alcoholic drink

Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in the world, and the third most popular drink overall after water and tea. Beer is brewed from cereal grains—most commonly from malted barley, though wheat, maize (corn), and rice are also used. During the brewing process, fermentation of the starch sugars in the wort produces ethanol and carbonation in the resulting beer. Most modern beer is brewed with hops, which add bitterness and other flavours and act as a natural preservative and stabilizing agent. Other flavouring agents such as gruit, herbs, or fruits may be included or used instead of hops.


    Battle between the Francs
and the Danes in 515

Jean Fouquet, c. 1455
  • The picture which the heathen English have drawn of themselves in Beowulf is one of savage pirates, clad in shirts of ring-armour, and greedy of gold and ale. Fighting and drinking are their two delights. The noblest leader is he who builds a great hall, throws it open for his people to carouse in, and liberally deals out beer, and bracelets, and money at the feast. The joy of battle is keen in their breasts. The sea and the storm are welcome to them. They are fearless and greedy pirates, not ashamed of living by the strong hand alone.
  • Hrothgar spake, the protector of the Scyldings; "For a defence, O my friend Beowulf, and for a succour hast thou sought us. Thy father avenged by striking, the mightiest of feuds: he was the slaughterer of Heatholaf, among the Wylfings... Full oft drunken with beer, the sons of battle promised over the ale cup, that they would in the beer-hall await Grendel's war, with the terrors of swords. Then was this meadhall at the morning tide, this palace stained with gore when the day dawned; all the benched floor reeking with blood, the hall with gore shed by the sword: I owned all the fewer of my faithful retainers, my dear young men whom there death took away. Sit now to the feast, and joyfully eat, exulting in victory among my warriors, as thy mind may excite thee." Then was for the sons of the Geats, altogether, a bench cleared in the beer-hall; there the bold of spirit, free from quarrel, went to sit: the thane observed his office, he that in his hand bare the twisted ale cup; he poured the bright sweet liquor; meanwhile the poet sang serene in Heorot, there was joy of heroes, no little pomp of Danes and Westerns.
  • Today, of course, most beer is bittered with hops, and the plant is integral to beer’s identity in the United States and Europe, if not the world. Few know that beer used to be flavored and preserved with a variety of different herbs (bog myrtle and wild rosemary especially), resins, fruit, and animal products. The additives varied widely across northwestern Europe, but the mixture of ingredients, whatever it may have contained, was called gruit.
  • There were no rations of rum, but the regulations provided that on foreign voyages, where beer could not be procured, the men might have half a pint of rum, brandy, or arrack in lieu of beer. As yet no tea, coffee, or cocoa was served out to the sailors. The national drink—the drink of the people—was beer; they drank beer for breakfast, beer for dinner, beer for supper, and beer at all other times when they could get it. A gallon of beer, four quarts or eight pints, is, it must be confessed, a plentiful—an affectionate and kindly allowance—for this daily drink; its substitute, when there was no beer, of half a pint of rum or brandy would be more than most of us moderns would care to take in the day, however much diluted.
  • Taste... can be no criterion by which to judge of the wholesomeness or quality of beer, but as malt liquor may now be considered one of the necessaries of life among the working classes, it is of the greatest importance that they be supplied with such an article, as may not prove injurious to their health. An honest brewer, therefore, should not rest altogether satisfied with being able to please the palates of his customers, but should endeavour to produce what he knows to be a really wholesome and nourishing, as well as an agreeable drink. ...My aim has been to avoid mystery, and to convey useful information...
    • William Black, A Practical Treatise on Brewing, and on Storing of Beer; Deduced from Forty Years Experience (1835) Preface, p. v.
  • At the present time, ale and beer, according to the will of the brewer, approach or recede from one another in their composition and consequent qualities, and are definable only in their extremes. We have reason to believe that our ancestors made a complete distinction: that, with them, ale was the pure wine of the malt, and that beer was that wine mixed with hops, or other bitter ingredients.
    • David Booth, The Art of Brewing (1829) Ch. IV, "Of the Materials of Ale and Beer", p. 19.
  • Of ale. Ale is made of malte and water; and they the which do put any other thynge to ale then is rehersed, except yest, barme, or godesgood, doth sophystical theyr ale. Ale for an Englysshe man is a naturall drynke. Ale must have these propertyes: it must be freshe and cleare, it muste not be ropy or smoky, nor it must have no weft nor tayle. Ale shuld no be dronke under .v. [5] dayes olde. New ale is wholesome for all men. And sowre ale, and dead ale the which doth not stande a tylt, is good for no man. Barly malte maketh better ale then oten malte or any other corne doth: it doth ingendre grose humoures; but yette it maketh a man stronge.
