Modern society is the result of drinking beer

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2 mins read

Beer in the Middle AgesI ran across an interesting article that explains how drinking beer was essential in the development of modern, urban society. And through natural selection, those with a genetic advantage which allowed them consume alcohol without getting sick or falling over were the ones that ended up building civilization as we know it.

As people migrated to the cities, finding clean drinking water became a difficult proposition.

“The search for unpolluted drinking water is as old as civilization itself. As soon as there were mass human settlements, waterborne diseases like dysentery became a crucial population bottleneck. For much of human history, the solution to this chronic public-health issue was not purifying the water supply. The solution was to drink alcohol.”

Once again, beer saves the day. But not everyone was able to drink alcohol and were doomed to an early death from water-borne pathogens.

To avoid dangerous water, people had to drink large quantities of, say, beer. But to digest that beer, individuals needed a genetic advantage that not everyone had — what Johnson describes as the body’s ability to respond to the intake of alcohol by increasing the production of particular enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenases. This ability is controlled by certain genes on chromosome four in human DNA, genes not evenly distributed to everyone. Those who lacked this trait could not, as the saying is, “hold their liquor.” So, many died early and childless, either of alcohol’s toxicity or from waterborne diseases.

Spatenbrau bockAnother article shows how beer is responsible for technology.

…beer is the basis of modern static civ?ilization. Before beer, humanity wandered around and followed goats. Then they realized that this grain [barley] could be grown and sprouted and made into a bread and crumbled and converted into a liquid which gave a nice, warm, cozy feeling.

So there you have it. We’re here because our ancestors drank beer. If it weren’t for beer, we’d either be dead or goat herders. Maybe that’s why bock beer labels always have goats on them. 🙂

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