Beer - Everything you need to know: Definition, origin, craft beer, buying beer, brewing and making beer, and more.


Beer is one of the most popular and oldest beverages in the world. It is so popular that the only two drinks that are more consumed than beer are water and tea. You can find beers in shops, bars and restaurants and see people drinking beer all around the world. Beer has become part of people’s everyday life, either at social events or accompanying food. 

Yet thousands of people all around still have questions about beer. Here is everything to know about beer. 

So what are the most common questions asked about beer?

We will answer these questions:


What is beer?


The definition of beer is that it is a carbonated, foamy alcoholic beverage produced by boiling and fermenting. 


The invention and history of beer - Who invented beer? When was beer invented? Which country does beer originate from?


It is difficult to pinpoint the exact time when beer was invented. Most likely, the first fermented beverages came along with the development of cereal agriculture 12,000 years ago. It is believed that the hunter-gatherer tribes staying around various crops must have stumbled upon the fermentation process and started brewing beer. There is no proof of that, though, but it is a good assumption. Even if the exact time is unclear, it is sure that it was discovered by mistake. 

The evidence of the first beer points to the Middle East. It dates back about 5000 years ago and was brewed by the Sumerians in ancient Mesopotamia. The evidence found by archaeologists were vessels with sticky beer residue and a hymn to the goddess of beer that reveals a beer recipe. 

What is more, it is known that it was women who invented beer. This might be a surprise as the beer industry is male-dominated. But it makes perfect sense as women were dealing with cooking and then stumbled upon a spontaneously fermented brew by mixing and cooking herbs, cereal and water. Women were also initially master brewers until the industrialisation of the production process made men take over. 
After the Sumerians, we can move to ancient Egypt, where it became the national drink. It was used all the time as a basic beverage, food or even salary. At the same time, the Chinese came up with their own beers, which often were rice-based. 

By the Greeks and Romans, beer was seen as the drink of the barbarians. They appreciated wine more. 

During the 7th century, the first monastery and the beer of the monks were created. The art of brewing was trusted to monks. 

In 1070, the benefits of hops were discovered, and brewers started using hops to preserve beer and add more taste. 

In the 13th century, brewing started to spread outside of monasteries, and breweries came along. Unfortunately, the Thirty Years of War was not kind to breweries and brewing beer became home-based.

Breweries came back again in the 1700s when colonial cities in Europe grew. 

Finally, the industrial revolution brought us to modern brewing. Several inventions improved the brewing methods and beer quality. And the late 1970s and 1980s brought us microbreweries. Since then, the beer industry, especially craft beer and small independent breweries, has grown rapidly. 


What are the main ingredients of beer?

Beer mostly consists of water. Around 90-95% of beer is made of water. Thus, water is one of the main ingredients in beer, along with malt, hops and yeast. Before hops were discovered, a mix of grains called gruit was used. 

You can read our hops guide to find all you need to know about hops.

See also our guide to malts in beer to learn all about the malt

How to make beer?

There are four basic steps to making beer. First, you need to get prepared and get all the ingredients and equipment you need. Then starts the brewing process, where you steep your grain and boil to create a wart. The third step is fermentation. And finally, when the fermentation is finished, you can bottle your beer. 

Get more detailed information from our article about making beer. 

Can you make beer at home?

The answer is simple. Yes, you can make your beer at home. As an amateur brewer, you need to have the basic equipment, ingredients and a simple recipe. Then you follow the beer-making steps mentioned above. 

Want to make beer at home? See our full homebrewing guide for beginners.

What are beer brewing kits?

Beer brewing kits are kits that come with everything you need to make a beer. There are beer brewing kits for complete beginners, advanced brewers or even microbrewers. 

Need to know more about beer brewing kits? Read about the beer brewing kits for brewing beer at home.  


What is beer used for?

Although beer is mainly consumed as a drink during an aperitif, it can also be found as an accompaniment to a good meal. Beer is sometimes used in recipes such as the famous Flemish meatballs or beer waffles. Beer can be included in a soup or a stew. You can use beer for marinating or for steaming mussels. People even use beer in pancakes, and they are delicious!

Some gourmets also study beer pairings to know which beer to serve with which dish.

Moreover, you can use beer for your hair. It is known to give hair more shine due to protein and vitamins. People have also discovered beer for fixing brown lawn spots in one’s garden. Another use for beer is to loosen rusty bolts. The carbonation can help to get rid of the rust.


What is craft beer?

Craft beer does not have the same definition as beer. In France, for example, the regulations are very clear on these two definitions. While both, by definition, are alcoholic beverages, then craft beer follows artisanal guidelines. Craft beer is a beer that is made by a small independent brewery traditionally. Regular beer is mass-produced, while craft beer brewers are focusing on quality, not quantity.

What are the characteristics of craft beers?

When you discuss and describe a beer, you use certain characteristics. 

