The Babylonian Code of Hammurabi is old, dating from around 1750 BC, and is one of the oldest, and most important legal texts in existence. So, what’s that got to do with beer? Within its many rules and regulations are laws covering the production and selling of beer. If you were given an undersize ‘pint’ by a barman, he would be put to death by drowning, for example. Seems a bit harsh, especially if he’d had a few himself, but it shows just how significant the old ‘Amber Nectar’ really was. Everyone in Babylon got a daily allowance, with priests getting five litres a day, and there are recipes for at least twenty different types. Nobody knows if there were similar laws about the end-of-session Doner Kebab, or getting caught drunk in charge of a donkey, but it’s food for thought.
The drink actually dates back to at least 3400 BC, and was a popular offering in Ancient Egypt and Sumeria, as well. It possibly explains why the pyramids weren’t rectangular… Beer remained a part of everyday life right up until today, where it remains the most popular drink in the world after water and tea. It’s produced by the brewing and fermentation of starches, mainly hops and malted grains, along with yeast. Weirdly, if you distil beer right down, you end up with a form of whisky.