A beer’s flavor depends on its malt, which can be anything from a mild corn-like taste to burnt mocha. In addition to the flavor, the type of malt used also determines the color. Most beers use a large proportion of light-colored malts, which contain enzymes that convert starch into sugars. These sugars are fermentable, providing food for yeast. Once the yeast feeds on the sugars, the beer turns into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
In the ancient world, beer was a staple in diets throughout the region between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. This drink was so intoxicating that some people called it “the divine drink.” Historically, the first solid proof of beer production dates to the Sumerian period around 4,000 BCE. Archeological excavations in Mesopotamia have revealed villagers drinking the drink from a bowl using straws. This ancient ode to Ninkasi contains the oldest known recipe for beer. Similarly, the Babylonians are the next known people to drink beer.
The difference between ales and lagers can be traced back to the history of brewing. Irish and French writings first referenced this distinction. Today, we can drink low-alcohol beers that contain less than 4% alcohol. Depending on where you live, these beers may have as much as 2.53% alcohol. It’s possible to find a beer with lower alcohol content in many places, but the backbone of the drink is the same.