Creative commentary plus crafty composition

Beer is not a beverage for everyone, and certainly not for all ages.

Its taste, while variable between brands, is an acquired one.  That said, it remains viewed by some as a rite of passage, and by many as simply a beverage to enjoy with lunch, after a hard day of work or strenuous activity, or simply to help while away time as an alternative to drinking wine or cocktails.

Its ultimate staying power is perhaps best summarized by a famous line from Archie Bunker in an episode of the TV classic comedy, All in the Family.  In it, he reminds wife Edith (and viewers), that you don’t really buy beer, you only rent it.

Liquor in general is generally conceded to provide a degree of health benefits.  An article in the June issue of Psychology Today suggests that, in the case (pun intended) of beer, there truly is more value to quaffing than clearing off heady form, not to mention its long history as much more than an excuse to collect labels or bottle cap.

Beer’s roots (again, pun intended) go back in antiquity.  Our ancestors were brewing beer “before the first stones were chiseled into the Great Pyramids of Giza”, constructed circa 2550 B.C.  Indeed, to some extent it could be said they were built on beer, as workers were awarded as much as four or five litres per day.  Moreover, intoxication was pivotal to Egyptian life, serving as “an important source of nutrition, providing calories, vitamins, minerals, even protein”.

It has also served an important role in interpersonal communication.  Early people, with limited time and few outlets for relaxing, found imbibing induced a sense of belonging and allowed them to loosen their lips, resulting in airing of both thoughts and troubles. Let’s face it, beer has long been a stimulant to conversation.

Longstanding adherence to formula and detail has also meant a certain confidence in the quality of brew: in the Middle Ages, absent of sanitized water systems, beer (and wine) were deemed safe enough even for infants to drink.  Mind you, the alcoholic content in those days was as low as two percent.  Monks became proficient, dependable producers of high-quality draught.

It was the inclusion of hops, dating back to at least the ninth century, which heralded more defined health benefits from engaging in some consumption.

Hops have chemicals called humulones, which provide benefits, along with a bitter kind of flavour and aroma; they also kill germs during fermentation.  They are antimicrobial, meaning antibacterial (such as infection). Very importantly in our time, studies continue to show that “humulones prevent cognitive degeneration, reducing risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease”.  They also have sedative effects; Germany is a country where “extracts of hops are prescribed medicinally to combat stress and anxiety”.

Added to these attributions to hops, beer contains some B vitamins, which help brain health.  Also component are minerals and silicon from malted grain, ‘thought essential for maintaining bone density’.

Whether or not our ancestors measurably determined there were both psychological and physical side-effects available through consuming beer, it seems the evidence is now sizable.  More than enough justification to open up a brew when circumstances and mood align.

Meanwhile, as evidenced by the emergence of micro-breweries, more and more versions of beer are appearing to challenge our palette:

  • Salad flavoured beer, for the vegetable lover
  • Tuna and salmon flavoured beer, for those who prefer a fishy experience
  • Pizza flavoured beer, in order to save time and calories
  • Coffee flavoured beer, so the impact balances out
  • Mouthwash flavoured beer, in case one needs to drive
  • Sugar flavoured beer, best enjoyed after dental appointments
  • Juice flavoured beer, for that morning pick-me-up
  • Potato flavoured beer, to go along with meat dishes
  • Toothpaste flavoured beer, in case consumed late night before sleeping
  • Gum flavoured beer, to help food particles wash down more easily

The possibilities make one’s taste buds water – a kind of flavour-less beer.



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