Beer is a beloved beverage in this country. Americans who drink alcohol choose beer over wine and liquor — and have for decades, according to a 2014 Gallup Poll. Forty-one percent typically drink beer, and today, in celebration of National Beer Day, that number may rise.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact culture and period of time beer was first invented, but most anthropologists will say it all started between 9000 and 7000 B.C., according to the History Channel. Ancient Chinese villagers began fermenting alcoholic concoctions made from rice, honey, and fruit, but you’ll have to travel to the Middle East to find the home of the first barley beer. In 3400 B.C., archaeologists found sticky beer residue on ceramic vessels in Mesopotamia, and by 1800 B.C. they recorded a brew recipe for the Sumerian goddess of beer.

But these ancient ancestors weren’t living on a buzz, but rather surviving because of it. Beers were considered nutrient-rich liquids that were safer alternatives than drinking from their local rivers and canals, oftentimes contaminated with animal feces. And beer consumption lovingly flowed throughout the world — in Egypt, workers along the Nile were sometimes paid with sweet brews flavored with dates and olive oil, so everyone in the caste system, from pharaohs to peasants and children, drank daily.

The type of beer we order by pints and six packs today didn’t arrive until the Middle Ages, when Christian monks, such as Abbot Adalhard. began brewing with hops in 882 A.D. It wasn’t long before clergyman Alexander Nowell started bottling beer with a cork in 1553, increasing how long beers could store on the shelf. The porter was introduced for easy beer exports in the mid-1700s, and in 1810 barrels were shipped for the first Oktoberfest, held to commemorate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese in Germany. Once humans began to figure out how to purify higher-quality water, it drastically increased the popularity of beer. The East India Trading Company began shipping beer to India, giving birth to Indian Pale Ales in 1822.

Scientist Emil Christian Hansen revolutionized how beer is brewed after he experimented with different kinds of fungi and discovered yeast cultures could be cultivated in his lab in Copenhagen. In 1883, he isolated a pure cell of yeast, mixed it in with a sugary mixture and out of it came more yeast than had ever been produced in their current yeast bank. The same fermentation process is still used today to create lager beers. Different brewing techniques were blended, reinvented, and explored in Europe, which gave way to new malts, pilsners, and ultimately a new standard in beer selection and consumption.

Beer was widely loved across the globe, and in the United States, perhaps a bit too much. In 1920, the government placed a ban on the sale production, importation, and transportation of all alcohol beverages. Thankfully, for beer lovers, the prohibition only lasted 13 years, thanks to President Roosevelt, who announced the end of the drought on his 1932 election platform. The law went into effect on April 7, 1933 and has since that day been considered a celebratory mark in history as the unofficial holiday of “National Beer Day.” Americans across the nation gathered outside of breweries in the middle of the night on April 6 in anticipation for their first legal sips of beer, now known as New Beer’s Eve.

A Health Lesson for Beer Drinkers

Humans have been drinking beer for thousands of years, in one form or another, yet the debate’s still open as to whether or not it’s good or bad for your health. Today beer is celebrated as a social lubricant, festive cheers, or after-work ritual. Yet, the consequences of alcoholism are commonly understood as an addictive dependence and abuse. Let’s say you’re drinking in moderation, which is one for women and two for men a day, you’re only 30 percent of the country, according to a chart by The Washington Post.

Alcohol’s effects on health are a two-sided coin. Alcohol is a tonic and poison, according to Harvard School of Public Health, so it all depends on the dosage. Moderate drinking actually helps the heart and circulatory system to function smoothly and protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. Researchers at Tufts University even published a study that found drinking moderate amounts of wine or beer is linked to greater bone density in men and women over 60 years old.

When you flip the coin to see what’s really going on inside, however, you'll find the body isn’t able to store alcohol once it’s digested; it immediately begins to metabolize it as a priority. Sugars and fats are put on hold in order to allow for alcohol to process through the body, and over time your metabolism slows down. Moderate drinking is a balancing act, and if you tip the canoe the slightest bit, you’ll take on water and drown in health consequences like the 18.2 million Americans today.

Beer was banned in America once, and since it was reinstated 82 years ago today, abuse has cost $185 billion a year and 16,000 lives lost in automobile accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While you enjoy your pint today and decide to have a few more than what’s considered in moderation, be responsible and remember how long it has taken humans to get to this point.