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Its origins are lost somewhere in the stone age, long before history was recorded. Anthropologists can only guess how it happened, and their guesswork goes something like this: once, in the camp of some nomadic hunter-gatherers, there was a supply of wild grain, painstakingly collected for food. Somehow, possibly in a sudden rainstorm, a pool of warm water formed where the grain was stored. In a short time the grain fermented, turning the water into a thick dark liquid. Some adventurous soul among these primitive people sampled the liquid, and found that it tasted good.

Man had discovered beer. From that time to the present, beer has been an important part of life in virtually every society on earth. It was brewed by the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians and Chinese. It has been used in religious rituals, depicted on coins, honored in epic sagas. Through all the centuries, in moments of triumph and celebration and fellowship, no drink has contributed more to man's enjoyment than beer.

This slide show offers cultural curiosities, strange customs, and little-known facts drawn from the history of beer and brewing. We present them here because we want more people to learn about beer's long and distinguished heritage. And because America's brewers are proud to continue the great tradition of beer. Click here to start slide show or click images below to jump around.

How the Discovery of Beer Led to Civilization As We Know It. This is the oldest written recipe in world. And it's for beer.

If the Mayflower had been carrying more beer, it might never have landed at Plymouth Rock.

Celebrate America's holidays the way men who started them did. With a glass of beer. He fought the British for independence and Congress for beer.

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