Bottoms Up: The Beer History Quiz

Bambi Turner

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

The average of-age American throws back more than 200 bottles of beer each year, but while you're chilling with a cold one, have you ever stopped to pay tribute to the men and women who concocted your favorite suds? Take our quiz to see how much you know about the history of the beer industry, both in the U.S. and around the world.

About how long ago was the first barley-based beer brewed?

Though the ancient Chinese had alcoholic libations, the first barley-based beer was made by the Sumerians of Mesopotamia way back in 3400 B.C.E. That means that ancient people were swilling down brewskies almost 5,500 years ago.

Who was the ancient Sumerian goddess of beer?

The Sumerian "Hymn to Ninkasi" pays tribute to the goddess of beer. It also contains a beer recipe dating back to around 1800 B.C.E.

True or False: Ancient people only had one type of beer.

By 2000 B.C.E., the Sumerians had at least eight different recipes for barley-based beer, and another eight recipes for wheat-based brews -- which meant ancient people had a choice when it came to selecting a beverage.

Many of the world's oldest breweries are located in these facilities.

In an effort to be self-sufficient and generate adequate beer supplies for pilgrims, visitors and the poor, many monasteries had built-in breweries. Some of the oldest breweries that survive today are located within current or former monasteries.

In what year did man begin to use hops to make beer?

The earliest beers relied on barley and wheat. It wasn't until 822 C.E. that the first hops-based beers were brewed in France. The practice of using hops in beer wasn't common in Germany until the 12th century.

When did the world's oldest operating brewery, Weihenstephan, begin making beer?

Located in an Abbey in Bavaria, Germany, Weihenstephan has been brewing beer since 1040. Turns out Germany is a popular spot for long-running breweries; the second-oldest operating brewery in the world, Weltenburg, is also located in that country and has been in operation since 1050.

What's the oldest of these beloved Irish brews?

Smithwick's takes the crown for oldest of these three Irish beers. While Guinness may get all the attention, John Smithwick started making beer in 1710 -- at a brewery that had been in operation since the 13th century.

How long is the Guinness lease at St. James's Gate that Arthur Guinness signed in 1759?

Arthur Guinness famously signed a 9,000 year lease to make beer at St. James's Gate starting on 12/31/1759. The company has long since bought the land, so the lease is no longer in effect, but is still a popular tale to spin while throwing back a pint.

True or False: Even the Pilgrims drank beer.

The Pilgrims may have seemed too pious to ever indulge, but they were actually big fans of beer. Because of poor water quality back in the day, almost everyone drank beer during the Pilgrims' time. In fact, one of the reasons the Mayflower ended up on Plymouth Rock was that the boat was running low on beer.

How many breweries were in the area now known as the United States back in 1660?

There's evidence that the Jamestown settlers made beer out of corn, and a 1660 Dutch map of New Amsterdam shows 26 breweries in the New World. Of course, that didn't stop the settlers from importing plenty of British beer to supplement their own creations.

When was America's oldest still-operating brewery established?

America's oldest brewery that's still in operation was founded in Pottsville, PA, in 1829. Originally known as Eagle Brewing, you may know it today as Yuengling.

What did Yuengling sell to survive during Prohibition?

When Prohibition sent many breweries out of business, Yuengling started making ice cream to survive the lean years. The company only ceased its ice cream operations in the '80s - and then resumed in 2014!

True or False: Pabst Blue Ribbon is named for the company's many awards.

For years, the company tied a silk blue ribbon around the neck of each bottle. By 1892, the company was buying a million feet of blue ribbon each year. Customers began to ask for the beer with the blue ribbon, which helped give the beer its name.

In what year was Anheuser-Busch founded?

America's biggest brewery -- and maker of Budweiser -- Anheuser-Busch was founded in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1852.

Which U.S. state is home to Miller?

Miller was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, back in 1855. The company joined forces with Coors -- which was founded in 1873 --in 2008 to create one of the largest breweries in the U.S.

When did beer cans come out?

The first canned beer came out in 1935, and featured a lining to handle the high level of pressurization within. By the end of the year, more than 200 million cans of beer were sold. The first aluminum cans came out in 1958.

When did beer bottles first get metal crown caps?

Before the crown cap was invented in 1892 by William Painter, beverage makers used more than a thousand different styles of stoppers to seal bottles and keep beer contained.

In what year did Prohibition bring the party to an end?

The 18th amendment kicked off Prohibition, which banned the sale and production of alcohol in the U.S. from 1920 until 1933, when beer was made legal again, thanks to the 21st amendment.

When did beer cans get pull-rings?

It wasn't until the 1960s that beer makers added pull rings. Before that, you needed to punch a hole using a bottle opener to imbibe. Many beer sellers up to that point also used cone cans, known as crowntainers, which put a standard bottle cap on a can with a coned-shape top.

What brew is known as the "Champagne of Beers?"

Miller put its High Life beer into a clear glass bottle starting in 1906 -- a rarity for the time. The company started using the nickname "The Champagne of Bottled Beers" back in the early 1900s, then dropped the word "bottled" in 1969.

In what year, post-Prohibition, did the U.S. have the fewest breweries?

Thanks to consolidation, the U.S. had fewer than 100 brewing locations, with only 42 owners, by 1978, down from a high of more than 4,000 in 1873.

True or False: Microbreweries produced around half of all U.S. beer in 2015.

Sorry microbrew fans...the big guys still rule the roost. In 2015, just 11 breweries were responsible for around 90 percent of U.S. beer production.

Which of these brands was the first to introduce its beloved light beer?

Bud Light may be the best-selling beer in the U.S, but Budweiser was the last of these three brands to introduce a light beer. Miller Lite came first in 1973, followed by Coors Light in 1978 and Bud Light in 1982.

In 2015, Anheuser-Busch InBev accounted for 76.7% of beer sales in what country?

In 2015, Anheuser-Busch InBev accounted for 76.7% of beer sales in Argentina, followed by 67.5% in Brazil and 57% in South Korea. The famous U.S. brand had a 45.8% market share in the United States.

Which President signed a bill making home brewing legal at the federal level?

In 1978, Jimmy Carter signed a bill which legalized home brewing at the federal level. This was the beginning of a trend toward many new microbreweries, as people started crafting their own suds.

In what year did all 50 states finally legalize home brewing?

It wasn't until 2013 that Mississippi and Alabama finally legalized home brewing, making the practice legal in all 50 states.

How many breweries were in the U.S. by 1996?

From fewer than 100 breweries in 1978, the number of beer makers increased to more than 1,000 by 1996. Just one percent of beer sales at that time came from small, independent breweries and craft brewers.

True or False: In 2015, there were more breweries in the U.S. than at any other point in history.

Prior to 2015, the peak number of U.S. breweries was 4,131, in 1873. By 2015, there were 4,144 breweries operating in the country -- most of them small, independent companies.

In 2011, how many gallons of beer did Americans imbibe?

Americans drank about 6.3 billion gallons of brew in 2011. The state with the highest rate of consumption that year was New Hampshire, where people threw back an average of 43 gallons per person.

In 2016, the best-selling beer in the world came from what country?

As of 2016, the top two best-selling beers in the world -- Snow and Tsingtao -- came from China. Snow represented around 5.4 percent of all beer sold in the world, even though most of their sales were domestic. Bud Light ranked third.

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