Friday, April 8, 2011

Beer - The Genius of Man

Walking our little Cairn Terrier, named Honza, the other morning I was mulling stuff over in my brain. 6 o'clock in the morning is a great time of the day in my opinion, the darkness of the night is being smudged into dawn, there is no-one else around and the street lights still twinkle. It is during my morning walk with the dog that I tend to think about stuff, nothing in particular, just stuff. The stuff that was floating around the other day was about the use of the word of "natural". You see it everywhere, natural skin care products, natural products to stop smoking, natural this, natural that.

You may have noticed that I have a touch of a cynical side, but the way all things natural are equated with all things positive does my head in from time to time. After all, hemlock is natural, arsenic too. How does this relate to beer I hear you ask? Well, I got to thinking that beer is really a sign of the genius of man than the bounty of nature.

Imagine putting several pounds of barley, some hops and water in a barrel and just letting it get on with whatever it wanted to do. I am not sure you get much beyond a soupy, slightly green porridge (and please note I said barley rather than malt). Quite how mankind discovered malted barley is beyond me, but then to say to themselves "let's boil it up for a while, add some bittering agents and get shit faced on whatever comes out" takes genius.

The same kind of thing comes along with hops. Whoever was the first person to dump the cones of a useless crawling weed into his brew just to see what happens should be given a Nobel Prize for Chemistry and All Round Happiness. Then a scientist at Carlsberg identifies yeast as the wee critter that makes the fun bit of beer, and wine, and all the happy juices in the world.

Next time you have a beer, which I am guessing won't be too soon, revel in the genius that went into making that glass of ale or lager. The genius to create the right types of malt to give us such a range of flavours. The genius of the hop growers. The genius of the Bavarians for developing lager yeast over the years. The genius of Josef Groll to make the most beautiful beer style the world has ever known, from the same basic ingredients as the swill that was poured down the drain. The genius of the brewer who pulled all these elements of genius together to make something you want to drink more of. The genius of the barman in pouring that perfect pint.

While beer may be natural in the sense that it is made with agricultural produce, it is a drink entirely bedded in the genius of humanity, perhaps we should celebrate that with gusto! What better to celebrate with at the weekend than with some cheerful music?

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