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Beer is the world's oldest alcoholic beverage, dating back possibly as far as 9,000 years. Evidence reveals that the Chinese brewed beer-like alcoholic drinks around 7,000 BC, albeit mostly on a small, individual scale. Additional evidence comes from Iran, where chemical tests on clay jars demonstrate that people brewed and stored beer on a large scale some 7,000 years ago.

The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all drank beer too. In fact, the Egyptians likely taught the Greeks the brewing process, who then later taught the Romans. It was an important staple of everyday life because water couldn't be trusted. The brewing process that produced beer killed any harmful organisms and bacteria in the water.

Given the long history, it shouldn't come as a surprise that so many different kinds of beer exist. In fact, there were likely different kinds of beer near the initial beginnings of the beverage, as supported by a 4,000 year old receipt inscribed on a clay tablet. The receipt identifies a purchase order for superior ale. Some 500 years later, another clay tablet lists fifteen varieties of beer. This translates to beers that span a wide spectrum of types and styles today. There are ales, brown beers, black beers, stouts, lagers, beer flavored with fruit, beer flavored with herbs, and beer flavored with whisky or other spirits. Some beers have an alcohol content rating of a miniscule 1%, others have an alcohol content of 20% plus. Some are served chilled, others at room temperature.

It's believed that culture and beer are also tightly intertwined. In fact, some assign beer as an essential component of culture, with one influencing the other and vice versa. Today, almost all varieties of beer have been categorized into groups based on local customs and names. In other words, they have been identified by the culture that initially crafted them. In addition, each type of beer from each area possesses a distinct flavor, which can be based on the history and customs of the area that first produced it.

Take "lager" as an example. The word comes from German as this style of beer originated in Central Europe. Then there's ale, which was drunk throughout Europe but was especially prominent in England, Ireland, and Scotland. As a hint of the word's importance, "bridal" comes from the words "bride" and "ale." In the Middle Ages, brides often sold ale at their weddings to defray the costs of the ceremony. Or "yuletide," which signifies the Christmas season, comes from "ale" and "tide"

Although much of the history remains undefined in absolutes, beer has remained a popular drink through the ages. It has since spread around the world to every society too. Today, beer comes in third as the most popular world beverage, just behind water and tea. And given its long traditions, it most likely will remain the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world.


Step 1: You will listen to an article about beer. The article is a little less than five minutes long. Listen only, and don't worry about understanding everything.
Step 2: Read and understand the questions, then listen again. As you are listening, try to answer the questions in your head. Don't write the answers yet. Next, listen again and write the answers this time. Check your answers with a partner.
Step 3: Read the article. Check in your dictionary any unknown words. Now listen again. Can you understand more?
Step 4: Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen to the article on the train or in your free time. Each time you listen, you will slowly improve!

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