There are a lot of inventions for which we have women to thank for – beer being one of them. Beer historian Jane Peyton claims that ancient Mesopotamian women were the first to develop, sell, and even drink beer. It is not exactly known as to who really invented this drink but according to Peyton, women not only created beer but for thousands of years, it was only women who were allowed to operate breweries – nearly 7,000 years ago in Mesopotamia and Sumeria.
The first written beer recipe is considered to be the Hymn to Ninkasi, circa 1800 B.C. The Sumerian goddess of beer, Ninkasi, was one of the first people who left us hard evidence of beer-drinking. It is also believed that beer propelled the shift from Paleolithic civilization to Neolithic way of living which involved settling down in a permanent habitat and ensuring a stable harvest. And right from the very beginning, as some historians believe, brewing, and performing chores in the kitchen always belonged to women.
Apart from Ninkasi, the Sumerians also had Kubaba who they worshipped. She is the only woman whose name features alongside Sumerians’ list of kings – an honour she earned not by birth, but by her work as a brewer.
Along with that, the Egyptians worshipped the goddess of beer Menqet and celebrated sun god Ra’s daughter, Sekhmet, whose bloodthirsty ways were calmed by beer.
Even in other civilizations, women were the exclusive brewers in Norse society and all equipment by law remained their property. Even Ancient Finland credits the creation of beer to women – bear’s saliva and wild honey were apparently the first ingredients that went into making this drink.
Back in England, it is known that ale was traditionally made at home by women. Known as brewsters or ale-wives, they sold the drink to make money for the family and run their houses.
But in what can be attributed to being a women’s invention is now perceived as a male’s drink. How did this change come about? Experts suggest that by the start of the late 18th century and the onset of the Industrial Revolution, new methods of making beer took over. As a result of this, women’s contribution slowly started to decline and fade away.