Beer is an alcoholic drink produced by the brewing and fermentation of starches from cereal grains—most commonly malted barley, although wheat, maize, rice, and oats are also used. The fermentation of the starch sugars in the wort produces ethanol and carbonation. Most beer is brewed with hops, which add bitterness and act as a preservative and stabilising agent. Other flavouring agents, such as gruit, herbs, or fruits, may also be used. In commercial brewing, natural carbonation is often replaced with forced carbonation.Some of the earliest writings refer to the production and distribution of beer: the Code of Hammurabi included laws regulating it, and The Hymn to Ninkasi, a prayer to the Mesopotamian goddess of beer, a recipe for it.Beer is distributed in bottles and cans and is also commonly available on draught, particularly in pubs and bars.

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