.”
Based on William Bostwick, a beer scholar, Hildegard’s description of hops was so scathing that it helped launch a beer war between Protestants and Catholics. With this, Catholics discarded hops and used gruit, which was a mixture of herbs and aromatics used to add flavor to early beers.
In the 16th century, during the reformation, the rise of Protestantism helped boost the profile of hops in Europe. Also, hops had an advantage in the beer wars as it contains beta acids that delay spoilage and act as a natural preservative.
Beer During the Industrial Age
Beer-making had big advancements in the industrial age due to emerging technologies, such as steam power and refrigeration. These led to a more consistent, flavorful, and easier-to-make beverage. In addition to that, both industrialization and globalization paved the way for the widespread consolidation of the modern beer industry.
The emergence of large porter vats gave beer brewers the ability to blend large amounts of beer and achieve a high level of reliability. The English brewers were also voracious in searching for new technologies. In the late 1800s, throughout Europe and the United States, great empires of commerce were built by breweries. Ales were made in Britain, while central Europe, Scandinavia, and America made lagers.
Beer in the Modern Times
When the 1900s came, three of the top four brewing companies in Japan were already well established. The two World Wars brought a lot of changes to breweries all over the world, but later on, one great brewing nation was to leave the trade entirely. The 13-year “noble experiment” of Prohibition, which was from 1920 to 1933, changed American beer for the next 60 years.
In 1933, brewing re-emerged from the underground economy, which brought back the breweries in America back to life. However, beer became different. Technology, commerce, and advertising united to produce the modern American mass-market beer, which is technically impressive but has much less flavor compared to its ancestors. Later on, the new beer was placed on shelves next to sliced bread and slices of cheese food products. People in America were happy enough with the new beer. However, when they started to travel, they soon realized that they had been missing something.
Beer-making saw a time of renewal in the 1970s and 1980s. First was England’s new microbreweries and then renewal came to the American West. American craft brewers emerged, and they were inspired by the great traditions in Europe, which were primed by years of experimentation, believing that brewing beer can be a form of art. 
Both modern and draft beer have come a long way to get where they are at the present time. Today, beer is among the most consumed beverages in the world, along with tea and water. It also has become part of our culture and lives.
Here’s a complete timeline of the history of beer.
Different Types of Beer
Imagine walking into a bar to order beer and seeing many different types on the menu. What kind of beer will you order? To figure it out, you first need to know what type of beer you like. Are you fond of lager? Do you like sour beer? If you are not sure about this, read on as we’re giving you the different types and styles of beer.
We also have some trivia for you. Did you know that Abraham Lincoln, who was the president of the United States from 1861 to 1865, was a licensed bartender first before he became a lawyer and a president? That’s amazing, right?
When it comes to beer types, there are only two options, which are lager and ale.
Ales are made with yeast that ferments at the top. It is the oldest type of beer that dates back to antiquity. What differentiates an ale is a warm temperature fermentation for a fairly short period. This also makes it accessible for home brewers. The fermentation process turns barley and malt into a boozy beverage.
Here are the different styles of ale beer:
Wheat beers depend on wheat for the malt ingredient. It gives the beer a light color and alcohol level, making it great for kicking back during the summer and for mixing with fruit like orange or lemon. There are also some wheat beers that have funky and tangy flavors that fall under Belgian-style brews. The ones made in the United States, on the other hand, have light flavors that recall bread.
Pale ales, in general, are hoppy but lower in alcohol content. Most of the time, they are light, drinkable beers. Most types of pale ale are malty, medium-bodied, and easy to drink. These include American amber ale, American pale ale, blonde ale, and English pale ale.
Porter is a type of ale that is known for its dark black color and roasted malt aroma and notes. It can be fruity or dry in flavor, which is determined by the kind of roasted malt used during the brewing process. Traditional porters’ roots can be traced to the United Kingdom. They have more of a chocolatey feel than coffee.
