Archaeologists have long hinted that Neolithic, or Stone Age, people first began growing and storing grain, like wheat and barley, to turn it into alcohol instead of flour for making bread. The hypothesis was recently revisited by writer Gloria Dawson in the science magazine Nautilus.
A botanist named Jonathan D. Sauer first posed the theory in the early 1950s. Sauer believed early farmers needed more incentive than just food to go through all the effort of planting and harvesting crops despite “the pitiful small return of grain.” It was the discovery that “a mash of fermented grain yielded a palatable and nutritious beverage,” he suggested, that “acted as a greater stimulant toward the experimental selection and breeding of the cereals than the discovery of flour and bread-making.”
I’ve linked to such things before, this just gives a couple of links and some ideas that have been floating around.
As a coincidence, just today I began the process of brewing my own beer! I got one of those cheap beer-making kits for Xmas, as I’ve been pondering trying my hand at brewing for a while. I can’t really drink much of the end product, but I’d like some hands-on experience actually making an alcoholic beverage. Once I gain some facility with the basics, I’m going to try to branch out and do it from total scratch as well as having a go at some ancient recipes. Will post more in future.