Beer industry has reached the highest stage of development in the contemporary world. In the food ration of millions of people, beer occupies an indispensable place and has become a national drink. Thousands of sorts of beer are bottled all over the world. This greatest industry takes its origin from ancient Eastern civilizations.
What were the preconditions of beer consumption in Georgia, what is its genesis and how did the Georgians contribute to the development of this important culture.
Successful development of beer production requires having wheat culture and the developed agricultural tools connected with it, as well as the establishment of cultural-genetic links with those centers, where beer industry emerged.
Ages and ages ago, the Greeks had noticed the Georgians' aptitude for agriculture. Having seen wine fountains in Aeetes's palace and a plough, which was so perfectly forged from hardened steel aroused an ardent interest in the Argonauts who arrived in Colkhis. Perhaps this was not the only reason, that later they called the Georgians "Georgias", which means a farmer or a land cultivator in Greek.
Out of 17 varieties of wheat known in the world, 12 were grown in Georgia. Local varieties, Makha and Zanduri developed from wild sorts into cultural crop. It is a unique phenomenon, an established fact of selection, which gives an interesting picture of the development of a diversified economy over the long time. In archaeological materials of Georgia, there is the evidence that grain existed back in VII-VI millennium.
Scientists believe that one of the seven oldest centers where farming emerged and developed was in the Middle East, where Georgia belonged. In Georgian archaeological monuments on the hills of Amirani, Arkhalo, Urbnisi and Shulaveri, in the settlements of Neolithic period, were traced the ruins of oldest dwellings with wheat storage pits and farming tools. This indicates that those dwellers, the predecessors of oldest Georgian tribes, about nine thousand years ago were familiar with wheat culture and had their own ways of its growing and storage. The world science has no other data about any older grain-growing center. All this proves that, the people with grain-growing culture could have been closer to the cradle of beer making than any other people.
Beer culture in Georgia was introduced from the countries of ancient world. It is under no doubt today, that oriental beer counts the oldest age, and all the archaeological, historical, epigraphic and ethnographic materials clearly testify economic-social links of ancestral tribes of Georgians with these nations.
It is quite understandable why Georgian mountain has preserved the tradition of beer consumption to our days: Georgia had a classical grape-growing and winemaking culture in the plain. According to the established opinion in ethnography, the area where vineyards are spread is considered the plain, while other territories belong to a mountainous zone. That is why beer production originated in the mountain and occupied the major place in the routine life of the natives.