Praying for beer

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Praying for beer

 CHANG HYE-SOO
The author is the head of the sports team at the JoongAng Ilbo.

A photo taken by Italian-British photographer Felice Beato presumably in June 1871 showed a man in Joseon Dynasty beaming with an armful of beer bottles. At the time, an American naval force sailed into the Korean waters hoping to explore a diplomatic and trade relationship with the hermit kingdom. A ship was anchored off Ganghwa Island.

It also became the first time Koreans got the taste of American beer. Beer was first produced in Korea in 1933 after Sapporo (later Joseon Brewery) and Showa Kirin Breweries (later OB Breweries) opened their factories. They were referred to as “western beer” because beer already existed in the period of Joseon Dynasty.

A book published in 1450 was found in an antique book shop in 2001. It was written by a court medical staff named Jeon Soon-eui. He recorded 230 recipes and food storage methods. In the chapter on liquor, a maekju brewing on barley and wheat is introduced. It is brewed with wheat cereal on the similar fermentation method of making rice brew or makgeolli. At the end, the writer added that “since the flavor and scent lasts longer, it goes well in a warm climate.”

When mankind began consuming beer is uncertain. The craft would have been born only after farming was possible. A wall painting from the Mesopotamia civilization 4,000 BC showed people drinking beer out of a jar with straws. It would be about 6,000 years ago from now.

Some of the earliest Sumerian writings of around 2700 BC had a referring to beer. “In the Epic of Gilgamesh,” a wife sang “Drink up your beer as it is the tradition of this land.” “He has drunken well, 7 cups, and became merry and sang.”

The “warm climate” and best time for beer is coming. We pray for the day when we can drink beer with five friends or more after a long day.
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