We are just under a week into the 2021 season of Major League Baseball, something that I never thought would bring tears of happiness to my eyes. With the 2020 season having been almost non-existent, the thought of returning to Petco Park (Go Padres!) and drinking a beer in my seat with my husband and our friends seems almost surreal… Although getting an already limited set of tickets to a game this season seems to be challenging in and of itself. But hey, experiences like that are priceless, am I right?
Ticket prices aside, when I think of baseball, the first thing that comes to mind is singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch. JUST KIDDING! It’s watching my favorite team win from the stands with an ice-cold beer in my hand. Which got me thinking… Has it always been this way? Have we always watched our national pastime with a cold brewski?
Which came first, beer or baseball? Or were such a perfect pair co-created for fear of having one without the other?!?! Alright, alright. I think we all know deep down that beer was actually created first. But how long ago, you ask? Well, crack a cold one and let’s take a walk through time.
While there are theories that beer was most likely created by accident some 12,000 years ago alongside the development of grain agriculture, the earliest unmistakable evidence of intentional beer production dates all the way back to 3400 B.C. The Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia used ceramic vessels to ferment and store beer. They even wrote a hymn to their goddess of beer, Ninkasi, describing a recipe for beer made from barley bread.
Many ancient beer recipes were flavored with strange adjuncts such as mandrake, dates, and olives (Will that be the next trend to follow milkshake IPAs?). Beer is one of the oldest beverages that humans have ever created and is still one of the most popular today.
Beer wasn’t always made with the method we use today. For example: gruit, a mixture of various herbs, was used in place of hops as a bittering agent but didn’t have the preservative properties that hops do. It wasn’t until the 9th century that the first record of hop usage appears by the Carolingian Abbot Adalard of Corbie (what a mouthful!).
Hopped beer was perfected in Bohemia by the 13th century. The preservative qualities that hops provided enabled beer to begin being exported to other places without spoiling so quickly. Thus began the widespread trade and distribution of beer around the globe.
During the Industrial Revolution, the quality and consistency of beer improved significantly due to the improvement of the steam engine, and the introduction of the thermometer and hydrometer. In 1857, Louis Pasteur discovered the role of yeast in fermentation and helped brewers understand how to prevent souring from unwanted bacteria.
Prior to Prohibiton, there were thousands of breweries in the United States. During Prohibition, many production facilities were forced to produce soft drinks to stay afloat, or in the case of Coors Brewery, turn to the production of malted milk and ceramics! As of 2020, there were 8,764 craft breweries in the United States. Talk about a comeback!
As for the origin of baseball… It turns out that this has been the subject of controversy and debate for more than 100 years. The general consensus is that it was derived from early British folk games and at one point in history was just called “base”.
We may never know the true origin story of baseball, we do know that the first National League game took place in June 1876, and beer was one of the earliest concessions offered at professional baseball games.
Next time you get the chance to attend a game at Petco Park, make sure to stop by our East Village location for a pre-game beer, and then grab a Duck Foot beer can inside the stadium!
Cheers & Go Padres!
Lexi Russell Martin
Assistant Brewer & Baseball Fan Extraordinaire