A pitcher of lager.

Beer is a fermented beverage, slightly alcoholic, that is consumed recreationally. It is the most consumed alcoholic beverage on earth, and is the third most popular beverage, after water and tea. A variety of beers are on the market, and are marketed under a number of brand names.


Beer is one of the oldest beverages known to man, with artifacts and tests suggesting that it's consumption dates back thousands of years. It is believed that the ancient Mesopotamians were the first to produce beer, making it one of the first bioengineering tasks involving fermentation. Beer was also consumed in ancient Egypt, and later Europe.

Up until the Industrial Revolution, ale was produced and sold on a domestic scale. Afterwards, beer was manufactured industrially, and is a multinational enterprise, produced by several huge companies and several smaller producers such as brewpubs and regional breweries. The development of hydrometers and thermometers allowed brewers more control of the process, and greater knowledge of the results. Today, more than 35 billion gallons of beer are sold per year, with global revenues being about $294.5 billion in 2006.

Types of beerEdit

So you've decided to head over to the bar and give this "beer" thing a try. You'll be asked what kind you want, so keep one of these in mind to avoid making a fool of yourself:

  • Ale - Brewed with malted barley and a top fermenting yeast, these are described as hearty, robust, sweet, and fruity.
  • Bitter - A mainstay at English bars, this pale ale is made from malt dried with a fuel called "coke". It ranges in color from gold to dark amber, and has 3% to 7% alcohol by volume. It is described as hoppy, dry, and lightly carbonated.
  • Lager - Made from a bottom fermenting yeast, it is fermented and conditioned at low temperatures. There are pale and dark varieties, with pale lager being the most widely-consumed and commercially available beer in the world. These are described as smooth, crisp, and clean.
  • Stout - A top fermented beer made from pale toasted malt, roasted barley, and often caramel malt. Stouts are typically dark in color, though there are also blondie stouts. Stouts are typically heave and richly-flavored.


  • For a period of time, beer and other alcoholic beverages were forbidden in the United States by law. This era was known as "The Prohibition". It lasted 13 years, 10 months, 19 days, 17 hours, and 32 and a half minutes.
  • Belgium has the most beer brands, with about 400 of them.
  • The strongest commerical available beer in the world is Samuel Adams' Utopias, which has an alcohol content of 25%. At $67 per pint, it's also one of the most expensive beers in the world.
  • John Milkovisch, a retired railroad upholsterer who died in 1988, spent 18 years lining the outside of his Houston home with flattened beer cans. The home is now a museum.
  • Age or prolonged refrigeration is often blamed for bad beer's "skunked" taste, but the taste comes from the breakdown of light-sensitive hop compounds called isohumulones. Prolonged exposure to light causes them to become "skunky thiol", which resemble a compound in skunk glands. Because of this, beer is typically stored in protective brown or green bottles.
  • A study released in February 2010 in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture revealed that a couple beers a day can provide a healthy daily level of silicon, which is important for bone health. Pale ales are high in malted barley and hops, and therefore have the most silicon.
  • Beer bottles can explode during the brewing process. In a London brewery in 1814, a vat containing 100,000 gallons of ale exploded, sending beer down the street through residential areas. The accident destroyed two homes and one pub, killing nine in the process. One of those people died after he was one of many who indulged in free beer during the incident, he overindulged and died from alcohol poisoning the next day.
  • In ancient and medieval times, the job of making beer fell on women. For many women, it was considered one of the typical household tasks. However, some cultures considered it to be such an honor that only beautiful women or women of nobility would be allowed to do it.

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