Similar to porters, stouts are dark, roasted ales. However, they are less sweet and usually have a bitter coffee taste due to the unmalted roasted barley that is added to the wort. Stouts are characterized by a thick, creamy head. One of the best-known stouts out there is Ireland’s Guinness.
India Pale Ales (IPAs), which include many styles of beer, get their characteristics from hops and herbal, fruity, or citrus flavors. They can contain high alcohol levels and can be bitter. However, the final product always depends on the variety of hops used. Some can taste like pure citrus, while others are strong and bitter. It is mostly a beer drinker’s introduction to the world of craft beer.
Lager is a newer style of beer that has two key differences from ales. The first is that they ferment for a longer period at a lower temperature. The second is that they rely on bottom-fermenting yeasts that sink to the bottom of the fermenting tank to work. Lagers are usually found in European countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Czechia, and also in Canada, where lager accounts for more than half of all beer sales. In the United States, some of the classic lagers include Miller High Life, Budweiser, Coors, and Yuengling.
Here are the different styles of lager beer:
In the United States, almost all of the popular beers are pale lagers. These are known to be easy-drinking beers with light to medium hops. They have a clean malt taste most of the time. This makes them best paired with hotdogs, curries, and tacos. Some examples are Corona Extra, Miller Lite, and Bud Light.
Pilsner is a subspecies of lager that originates from the Czech republic. It is distinguished by its water, which varies from neutral to hard. It is among the styles of lager with the most hops. They generally have a dry and slightly bitter flavor. Pilsners have a light golden color, clear body, and crisp finish, making them a popular summer beer.
Dark lagers are malty and smooth with toasted caramel flavors. They tend to have mid-range alcohol content and lower bitterness profiles. Some examples are Amber American Lager, Oktoberfest, and German Schwarzbier.
How to Make Beer
Making beer is both a science and an art form. You can purchase beer in a lot of places, such as grocery stores, liquor stores, convenience stores, bars, and restaurants. But you can also brew beer at home if you want. It is quite easy, and you don’t need a lot of things and ingredients to brew beer. If you want to learn how to brew beer, below are the steps in beer-making.
Step #1: Prepare the Ingredients and Equipment
When making beer, there are four key ingredients, which are:
- malted barley
Any type of beer is always made using the same main ingredients. However, the variety of beer and flavor is affected by manipulating various variables throughout the brewing process. Aside from the ingredients, you also need some equipment. Here they are:
- Brewing kettle
- Fermenter and airlock
- Stir spoon
If you find it challenging to gather all the equipment and ingredients locally, you can also search for beer-making kits available in stores or online that you can purchase. These generally include all the things you need to brew your own beer at home.
Step #2: The Brewing Process
After gathering all the things that you need, next is the brewing process. Here are the things you need to do in this step:
Steep the grains.
Get your brewing kettle and fill it with 2.5 gallons of water. Heat the water and steep the grains for 20 minutes, or until the water reaches 170 degrees. When you remove the grains, let the water drip out of the grain bag and into the kettle. However, do not squeeze the grain bag to avoid extracting the tannins, as these may give unwanted flavors to the beer.
Bring the kettle to a boil.
When the brewing kettle comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and add the malt extracts. After the extract is dissolved, return it to a boil. The hops will then be added at different intervals. However, you need to ensure that you don’t boil over when hops are added.
After these are added, you will have wort, which is also known as sugar water. Let it cool fast via an ice bath by setting your pot into a sink filled with ice water. Be careful none of the ice water gets into the wort. You can also use a wort chiller.
Step #3: Fermentation Stage
Before doing this step, do not forget to sanitize your things. Pour the cooled wort into the fermenter and add water up to 5 gallons. After that, ventilate the wort by splashing it around in its container. This is done because the yeast needs oxygen. Add some dry yeast. Then, seal the fermenter, add a fermentation airlock, and keep it in a dark, cool place. For ales to ferment well, they need to stay at 68 degrees F.
