WATCH: The Science of Beer

Discovered around 8,000 years ago in ancient Egypt, beer is humanity's first biotechnology venture. RiAus's A Week in Science is here to tell you why it's more nutritious than wine, and what the ancient Greeks and Romans did with it (hint: they didn't drink it).

SCIENCEALERT STAFF
30 OCT 2014
 

The world's first beer brewers came from ancient Egypt and the southern Mesopotamian civilisation of Sumer in modern-day Iraq some 8,000 years ago. They invented the crisp, amber drink by mixing bread, germinated grain and water in ceramic jars, and the yeast inside the bread fermented the sugars in the grain, producing alcohol and, you guessed it, beer!

 

Funnily enough, almost everyone drank beer during this time, because it was high in carbohydrates and protein, but was also safer to drink than the contaminated water. It was basically the ultimate food and drink source.

Today you might see thousands of different brands of beer around the world, boasting all sorts of weird and wonderful flavours, but there are really only two types of beer - ales and lagers. The difference comes from the type of yeast used in the manufacturing process. Ales use a 'top-fermenting' yeast, which operates at higher temperatures so that the fermentation can produce not only alcohol, but also various aroma molecules that give the drink its fruity and floral flavours. Lagers, on the other hand, use 'bottom-fermenting' yeast, which produce no extra aroma molecules, so the beer is nothing but crisp and clear.

Want to know why ancient Greeks and Romans didn't appreciate the beauty of beer, and how much urine you'll produce per bottle of beer you drink? Watch the latest episode of RiAus's A Week in Science above for the answers. 

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