Beer. We know it. We love it. We drink it to the tune of 133 billion liters — that's 35 billion gallons — each year. So much for 99 bottles of beer on a wall…
The pause that refreshes, or the nectar of the Gods — Beer is many things to many people. But mostly, it is an alcoholic beverage made through a brewing process combining water, a starch source like barley or wheat, and flavoring usually with hops.
Beer is also the world's third most popular beverage — trailed only by water and tea — and the source of a brewing business that as of 2006 generated some $294.5 billion in revenue. In countries like England, Germany, and increasingly America, beer is also an integral part of the culture.
Beer has become synonymous with everything from being the "guy's guy" beverage of choice, to armchair spectator sports (those Super Bowl ads), to more high-brow endeavors like beer tastings and festivals. Beer varieties vary from common commercial lagers like Budweiser and Coors, to golden, amber and pale ales, to microbrews and darker varieties like brown ale or the stouts brewed by companies like Guinness.