Many people think beer is just a means to get drunk but I don't think that's true. For one thing, there are far cheaper and quicker ways to get drunk than with beer. Wine comes to mind, there is a recent snobbishness when it comes to wine. I have nothing against wine and think it has its place but funnily enough you can get drunk much faster on wine than you can on beer. A cheap €2.99 bottle of wine will do the same damage is a 6 pack, assuming 330ml average lager. You will not get much in the way of a 6 pack of beer for €3.
Funnily enough, wine used to be the drink of choice among those who wished to just get slaughtered. It is still true for the modern day wino.
Cheap spirits like store brand whiskies are even better. I love whiskey but drink it sparingly with a large glass of water. In fact I treat beer a little like whiskey. I have a side of water and drink it slowly. I actually like getting a cold (not ice cold) beer and drinking it slow enough that I can sense the change the beer goes through as it warms closer to room temperature and the flavours start being more pronounced.
So why do people drink beer beer then? Well there are a number of good books out there that explore that very question but essentially it is because beer is a social drink. In fact beer is the very reason we as a species socialise the way we do, the reason we settled down and started farming then industrialised. Beer is the very fabric of modern civilisation dating back to before civilisation existed. Some of the earliest known writings are indeed recipes and instructions for making beer.
One of the real annoyances for me is wine and food pairing. Beer is far more versatile when it comes to pairing with food. What wine can you pair with spicy food? What wine goes perfectly with chocolate? There is a beer for every dish but most people can't see past pale yellow, fizzy lager that has little to no flavour. These are the uneducated people. I mean that not as a criticism, simply they do not know or understand beer because they may have only experienced bad beer. I long to see a day when I am handed a beer menu and/or wine menu to go with my meal at a restaurant. Perhaps even a recommended wine and beer for each dish on the menu.
To me, beer is the most wonderful drink on the planet. It might not be as vital to our very survival like it was before we understood the need to boil untreated water, when it was a case that beer was the only liquid safe to drink, but modern day beer is vital to society. Think about it, what countries are the least troublesome? What countries are the safest to travel in? In what countries are the populace the happiest and most satisfied with life? The answer for the most part is any country that drinks a lot of beer. I'm Irish so am usually very happy and content with my life. We are so content with our lot in Ireland that even though we love to complain about things like the weather, it is the very fact that we love doing the complaining that should indicate just how happy we really are.
Beer is a lot like The Force. It's true!!
"The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together."
- Beer Certainly Surrounds us.
- I particularly like penetrates us for some reason.... In my case it penetrates my soul, my very being but of course in simplistic terms it simply penetrates our bodies. You have to consume it after all.
- Beer binds communities together. An argument can always be settled after a few beers, just don't drink too much or you will forget the argument was settled and start all over again.
I encourage people who want to know more about the history of beer what it means to other cultures to read Pete Brown's books for more insight. There are of course other authors out there but Pete is fresh in my mind and a very funny writer (Bill Bryson esque).