Human Evolution and Alcohol

The brewing and enjoyment of alcohol have been a part of our culture for so long it's hard to imagine a life without it. Today breweries, distilleries, and wineries all produce uniquely different forms of beer, liquors, and wines. The flavor profiles are decided based on the choices of ingredients and the yeasts. It has in many ways become an art form.

But, historically, alcohol and its consumption was anything but fine art. For the most part, it was a nutrient dense liquid that provided the human body with more benefits than water alone. How did alcohol work its way into our culture is still something archaeologists are working out. But, what we do know is that it has been around in some form for centuries.

Prehistoric Alcohol

Alcohol consumption can be dated back centuries and technically begins with our primal ancestors. The main component of alcohol is the addition of yeast. Yeast aides in the fermentation process, eating the sugar and excreting carbon dioxide. Distillers and brewers used cultivated yeast, but it’s found naturally and has been fermenting fruits for millions of years. The presence of yeast in fruit would mean that it's rotting, and rotting fruit produces digestible ethanol. A few theories floating around as to why rotting fruit was attractive.

  1. It created a strong scent that was easy to locate.

  2. Digesting rotting fruit was more comfortable on the stomach which was always a little hit or miss in those days.

  3. It has antiseptic qualities the would get rid of microbes that might cause illness or infection.

Most of the rotting fruit was lying on the forest floor. The smell of the fermentation made harvesting a bit of a competition. The faster you got there, the better your chances were for getting the calories needed for survival. It should be noted that it would be almost impossible to become intoxicated from the rotting fruit.

From the Farm to Alcohol

Today, archaeologists are exploring an 11,600-year-old temple from the Neolithic period. Experts have asked whether or not the human population gave up their nomadic ways in exchange for beer. But, the truth probably lies closer to being more about worship. Either way, an ancient site comprised of stone enclosures was a place for religious ceremonies. Inside these walls were large, 40-gallon vessels that could hold the rudimentary form of beer. The archaeologists studying this ancient town believe it was made from wild grasses. How do they know? Fermentation leaves behind a white residue and after testing found evidence that it could've been some form of beer. Additionally, one of the vessels contained a bone from an animal that was the right size and shape for stirring.

The Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks

About 3,400 years ago, a town was abandoned after a fire broke out. Today experts who are sifting through the rubble managed to get a picture into the everyday lives of this ancient city. What did they find? At the front door of each home, a 50-gallon clay pot sunk into the ground as a mini brewery. Beer was a popular choice even into the Egyptian time when some of the royals were buried with their own clay breweries. Eventually, beer and wine become a part of religious rituals and then royal ones. In regions where grapes can grow as readily as barley or oats, wine was developed and was just as popular as ber. Romans used to produce and export thousands of gallons of wine. It was during this time that wine became more of a social status. After the wine had traveled all that way, the price nearly doubled meaning it could only be afforded only by the wealthy.

Still remembering the health benefits of the fermented drink, the Greeks indulged in wine as part of a spiritual and intellectual lifestyle. Most Greeks would serve a bowl of wine to their guests for health, the second was for indulgence, and the third for sleep.

Universal Acceptance of Alcohol

The question remains as to why alcohol has become a widespread drink accepted in almost every country and culture. Some theories are alcohol was consumed as a way to bring them closer to the spirit world. However, these thoughts are quickly being debunked. For the most part, alcohol was good for you. Sugar is a breeding ground for dangerous microbes. Yeast warded them off. Yeast is used in almost every production of adult beverages, so they provided a sanitary option that was at the time healthier to consume than water.

Continuing on the path of things that are good for you, the fermented sugar turned into nutrients like B vitamins and folic acid, thiamine, and more. That being said, the beers historically were more nutrient dense than what is found today. It was almost like our ancestors were eating a liquid bread. There were calories, hydration, and vitamins that made survival possible.

Knowing the impact alcohol has on our culture is significant when you are a consulting agency. The nuances associated with the making and selling of wine differ from country to country and region to region. The global knowledge we have from working around the world has positioned us as industry leaders who can help you make the most out of your adult beverage company whether you aim to produce, sell, or merge. Visit our website for a complete list.

Article Source

Curry, A. February 2017 “Our 9,000-Year Love Affair With Booze.” Retrieved from www.NationalGeographic.com

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