August 4 is not only National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day and former President Barack Obama’s birthday. It’s also International Beer Day, a day for beer drinkers worldwide to have another excuse to enjoy their favorite brews.
Beer is the world’s oldest alcoholic drink and only water and tea are more popular among drinks overall. In fact, BeerHistory.com notes that some historians think prehistoric nomads were making beer from grain and water before they learned how to make beer!
Here’s what you need to know about International Beer Day.
1. International Beer Day Was Created in 2007 & Is Held on the First Friday of August
Unlike many of the random food and drink holidays we celebrate, International Beer Day does have a real history behind it. The holiday was created in 2007 and has its own website. The first International Beer Day was celebrated in August 2007 and is now hosted on the first Friday of August.
Initially, the holiday’s creators scheduled the holiday for every August 5. But considering that celebrating beer in the middle of a work week is a bad idea, they changed the date in July 2013 to the first Friday in August.
“Reminder: Due to popular demand, International Beer Day now takes place on the first Friday of every August, rather than the hard date of August 5th,” the holiday’s creators said. “Drinking and Friday go together like beer and bad decisions, and our poll last year revealed you would prefer the event be on a Friday.”
2. In 2015, the U.S. Beer Industry Sold 206.7 Million Barrels of Beer
The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and U.S. Commerce Department reported in 2015 that the U.S. beer industry shipped and sold 206.7 million barrels of beer, the equivalent of over 2.8 billion cases of 24 12-ounce servings. Eighty-five percent of beer consumed was produced in the U.S., while 14 percent was imported.
The National Beer Wholesalers Association reports that U.S. consumers 21 years or older drank 27.5 gallons of beer and cider per person in 2015.
In 2015, there were 4,824 reporting brewery facilities and locations in the U.S., a jump by 700 from the year before. In 1983, there were just 49 breweries, but by 2016, there were 7,190 permitted breweries in the U.S., the NBWA notes. The state with the most permitted breewries in 2016 was California with 927.
3. A Historian Found That Women Were Responsible for Beer Brewing in Ancient Societies
In 2010, historian Jane Peyton told the Telegraph that she found in her research that women played an important role in brewing beer and serving it in ancient societies. In Mesopotamia and Sumeria, women were responsible for brewing it and running taverns, she said. These societies also believed that beer was a gift from goddesses, not a male god.
The men in Norse society and Ancient Finland also drank beer brewed exclusively by women, Peyton told the Telegraph. “I know men will be absolutely stunned to find this out, but they’ve got women to thank for beer,” she said.
In England, it was tradition for women to make beer at home. There were even “ale-wives” and Queen Elizabeth I drank beer with breakfast.
4. The First Barley Beer Was Likely Invented in Ancient Societies in the Middle East
Although the earliest known alcoholic beverage was created in China 9,000 years ago, History.com notes that the first barley beer was brewed by Sumarians in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago. Today, the land considered to be part of Mesopotamia is part of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Kuwait.
Archaeologists found ceramic vessels from 3400 B.C. that still had beer residue. They have also found a “Hymn to Ninkasi,” an song for the Sumerian beer goddess that includes a recipe.
Beer consumption spread through the Babylonian Empire and was a favorite drink of the Ancient Egyptians.
Europeans started brewing their own beer during the Medieval period.
5. The Best-Selling Beer in the World Is China’s Snow
Surprisingly, the best-selling beer in the world isn’t American or European. It’s the Chinese beer Snow. In 2009, Reuters reported that Snow beat Bud Light for the first time to become the best-selling beer in the world. Researcher Plato Logic said that Snow saw sales volumes jump 19.1 percent in 2008.
Since then, Snow hasn’t let go of its market share. As Bloomberg reported earlier this year, its sales have jumped 573 percent in the past 10 years. It makes up 5.5 percent of total beer sales worldwide. Tsingtao, another Chinese beer, pushed Bud Light to a close third. Budweiser and Brazil’s Skol round out the top five.
Snow still isn’t available widely in the U.S. It is brewed by SABMiller and China Resources Enterprises Ltd.