Step #4: Bottling Stage
When the fermentation state is complete, which is usually within two weeks, it is now time to put your beer in bottles. Make sure that you cleanse everything first before doing so, including the bottles, bottle caps, bottle filler, bottling bucket, and transfer hoses. Boil the priming sugar in 16 oz of water. Then, let it cool and add it directly to the bottling bucket. Next, siphon the beer out of the fermenter and into the bottling bucket. After that, fill the bottles right to the top. Cap the bottles and store them at room temperature for around two weeks. This way, the beer will have enough time to carbonate.
After following all of these steps, what’s left is to refrigerate the beer and enjoy them.
Health Benefits of Beer
Many people tend to view drinking beer as a guilty pleasure. Beer is usually associated with weight gain and acquiring belly fat. But did you know that when beer is consumed in moderation, its benefits may go far beyond helping people wind down after stressful days and weeks? Drinking beer in moderation means consuming only one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
However, even if research says that there is room for drinking as part of a balanced and healthy diet, you still need to avoid it if you currently abstain. But if you do love buying beer and you have stock in your refrigerator at home, then you can get one and enjoy these potential health benefits:
Beer contributes to a person’s daily nutrient intake.
According to experts, beer is more like a food than a beverage. In fact, it is referred to as liquid bread. This means that beer also contains nutrients that are good for the body. Based on a study, beer has more protein and B vitamins compared to wine. In addition to that, it also contains protein and fiber. Beer is also one of the few dietary sources of silicon, which can help prevent osteoporosis. Also, based on research, beer may also contain prebiotics that feed the good bacteria in the gut.
Beer may help lower the risk of diabetes.
Based on a study published in the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, people who drink 3 to 4 times a week were less likely to develop diabetes compared to those who never drink. Also, men who enjoy between one to six beers per week are 21% lower at risk of diabetes.
Beer may make the heart healthier.
When it comes to a healthy heart, many people choose wine over beer. But there is also a reason to love beer. Based on a study presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in 2016, 80,000 participants were observed for six years and found moderate drinkers had the slowest decline in high-density lipoprotein or HDL or good cholesterol levels. In turn, this puts them at a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Beer may help build strong bones
According to a review published in the International Journal of Endocrinology, moderate beer consumption increased bone density in men. This is due to the silicon found in beer, which is an important mineral when it comes to bone formation.
Beer may help reduce inflammation.
The underlying cause behind many diseases is inflammation in the body. Based on studies, hops have anti-inflammatory properties. Some researchers also compared the anti-inflammatory effect of various hops and found that the consumption of hops in beer form restricted the compounds that cause inflammation. 
There are indeed lots of health benefits that you can get from drinking beer. However, you need to keep in mind that these benefits can only be achieved if you drink beer in moderation. Remember that drinking too much alcoholic beverage is never good for your health.
Beer in Numbers
In this part, we are giving you some of the statistics when it comes to the beer industry. The global beer market reached US$623.2 billion in 2020, and it is expected to reach a value of US$727.5 billion by 2026. Let’s take a look at the different factors that contributed to that amount, including the top beer-producing countries, top-beer consuming countries, the top-selling beer brands, the biggest beer companies in the world, and the beer market in the United States.
The Top Beer-Producing Countries
The top beer-producing countries in the world are each making millions of kiloliters of beer per year. If you are curious about them, check out this graph:
Among the five countries on top of the list, China leads with 38 million kiloliters of beer produced each year. Some of the most popular brands of beer from China in 2020 include Snow, Yanjing, and Tsingtao. Next on the list is the United States, with 21 million kiloliters of beer produced each year. Though it is only on the second spot, the sale of craft beers in the United States has increased in recent years. But when it comes to beer in general, the top brands in the U.S. are Anheuser-Busch and MolsonCoors. These two countries are followed by Brazil at number 3, Mexico at number 4, and Germany at number 5.
The Top Beer-Consuming Countries
In addition to those top beer-producing countries, there are also the top beer-consuming countries in the world.