    Of bere. Bere is made of malte, of hoppes, and water: it is a naturall drynke for a Dutche man. And nowe of late dayes it is moche used in Englande to the detryment of many Englysshe men; specyally it kylleth them the which be troubled with the colycke, and the stone [kidney- or gallstone], & strangulion [inflammation of the throat]; for the drynke is colde drynke; yet it doth make a man fat, and doth inflate the bely, as it doth appere by the Dutche mens faces and belyes. If the bere be well served, and be fyned, & not new, it doth qualyfy the heat of the lyver.
  • The drink, which has come to supply the place of beer has, in general, been tea. It is notorious, that tea has no useful strength in it; that it contains nothing nutritious... Now, then, let us take the bare cost of the use of tea. ...[T]he wretched thing amounts to a good third part of a good and able labourer's wages. For this money, he and his family may drink good and wholesome beer, and, in a short time, out of the mere savings... may drink it out of silver cups and tankards. In a labourer's family, wholesome beer, that has a little life in it, is all that is wanted in general.
Egyptian hieroglyphics & painting indicating the pouring of beer.
  • I adduce reasons to show that the manufacture of beer was the earliest art of primitive man; an art exceeding in antiquity that of the potter or of the wine maker, and certainly that of the baker.
    • James Death, The Beer of the Bible: One of the Hitherto Unknown Leavens of Exodus... (1887) Preface, p. 4.
  • [T]here exists arguments in favour of regarding one of the eatable varieties of "leaven," Machmetzeth, as the beer of the Hebrews. The mention of beer by the Egyptians is frequent; under the name of Hek, two intoxicating beverages are included. The components of these beers, individually, are not known: one was made from corn, the other was a medicated or sweetened beer, due to the addition of honey, or system of brewing.
    • James Death, The Beer of the Bible: One of the Hitherto Unknown Leavens of Exodus... (1887) Preface, p. 12.
  • No doubt it is a very tedious thing
    To undertake a folio work on law,
    Or metaphysics, or again to ring
    The changes on the Flood or Trojan War;
    Old subjects these, which Poets only sing
    Who think a new idea quite a flaw;
    But thirst for novelty can't fail in liking
    The theme of Ale, the aptitude's so striking.
Brewery kettles, Carlsberg
  • The boiling of the wort... is another one of the essential phases of brewing. ...It is at this stage that the hop is added to the wort, but not until after the latter has boiled a sufficient time. Usually, the boiling requires four hours; at the expiration of the third hour, or still later, perhaps, the brewer will empty the contents of several large sacks full of aromatic hops into the copper, thus adding the bitter principle to the saccharine. ...At present, the average brewer fully understands that he can extract the essence of the hops without excessive boiling. The object of the boiling is: 1. To concentrate the wort; 2. To extract the essence of the hop; 3. To coagulate the unchanged albuminous substances and cause them to settle, together with the unconverted starch which if allowed to remain intact, would materially militate against the preservation of the beer. But this does not do justice to the important functions of hops... the action of this tender plant upon the wort. ...Without it, beer would be nothing more than fermented barley-juice, which... was known to the most ancient nations. Without it, beer could not be preserved for any length of time, and both in appearance and flavor would be greatly inferior to the drink of today. Hence, hops not only impart to beers their pleasantly bitter and aromatic flavor, but they also assist in clarification and produce the preservative qualities. The two principal substances which the hop-cone yields, when boiled, are lupulin and tannin, and it must be the brewer's aim to extract these in just that proportion... The diminutive sparkling grains of the hop flower, called lupulin, are closely wrapped up in the centre of the hop cone, and should be laid bare before the plant is placed in the copper. To this end most brewers will break up the hops...
    • George Ehret, Twenty-five Years of Brewing: With an Illustrated History of American Beer (1891) pp. 67-68.
