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Raise a Glass and Explore Evolution of Beer


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Meticulously researched and written with clear-minded authority, this book is a remarkable way of telling the human story.

fascinating book that demonstrates the long and complex history behind the world’s most popular alcoholic beverage.

The first evidence of beer dates from about 11,000 B.C.E., with pottery in a cave in Israel containing residue of a drink made from fermented grains. In his latest book, Arthur, a professor of anthropology at the University of South Florida, uses the development of beer to recount the story of civilization. Beer appears in nearly all ancient cultures, and the author enthusiastically ranges across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Recent research shows that beer production was as much a part of early settlements as bread making, with wild grains being domesticated for the purpose, and it was an important source of calories. As societies developed, beer types proliferated, and it even became a sort of currency. Workers on many of the world’s ancient monuments were often paid in beer. In Mesoamerica, beer was made from corn and maize and had a key role in religious ceremonies. The Vikings apparently liked their beer sweet, so they added honey and bog myrtle, which they took with them on their conquests. The British, as their empire expanded, spread hops all over the world, and it eventually became the most common ingredient. Arthur includes a selection of beer recipes, some of them thousands of years old, and notes that many of them are tasty, even to the modern palate. However, he believes that due to massive corporations, beer has become a somewhat generic product, solidly profitable but a little bland. On the positive side, he applauds the resurgence of craft beers, which use a multitude of ingredients to create complex, layered flavors. One way or another, he writes, the path ahead for beer looks as interesting as the road behind. So next time you raise a glass, think about the history contained within.

Meticulously researched and written with clear-minded authority, this book is a remarkable way of telling the human story.

 

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