Recipes for brewing beer are some of the oldest documents ever produced. Known as the Elba Tablet found in Syria and believed to have originated from 2,500 B.C.E., this tablet describe the process of brewing beer in ancient Mesopotamia. Now modern day Syria, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and the Turkish-Syrian border, Mesopotamia is considered the cradle
of civilization. The citizens of this region are responsible for some of the greatest forays into mathematics and astronomy, but also the development of a beer very like the modern-day brew. The coolest part of the creation of our favorite discovery from Mesopotamia? The brewers of this sophisticated yet ancient culture were highly respected women.
Ninkasi and the Protection of a Women’s Profession
In a time of polytheism where the deities were mostly male, Ninkasi was one of the few exceptions. Still, women struggled to eke out their own place outside of the home, and Ninkasi offered women, who were often also priestesses, an opportunity to do so. The legend has it that Ninkasi was born out of “sparkling fresh water” and helped to satia
te desire and satisfy the heart. No wonder she’s the Goddess of alcohol.
Ninkasi’s Priestesses Created Beer with Dependable Results
These female craft brewers began the process of making beer through the use of bappir
bread and learned quickly that reusing batches of beer made from the yeast of the bread made certain their product was reliably tasty and perfect for enjoyment and religious ceremonies.
Female American Settler’s Continued the Practice of Brewing for the Family
When settler’s arrived in America, women continued the longstanding cultural practice of nourishing their families. Poor access to safe drinking water, nourishing, and sustainable foods. Beer became a huge piece of early day American culture. Women again took the lead and created a variety of beers, now creating different varieties for special occasions. Every day brew for dinner, “Bridle Ale” for weddings and, my personal favorite, “Groaning Ale” for the women and midwives to imbibe post-birth.
What About These Days? Are Women Properly Represented in the Modern Brewing Culture?
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