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History of Beer

History of BeerMany researchers believe that beer is the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage. The history of beer dates back to the 6th millennium BC. , In Mesopotamia, the oldest evidence of beer is believed to be a 4,000-year-old Sumerian tablet depicting people drinking a beverage through reed straws from a communal bowl. Beer became vital to all the grain-growing civilizations of Eurasian and North African antiquity, including Egypt— so much so that in 1868 James Death put forward a theory in The Beer of the Bible that the manna from heaven that God gave the Israelites was a bread-based, porridge-like beer called wusa. Knowledge of brewing was passed on to the Greeks. The Greeks then taught the Romans to brew. The Romans called their brew cerevisia, from Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, and vis, Latin for "strength." The history of beer was off and running.

Throughout the years beer has transformed into what we know today. Beer first arrived in America with Christopher Columbus. When he landed, he noted that the natives were making a brew "of maize, resembling English beer." Beer was of major concern in the new land, even for the pilgrims. The pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, instead of further south as planned, partly because they were out of beer. Centuries later, there were almost 2,000 breweries in the United States by 1900. Most of the breweries were small and regional.

Twenty years later, the beer industry was turned upside down. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution, otherwise known as Prohibition, made the manufacturing and sale of beer illegal. Organized crime prospered during the “Roaring Twenties” as gangsters took over the manufacturing of illegal beer and alcohol products. After the end of Prohibition, within a few years hundreds of breweries began to open across the country, ending one of the darkest moments in the history of beer.

The history of beer gave birth to the beer can in 1935. The American Can Company and Krueger Brewing Co. of Newark, New Jersey introduced canned beer in June. Schlitz introduced a cone top can later in the year. In 1935, beer companies began to merge. Larger companies started to buy smaller companies.

As it would for many decades, the barrel tax on beer rose during the 1940s. This did not stop the larger companies from continuing to buy smaller companies. Breweries even began to branch off to other markets. In 1951, Anheuser-Busch of St. Louis builds a new brewery in Newark, New Jersey starting a trend for expansion of breweries. Two years later Anheuser-Busch bought the St. Louis Cardinals professional baseball team.

The next few decades saw expansion, corporate buyouts and loads of beer to being consumed by Americans. By 1983 the top six breweries (Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Heileman, Stroh, Coors, and Pabst) controlled 92% of U. S. beer production. By the early 2000s there were 1,458 breweries producing 6.2 million barrels of beer. The U.S. brewing industry total was around $50 billion.

The largest brewing company in the United States, Anheuser-Busch controlled 48.8 percent of all American beer sales in 2007. The history of beer would soon change. The American icon would soon be splashed across the headlines of every major new source in July of 2008. The largest brewery in the world, InBev, agreed to buy Anheuser-Busch. The total value of the sale would be $52 billion. The deal is still pending requiring approval by shareholders and regulatory agencies.

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