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Beer Created Civilization

09/04/2012

In recent years, we have witnessed the growing public opposition not only to alcoholism, binge-drinking and under age drinking but also to alcohol consumption in its formerly more acceptable manifestations. In a society that is becoming increasingly ‘alcophobic’, it would seem the job is left to me to make the case for alcohol, the public house and in particular, beer. After all, if it wasn’t for alcohol you wouldn’t be reading this essay and there are at least three reasons why that is true.

The earliest alcoholic drink was a primitive beer, dating back over 9500 years to the ancient Mesopotamians. The primary prayer of the Mesopotamians was a hymn to the goddess Ninkasi. The hymn was also a recipe for making beer; the best way to make an illiterate people remember how to make beer was to assimilate the recipe into the local religion. Archaeologists and anthropologists have shown that the advent of beer very closely coincides with the advent of civilization and the two are very likely, inextricably linked.  Many advances in technology and agriculture were spin-offs or necessary improvements to make large scale brewery possible. Furthermore, prosperity was brought to many societies by the trade and industry brought about by the production of bread and beer. Today, beer is the third most widely consumed beverage in the world, after only water and tea, it’s production, transport, advertising and vending being one of humanity’s major industries.

Alcohol has had a wide array of uses through history: Eastern armies inebriated their elephants to encourage them to charge enemy ranks in battles, beer is used as a means of enticing slugs, allowing gardeners to clear away the pest, Cleopatra took advantage of the exfoliating properties of beer, immersing herself in baths of the liquid, and, of course, there’s the delicious batter and bread recipes containing beer.

Alcohol has long played an important role in the work of artists and writers. The majority of the existential poets were high on and drunk off absinthe when they wrote their poetry. Today many live performers calm their nerves and their stomachs by taking a few drops of beer. Hunter S Thompson the legendary writer and creator of Gonzo journalism was never far away from a drink, and Ludwig van Beethoven too, drank before composing his symphonies.

Taking a look at Irish history, the British occupants traditionally didn’t include open squares or fora in their city plans, fearing they would serve to propagate dangerous revolutionary ideas. Inevitably, it was the public house that served as the fulcrum of society. Across the pond, the writer and politician Samuel Pepys described the pub as the ‘heart of England’. Apart from being a place of socialisation and entertainment, traditional music in many countries has only survived thanks to the protection provided by the pubs. Since Roman times, Inns have served as an important aspect of logistics, providing food and short-term accommodation to passing traders.

Most interesting of all, the human body naturally produces ethanol where the intestines naturally break down and ferment its contents. The ‘catabolic degradation’ of ethanol is now thought to be essential to the development of amino acids, the rudimentary building blocks of all life.

To conclude, I’ll leave you with a few words of wisdom from the comedian Henny Youngman, “When I read about the dangers of drinking, I gave up reading.”

~Colm

*editors note: the drinking age greatly varies in many countries DFTBA News does not support underage drinking in anyway.  Also if you are of age please remember to drink responsibly.

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One comment

  1. If only all the people thought the same way. Beer saved the World.



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