How Much Do You Know About the History of Beer?


By: Geoff Hoppe

6 Min Quiz

Image: Nikada/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Do you consider yourself a beer geek? Do you know where all the good beer bars are in town? On a first-name basis with the bartender at your local microbrewery? If you're a human dowsing rod for malt liquor, then this quiz will be up your alley.

As a beer geek, you stand in a long, proud line of imbibers. Beer has been around for millennia and even had patron gods and goddesses in the ancient world. But can you count yourself proudly among those who worship the oat soda?

Where was beer first brewed? Why was it so ubiquitous throughout human history? What ingredients went into it at different times? What country has the oldest extant law regulating what was considered good beer? If you've got the answers to these, you might be ready for this quiz. If not, you've got a lot to learn, and a great opportunity to wow your bartender the next time you order a flight!

Belly up to the bar and take this quiz to see if you've got what it takes to be the most knowledgeable beer geek ever to hop on a stool.  

What does ABV stand for?

ABV stands for alcohol by volume. This figure tells you how strong a beer is, i.e. the alcohol content.


In what year did the U.S. Congress pass prohibition?

Prohibition began in the U.S. in 1919. The Volstead Act was the legislation that established prohibition.


What commonly strong style of ale is nicknamed the "wee heavy?"

Scotch ales are often called "wee heavies." The "heavy" refers to the higher alcohol content.


The first beer in history was brewed in what region?

The earliest evidence of beer in history comes from Sumer, in Mesopotamia.


What style of beer that originated in the Czech Republic is the style of the most popular domestic beers (Miller Lite/Bud Lite)?

The Pilsner style is the most familiar in America, being the basis of the lite beers most often bought. Pilsners were first brewed in 1842.


What style of beer got its name in 1703, and differed from other styles because its malts were roasted over coke, rather than peat or wood?

Pale ales are first mentioned by name in 1703. The fact that their malts are roasted over coke gives the beer a paler yellow appearance than beers with malts roasted over wood or peat.


What German immigrant sold his first beer in America in 1855, and founded the brewery that bears his name?

Frederick J. Miller, a German immigrant, sold his first beer in 1855. Miller was born in Riedlingen, Germany, in 1824.


What German immigrant and brewery founder left his home country to avoid being possibly drafted into the army?

Adolphus Coors emigrated to the U.S. in 1868. He actually didn't pay to get to America, but stowed away on a ship.


This popular style of beer was brewed with higher alcohol content, so it could survive a long sea voyage without losing its punch. What is its name?

India pale ales were brewed with higher alcohol content, so they could make the long sea journey from Britain to India without losing their potency. IPAs are known for being hoppy and bitter.


What style of beer gets its name because a European royal court was particularly fond of it and its alcohol content?

Russian Imperial Stouts got their name because the Russian court was fond of them. Their ABV can be anywhere from 8-15%.


What ancient beer originated in Finland, and is infrequently brewed today?

Sahtea was an ancient Finnish beer. It used juniper berries for flavor rather than hops.


What style of beer, named for a state, uses lager yeast, but is not brewed like a traditional lager?

California Commons are brewed with lager yeast, but at a warmer temperature than regular lagers. This is, in part, thanks to how difficult it is to keep ice around in California's climate.


What modern iteration of light gold, effervescent Belgian ale was first brewed in 1956?

The first modern tripel was brewed by Westmalle, a Belgian brewery, in 1956. The name and style, however, existed in earlier forms before the 20th century.


What 1800 B.C. Sumerian text includes one of the earliest recipes for beer?

The Hymn to Ninkasi was written in 1800 B.C., and includes a recipe for beer. Ninkasi was the goddess of brewing in the ancient Middle East.


In what year was the first commercial brewery in America founded?

1632 is generally credited as the year America's first commercial brewery was founded. It was founded in New York, by the Dutch East India Company.


What dark English beer is first referred to by name in the 1700s?

Porter is a dark beer that was first mentioned in print in 1721. It was George Washington's favorite style of beer.


What relatively recent style of beer is named for a region in America, and is known for being fruity and less bitter?

