Beer played a significant role in ancient Egyptian culture, as it was one of the most commonly consumed alcoholic beverages along with wine.
It was consumed regularly by the living and was also considered an important offering to the deceased. In fact, many offering formulae, or lists of items given as offerings to the gods or deceased individuals, include bread and beer, often followed by beef and poultry.
Evidence of beer brewing can be found in texts from the early Old Kingdom and in the depiction of beer brewing in Old Kingdom mastabas, or ancient Egyptian tombs.
Beer was made from starchy grains, typically barley, and was produced by first making dough from the grains, which was left to ferment and partially baked in an oven. The moistened bread was then kneaded through a strainer and poured into jars for further fermentation.
Brewing beer was often depicted alongside baking in ancient Egyptian art, and there are also 3D models that show the combination of baking bread and brewing beer.
While actual beer has not been preserved from ancient Egypt, beer residue has been found in a few jugs and vessels, and analysis of this residue has indicated that various types of grains were used to make beer. This is also confirmed by texts from the New Kingdom that mention different types of beer.
In addition to being consumed by the living and offered to the deceased, beer was also used as an ingredient in medical prescriptions.
It is believed that the ancient Egyptians, who did not have access to grapes, developed the process of brewing beer as a way to create an alcoholic beverage similar to wine.
A statuette from ancient Egypt depicts a woman in the process of making beer, kneading dough in a strainer over a large jar. The woman is shown half nude, with brown skin indicating that she was a servant and spent a lot of time outdoors.
She wears a wig over her natural hair, which is visible on her forehead, and a large multicolored faience necklace around her neck. The statuette shows the woman with an expressive face, as if she is speaking to someone in front of her.
The beer was prepared using fermented barley bread mixed with date liquor and stored in a large jar. When fermented, the beer would flow out of a hole near the base of the jar.