Beer in Ancient Times

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Malting is much like the making of sprouts from beans and other seeds, and may have begun in the sprouting of grains simply to make them softer, moister, and sweeter. There’s clear evidence that barley and wheat beers were being brewed in Egypt, Babylon, and Sumeria by the third millennium BCE, and that somewhere between a third and half of the barley crop in Mesopotamia was reserved for brewing. We know that brewers preserved the malted grain, or malt, by baking it into a flat bread, then soaked the bread in water to make beer.