"Beer is proof that God
loves us and wants us to
be happy."                          
-- Benjamin Franklin
"Without question, the
greatest invention in the
history of mankind is beer.
Oh, I grant you that the
wheel was also a fine
invention, but the wheel
does not go nearly as well
with pizza."                      
-- Dave Barry
"Beer, if drank with moderation,
softens the temper, cheers the
spirit and promotes health."      
-- Thomas Jefferson
"He was a wise man who
invented beer."                  
-- Plato
I love fruit juice. I enjoy a glass of wine on certain occasions. I feel lucky to be able to appreciate all sake has to
offer. However, nothing can quite compare to that drink we call "beer!" This most ancient of all processed libations is
said to date back perhaps 15,000 years when hunting and gathering began to give way to farming and to the
processing of grain. Ancient documents show that the Sumerians were some of the first people to regularly "brew"
beer. These documents indicate that the earliest fermentation process involved using baked bread in order to create
the mash, as it was easy to handle and transport. It is recorded that this drink made people feel "exhilarated,
wonderful and blissful." They had discovered a "divine drink" which was considered a gift from the gods.

After the collapse of the Sumerian empire the Babylonians came to rule Mesopotamia and also became master
brewers. In fact, it is known that the Babylonians brewed over 20 different types of beer. These beers were cloudy,
containing a good deal of residue, and therefore drunk using a straw designed to filter out the bitter particles.  In
these ancient times beer was used as barter and the Babylonians exported it as far away as Egypt.

Throughout the time of the Greeks and Romans, beer continued to have wide popularity and superseded the
popularity of wine throughout the areas of the Mediterranean. While the Romans eventually came to see beer as a
barbarians drink compared to wine (ambrosia from the God Bacchus), beer continued to spread and remain popular
in areas where wine was more difficult to come by. Early civilizations found the mood-altering properties of beer
supernatural, and intoxication was considered divine. Beer, it was thought, must contain a spirit or god, since
drinking the liquid so possessed the spirit of the drinker. The ancient Germans regarded beer not only a sacrifice to
the gods but they, as in Egypt, also brewed beer for their own enjoyment.

Beer really came into its own with the advent of the Christian era, largely through the influence of the monasteries
which brewed and improved the beer. Monks often built the first breweries as pioneers of the hotel business,
providing shelter, food and drink to pilgrims and other travellers. The Emperor Charlemagne (AD 742-814), the
great Christian ruler, considered beer as essential for moderate living, and personally trained the realm's brew
masters. At this same time a checkered flag was used throughout England to indicate where beer might be
purchased. Up until the 15th century beer was actually "ale," which was strictly brewed from malt. At this time ale
begin to give way to "beer" which utilized the property of hops to flavor and preserve the brew.

European beer first arrived in America with Christopher Columbus' ships. On his last voyage to America in 1502,
Columbus found the natives of Central America making a first-rate brew "of maize, resembling English beer". The
Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth Rock, instead of further south as planned, partly because they were out of beer.

A journal entry dated December 19, 1620 said: "We could not take time for further search or consideration; our
victuals being much spent, especially our beer".

Beer continued it's advance in popularity, variety, and quality up until the present. Today we find beers unique to
every coner of the globe, and in the United States we have enjoyed an explosion in the number of "micro-brews"
that continue to take an ever increasing chunk of the beer sales pie. The micro-brew trend now is taking hold
around the world, and we can all be thankful for that! There are as many different types of beer being brewed today
as there are potential ingredients, but the most popular beers worldwide continue to be the more basic forms of
Lagers, Pilsners, Bocks, Ales, Porters, and Stouts.
Some of my favorites from around the world
All other nations are drinking
Ray Charles beer and we are
drinking Barry Manilow.
--Dave Barry
Utah Beers Win Six Medals at 2008 World Beer Cup