My particular interest in beer and other beverages such as palm wine and grape wine began long ago, as a boy sent by my grandfather to harvest the juice of the palm tree which had been cut down and laid horizontal for easy collection.
Later travels and further immersion in lifestyles led to particular passion for the ultimate relationship between alcohol and beer.
Each area of human manipulation and invention contains an abiding puzzles. With car making it is always to invent a car that would, like the horse that inspired the automobile, move itself without a rider. The invention of automatic transmission brought that day forward. Today self-driving cars are being tested and we might have soon self-driving cars competing with life horses on the race course!
In the field of aeroplanes, it would be the one that would fly without a pilot.
Today, drones fly past birds to do what they need to do. What then is the abiding puzzle in the case of beer brewing? Before I go into this I want to quote some of the major ways that Beer and Beer Brewing has enriched the languages and cultures of the world.
“It was the accepted practice in ancient Babylonia 4000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer, and because their calendar was lunar based, the period was called the ‘honey moon’ – or what we know today as the honey moon.”
“Before thermometers were invented, brewers would dip a thump or finger into the mix to find the right temperature for adding yeast. Too cold, and the yeast would not grow. Too hot, and the yeast would die. This thumb in the beer is where we get the phrase ‘rule of thumb’.”
“In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So, in Old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them to mind their own pints and quarts and settled down. It’s where we get the phrase mind your p’s and q’s!”
“Beer, we are told, was the reason the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. It’s clear from the Mayflower’s log that the crew did not want to waste beer looking for a better site. The log goes on to state that the passengers were hasted ashore and made to drink water so that the seamen might have the more beer.”
“After consuming a bucket or even two of a vibrant brew they called ‘aul’ or ‘ale’, the Vikings would head fearlessly into battle often without armour or even shirts. In fact, the term ‘berserk’ means ‘bare shirt’ in Norse, and eventually took on the meaning of their wild battles.”
“In 1740 Admiral Vernon of the British fleet decided to water-down the navy’s rum. Needless to say, the sailors were not too pleased and called Admiral Vernon Old Grog, after the stiff wool grogram coats he wore. The term ‘grog’ soon began to mean watered down drink itself. When you were drunk on this grog, you were ‘groggy’, a word still in use today.”
I remember that one particular brand of beer Becks had been so domesticated that when my Uncle called for his Abeke I knew where to go and bring her!
Now to go back to that abiding puzzle mentioned in the case of the automobile and aeroplane industries, which is still to be resolved in the industry of brewing of beer. What is the correct alcoholic content to make beer the best beer can be? Whoever can discover that formula would have done in beer brewing what the automobile and aeroplane industries have done for the pleasure car and the aircraft? Brewers have reduced the alcohol content drastically to create Beer Lite. At other times brewers have increased the alcohol content to hasten intake and effective inebriation! And there has been non-alcoholic beer as well.
In the rest of this presentation I wish to look at the health benefits of each one of these versions of beer: the non-alcoholic, the lite and the high alcoholic content. But let me sound a note of warning. All cultures preach one particular central virtue over and above every other virtue.