Beer History

Sharing beer for trust and friendship

beer toastingIn modern society, beer is considered a social drink and evidence suggests that beer has always been consumed in a spirit of community.

Sumerian depictions of people consuming beer show one vessel with each person drinking the beer from an individual straw. We know that straws were initially used in drinking beer to filter through debris from the production process, but these Sumerian images tell the story that beer was shared in this way even after filtering and pottery production were introduced.

The idea of sharing one vessel of beer is thought to have been ritualistic and a universal symbol of hospitality and friendship. The sharing of beer in this way may also have been a communication of trust. Though today, we don’t offer guests a straw through which to drink a glass of beer with us, but we do toast each others glass before taking a sip. This act of toasting is probably a modern representation of the ancient concept of community fostered by beer.

To read more about the role of beverages on society, check out A History of the World in 6 Glasses.

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