Women and Beer: A brief history.

Women have a LONG history in the beer making world, who knew?

Jason Alley

Photo courtesy of Jason Alley.

Did you know that beer is one of the oldest beverages in history? It dates back to Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian times. There are early written tablets to prove it. And guess what? It would appear that women were the ones who produced and sold this delightfully refreshing and (gasp!) apparently effeminate drink. Yes ladies, that’s right. Back in the day WINE was the manly drink of choice, and beer was for the womenfolk. To boot, these women who made beer weren’t all just brewmasters, they were also priestesses who would use the beer in religious ceremonies. Yes, we are THAT powerful! Mwah!

Stand with me! Let’s take back the beer and make it OURS!


Me and my two best girlfriends enjoying a couple of cold ones last week.

Beer was probably created entirely by accident. As soon an man started to cultivate grain there would have been ample opportunity for those grains to accidentally ferment. Then some unsuspecting dude probably came along and decided that ingesting the fermented grain was a GREAT idea and voila, boozy goodness was invented.

Here’s the (very) basic time line of women’s history in beer making!

*Tests were done on clay vessels from present day Iran that indicate that it contained beer approx. 7,000 years ago.

*There’s a 6,000 year old Sumerian tablet from Mesopotamia that shows multiple people sipping beer through reed straws form a great big bowl. Yes, sharing their germs along with the beer!


Photo courtesy of takomabibelot.

*Then there’s the 3,900 year old poem written to honor Ninkasi, the patron goddess of brewing (who knew there was a patron beer GODDESS???) This poem also happens to contain the oldest known recipe for beer.


Photo courtesy of Mike Licht.

*Skipping ahead to the Middle Ages in Europe, women are still the brewers and makers of beer up until the 15th century when men slowly start to take over. WHY is this, you ask? Up until that time beer making was considered a DOMESTIC duty rather than a business model, so once the possibility of profit was there, suffice it to say that the female brewster went out the window.

*England and Germany started developing beer making guilds and women were still in there with the men but slowly they were pushed out to perform all the other crap that women have to do on a daily basis. No fair.

*By the 18th century there were next to no professional female brewsters. They still made it on a small scale for home consumption but as for making a living from it? Not going to happen.


*It wasn’t until this past century that women started making a splash in the beer making world again. There are many awesome female brewmasters making quality ales and lagers all around the world now, so it’s a mans world no more!


 Ladies, we can take back the beer, we’ve earned it! Who’s with me???


Photo courtesy of Andrea Wills.

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