Softly Creeping, Lightly Dropping
Louis Rhead, 1902
  • Thus you may see a dozen fish rising in one of the streams, and not be able to prevail upon one of them to look at a fly. ...Oh! my beloved brother of the rod, do you know the taste of beer—of bitter beer—cooled in the flowing river? ...Take, then, your bottle of beer, sink it deep, deep in the shady water, where the cooling springs and freshes are. Then, the day being very hot and bright, and the sun blazing upon your devoted head, consider it a matter of duty to have to fish that long, wide stream... and so, having indued yourself with high wading breeks, walk up to your middle and begin hammering away with your 20-foot flail. Fish are rising, but not at you. No; they merely come up to see how the weather looks, and what o'clock it is. So fish away; there is not above a couple of hundred yards of it, and you don't want to throw more than about two or three-and-thirty yards at every cast. It is a mere trifle. An hour and a half or so, good hard hammering will bring you to the end of it, and then—let me ask you avec impressement—how about that beer? Is it cool? is it refreshing? does it "gurgle, gurgle, and go down glug," as they say in Devonshire? Is it heavenly? is it Paradise, and all the Peris to boot? Ah! if you have never tasted beer under these, or similar circumstances, you have, believe me, never tasted it at all.
At the Café
Edouard Manet, c.1879
  • It is disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee used by my subjects, and the amount of money that goes out of the country as a consequence. Everybody is using coffee; this must be prevented. His Majesty was brought up on beer, and so were both his ancestors and officers. Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer, and the King does not believe that coffee-drinking soldiers can be relied upon to endure hardships in case of another war.
    • Frederick II of Prussia, 1777; quoted by Bert L. Vallée, Alcohol in the Western World, Scientific American, Vol. 278, No. 6 (June), 1998, pp. 80-85
  • By Degas's and Manet's day, many... emporia were called "brasseries," since they featured beer (the term derives from copper brewing vats). Beer had not been the prominent drink in Paris before 1848, for Parisians associated it with peasants and small-town folk. This became a positive factor, however, when enthusiasm for the common man developed in the wake of the revolution of 1848. The provincials who flocked to Paris in the Second Empire brought with them their taste for beer, and so did the greatly increased number of foreign visitors, especially those from the Lowlands, Germany, and Great Britain. Many traditionalists lamented the newly won prominence of beer, considered a provincial and foreign habit when compared to wine.
    • Robert L. Herbert, Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Partisan Society (1988)
  • ...Small beer is too frequently neglected, because the master or mistress of a family drink but a small quantity of it. I verily believe there would be less good small beer consumed in a family of servants and workmen, than if it were inferior and bad in its quality. It may be thought strange by adding the name of good to small beer, but it must be acknowleged that there is a great disparity in the quality of ales, and why not in small beer; on the one hand, it certainly depends on what length you draw from [the] quantity of malt. ...
    [W]hen a workman or servant has occasion for a pot of small beer, if bad, he will, perhaps, drink a part of it and throw the remainder away, and, very likely, carelessly leave the cock dropping, in order to get rid of such a bad commodity the sooner. Now, on the other hand, if the small beer was good, the consumers would take care to leave the cock, &c. secure, well knowing they should not have a better sebstitute.
    • E. Hughes, A Treatise on the Brewing of Beer, Wherein is Proved that One Bushel of Malt more than another Bushel of equal Strength... (1796) Second edition, "Small Beer", pp. 27-29.
  • An will fetch Ninguena for me from her mountain home -- the expert woman who redounds to her mother's credit, Ninkasi the expert who redounds to her mother's credit. Her fermenting-vat is of green lapis lazuli, her beer cask is of refined silver and of gold. If she stands by the beer, there is joy, if she sits by the beer, there is gladness; as cupbearer she mixes the beer, never wearying as she walks back and forth, Ninkasi, the keg at her side, on her hips; may she make my beer-serving perfect.
  • Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
    • Proverbs 31:6-7, New International Version. (Many translations have "strong drink" rather than "beer").
  • When daffodils begin to peer,
    With heigh! the doxy over the dale,
    Why, then comes in the sweet o' the year;
    For the red blood reigns in the winter's pale.
    The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,
    With heigh! the sweet birds, O, how they sing!
    Doth set my pugging tooth on edge;
    For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.
    The lark, that tirra-lirra chants,
    With heigh! with heigh! the thrush and the jay,
    Are summer songs for me and my aunts,
    While we lie tumbling in the hay.
