Beer is Medicine
Beer was often used as medicine in medieval times. But those people used just about anything as medicine whether it worked or not, right? Modern people wouldn’t be so silly. Or would they? Shortly after the start of Prohibition the government ruled that doctors could give out beer for medicinal purposes (sound familiar?). This made members of the temperance movement furious; here they had finally won their long fight to outlaw alcohol and people were still going to be able to get it because of a loophole in the 18th Amendment. Would doctors’ offices become the new dens of vice that bars had recently been? Debate broke out in Congress and the American Medical Association about the importance of medicinal beer. In the end, the temperance movement won out again, leading to the rise of speakeasies and organized crime.
The World’s Oldest Brewery
It’s a terrible stereotype that Germans are all huge beer drinkers. However, their country of 80 million did until just a few years ago have more breweries than the 300 million strong USA. They also lay claim to the oldest brewery. Located in Bavaria, Weihenstephan Abbey has been making beer since 1040. That’s almost 1000 years of continuous beer production. While it hasn’t been a religious house in 200 years the brewery is still in operation.
Beer in Mythology
Virtually every polytheistic religion has a god or goddess of beer. The epic Finnish poem Kalevala spends more time on beer than on the creation of man. The Egyptian lion-goddess Sekhmet gave up killing forever once she got drunk enough. And the Greeks and Romans had Dionysus and Bacchus, respectively, the god of pleasure and wine and freeing ones inner self from care and worry. Cults sprung up around him and his worshipers would go outside of the cities at night for huge drunken orgies. All in the name of worshipping their god of course.
The age at which you are allowed to buy alcohol varies surprisingly little from country to country, usually falling between 16 and 21. However, parts of India have a drinking age of 25, the latest in the world. Many Muslim countries outlaw alcohol consumption altogether while a very few countries allow anyone of any age to buy beer. The age at which you are allowed to purchase alcohol is often different from when you can legally drink it. For example, in the UK you must be 18 to purchase alcohol but it is legal for you to drink it in a private home under adult supervision from the age of 5.
Beer and Spit
The Incas and some Pacific Island cultures used spit to ferment their beer. Beer or Chicha was very important for Incan festivals. They had large breweries devoted to making enough of the stuff. The recipe went something like this: take a large vat of water and let it warm up in the sun. Get a bunch of women to chew corn until it is a pulp in their mouths. The women then spit the pulp into the vat of warm water and let it sit for a few weeks. Then simply strain the lumpy, cloudy mixture and it’s ready to serve- wait, where are you going?
Written by Kathy Benjamin – Copyrighted © www.weirdworm.com