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A beer is any of a variety of alcoholic beverages produced by the fermentation of starchy material derived from grains or other plant sources. The production of beer and some other alcoholic beverages is often called brewing.

Known to the Egyptians, Babylonians, and probably to earlier civilizations, beer became the common beverage in northern climates not conducive to grape cultivation. Although beer and wine are both fermented and undistilled, wine is made from basic materials rich in natural sugar, while beer is made from materials high in starch. Starches must be converted to sugar before fermentation can occur.

Most of the world's beers are made from malted barley and flavoured with hops. They may be produced by employing a bottom-fermenting yeast strain, which falls to the bottom of the container when fermentation is completed, or a top-fermenting strain, which rises to the surface. Fermentation produces carbon dioxide which forms a head.

Types of beer
There are many different types of beers including:

Lager beers, preferred in the United States, are aged beers of German origin, taking their name from the German lagern ("to store"). Bottom-fermented, they are stored at a low temperature for several months, clearing, acquiring mellowness, and becoming charged with carbon dioxide. Most lagers are light in colour, with high carbonation, medium hop flavour, and alcohol content of 3-5 percent by volume. They include Pilsener, Dortmund, Munich, and California steam beer.

Top-fermented beers, popular in Great Britain, include ale, Stout, and a brew intermediate between the two, called Porter. They have a sharper, more strongly hopped flavour than lagers and alcohol content ranging from 4 to 6.5 percent or more by volume.

Beer and nationality
Belgians--like other nationalities--pride themselves on having the richest beer culture. There are over three hundred kinds of Belgian beer among which Stella Artois, Alken Maes, Jupiler and Duvel are some of the most well known. It is often said (particularly by Belgians) that the Belgian beers are particularly excellent.


Beer and related drinks
Beers, and similar beverages made from raw materials other than barley, include hundreds of local African drinks made from millet, sorghum, and other available starch crops; Nordic mead, made from honey and hops; Russian kvass; Chinese samshu, Korean suk, and Japanese sake, all brewed from rice; and pulque, an indigenous Mexican beer made from the fermented sap of the agave plant. The Mexicans and the Japanese also brew and export several brands of Western-style beer.

A half pint of beer each contains about one unit of alcohol.

Commercial brands of beer:

Quotations about beer

"Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy." -- Benjamin Franklin

"Give me a woman who truly loves beer, and I will conquer the world." -- Kaiser Wilhelm II

See also: Oktoberfest, British public houses