Mesopotamia: Beer dates back to at least 4,000 BC. The earliest Sumerian writings mention it. The earliest recorded recipe for brewing beer found so far is from the ancient Babylonians. It is thought that the drink arose independently in several locations during the switch from hunting and gathering to agricultural communities, as stored crops fermented naturally and produced alcohol.
New Zealand: Beer was unknown in New Zealand until introduced by Europeans in the 1800s. The first beer brewed on the island was made from an indigenous evergreen tree and was intended as a cure for scurvy. Captain Cook brewed it himself in 1770, and it worked.
Mongolia: In the 2010 World Beverage Competition, the top beer prize went to the United States. However, Mongolia won both a gold medal and a silver medal for Fusion Beer and Borgio, both brewed by the Mongolian beverage company APU.
Peru: When drinking beer with a group in Peru, one person buys a bottle, pours a glass, passes the bottle on to the next person, drinks it, pours the dregs on the floor, then passes the glass to the next person, who repeats the process. The last person to get a drink from the bottle usually buys the next bottle. Sometimes shenanigans result as some try their best to avoid taking the last drink!
Ireland: In 1756, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on a building in Dublin that has been producing beer ever since. Guinness, still run by Arthur's descendants, is now produced in more than forty countries.
South Africa: Umqombothi is an ancient South African beer made from corn and sorghum. It is also the title of a song about beer sung by South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, that was featured in the 2004 movie Hotel Rwanda.
Czech Republic: According to global statistics for 2004 (the most recent year available), the Czech Republic leads the world in per capita beer consumption. Over 156 liters per year are consumed per person in that country. That's 41.5 gallons for every man, woman, and child!
Australia: All the large breweries in Australia are owned by only three companies. The one most familiar to Americans is Foster's, which is brewed mainly for export and isn't all that popular in its home country!
China: The biggest beer market in the world is China, which consumes more beer than any other nation. However, that doesn't mean the Chinese are big beer drinkers; only that there are more people in China than anywhere else. Beer companies are trying to take advantage of that market by making beer a popular social drink instead of "something you only drink to get drunk."
Denmark: In April of 2010, workers at the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen went on strike to protest new rules limiting their workday beer consumption to lunchtime only. The strike ended a few days later when management promised to meet with the union.
USA: The US state with the highest per capita beer consumption is Nevada, at 44 gallons a year per person. However, you can imagine a lot of that is consumed by tourists. The next highest state is New Hampshire at 43 gallons per person per year.
Germany: The beer brewed in German homes for thousands of years was ale, until about 500 years ago when lager became popular. There is no written evidence of the earliest beer, but a Bavarian grave dating to about 800 BC contained beer made from bread. When the Roman Empire invaded Europe, soldiers found the residents of what would become Germany were already mass-producing beer.
(Image credit: Flickr user Eli Duke)Antarctica: The McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica has three bars, although only one, Gallagher’s Pub, serves beer year-round. In December, as new supplies come in, old or spoiled beer is destroyed by driving nails into the cans. There are competitions to see who is the best nail-driver!