Ninkasi, goddess of beer

Ninkasi, goddess of beer

1 1 year ago


Connecting the useful with the pleasant, old Sumerians realized in the early days, that the brewing of beer isn’t just a necessary tool for survival, but an easily accessible nutrient. Beer became a central part of Sumerian agriculture, with not only its own methods, but - according to that age’s customs - with its own goddess.
Thus, Ninkasi was born to “satisfy the desire” and “sate the heart”. As the local fertility goddess’ high priestess’s daughter, she was born of “sparkling water” as the goddess of alcohol (especially beer), which she would prefer to prepare on a daily basis. Her methods of beermaking - in lack of a Brewie to make it easier - were most likely to pass on from generation to generation through hymns dedicated to her.
The one that survived and got translated is a two-part poem, which specifies the method of brewing in a highly poetic way. The hymn is a step-by-step guide: it talks about piling the dry grains, soaking it to produce malt, “cooking” it into a sweet wort, and even filtering it.
Most of the text is decipherable, and many times academics and brewers reconstructed the old Sumerian recipe (although it is made for immediate consumption) - even with spicing it with honey and other flavorings used at the time.

Here, enjoy the full text of the hymn, praising Ninkasi, goddess of beer:

Borne of the flowing water,
Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag,
Borne of the flowing water,
Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag,

Having founded your town by the sacred lake,
She finished its great walls for you,
Ninkasi, having founded your town by the sacred lake,
She finished it’s walls for you,

Your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud,
Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake.
Ninkasi, your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud,
Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake.

You are the one who handles the dough [and] with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with sweet aromatics,
Ninkasi, you are the one who handles the dough [and] with a big shovel,
Mixing in a pit, the bappir with [date] – honey,

You are the one who bakes the bappir in the big oven,
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,
Ninkasi, you are the one who bakes the bappir in the big oven,
Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,

You are the one who waters the malt set on the ground,
The noble dogs keep away even the potentates,
Ninkasi, you are the one who waters the malt set on the ground,
The noble dogs keep away even the potentates,

You are the one who soaks the malt in a jar,
The waves rise, the waves fall.
Ninkasi, you are the one who soaks the malt in a jar,
The waves rise, the waves fall.

You are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes,
Ninkasi, you are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large reed mats,
Coolness overcomes,

You are the one who holds with both hands the great sweet wort,
Brewing [it] with honey [and] wine
(You the sweet wort to the vessel)
Ninkasi, (…)(You the sweet wort to the vessel)

The filtering vat, which makes a pleasant sound,
You place appropriately on a large collector vat.
Ninkasi, the filtering vat, which makes a pleasant sound,
You place appropriately on a large collector vat.

When you pour out the filtered beer of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of Tigris and Euphrates.
Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered beer of the collector vat,
It is [like] the onrush of Tigris and Euphrates.