  • You will pay attention to the colour
  • You will notice the aroma with your nose
  • On the mouth, you will discover the beer flavour
  • With your mouth and throat, you can also understand the mouthfeel or the body of a beer


What are the different styles of beer?


Beers come in so many different colours, tastes and aromas. Thus, beers have been categorised by style. Here are the different types of beer: 

Sour beer
Grisette beer
Amber beer
 Gruit beer
American Pale Ale beer
Gueuze beer
Honey beer
Hefeweizen beer
Barley Wine beer
IPA beer
Berliner Weisse beer
Kölsch beer
Bitter beer
Kriek beer
Black IPA beer
Lager beer
Lambic with fruits
Blonde beer
Dark beer
Belgian Blonde beer
Oud Bruin beer
Strong Blonde beer
Pils beer
Brett beer
Porter beer
Brown beer
Quadrupel beer
California Common beer
Red Ale beer
Cream Ale beer
Saison beer
Christmas beer
Scotch beer
Double Belge beer
Session IPA beer
Faro beer
Sour IPA beer
Framboise beer
Spéciale Belgian beer
Fruit beer
Stout beer
Smoky beer
Triple beer
Gose beer
White IPA beer
Grape Ale beer
Alcohol free beer


What glasses do you need to drink beer? 

Theoretically speaking, any glass would do the work. Nevertheless, beer glasses are made with specific shapes and sizes for specific beers. Especially in Belgium, you need to pay attention to beer glasses. The beer culture is so strong that it is very important to match the beer with the correct glass. To capture all the beer flavours and aromas, the correct glass is essential. What else is important to know is that before drinking beer, the glass should be rinsed with cold water, but not dried. 

Want to know which beer goes to which glass? Read our guide to Belgian beer glasses

How to serve beer? 

Serving beer is a skill in itself. When not served well, you can end up with too much foam, for example. Tilt the glass slightly and start pouring the beer slowly. Once the glass is half full, you can slowly start straightening the glass and then smoothly moving the bottle, can or draught spout away from the glass. Serving beer this way should leave you with the perfect amount of foam. 

What do you call different beer bottles?

Though beer cans are getting more popular, most beers are still in bottles. 

Beer bottles come in different sizes and also depending on the country. In Belgium, the most common beer bottle sizes are 25 to 33 cl. Bigger bottles between 355 to 375 ml are used for lambics. In Germany, the standard beer bottle size is usually 50cl. In France, you can find many different sizes between 25 to 75 cl and even 1.5liter beer bottles. In America, the standard bottles are called Longneck, which like the name, have a long neck and can be reused several times. You can also find a very big bottle called the Growler that can fit 1890ml of beer. This was designed to transport draught beer between breweries and bars. 



How is beer distributed?

Beer is generally distributed through a three-tier system that includes the producers, distributors and buyers. The producers are the breweries, buyers are the shops, bars, or other retailers, and distributors are the middlemen who bring beer from breweries to the buyers.


What is the best beer in the world?


Different people would give different answers to this question. Nevertheless, every year the World Beer Awards selects a winning beer in different categories. For instance, there are awards for best IPA beer, best non-alcoholic beer or best blonde beer. What is your favourite beer in the world?

See the best beer in the world award 2021 award winners.  


Which country makes the best beer?


If we would say any other country than Belgium, we would not be credible! But we are not saying this only because we are from Belgium. It is true and Belgium deserves the title. The beer culture and history in Belgium are so strong that UNESCO recognizes it as an intangible cultural heritage. You can find some quality beers in Belgium in all kinds of styles. For any beer lover, this is the best country to drink beer. Belgium's beer brands are globally recognized, and the brewing methods brought the country on the map. Besides globally known beer brands like Chimay, Gulden Draak and Orval, Belgium has kept its beer reputation alive with new, innovative microbreweries like Brasserie de la Senne or Brussels Beer Project. 


What kind of beer do people drink in Belgium?


With so many types of beers available, the people in Belgium enjoy all kinds of beers. Trappist beers brewed by monks in an abbey, of course, have made their name worldwide. Nowadays, the craft beer movement is taking over, so beers from various craft beer breweries have become very popular. 

If you want to know more about what beer styles are common in Belgium, read our guide to Belgian beer styles


Which countries consume the most beer? 


Though Belgium might be producing some of the best beers, it is not the country that consumes the most. The most recent data from 2022 has shown that the country that consumes the most beer is the Czech Republic. It has the highest beer consumption per capita. The following countries are Namibia, Austria, Germany and then Poland.


What is the strongest beer in the world?


There has been a race for the title of the strongest beer in the world for a while now. Breweries either want to make a name for themselves and their country or just want a challenge. The holder of the strongest beer in the world title is Snake Venom beer by Brewmeister brewery from Scotland. The beer has an alcohol level of 67.5%. Will anyone ever beat that?

