Barley is a fermentable carbohydrate and, when malted, is the origin of beer. Barley is offensive as a base for bread, but perfect for beer. Demand for barley (more than other grains) spread rapidly, production increased and one innovation after another led man through the first major era of “civilization”: The Agricultural Revolution. Hunter-gatherers began settling. You could argue that beer was partly responsible for the domestication of man – an amusing irony.