The list of the world's earliest brewing regions, named brewing basins.


This list is indicative and may be revised according to future documents and studies. This inventory only covers the primitive brewing basins related to the domestication of plants and the protohistory of the brewery, as far as they can be understood.

For the historical evolution of these basins - some are merging - see Evolution of Brewery Bassins.


Primitive brewery basins

Starchy plants

Related human cultures


Northern China (Huang-He + Henan delta) , Corea, Japan

Millets, barley, lilium bulbs snake-gourd, yam, Job's tears, peas.

Erlitou, Erligang, Yangshao


Southern China (Yangtze)

Rice, millet, taro, sago-palm

Pengtoushan, Majiabang, Hemudu


South-East Asia, Mekong basin

Taro, bean, yam

Chams, Khmers, Moï, ...


Philippines / Indonesia

Taro, yam, sago-palm



Tibetan plateau/ Himalaya

barley, finger-millet

Tibet, Nepal, Bhuthan, Ladakh


Ganges valley / Bengal

Rice, bean-mung

Vedic India, Maurya and Gupta empires


Central Asia (Caucasus + Iran + Afghanistan + Turkmenistan + Indus bassin + Tadjikistan)

barley, wheat

Civilisations of the Indus, Persia and the Caucasus


Asian steppe (Kazakhstan, Mongolia, ...)


Terra incognita for the archaeology of beer (?)


Near-East, Egypt

Barley, wheat, rye, oat, buckwheat, date-palm (?)

Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians


Eastern Africa

Teff, doura, finger-millet,

Nubia, Kush, Aksum, Sudan


Great Lakes Africa

Plantain, bananas, finger millet

Burundi, Rwanda, Buganda kingdoms


Sub-saharian Africa and Niger basin, Western Africa

Sorghum, millet, finger-millet, African rice

Ghana, Mali, Kanem-Bornou, Songhaï kingdoms.


Tropical Africa


Kongo, Zimbabwe kingdoms.


Mexico/Central America

Maize, beans

Maya, Toltec, Olmec.


Andean Cordillera, coastal Ecuador, Peru and Chile

Maize, quinoa, potatoes, Lima bean

Chavín, Moche, Nazca, Chimù, Wari, Inca, ...


Amazonian basin, Guyanes Plateau, Caraïb

Cassava, sweet potato

Amerindian societies, Carib peoples


Chili – Patagonia – Argentina

Potatoes, pseudo carob

Diaguitas, Tobas, Querandis, Puelches, Tehuelches.


South-Eastern America, Rockies


Pueblo cultures


Central, western and northern Europe

wheat, barley, oat, beans

Central-Eastern Europe and acidic hydrolyse

List of the primitive brewing basins of the planet.



There are regions of the world that display no signs or vestiges of primitive brewing traditions:

  • North Africa: possible brewing outbreak when the Sahara was wet and fertile between 6000 and 4000 BC. See the rock paintings of Tassili n'Ajjer or El-Medaforh (Tefedest). The absence of vestiges or cultural traces of beer brewing for this region of very ancient agriculture is rather abnormal.
  • Southern Africa: Khoïsan peoples, hunter-gatherers whose territories were late occupied by the Bantu peoples, who were farmers and brewers.
  • Pacific Archipelagos: late settlement and absence of cultivated starchy plants. The ancestral fermented beverage is kava, a decoction of the rhizome of Piper methisticum which contains 50% starch[1].
  • North America (excluding the Rockies). The Algonquian/Iroquoian agricultural complex (maize, climbing bean, squash) in the northeast was transmitted by southern Indian cultures. It is not a primitive brewing basin, but a secondary one. Its antiquity has not been studied. The Mississippian cultures may have brewed beer.
  • Austral America (Patagonia): hunter-gatherer peoples
  • Australia and New Zealand. Hunter-gatherer peoples without horticulture, as far as we know.
  • Siberia and Arctic peoples: lack of starchy plants. Hunter-fisher cultures. Dietetics essentially carnivorous.



[1] The relaxing, stimulating and euphoric effects of methysticine and kavain may have prevented the development of an intoxicating kava-beer. No documents before the first contacts with Europeans.

25/02/2013  Christian Berger