The New England IPA is a type of IPA known for being less bitter, fruitier and cloudier-looking than regular IPAs. The style has blossomed in popularity in the latter half of the 2010s.


What is the oldest continuously operating brewery in America?

Yuengling is the oldest continuously operating brewery in the U.S. It was founded in 1829, and was originally named Eagle Brewing.


Which ancient civilization included beer in prescriptions and medical remedies, and even gave workers daily rations of beer?

Beer was included in multiple prescriptions in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians also had a goddess of beer, Tenenit.


What important medieval European ruler ordered an annual day of fasting that included no beer?

Charlemagne ordered days of fasting, which included no beer or other alcoholic beverages. Charlemagne was known for drinking only in moderation.


Which of the following catholic saints is the patron of brewers?

St. Arnold is the patron of brewers. St. Arnold encouraged the drinking of beer, as it was often healthier than medieval water.


In 1639, President Nathaniel Eaton was fired (in part) for not providing enough beer. He was the president of which university?

Nathaniel Eaton was President of Harvard. Students took issue with the lack of beer, and even claimed there was goat poop in the puddings his wife made.


In what year was the German Purity Law, which dictates how beer should be brewed, adopted?

The German Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) was adopted in 1516. According to the Reinheitsgebot, the three ingredients in beer were hops, water, and barley.


Which of the following is the world's oldest continuously operating brewery?

Weihenstephan Brewery in Bavaria is the oldest continuously operating brewery on earth. They trace their heritage to 1040 A.D.


Which of the following monks are famous for brewing high-quality beer?

Trappist monks have become famous for the beer they brew. They brewed beer for local communities, and eventually to earn money for their monasteries.


Which of the following styles of beer originated in Wallonia, a part of Belgium?

Saisons originated in Wallonia, a part of Belgium where people speak French. The beers were traditionally lower ABV and meant as refreshment for farm laborers.


What region of Germany has been celebrating Oktoberfest since 1810?

Oktoberfest has been an important yearly celebration in Bavaria since the 19th century. It's held from late September to early October.


Which of these beer styles is most often associated with Oktoberfest?

Marzen lagers are the style most associated with Oktoberfest. They're called Marzens because they're brewed in March ("Marz," in German), and put back until October.


The 1855 "Lager Beer Riots" occurred when Mayor Levi Boone outlawed the sale of alcohol on Sundays. Which city are we talking about?

The Lager Beer Riots occurred in Chicago in 1855. Boone was a devout Baptist who did not believe in drinking on Sundays.


This city's sports teams are associated with two of the most famous disasters in professional sports history, "Bottlegate" and the infamous "10-cent beer night." Which city it is?

Cleveland, Ohio, was home to "Bottlegate" and "Ten Cent Beer Night." "Bottlegate occurred at a Cleveland Browns game when thousands of angry fans threw empty beer bottles at the field. "Ten Cent Beer Night" was a 1974 promotion at a Cleveland Indians game that quickly descended into chaos.


What brewery, located at St. James Gate, was first leased to its owner in 1759, for a duration of 9,000 years?

Arthur Guinness leased St. James Gate in 1759, where he put the brewery that bears his name. Guinness is best known for their stout.


Which European ruler said, "give me a woman who loves beer, and I will conquer the world?"

Kaiser Wilhelm II famously asked for a beer-loving lady. The country he ruled, Germany, would be one of the losers in WWI.


In 1668, the first commercial brewery in Canada was built in what city?

Canada's first commercial brewery was opened in Quebec City in 1668. Ironically, part of the reason it was founded was to keep people from being too intoxicated, by giving them an alternative to liquor.


What famous enlightened despot actually ordered his people to drink beer, rather than coffee?

Frederick the Great, ruler of Prussia, ordered his subjects to substitute beer for coffee. Frederick worried that soldiers who drank coffee weren't fit for battle.


Workers on which wonder of the ancient world were paid in beer?

Workers on the Great Pyramids were paid in beer. Beer was incredibly popular in ancient Egypt.


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