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This is the oldest written recipe in the world.
And it's for beer.

When archaeologists discovered a four-thousand-year old Mesopotamian clay tablet, they were naturally curious to learn what it was all about. So a good deal of scholarly effort was put into the task of deciphering its cryptic markings.

As it turns out, the ancient Mesopotamians were recording a recipe for beer. And not just any recipe, but a formula handed down from the god Enki himself.

This probably came as no surprise to the archaeologists, since the subject of beer pops up regularly in their work. Images of people brewing, storing, and drinking beer are found in ruined cities and forgotten tombs scattered throughout the ancient world.

The Babylonians made sixteen kinds of beer, using everything from white and black barley to wheat and honey. Beer was extolled in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, where the varieties listed include "beer of truth" and "beer of eternity."

A short lesson in Ancient Sumerian In the picture language of the people who once lived between the Tigris and the Euphrates, this symbol

meant "clay vessel." But when lines were drawn through it like this,

it mean just one thing: the vessel was filled with beer.

Through the ages, people of all classes and cultures have felt the need to fashion special vessels for drinking beer. Pictured from left to right are a decorated drinking horn from the time of the Vikings, a hand-carved ceremonial cup used in old Norwegian rituals, a brass bowl from the Niger region of Africa, and a Scandinavian vessel in the shape of a long ship.
America's brewers don't claim to make the beer of eternity, but we are proud to provide Americans with beers of exceptional quality today.

We have no way of knowing if our beer would have pleased Enki, the Mesopotamian god. But after studying his recipe closely, we are reasonably certain of one thing: his beer would not have pleased us.

The Kalevala, an ancient saga of Finland, tells of a bee sent across the ocean for honey to sweeten the beer made by Osmotar. The bee is shown here with the lupine plant, which was added to beer centuries ago, perhaps as a preservative.

Beers and breweries around the world have been named in honor of King Gambrinus, often referred to as the patron saint of brewers. In fact, Gambrinus was neither king nor saint. The name is a corruption of Jan Primus, a medieval German duke who was made an honorary member of the Cologne brewers' guild in 1288.


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