Whatever you give Dad on Father’s Day, I can tell you how to make it even better: set a cold one down beside it.
And you know what “a cold one” is. I’m talking about beer. A brewski. A mug full of suds. It’s the stuff that makes mowing all those lawns and fixing all those broken toys and doing all those other Dad things just a bit more bearable for…well, for thousands of years. (Did Dads mow lawns a thousand years ago? Maybe not. But you get the point.)
What we do know about beer is that it’s the third most popular beverage in the world, after water and tea, and that it dates back possibly to the Neolithic era, or 9500 B.C., when humans first started farming cereal. The Code of Hammurabi (1754 B.C.) includes regulations of the beverage and the ancient Mesopotamians used to recite a prayer to Ninkasi, the goddess of beer, to appease the deity and to remember the recipe for brewing the stuff.
It’s difficult to imagine, however, that any of these early cultures enjoy the variety of beer that we do now. Today the beverage is brewed by everyone from massive multinational corporations to thousands of regional breweries to brewpubs that make the stuff right on the premises to regular guys who brew beer in their own garages.
Recent statistics show that as many as 35 billion gallons of beer are sold each year worldwide, producing global revenues of more than $294 billion. These sales include all kinds of beers (IPAs, lambics, pilsners, stouts, just to name a few), a veritable smorgasbord of suds that can keep dads happy for many Father’s Days to come.
There is, in fact, far more to learn about beer than simply what your local barkeep can tell you. Fortunately, author Jeff Alworth has devoted two years of research to create The Beer Bible: The Essential Beer Lover’s Guide (Workman, 2015), the first truly comprehensive guide to the beers of the world. In compiling the book, Alworth spanned 17,000 miles, from Germany to America, from Japan to Scotland, to tell us everything we wanted to know about the world’s most widely consumed alcoholic beverage.