When Was Alcohol Discovered/Invented?

By James Madeiros


The Greatest Discovery in History

It’s hard to say exactly when alcohol was discovered for two reasons: 1) it was a long time ago, and 2) because you have to imagine that noting the date and time was not the first thing that occurred to the discoverers.

The first mistake that needs to be cleared up is that, while the origin may be in dispute, there is no doubt that alcohol – or fermentation, at least – was discovered rather than “invented.” One does not invent a thing that occurs naturally, as fermentation most assuredly does.

(To illustrate this fact it should be pointed out that humans are not the only animals that enjoy a drink or two. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discusses the discovery of a few mammals in the Malaysian rainforest that drink the fermented nectar of what’s known as the bertam palm flower.)

Regarding human discovery, some paleontologists trace the origin all the way back to the Neolithic period, and some even believe that it was alcohol – or the desire for it – that prompted the first humans to take up agriculture.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, humanity’s love of alcohol has also been credited for precipitating the creation of democracy and the American Revolution. Of course, these things are spoken of in jest, but if one seriously considers the integral part of alcohol in some of history’s most momentous decisions and accomplishments … well, it’s a sobering thought to say the least.

When it comes to intentional brewing the historical record is nearly as muddled. Anthropologists know people were drinking beer in Mesopotamia in 4,000 BC because there are records of it being traded, and Sumerians sang odes to it as far back as 1,800 BC, but many scientists believe the history of brewing stretches back much further.

Alcohol distillation, however, is probably a bit younger in the tooth according to most historians. Mesopotamians were known to use the distillation process, but it would take a few hundred years before the Chinese would use it to make rice liquor.

The final conclusion: booze has been around forever in some shape or form, and we’ll never really know the exact date and time that one lucky human made the discovery of a lifetime.

Of course, I should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, you should work with your medical professional to determine what's best for you. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).

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