Did you know that the world just celebrated the 16th annual International Beer Day on Aug 4, 2023?
Originally a Californian event started in 2007 by Jesse Avshalomov, the “festival” has since grown exponentially. Today, hundreds of cities across the world celebrate the day in the name of togetherness, friendship, brewing, and of course, great beer.
For Singaporeans, International Beer Day carries additional meaning as August is the month of Singapore’s birthday. Our very own Tiger Beer, a national pride, also happens to be the world’s growing premium beer. A shining example of how Singapore has stood tall in more than one way despite global challenges.
Without further ado, here are 15 fun facts about beer and Singaporean beer-drinking trends to go yam-seng over. This list is proudly presented to you together with Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore (part of The HEINEKEN Company).
All images belong to Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore.
1. Beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world
One often cited beer facts is that the earliest archaeological evidence of beer brewing is the Mesopotamian The Hymn to Ninkasi, believed to be written in 1,800 BCE. The hymn is theorised to be the “technique of a thousand years by British Historian Paul Kriwaczek.
Recent discoveries in Israel, however, suggest that beer brewing possibly existed as early as 13,000 years ago, and was part of ritual feasts to honour the dead. The location of the find was furthermore described as the oldest brewery in the world.
2. Women were the first brewers
Women have been brewing beer for thousands of years. Ninkasi (see above) was the Sumerian Goddess of Beer and Brewing—the goddess’ name literally means “Mistress of Brewing.” Brewing was one of the few ways Sumerian women could make a living with.
The Babylonian The Code of Hammurabi referred to tavern owners in the feminine form, which suggests that brewers back then were women. The Egyptian Goddess Hathor was notably hailed as the “Inventress of Brewing” too.
In the words of Smithsonian “Beer Scholar” Theresa McCulla, “Women absolutely have, in all societies, throughout world history, been primarily responsible for brewing beer.”
3. Hammurabi took his beer very seriously
Speaking of Hammurabi, the ancient Babylonian King took his beer very seriously. (Perhaps a tad too serious) His code of laws decreed a daily beer ration for citizens—free beer every day! Death by drowning was also the recommended punishment for dishonest beer sellers.
4. There are over 100 types of beer in the world today
All that history means one thing. Today, there are over a hundred types of beer in the world.
All beers are traditionally either ales or lagers, though. For example, porters, stouts, India Pale Ales (IPA) are all ales, while pilsners and wheat beers are both lagers. (Singapore’s Tiger Beer is a pale lager)
The scene gets more complex each day too with all sorts of hybrid and craft beers being created. Who knows? In the near future, we might witness the emergence of a whole new style of beer.
5. Ales and lagers are brewed very differently
They are both regarded as beers but ales and lagers have starkly different ways of brewing. Robust ales are brewed with top-fermenting yeasts at warm temperatures, while smooth lagers are brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast at less than 10 degrees Celsius.
Needless to say, the differences provide for very different drinking experiences too.
6. Beer isn’t the only reason for a “beer belly”
There is a widespread belief that drinking beer causes a fat stomach, a health condition popularly referred to as a ‘beer belly’. However, the real culprit behind a thick midriff is excessive calories, which can come about when you eat too much, exercise too little, drink too much sugary stuff, guzzle down too much alcohol, and so on.
In other words, moderating your consumption of everything AND exercising regularly will keep the bloated tummy at bay.
7. Beer is made up of natural ingredients and nowadays, could be alcohol-free
Beer is brewed with (malted) barley, hops, yeast, and water. You’d also be surprised to learn that beer is 95% water! Most beers, like Heineken, also contain no preservatives, additives or colourings.
And if you’re averse to alcohol, for health reasons or otherwise, no worries. There’s even non-alcoholic beer nowadays. Heineken 0.0, for example, has all the taste of a balanced beer but no alcoholic content at all.
8. The foam on beer protects the beverage from oxygen
“Beer Head” is formed by bubbles of carbon dioxide rising to the surface, with the foam also slowing oxidation, thus preserving the taste and quality of beer.
For some beer lovers, a creamy head is often the best part of an ale too.
Fun Beer Fact: Pouring for the best flavour
Did you know that there are different ways to pour different kinds of beer to ensure the best flavour?
For example, the Heineken Star Serve ritual is an exercise of precision to ensure that every glass of premium full-bodied beer can be enjoyed till the very last drop! Everything from rinsing, pouring, skimming, pouring angle, glassware cleanliness, foam skimming technique, and serving standard is carefully detailed. The ritual furthermore includes skimming the beer and ensuring a two-finger foam head sits nice and firm on the shoulder of the red Heineken star.
All in all, a precise operation to bring forth the best freshness and flavour of the world-famous beer.
9. The Guinness Book of World Records was conceived to solve arguments in pubs
In the 1950s, Sir Hugh Beaver, Managing Director of the Guinness Brewery, wanted to create an ultimate authority on record-breaking achievements to resolve arguments in pubs.
According to the official website, Sir Beaver was inspired by how there was no reliable resource to resolve an argument at his shooting party a few years earlier.
The subject of their argument, by the way, was the fastest game bird in Europe.
10. Asians collectively make up the biggest beer drinkers in the world
The Global Beer Consumption report by Kirin found that Asia constitutes 31.4% of the global beer market share. The report also ranked China as the largest beer-consuming country in the world for the 19th consecutive year.
11. Many countries have a representative beer
For Singapore, it would, of course, be Tiger Beer. For the Netherlands, Heineken is the name that immediately comes to mind.
For some tourists, not having a Singha/Chang while in Thailand means an incomplete holiday. The same for not enjoying a Guinness while in Ireland. Or a Corona in Mexico.
The list goes on and on.
12. Beer is Singapore’s most popular alcoholic beverage
According to a recent survey commissioned by the Singapore Beer Industry Association (SBIA) and conducted by independent research firm Merdeka Centre, beer is still Singapore’s most popular alcoholic beverage, with 75% of 600 Singapore citizens and permanent residents listing it as one of their top-three favourite drinks. This percentage surpasses the number of responses for wine and spirits.
13. Singaporeans prefer to consume alcoholic beverages at home
According to a survey commissioned by the Singapore Beer Industry Association (SBIA) and conducted by independent research firm Merdeka Centre, 77% of 600 respondents shared that they tend to drink at home, 45% stated they enjoy drinking in bars, and 44% would drink at a friend or relative’s home.
This finding reveals a shift in behaviour since the Covid-19 pandemic, with 51% of respondents reporting that they now drink more at home.
14. Singapore has been brewing beer with the power of the Sun
Tiger Brewery was the first solar-powered brewery in the world in 2015, a switch that reduced CO2 emissions by approximately 20 percent. Previously brewed as refreshment for Singapore’s scorching weather, Tiger now uses the unrelenting tropical sun to create the nation’s signature beer.
15. Beer is synonymous with good times and celebrations in Singapore
Not everyone in Singapore drinks beer, but beer is an inseparable aspect of good times, friendship, and celebrations in the Lion City. This is in great part thanks to creative marketing, festive collaborations, and generous sponsorship of entertainment events in Singapore by breweries.