Before people learned how beer was made its creation was attributed to divine power. Beer has long been associated with various gods in cultures throughout the history. Even today, in some parts of the world, beer is still considered a sacred drink.
In Ancient Greek mythology, Silenus is the God of beer and a drinking companion. The name Silenus is derived from the Greek word “silen” meaning “drunk”. He is usually associated with his buddy, Dionysus. He is often featured as a bald and fat man, with a big beer belly. He is normally drunk and it is said that he had to be carried either by donkeys or satyrs (in Greek mythology, satyrs are wood-dwelling creatures with the head and body of a man and the ears, horns, and legs of a goat). He was the leader of a band of merry satyrs who danced and sang at the banquets of the god. He was said to have a very long beard and to have a huge belly. He was said to have a fondness for wine, women, and song.
Dionysus was the Greek god of wine, fertility, theatre, and ritual madness. He was the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele. He was the god of the grape harvest and was often associated with the grape vine, though he is considered the god of all intoxicating drinks. Dionysus was said to be a good-natured god who was in the company of satyrs, maenads, and nymphs. He was often depicted with a wine jar and a thyrsus. The thyrsus is a staff or stick with a vine or grape vine wrapped around it. It is a symbol of his godly power and the source of his godly madness.
Four times a year, the Athenians and citizens from all over Greece would gather together to worship Dionysus. The largest and most prolific of these festivals was the City Dionysia, or Great Dionysia, which was held in late March through early April. Here, the Greeks would sing and dance and revel in a state of madness in worship of the god. Goats were sacrificed in his honor. Men would dress up as satyrs. Large amounts of wine would be consumed.
Ninkasi was an ancient Sumerian goddess of beer and brewing. Her name means “the beer-making god.” Ninkasi was one of the most important gods of the Sumerian pantheon. She was associated with many aspects of the brewing process. She was the goddess of the grain, the soil, brewing, and brewing-related activities.
“A Hymn to Ninkasi,” written in the third millennium BC, is an early Sumerian poem about the beer-making goddess Ninkasi. The hymn describes Ninkasi’s creation of beer and the role she plays in the creation of the Sumerian gods. It is an early example of a sacred poem and a kind of mythological allegory.
While wine was the alcoholic beverage of choice for the Greeks and Romans, ancient Egyptians produced and consumed beer in huge volumes. According to the myth, the god Osiris himself gave humanity the gifts of culture and taught them the art of agriculture; at this same time, he also instructed them in the craft of brewing beer. A Greek historian from the time of Julius Caesar once wrote that, “Osiris taught the people how to brew the beverage which is made of barley, which is not greatly inferior to wine in odor and potency.”
Aegir (Eye-Year) is not an actual god, but a Joton (Giant) in Norse mythology that ruled over the sea with his wife Ran and 9 daughters. He is also the brewer to the gods. In his great hall under the sea, he brewed the finest ale in all the 9 Realms. The ale had a magical quality that caused the ale to be drinkable even when it was frozen. This made Aegir a favorite among the gods, known to the gods as the host of great parties where the drinking horns would fill themselves. In his hall, the gods had to set aside their differences and remain peaceful or risk banishment from his hall forever.
In the Aztec tradition, Tezcatzontecatl is the God of pulque (a traditional alcoholic beverage made of fermented juice of the century plant, and similar to beer). He is also associated with drunkenness and fertility. A monument built like a pyramid was built on top of the Tepozteco Mountain for the worshiper and now, this place has become a well known archaeological site.
7. Mbaba Mwana Waresa
Mbaba Mwana Waresa is a fertility goddess of the Zulu religion of Southern Africa. She rules over rainbows, agriculture, harvests, rain, and beer and has power over water and earth. She taught Her people how to sow and reap and also taught them the art of making beer. It is this act that has made Her one of the more revered goddesses of the Zulu people.
In certain African cultures, Yasigi is the Goddess of beer, dance and masks. Her statue portrays her as large-breasted female holding a beer ladle while dancing. Thus, the statue is often referred to as the “Beer-Dancer”. The symbol of Yasigi is the mask.
Radegast, the Slavic god of crops, harvest, abundance and hospitality, but also of the sun and fire, was, according to myth, a gourmand – a lover of food and drink. He would often appear among common people in disguise to make merry. If he was satisfied with the hospitality shown to him, they were richly rewarded.
10. Raugupatis and Ragutiene
In Ancient Baltic and Slavic mythology, Raugupatis is known as the God of fermentation. Raugutiene is Raugupatis partner and she is known as the Goddess of beer.
For as long as history has been recorded, all around the world, we can see examples of these beverages being enjoyed and even fought over. Beer is mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and beer has been discovered in archaeological sites to be chemically dated back to the year 5,000 BC. And even today when we know everything about of process of crafting beer, it can never hurt to ask for some divine intervention.