Ancient Armenia, the Homeland of Strong Beer

According to Xenophon, the inhabitants of the Van Kingdom have been the first to brew strong beer. Only many centuries later, the tradition of strong beer-making has been brought to life by northern people of Europe.

Brewing is closely related to farming and has existed ever since people had learned to make bread of grain. The history of beer has begun in immemorial times, and goes back to the earliest civilizations.

Around 9500 BC, beer was just a drink of wild wheat, barley and oats, the cooking process of which very much resembled brewing, but differed from it. According to researches, the main drink for the Sumerian civilization was beer.

Ancient Egyptians have already mastered the brewing process perfectly by 2800 BC. Beer was very popular in the ancient world. However, people of Greece and the Roman Empire still preferred wine to the “bread drink”.

On the territory of modern Armenia, Iran, Syria, and Egypt, archaeologists have discovered clay vessels of large capacity with narrows necks, which have been used to store grain. Ancient people have covered tops of the vessels with ceramic plates with holes, and inserted drinking straws in them. According to scientists, it has been done to avoid the solid byproducts of fermentation that sink to the bottom.

To make beer, Sumerians, Hittites, Hurrians, Egyptians, Babylonians, and Sakas used barley, millet, crushed rice and oats. Bark of trees, honey, leaves, and spices attached pleasant fragrance to the drink.

In the period of the Van Kingdom (Urartu), beer has been brewed since 9th-8th centuries BC. Some of the clay vessels found in Erebuni preserve traces of beer of barley and millet. Subsequently, Armenians made beer mainly of barley and called the drink garejur (Armenian: գարեջուր (գարի, gari – barley, ջուր, jur – water), barley water).

The first notes about the Armenian beer come from 5th century BC and were left by ancient Greek historian Xenophon. After visiting one of the villages of the Armenian Kingdom, he wrote:

“Wheat, vegetables and barley beer were stored in vessels. Spikelets of barley floated in each vessel with beer. You could see canes without geniculum sticking out of the beer.

One would need to drink the beer through the cane. Not diluted with water, the beer was very strong, but was a very pleasant drink for people who were used to it.”

For long time, our ancestors have added various herbs to the beer to get the aroma. It is worth noting, that back then beer was much stronger than the strongest of modern beer.


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