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How Women Brewsters Saved the World

Tara Nurin (official historian of the Pink Boots Society) explores the history of women and beer from prehistoric times up through Prohibition.

Tara Nurin Apr 21, 2016 - 14 min read

How Women Brewsters Saved the World Primary Image

In the uber-dramatic introduction to the Discovery Channel’s trail-blazing 2011 documentary How Beer Saved the World, lightning flashes, fires rage, wort bubbles, and beer historian Gregg Smith tells the camera, “Beer has changed the course of human history. Not once, not twice, but over and over again.”

Calling it “the greatest invention of all,” the film producers credit beer for helping to originate math, commerce, modern medicine, refrigeration, automation, and even the first system of non-pictorial writing. As they explain, our literal dependence on beer and earlier forms of alcohol has likely shaped fundamental aspects of human existence for 200,000 years. Yet the producers ignore the fact that, until fairly recently as history goes, women were the driving force behind much of the world’s beer production.

Of Goddesses and High Priestesses

“Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered beer of the collector vat; it is [like] the onrush of the Tigris and Euphrates.”—Hymn to Ninkasi

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