PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2010, 12:00am

The everywhere drink

After water and tea, beer is consumed around the world more than any other drink. It is also one of the world's oldest drinks. People may have been making it for more than 5,000 years. China's first beer was maybe just as old. It was made with rice.

Beer can be made with many things. But most beer today is made with barley - a grain that is also used as food for animals. Hops are also used. They are a kind of flower. They provide beer's slightly bitter taste.

Since the dawn of time

Many of mankind's earliest written records talk about beer. Some ancient societies had laws about who could make it and sell it. Archaeologists have found mugs that were used for drinking beer from around 2,000 BC.

Some archaeologists at the University of Cambridge in Britain found beer-making equipment near the pyramid where Egyptian king Tutankhamen was buried. It took them six years to find out how the beer was made. They sold the first bottle for GBP5,000 (HK$62,113) in 1996.

It's brewed

Beer is brewed. A place where beer is made is called a brewery. First, they add hot water to malted barley. Later, hops are added and the mixture is boiled. Then yeast has to be added so that the beer can ferment. Fermentation is the chemical reaction that needs to happen to make any kind of alcohol.

The world's biggest brewery is Anheuser Busch in the United States. It is in St Louis, Missouri and makes the well known beer Budweiser. It makes about 100 million litres of beer every three weeks. Some 5,000 people work there.

A host of varieties

Nobody is really sure how many kinds of beer there are in the world. In Belgium, for example, breweries produce about 800 kinds of beer. An annual British beer festival offers about 450 different types of beer. Not so long ago, nearly every city and town on the mainland had its own beer - sadly, most of them have disappeared.

All beer is either a lager or an ale. The difference is in the yeast used to brew it. Ales use a yeast that ferments at warmer temperatures. Lagers use a slower fermenting yeast under colder temperatures. Almost all canned beer are lagers.

And remember, because beer contains alcohol, in most places it is illegal for anyone under 18 to drink it.

now do this

1 The main taste ingredient of beer is ...

a. yeast

b. barley

c. hops

2 Yeast is essential in brewing ...

a. as a preservative

b. for fermentation

c. for taste

3 The biggest brewery in the world is in ...

a. the United States

b. Belgium

c. Britain


January 6

1. b, 2. a, 3. c