Corner of a Café-Concert
Edouard Manet, ca. 1878-80
  • It's late and she's waitinɡ
    And I know I should go home
    But every time I start to leave
    They play another song
    Then someone buys another round
    And wherever drinks are free
    What's made Milwaukee famous
    Has made a fool out of me
  • Baby's begged me not to go
    So many times before
    She says love and happiness
    Can't live behind those swinging doors
    Now's she's gone and I'm to blame
    Too late I finally see
    What's made Milwaukee famous
    Has made a loser out of me
Portrait of a man holding a beer jug
Frans Hals, c. 1630-35
  • Ale is rightly called nappy... for it will set a nap upon a man's threed-bare eyes when he is sleepy. It is called Merry-goe-downe, for it slides downe merrily. It is fragrant to the Sent, it is most pleasing to the taste. The flowring and mantling of it (like chequer worke) with the verdant smiling of it, is delightefull to the Sight, it is Touching or Feeling to the Braine and Heart; and (to please the senses all) it provokes men to singeing and mirth, which is contenting to the Hearing. The speedy taking of it doth comfort a heavy and troubled minde; it will make a weeping widowe laugh and forget sorrow for her deceas'd husband. ...It will set a Bashfull Suiter a wooing; It heates the chill blood of the Aged; It will cause a man to speake past his owne or any other man's capacity, or understanding; It sets an Edge upon Logick and Rhetorick; It is a friend to the Muses; It inspires the poore Poet, that cannot compasse the price of Canarie or Gascoign; It mounts the Musician 'bove Eccla; It makes the Balladmaker Rime beyond Reason; It is a Repairer of a decaied Colour in the face; It puts Eloquence into the Oratour; It will make the Philosopher talke profoundly, the Scholler learnedly, and the Lawyer acute and feelingly. Ale at Whitsontide or a Whitson Church Ale, is a repairer of decayed Countrey Churches; It is a great friend to Truth; so they that drinke of it (to the purpose) will reveale all they know, be it never so secret to be kept; It is an Embleme of Justice, for it allowes, and yeelds measure; It will put Courage into a Coward, and make him swagger and fight; It is a Seale to many a good Bargaine. The Physittian will commend it; the Lawyer will defend it; It neither hurts or kils any but those that abuse it unmeasurably and beyond bearing; It doth good to as many as take it rightly; It is as good as a Paire of Spectacles to cleare the Eyesight of an old Parish Clarke; and in Conclusion, it is such a nourisher of Mankinde, that if my Mouth were as bigge as Bishopsgate, my Pen as long as a Maypole, and my Inke a flowing spring, or a standing fishpond, yet I could not with Mouth, Pen, or Inke, speake or write the true worth and worthiness of Ale.
    • John Taylor, Drinke and Welcome (1637) as quoted by Charles Henry Cook, The Curiosities of Ale & Beer: An Entertaining History (1889) pp. 4-5. Note: The Domesday Book (1086) records ‘Bradewatre ... ibi eccla’, "there a church".
  • This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption. Let us give praise to our Maker and glory to His bounty by learning about…beer!
    • Friar Tuck, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
  • [M]y intention... communicating... some of the results of my experience as Consulting Brewer among every sort and condition of brewery during the past twenty years... [T]he trade in bottle beers is increasing into startlingly large proportions... and may have practically no limit... [W]hether bottle beer is... going to be a source of... commercial advantage to those brewers who now sell... in half barrels or kegs... must be explained... by [others].
    [B]ottle beer requires... a number of qualities... I... summarize... the most essential: (1) It must be of perfect brilliancy or limpidity, at all temperatures. (2) It must have a close and lasting foam. (3) It must be sparkling, and have a sufficiency (but not an excess) of carbonic acid gas. (4) It must have a mild hop aroma. (5) It must have a full smooth and agreeable hop taste. (6) It must have good stability or keeping qualities. ...
    [Y]our beers, after leaving your cellars will, when exposed to either very cold or moderately warm temperatures... almost invariably undergo chemical or physical changes, which will manifest themselves by producing cloudiness, or formation of deposit, or even... very disagreeable taste and odor. ...[L]et us see how we may mitigate these difficulties and reduce them to a minimum. ...
    [T]he "vinous" varieties (generally classed as of the Pilsener type) are... the best adapted for the bottling trade. ...
    [Q]ualities as these can only be produced from the very choicest brewing materials, but... the results can still only be realized by expert and practical brewers... [U]niformly good bottle beer brewing requires: (a) Specially selected malt and hops. (b) Specially adapted mashing temperatures and methods. (c) Special fermentation temperatures and pure yeasts. (d) Special conditions of maturation and finishing. (e) Special attention to absolute cleanliness. ...