See the rest of the strongest beers in the world

See also the strongest beers in Belgium

What is the most sold beer in the world?

You might not even have heard of or tried the most sold beer in the world. It is called Snow, and it comes from China. It is also mostly sold in the country. It takes almost 30% of the Chinese beer market. The reason probably is that it is cheap and easy to drink. 


What are the best places to drink craft beer?


Beer is everywhere and nowhere. Or rather, beer is everywhere, but craft beer is not so easy to find. Fortunately, the shelves of supermarkets are increasingly giving pride of place to craft or local productions alongside industrial beers. For a large majority of the buyers, it is the main place to buy beer. Once you have gotten your favourite craft beers, you can go enjoy them at a friend's place or, if the weather allows, in a park. 
The second main place to buy and consume beer is in bars. Not all bars are alike. There is the local bistro that will offer a few draught beers and a dozen bottled beers. At the other end of the spectrum, there are specialised beer bars where it is not unusual to find twenty or thirty beers on tap and a hundred bottled beers on the menu. 

See the best craft beer bars in Brussels
And visit the best beer bars in Paris

The third-place dedicated to the purchase of craft beer is the wine shop. On the one hand, there are the wine shops dedicated to wine which propose a shy beer section but above all the beer cellars dedicate their whole business to local and foreign craft beer.

Last but not least, you can also find craft beers in a restaurant. What better way to enjoy good craft beer than next to a good meal. Not all restaurants offer that, and many still stick with commercial beer brands, but some restaurants have noticed the growing demand for craft beer and have decided to put it on their menu.


How can I learn about beer?


Some Internet users are also curious to know more about what beer contains, such as its composition or the number of calories it contains. Other beer lovers try their hand at brewing beer in kitchens quickly invaded by the smell of hops and cereals.
There are many resources to discover the world of beer: books, workshops, and guides allow you to deepen your knowledge of beer. There are also beer blogs and beer podcasts.
There are many lists such as best beers in the world, strongest beer, and best Belgian beers. Beware that these lists depend on the knowledge of the author. It is not surprising to find very well known industrial beers on some lists while craft beers are sometimes forgotten.

In some countries, you can also study beer. There are schools dedicated to beer and brewing, or courses and classes offered to learn about craft beers. If you consider becoming a brewer or maltster, studies in the food manufacturing field are most appropriate. 

What are the best places to buy craft beer?

  • Shops

As we mentioned before, you can find craft beer in a supermarket. The advantage is that you can do your grocery shopping at the same time. On the other hand, usually, there are not so many choices, and commercial beers still dominate the market. Also, you will need to do all the carrying. 

  • From the breweries

If you have a favourite beer brewery, you can directly buy beers from them. It is a good way to support a small microbrewery. Nevertheless, you will only get beers from that brewery, and you will miss out on the option of having a mixed beer box with beers from various craft beer breweries. 

  • Buying beer online and beer delivery

This is the best option if you like to have a lot of choices, want to do the shopping from the comfort of your home, get fast delivery and not be bothered by taking the time to go out and get the beers. Buy beer online and get all the best selections delivered to your home. Very comfortable. 

Head to our catalogue to see what to drink next. 

  • Buying large quantities

If you want to buy a beer box or even several boxes of beer, it is best to order it online. This way, you can get beer delivered to you. No need to do some heavy lifting. Maybe a pack of six beers is okay to carry, but a beer box with 8, 12, 20 or even 24 beers gets more difficult. 

See our beer boxes available. 

  • Beer subscription

If you are a regular beer drinker, you should consider signing up for a beer subscription. This way, you can receive craft beer boxes monthly. How convenient is that? Someone is always taking care of your craft beer supply. 

See our beer subscription method. 


Is beer good for health? And is it okay to drink beer every day?


Studies have found that beer can be good for health and have beneficial effects on the heart. Experts have said that women can drink one glass and men two glasses of beer a day without being harmful to one's health. Of course, you do need to drink beer moderately. Excessive drinking can cause harm.

Be aware, though, that this study is focused on healthy people. People with serious health problems, addiction tendencies, pregnant women or children should not drink beer. 


Does alcohol free beer contain alcohol? Which beer is really alcohol free?


That now is a trick question. Real alcohol-free beer still contains some level of alcohol because the fermentation process has been taking place. In beer, making alcohol is always present, but certain methods have been used to bring the alcohol level low. This is why pregnant women, people in an alcohol rehab program or children need to be aware when buying non-alcohol beer. It still has a bit of alcohol in it, and honest brands will mark the low percentage on the bottle. If beer is advertised as 0%, then you need to question it and see if it is beer in the first place. 

Read more about alcohol-free beer and see the best non alcoholic beers

And this was the ultimate guide about beer and everything you need to know about beer. Have more questions about beer? Then let us know, and we will try to answer them the best way possible!

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