After a long night of drinking and some ill-advised Facebooking, you might not understand how anyone could say that beer saved the world. Yeah, maybe it saved your confidence for the night, but the world?
The fact is, beer is more important to the history of civilization than you might think. In his fascinating book A History of the World in Six Glasses, Tom Standage explains the role of beer in the modernization of early cultures:
The event that set humankind on the path toward modernity was the adoption of farming, beginning with the domestication of cereal grain, which first took place in the Near East around then thousand years ago and was accompanied by the appearance of a rudimentary form of beer.
The first civilizations arose around five thousand years later in Mesopotamia and Egypt, two parallel cultures founded on a surplus of cereal grain produced by organized agriculture on a massive scale. This freed a small fraction of the population from the need to work in the fields and made possible the emergence of specialist priests, administrators, scribes, and craftsmen. Not only did beer nourish the inhabitants of the first cities and the authors of the first written documents, but their wages and rations were paid in bread and beer, as cereal grain were the basis of the economy.
This interesting infographic courtesy of Online Bachelor Degree Programs takes us on a trip from those ancient times mentioned above to modern day, where we learn that the average person drinks about 22 gallons of the stuff a year.
And considering some of the people I saw on St. Patrick's Day, I think we all might be on pace to up that average a little bit.