    [T]he most appropriate original wort gravity... about 1.055 specific gravity... [T]he most suitable blend of materials... 80 per cent. of choice, mellow, full-grown, pale, high-dried malt; 20 per cent. of the best rice, corn grits, or corn flakes; and approximately 0.8 pound of choice new hops per finished barrel... [W]here the water supply is very soft... it [should] be hardened by appropriate chemical treatment...
    • Dr. Francis Wyatt, "Some Notes on Bottled Beer Brewing", Meeting Held at the Chemists Club, New York (November 16, 1906) Transactions of the American Brewing Institute, Vol. 3, pp. 216-218.
  • Beers may... in a certain sense, be regarded as cereal wine, as they actually have been termed by the Greek and Roman writers, or as a product of vinification, as it has been called in the middle ages and even later. ...[E]verything we expect from wine we expect from beer also, and in addition thereto a high percentage of extractive matter, a special hop flavor and taste, and a foamy head of good keeping. Generally speaking, beer... must be defined as a beverage produced by the alcoholic fermentation of a saccharine liquid, called wort, which is produced by the saccharification of starchy material obtained from grain, usually by means of diastase, which substance is formed in the grain by the germination (malting) of the same. Beer, above all, must not alone be regarded as a luxury, but also as a food product. Millions of the working classes find in beer a cheap, healthful stimulant while engaged in hard physical labor, which, besides its nourishing effect, possesses other still more invigorating and strength replacing qualities. It is owing to its great percentage of extract, together with a moderate amount of alcohol, that beer possesses the qualities necessary to serve these purposes.
    Beer, therefore, must... be considered as a beverage conducive to health, which, instead of leading to intoxication and intemperance, works in the direction of moderation and true temperance, successfully contending against the use of highly intoxicating distilled liquors.
    • The Western Brewer (Supplement to), One Hundred Years of Brewing: A Complete History of the Progress Made in the Art, Science and Industry... (August, 1901) Vol. XXVI, No. 8 (1876-1901) pp. 30-31.
Syrian mercenary drinking beer, Egyptian New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty.
  • The Egyptian beer was made from barley; but, as hops were unknown, they were obliged to have recourse to other plants, in order to give it a grateful flavour; and the lupin, the skirret, and the root of an Assyrian plant, were used by them for that purpose. ...The account given by Athenæus of Egyptian beer is that it was very strong, and had so exhilarating an effect that they danced, and sang, and committed the same excesses, as those who were intoxicated with the strongest wines: an observation confirmed by the authority of Aristotle... distinguishing persons suffering under the influence of wine and beer... how invariably the former in that state "lie upon their face, and the latter on their backs." ...
    The Greeks and Latins comprehended every kind of beverage made by the process of fermentation under the same general name, and beer was designated as barley-wine; but, by the use of the name zythos, they show that the Egyptians distinguished it by a totally different appellation.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 204-07.
  • Here
    With my beer
    I sit,
    While golden moments flit:
    They pass
    Unheeded by:
    And as they fly,
    Being dry,
    Sit, idly sipping here
    My beer.
  • They who drink beer will think beer.
    • Quoted by Washington Irving—Sketch-book, Stratford-on-Avon. They who drink water will think water. (Travesty of the foregoing.)
      Nor shall our cups make any guilty men;
      But at our parting, we will be, as when
      We innocently met.
    • Ben Jonson, Epigram CI.
  • Let the back and sides go bare, my boys,
    Let the hands and the feet gang cold;
    But give to belly, boys, beer enough,
    Whether it be new or old.
    • The Beggar. Old English Folk Song. Version in Cecil Sharp's Folk-Songs from Somerset.
  • For drink, there was beer which was very strong when not mingled with water, but was agreeable to those who were used to it. They drank this with a reed, out of the vessel that held the beer, upon which they saw the barley swim.



Misattributed: Quotes widely associated with an author or work but sourced to another author or work. Read more at Wikiquote:Sourced and Unsourced sections.

  • God made beer because he loves us and wants us to be happy.
    • The quote, and its many variants, has been widely attributed to Franklin; however, there has never been an authoritative source for the quote, and research indicates that it is very likely a misquotation of Franklin's words regarding wine: "Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy." (see sourced section above for a more extensive quotation of this passage from a letter to André Morellet), written in 1779.

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