Who knew that the world’s first beer might have been the divine creation of women? Well, to us here at TauBu, it makes perfect sense that it would be the fairer sex to brew up the original nectar of the gods. And archaeology backs us up.
It’s a long held belief that Sumerian women were the first to brew beer – a full four thousand years before Christ. This was a prestigious profession that only women were allowed to practice. Called Sabtiem, they made beers from a variety of strange ingredients including spices, peppers, tree bark and powdered crab claws. And their selling of beer was strictly regulated via the Code of Hammurabi. Payments for beer were received in measures of barley and if a Sabtiem was accused of shorting a buyer, she faced being tossed into the water to drown.
Recent research, however, suggests that tribal women of the Amazon rain forest beat the Sumerian Sabtiems to beermaking. Researchers estimate Amazonian women began brewing beer as early as 10,000 B.C., chewing cereal grains and spitting the resulting mash into clay pots. Salivary enzymes converted starches in the hard kernels to fermentable sugars. Some historians credit this early beer as perhaps the single most important diet staple back in the day, proving a valuable source of protein and vitamins while altering a tired and grumpy hunter-gatherer’s mood. In fact, some believe that beer might have been the primary persuasion for men to forsake the nomadic hunting and gathering lifestyle and settle into village life instead.
Pharaonic Egyptians argued that it was the goddess Hathor who was the inspiration for the first beer. The story goes that the sun god Re had become quite the cantankerous old guy and got so irked with the lesser beings’ sinful ways that he sent daughter Hathor to punish them. Apparently, Hathor took her assignment a little too seriously and, next thing Re knew, the streets were flooded with blood and the survival of mankind was in question. Here’s where the story gets murky. Some say Re mixed a bit of that blood with barley and fruit, while others say he gathered slave girls to concoct a brew and mix it with red dye to make it look like blood. Either way, the goal was to slow a crazed Hathor down – and it worked. The brew proved such a sweet distraction that Hathor forgot all about her gruesome assignment and soon ended up passed out for days, having no clue that she had just become the chief goddess of drunkenness.
Ancient Finnish people beg to differ, saying that beer was invented by three women preparing for a wedding feast. Alas, their brew was a bust until one of them got the bright idea to mix a bit of bear saliva with wild honey and voila – the brew finally foamed and beer was born into the world of men. Later, Viking women were the primary brewers in Norse society and European ale wives were so successful as cottage brewers that the powers that were levied taxes on their profits. Medieval monks caught on to the marketability of beer and began making it to sell to passing travelers. Then came the Industrial Revolution, which moved brewing from the home to the marketplace, where men began claiming local taverns as their domain.
Fortunately, you’ll find no tree bark, bear spit, crab claws or blood in your TauBu high ABV beer. But you will find us raising a cold Midnite Berry, Evil Apple or Wicked Punch to the brewster babes and beer wenches of yore. Thanks, ladies!