In general, Europe consumes the most beer in the world, with the Czech Republic on top of the list. The country consumed 143.3 liters per capita. Did you know that compared to bottled water, beer is much cheaper in the Czech Republic? It is also the country where Pilsner originated.
In addition to that, there are seven other European countries that made it to the top ten in beer consumption, such as Austria, Poland, Romania, Germany, Estonia, and Lithuania. There are two African countries on the top ten list, which are Namibia and Seychelles. Namibia is the second-highest beer consumer in the world, and this is possibly due to its colonial ties with Germany.
Most Valuable Beer Brands in the World
Based on Brand Finance, amid the fall of the economy in 2020, brand value curved in slightly and led to a total loss of 16%, which totaled to around $14.7 billion loss across the top 50 beer brands. Here are the top beer brands in the world and their value in 2020 and 2021:
You will notice that all of the brands’ value declined in 2021, except for Asahi, which is the only brand on the top 10 list that increased its value. Even though Corona dropped around 28% of its brand value, it remains on top of the list of the most prized beer brands in the world. It is a close fight with the next brand, which is Heineken.
The Biggest Beer Companies in the World
After learning about the most valuable beer brands in the world, let’s take a look at the biggest companies behind those brands:
1. Anheuser-Busch InBev
This is a multinational drink and brewing holdings company that is based in Belgium. In 2016, the company was enlarged when AB InBev bought SABMiller and concluded a merger of the two entities. But even before the acquisition, it was still the largest brewer in the world. In addition to that, it is also considered the largest fast-moving consumer goods company worldwide.
Heineken is a Dutch-based beer company, and it has been a global brewing leader for the last 150 years. It is the second-largest brewer in the world and the number one in Europe. It has more than 160 breweries in over 70 countries. It makes regional, local, international, and specialty beers.
3. China Resources Snow Breweries
CR Snow is a brewing company in China, which was originally known as Shenyang Snow Beer Company before it was acquired by China Resources Enterprise. It is the largest beer company in China. Snow is among its flagship beer brands, which is among the top-selling beer brands in the world.
This beer company is located in Denmark. It is among the leading international brewery groups in the world at the present time. It has 140 beer brands in the world, and some of its best-selling ones include Baltika, Belgian Grimbergen abbey beers, and more.
5. Molson Coors
Next on the list is Molson Coors Brewing Company. It is a multinational beer company that was formed in 2005 when Molson of Canada and Coors of the United States merged.
6. Tsingtao Brewery Group
This is the second-largest brewery in China. It was founded by German settlers in 1903 in Shandong Province. It is one of the oldest beers in the country. Today, it has been successful in establishing a high-end Chinese beer brand image worldwide. Its products are being sold in more than 100 countries in the world.
Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. is a beer company in Tokyo, Japan. It is the largest of the four major beer producers in Japan, followed by Kirin Beer. It became popular in Japan after it launched the Asahi Super Dry, which is the first dry draft beer in Japan.
Beijing Yanjing Beer Group is a beer company in China. It is currently China’s fourth most popular beer brand and among the largest beer companies in the world. It was the official beer served at state banquets in the Great Hall of the People in 1995.
9. BGI / Groupe Castel
This is the French leader for table wines and beers worldwide. Most of its beer products are produced in Africa, where it expanded in 1990. Some of its most popular beer brands are Flag and Castel.
Kirin Company is an integrated beverages company. It is among the largest producers of beverages. Its subsidiary, Kirin Brewery Company, is among the largest beer brands in the world. In Japan, some of its most popular beers are Ichiban Shibori and Kirin Lager.
The U.S. Beer Market
After learning about the global beer market, we are also going to show you the beer market in the United States. This includes the most popular beers, most popular types of beer, top beer brands, and the growth of the U.S. beer market.
Most Popular Beers in the United States
Let us also take a look at the most popular beers in the United States in 2021. On this graph, fame pertains to the percentage of people who have heard of the beer, while popularity is the percentage of people who have a positive opinion about the beer.
