I love beer. In fact, everyone I know loves beer. My friends, my band mates, my dad, my cousins, friends or casual acquaintances. There are some that don’t like the taste of beer, but I know eventually, these people will learn to at least appreciate beer. I am no beer expert or beer connoisseur, but I have developed a taste for different beers. I can taste a good beer from an awful beer. I can taste a fresh beer from a spoiled one. There are a hundred types of beer around the world and I don’t know if I will be lucky enough to taste all of them. I do have my preferred brands and brews, but I am open to trying different beers. Some people find the taste of beer gross, but not me. I appreciate this golden or dark elixir. Almost every country around the world will have their own beer culture, their beer history, their beer fans and different ways of enjoying and sharing one of our oldest extra curricular activities – having a nice cold pint or bottle of beer in a pub, in the front yard, in the outback or wherever a good beer is needed.
Beer is defined as an alcoholic drink or beverage that is produced through the saccharification of starch and fermentation of the resulting sugar. The starch and enzymes are commonly derived from malted barley or wheat. Most beers are flavored with hops, which give bitterness, act as a natural preservative and balances the sweetness of the wort. Beer is the most widely consumed alcoholic drink around the world and counted as 3rd most popular overall with water taking first place and tea taking 2nd. It is also theorized that beer is one of the oldest fermented drinks in the world. It is thought that beer has been around for 10,000 years. Scientists and researchers have discovered laws and regulations regarding beer production and beer parlors in the “Code of Hammurabi”. The”Hymn of Ninkasi”, a prayer to the beer goddess of Mesopotamia, is a prayer and a way of memorizing the recipe of beer. The “Epic of Gilgamesh” shows how the wild man Enkidu was humanized by beer. Finland’s “Kalevala” has more verses about beer creation than it has about world creation.
How Beer Created Civilization
There was an episode on the Discovery Channel about how beer was invented and how it contributed to the building of civilization. I never even realised that during that time beer was being produced and ran numerous economies for thousands of years. And for thousands of years of building civilizations and brewing development, it is such a wonder that this drink is still alive today. We all know that humans are social beings. Being social has given us strength and structure since the dawn of man. Being social kept us safe and co-dependent with our clans, it gave us social order and rank among groups; being social discouraged us from offending fellow clan members. Our ancestors survived by following these established rules, but it somehow did not survive in artistic expression, experimentation, exploration and romance. These are the attributes which make a civilization vibrant and alive, thus, beer was invented to free us from social constraints experienced by our ancestors. Beer was needed on occasion to let individuals to be free from the herd and break away from rigid social codes. Beer was a necissary addition to life. Not to mention, beer made our ancestors punk rock!
Present day theories suggests that grain was first harvested for food but many scientists and scholars have found essential evidence that supports the idea that our ancestors grew and stored grain for making beer even before the grains were cultivated and harvested to produce bread. Researcher Brian Hayden and his colleagues at the Simon Fraser University in Canada published an article to support his theory in the “Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory.” They examined the possible pre-brewing tools found in the archeological remains of the Natufian people in the Eastern Mediterranean. The research team concluded that beer brewing was an essential aspect of society in the Late Epipaleolithic era. The Ebla tablets that were discovered in 1974 in Elba, Syria and date back to 2500 BC have revealed the city of Elba produced different types of beer. Beer was introduced in Europe by the Celtic and Germanic Tribes as of 3000 BC and brewing began to be practiced on a domestic scale. Almost every substance that contains sugar can undergo alcoholic fermentation. It is also likely that many ancient cultures observed that a sweet liquid could be obtained from a starch source and so invented beer. Beer and bread increased levels of prosperity and so it allowed the creation and development of other types of technologies that contributed in building and transforming civilizations.
In 1516, the Duke of Bavaria, William IV adopted the Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot), which is still applied today. The law stated that the only allowed ingredients in making beer are water, barley-malt and hops. Surely, once the effects of beer and other alcoholic beverages were discovered, the value of the golden elixir became very apparent. Early humans may have discovered that the shy individual was no longer shy; people started to speak their minds. With the developments in the areas of agriculture, food and alcohol consumption, humans became more expressive about their thinking, more creative and more collaborative.
