Beer

I drink beer, although it doesn’t make my mind clear, contrary to what a popular — and annoying — song preaches over and over on one of our local radio stations.

An ice-cold beer relaxes me at the end of a hard day of work. Two beers is all I need, although I admit going over my limit, which has got me into plenty of trouble, such as when we threw the Christmas party of the decade at my house, and … ah, never mind.

The history of beer is somewhat fascinating to me. It is one of the oldest alcoholic drinks, but just like wine, beer’s origins are lost somewhere in pre-history, before writing was invented.

Around 10,000 BCE, after the last Ice Age, gathering of wild grains became widespread in the Fertile Crescent, an area stretching from Egypt to the Mediterranean coast of Southern Turkey, and then to the border of Iran and Iraq.

It is believed that beer was discovered after cereal grains soaked in water sprouted and became sweet. Left sitting around, a couple days , the gruel became slightly fizzy and pleasantly intoxicating.

Beer may actually have been discovered after wine, but cereal crops were so much more abundant and easier to store than fruit, that beer became widely popular.

Despite probably originating in the Fertile Crescent, beer wasn’t limited to it. The Incas in Peru drank it, the Aztecs in Mexico drank it and the Chinese drank it.

Beer was so important in the old days that it is even mentioned in the world’s first great literary work, “The Epic of Gilgamesh.”

“Enkidu ate the food until he was sated,” it says. “He drank the beer — seven jugs! — and became expansive and sang with joy.”

In the earliest written documents, Sumerian wage lists and tax receipts recorded in clay vessels, beer symbols are everywhere, along with symbols for grain, textile and livestock.

In ancient Egypt, bread and beer became widely used for wages and as currency. The phase “bread and beer” was also used as an everyday greeting, something like wishing someone good luck or good health.

Today beer remains as a social drink of choice, bringing people together in pubs, parties, concerts, sports events, weddings and lots of other gatherings.

If I could give one bit of advice, it would be to stick to the rule of thumb: you only have two thumbs, so have only two beers, and wait two hours to drive home.

If you do get wasted, and I’ve been there, have someone drive you home. And hopefully you’ll remember — or not — what happened after you got home.

Most of the information here, and a lot more, can be found in an irreverent and educational book by Tom Standage, titled “A History of the World in 6 Glasses.”

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