Wow. I feel even better about being a beer drinker. I was cruising Netflix for something to watch, and came across a Discovery Channel documentary called How Beer Saved the World. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is well worth a look.
Anthropologists had long believed that the first agricultural crop raised by humans was barley, and that it was grown to make bread. They were right that barley was the first crop, but now it is almost universally accepted that humans shifted from hunter-gatherers and entered the agricultural age in order to grow barley for beer, not bread. Clay vessels (interestingly in the approximate shape of today’s standard pilsner glass) have been found that contain beer residue, and they are 3000 years older than the earliest discovered proof of bread.
Once the hunter-gatherers gave up their nomadic ways to start barley farms, communities and societies formed. Ways had to be devised to plot out farm land and keep track of beer production so math was created. The earliest discovered forms of writing contain symbols for beer, so beer had a hand in the creation of the written word.
The documentary also sets the record straight on Louis Pasteur. Most think of him in connection with pasteurized milk, but he began his research to determine why beer goes bad. He discovered bacteria in the bad beer, and then wondered if bacteria could make beer go bad, could it do the same thing to humans? Thus was born the germ theory of disease.
And so it goes. Beer is responsible for the discovery of refrigeration, which has saved countless lives since food can now be preserved, and beer is responsible for the end of child labor.
So here’s to you, beer.