For the uninitiated, all beers will taste the same. But there are so many different types of beer in the market today. Just thinking about the different types of beer is making me thirsty…
1. Pale Ale
This type of beer is a pale malt and uses top-fermenting yeast. Pale ale is one of the major and most popular beer styles in the world.
This is one type of beer that I truly like. Porters and stouts are dark beers that use roasted barley and roasted malts. It is commonly brewed using a slow fermenting yeast. The term Porter was first used in 1721 to describe dark beers. It was also later known as stout, which was used as early as 1677. Stouts or porters are usually creamy, thick and heavy.
3. Wheat Beer
This type of beer is brewed using wheat, although it can also contain malted barley. These beers are top-fermented.
The term “lager” comes from the german word “lagern” which means “to store” because Bavarian brewers store their beer in caves and cool cellars during the summer months. The cooler conditions prevent the natural production of other byproducts and esters, resulting in a crisp and clean-tasting beer.
5. Lambic Beer
Lambic of Belgian Beer takes advantage of wild yeast to give a distinct beer flavor, aroma and a hint of sourness. I find most Belgian beers have a fruity and flowery smell and taste.
The Health Benefits Of Beer
Too much of something is always bad and this is certainly true for beer. It’s a fact that if a person has too much beer (or any alcohol for that matter) bar fights can happen, accidents can be deadly, that person may be sleeping on the pavement or puking all over the place, etc. Beer is a healthy drink if taken moderately just like other alcoholic beverages. Beer also contains vitamins and other nutrients. According to the Original F.X. Mayr Health Center medical director in Austria, Dr Stephen Domenig, beer contains many essential and non-essential amino acids. It also contains minerals such as iodine, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus.
Another study that was performed in 2009 by the Tuffs University in the US found that moderate consumption of beer can protect bone mineral density. While beer is high in vitamins and minerals, it is low in sugar. A can of Coke contains 7 teaspoons of sugar while a half pint of beer contains just one teaspoon. According to nutritionist Dr Kathryn O’Sullivan, beer is 93% water and it will give less spikes in blood sugar. Beer also helps in increasing bile production. Bile helps in digesting fatty foods. Beer is also a good source of fiber. A glass of beer can give between 10-30% of the daily required fiber. Beer can also help in maintaining a good heart. According to the study made in 2013 by the Harokopio University in Athens, Greece, beer enhances the artery flexibility. Beer also encourages good cholesterol.
Alcohol raises HDL-cholesterol as stated by Dr R. Curtis Ellison, professor of medicine and public health at the Boston University School of Medicine. Beer is also a good cure for insomnia. Nicotinic acid and lactoflavin which are present in beer can promote sleep. No need to take sleeping pills. Beer also helps in battling stress as stated by the researchers of the University of Montreal. Drinking two glasses of beer a day can reduce anxiety and stress. A Finnish study also found out that beer is good at maintaining your kidney’s health. A bottle of beer can reduce the chances of developing kidney stones by up to 40%. As for men and women, beer helps in boosting libido, although a few tequila shots will have a much stronger effect. Hops in beer have aphrodisiac qualities. Research has shown that the phytoestrogen found in hops helps in reducing hot flushes, a low libido and other menopause symptoms. A pint a week can have ample effects.
The Reasons I Love Beer
From the first time I tasted beer, I was stuck in a love affair with the liquid. Although there was not enough money for beer back then when I was still in college, whenever I have the chance, I always enjoyed a bottle or a pint among family and friends. Beer is not just something to drink; it is an equalizer. Wine has been considered an “elite” drink for the wealthy and the divine. Beer is the drink for the everyday person. Beer brings the masses together, thus it is the reason a 6 pack or a case or a keg is best shared with friends and family.
Beer in itself is history in a bottle. For thousands of years, beer has been around to give importance and delight to everyone. Beer is art. From pouring the golden elixir into a glass, to the velvety foam that forms after pouring and to the physical impact a person can receive from the complex aromas and flavors. Beer is not just something to drink, it is also something to see, admire and enjoy.
Beer can make things easy to understand and ponder. Beer tastes good, it looks nice, it creates bonds and friendships, it can cause change, and it has health benefits. Beer is one of the most important inventions and its contribution to the rise of many civilizations certainly deserves a toast. As the American forefather, scientist and inventor Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” I agree with this 100%.