According to YouGov’s research, the top five most popular beers in the United States in the 3rd quarter of 2021 are Guinness, Heineken, Corona, Samuel Adams, and Budweiser. They have calculated these ratings by using the number of surveyed individuals who ranked their opinions towards a particular brew as positive. Later on, these ratings were compared with the other entries on the list to get the final scores for each beer brand.
Most Popular Styles of Beer in the United States
Earlier, we gave a list of the different types and styles of beer available. People who love to drink beer have their own preferences on the styles and types of beer. In the United States, here are the preferred varieties of beer among beer drinkers in 2019.
Among the many styles of beer that can be bought in the United States market, the majority of the consumers seem to prefer lagers and pilsners more. According to Statista, in 2019, 60.6% of beer drinkers in the U.S. voted for lagers and pilsners as their favorite variety of beer.
Top Beer Brands in the United States
From light beer to bitter beer, craft beer to IPA, there are many beer brands out there that dominate the U.S. market. Beer companies also adapt their brands to fit the desires of beer consumers. With this, as taste changes, what’s popular and what are the best-selling beers can also change each year. What do you think are the top-selling beer brands in the U.S. today? To answer that, here are the top beer brands in the United States based on their sales in 2020.
Among the many brands of beer available in the United States, Budweiser tops the list with $7.07 billion in sales in 2020. It is followed by Michelob, Modelo, Corona, and Coors. You will also notice that AB InBev is sitting pretty with four of America’s best-selling beer brands, along with Molson Coors and Constellation beers.
Beer Market Growth in the United States
In the United States, the beer market has been growing steadily. One of the reasons for this is the introduction of new brand labels and state-of-the-art flavors. In 2017, the U.S. beer market was valued at $74 billion, and it was projected to grow to $83 billion. Take a look at the graph below to see the size of the beer market in the United States from 2010 to 2021.
Interesting Facts About Beer
To wrap it all up, here are some of the most interesting facts about beer that you should know:
- “Beer” is a Slavic word that came from the verb ‘to drink.’ Before, beer was any kind of drink.
- Humans drink more than 50 billion gallons of beer each year around the world.
- Beer is among the oldest beverages in the world, which dates back to 5,000 B.C.
- The world’s most popular beer is Budweiser.
- The most expensive beer in the world, Allsopp’s Arctic Ale, costs $503,300 a bottle.
- The beer industry plays an important role in the economy of the United States.
- Beer has hundreds of styles even though there are only two major categories, which are ales and lagers.
- The world’s first Pilsner was brewed by Bavarian brewer Josef Groll in 1842.
- The non-mechanized method of brewing beer is called craft beer.
- Compared to commercial beer, craft beer is more prized.
- It was in the 1950s when the game of beer pong was invented.
- The very first brewers in Egypt were women.
- The study of beer and beer-making is called zythology, which provides more insight into its ingredients and brewing process.
- Belgium has the most individual brands of beer in the world, with more than 224 active breweries.
- There is the word “alcoholiday,” which was coined in the early 1900s, which means leisure time spent drinking.
- The builders of the Great Pyramid of Giza were compensated with a daily ration of beer.
- Beer helped Joseph Priestley in discovering oxygen. It was when he noticed gases rising from the big containers of beer at a brewery and decided to do some experiments.
- In Germany, during the start of Bavarian Beer Week, there was an open-air beer fountain that dispensed free beer to the public.
- In ancient China, beer was brewed from sprouted rice and sometimes from rice with added fruit.
- The oldest brewery in the world is the Weihenstephan brewery in Freising, Germany, which was founded in 1040.
Beer is indeed among the most popular beverages in the world. It is fascinating to learn that it existed thousands of years ago and is still being consumed today. There are now many different styles and types of beer out there, and it can be easily bought anywhere you go. It seems like beer production will continue to increase in the coming years, as it is often a part of many occasions and activities. The next time you drink beer, you now know many amazing things about it.
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