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More beer please...
Every beach bar needs beer. I wish I could serve you a cold one right now. Since I cannot, allow me to serve you up some interesting tidbits about mankind's oldest and best adult beverage.
I know there are wine
aficionados who believe it is more cultured to drink wine than beer and that the
history of wine is sophisticated. I like a nice bottle of wine with a good meal
too; but let's face it, despite those lady-like wine cooler thingies, drinking
wine at the beach is kinda pretentious. Beer and beaching it go together
like no other beverage. In fact, nothing tastes so good on a hot sunny day at
the beach as a cold beer.
Beer was invented by those same bright folks who invented the written word, calendars, mathematics, astronomy and the wheel: the Sumerians. They lived in the cradle of modern civilization, Mesopotamia, which is now called Iraq.
Hammurabi, king of the Babylonians known for his wisdom and called the "law giver" because he wrote down the oldest known set of laws included this piece of wisdom: Each person must receive a daily beer ration: a normal worker received 2 measures, civil servants 3 measures, administrators and high priests 5 measures per day. Since beer was often called liquid bread back then (and still is today by some), it brings new insight into the prayer, "give us this day our daily bread".
The Egyptians learned to make beer from the Sumerians. They revered it. If you wanted to impress the Pharaoh, your best bet was to bring him beer. The Greeks learned about beer from the Egyptians, who passed it on to the Romans and thus on to the rest of Europe.
The first consumer protection law ever written was enacted over beer by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria in 1516. It was a purity law limiting the ingredients of beer to barley, hops and water.
Weihenstephan brewery of Freising, Germany is the oldest existing brewery in Europe, having started in 1040. The oldest brewery in North America is the still operational Molson brewery in Montreal founded in 1786. The oldest brewery in the USA is D.G. Yuengling & Son, established in 1829. Here is a great map of some more old breweries.
Enough history; let's talk about today.
Beer Production & Consumption:
Beer is the third most popular beverage in the world; only surpassed by water and tea. All told, worldwide, there is about 200 billion liters of beer produced (and drunk) each year.
The Czechs consume the most with 158 liters per person per year, followed by the Irish at 131 liters per person per year and Germany at 110 liters annual per capita consumption. The American beer drinker ranks 13th overall at 81 liters and Canada lags at 21st spot with 68 liters per person per year.
Bear in mind that per capita consumption includes children and non-drinkers, so the average adult beer consumer in Ireland actually drinks about 350 liters or 700 pints per year. That is almost 2 pints a day. My personal consumption is around 250 liters per year or about 2 bottles per day. In fact, I'm thirsty so its time to crack a cold one. Just what the doctor ordered. (See my rant about beer and health called Beer versus milk.)
There is about 135 million tons of barley grown each year. About 40% of this goes into the production of beer. An equal amount goes to feed cattle. The rest goes to human food products. Beef and barley soup anyone? With a beer on the side? There is about 100,000 metric tons of Hops grown each year, almost all of which is used for making beer. Other grains are also used to make beer, wheat being one of them, rice another. Most commercially produced American beer is made using rice instead of barley. Tsk, tsk. Duke Wilhem would be annoyed. So are most serious beer drinkers.
In case you think it is only me who has a high opinion of the beer and its benefits...
The guy whose writings are the foundation for most of Western Philosophical Thought, Plato, said about beer, "He was a wise man who invented beer.” Another very smart guy, Benjamin Franklin, (see my article, The Face on the $100 Bill), said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
More beer info:
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