The refreshing, intoxicating and fattening malt beverage, beer, dates back at least 6,000 years, to the Babylonians.
The Czechs, at 132 liters per person per year, take that prize for the most beer per capita. Americans rank 12th behind such nations as Slovenia and Venezuela.
But no nation, anywhere, brews more different kinds of beer than the U.S.A. There probably are 100 varieties of lagers and pilsners, ales and porters and stouts.
As one travels across the United States, visitors would run into: wheat beers, rye beers, barleycorn beers, bock beers, lite beers, all sorts of seasonal beers, low-carb beers, and beers flavored with the essence of everything from blueberry to pumpkin to chili.
Americans brew red ales, amber ales, golden ales, blonde ales, cream ales, and something called India pale ales, which aren’t from India at all but were first brewed in Britain for export to its India colony.
A few years ago, the Miller Brewing Co., now known as MillerCoors, made a clear beer until it discovered people prefer a rich, caramel color and a frothy head on their beers.
And Anheuser-Busch, America’s biggest brewer — which is now Belgian-owned — is pushing a beer packed with 54 milligrams of caffeine in every 355-milliliter can.
Even though Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and a couple of other big breweries have bought out many of their competitors and dominate sales, there are more than 500 smaller craft breweries, as they’re called, plus thousands of local brewpubs making beer in small batches.
Many of these breweries have developed a loyal following using social media and imaginative marketing. The wacky names of some of their beers, such as Bad Frog, Dead Armadillo, and Weeping Radish Amber Lager, have caught the attention of beer buyers at bars, restaurants and retail checkout stands.
American humorist Dave Barry wrote: “Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.”