All you need to know about beer, in brief
Beer is the traditional drink of northern climes. The Romans used to make beer, but then they got clever at making wine, and beer became the drink of the non-Romans to their north – the hairy, trouser-wearing Celts, and the Barbarians. Strangely, a lot of beer-drinkers today are not uncomfortable with that image.
In fact, beer has been made by just about all cultures. All that is needed is a starchy grain. Even just old loaves of bread will do: this, apparently, is how Mesopotamians (in what is now Iraq) brewed their beer about 6000 years ago. The Chinese, Japanese and Koreans made beers from rice (Japanese sake is, strictly speaking, a rice beer, although it is often referred to as a 'rice wine').