Did You Know How Popular Beer was in Egypt?
Ancient Egypt, a place with so much history, had their first evidence of beer around 3500 BC. Egypt had created a beer that was more like the modern pilsner. It was a lot lighter and easier to drink than the thick beer that the Mesopotamians’ were brewing. Going back to “The History of Beer Part 1” by the Brew News Podcast, when Egypt created their first Microbrewery, they were making 300 gallons of beer a day for the public, as well as for slaves. They gave beer to slaves because of its high calorie and carbohydrate content.
Egyptians realized you can get energy and nutrients by drinking beer. So, they would give out beer in drinking vessels to the slaves at night so they can be well-nourished and well-rested for the next day of strenuous work. This tradition is not only for ancient Egypt alone. We see this type of nourishment to slaves throughout history.
The First Brewers in Ancient Egypt
According to Joshua J. Mark, women were the first brewers in ancient Egypt. Mark found evidence through Egyptologist Helen Strudwick, who stated, “brewing and baking were activities undertaken by women” (Mark). Something else that Helen said that I thought was interesting were “numerous statuettes found in tombs show women grinding grain in mills or sifting the resulting flour.” Mark concluded that women brew beer at home, but men created a business industry around beer. What was even more interesting in Marks’ article was ancient Egypt had a god of beer at the time. Her name was Tenenet. According to Mark, she was in charge of making sure the brewers were brewing beer that was of high quality. Beer during that time was named after her, which they called ‘Tenemu’. Another name for it was ‘Heqet’, which was more common. But ‘Tenemu’ was the spiritual name for beer.
According to Mark, beer in Egypt was classified by the alcohol content strength, as well as the flavor. It’s noted that the usual beer alcohol content during that time was usually 3-4%. Although beer was this popular in social celebration, it was highly frowned upon to drink excess amounts of beer. Although, for religious ceremonies, the alcohol content was slightly higher. According to myth, gods gave gifts to humanity in the early world. Of these gifts, there is one particular from the god Osiris. He not only gave the gift of agriculture but also gave the gift of brewing beer. Although it’s rumored that the gods gifted beer, we can see that beer had already existed. This fact had made beer an important part in many of Ancient Egypt’s religious ceremonies.
Where To Next?
While researching, I have realized there are so many avenues that beer has been through. What I am learning is how each culture can be different, but the things that are important to all of us do not change. The globalization of beer has brought about a ubiquitous brewing culture. I am excited to keep exploring the beer world.
Mark, Joshua J. “Beer in Ancient Egypt.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 16 Mar 2017. Web. 23 Jul 2020.
Andrew, and Laura. “The History of Beer Part 1 by Brew News Podcast • A Podcast on Anchor.” Anchor, 13 Jan. 2019, anchor.fm/brewnewspod/episodes/The-History-of-Beer-Part-1-e2ub58.