Beer, Ancient and Noble Beverage

7/13/2005 6:33:34 AM

Fact: if traces of foam remain behind in your glass after you have enjoyed a beverage, it was beer; if there are no traces of foam, then you have drunk something else.

A Bit of History

We know from indirect sources that some 5,000 years ago, people in Sumer, one of the most ancient civilizations of the East, grew barley to produce beer. The Sumerians had a saying: "Not to know beer is not to know joy." They knew how to brew 15 varieties of beer, whose recipes are recorded on clay tablets dug up by archeologists. The ancient Assyrians knew as many as 70 varieties; life for them must have been like an endless festival.

Unlike wine, which in some ancient states only the nobility was allowed to consume, beer was a beverage for members of the gentry and of the public at large. Brewers in Sumer enjoyed great respect, so much that they were free from compulsory military service.

Ancient Babylon was the only place where women could brew beer. Moreover, making adulterated beer entailed severe punishment; persistent makers of bad beer were either simply drowned or given the "harshest" sentence: They had to drink only sham beer for the rest of their lives.

Since those ancient times, many unusual properties of beer - including medicinal - have become known.

Source of Youth and Health

It has long been known that beer speeds up metabolism in the body, facilitating rejuvenation of body cells. Studies have shown that people who consume beer on a regular basis (in moderate quantities) grow old far more slowly than those who have beer only occasionally.

It has been proven that beer frees the body of carcinogenic substances, lowering the risk of cancer. The Japanese have proved that regular beer drinking can lower the risk of falling ill by two to three times, and in their joy trebled their beer consumption.

There is one property of beer that pertains to this beverage alone: Only beer drives aluminum salts out of the body. Man knows no other way of freeing the body of these salts.

Everyone knows that beer is a wonderful quencher of thirst. The scientific explanation is this: Beer contains many mineral substances and carbonic acids, which enlarge the mucous membrane of the digestive system, thereby speeding up the arrival of liquid in the blood.

At the court of King Henry V111, each woman received 4.5 liters of beer at breakfast.

Thanks to the substances contained in hops, beer is probably the only beverage that has a calming, analgesic, and hypnotic effect on the drinker. Moreover, it slows the reproduction of bacteria.

Beer is known to have a beneficial impact on the skin and hair.

There are many more vivifying properties of beer, but let us just point out now that moderate beer consumption has a positive effect on one's behavior and emotions, and lowers the risk of ischemic disease of the heart.

Water and Fruit Juices

Imagine two trees: one bearing alcoholic, and the other non-alcoholic drinks. Let us climb up the latter.

Finding the branch "cold drinks without alcohol," we move on it cautiously, taking a closer look at the twigs. We see mineral water, soda water with various tastes and aromas, fruit juices, kvass, cold tea and coffee, and so forth.

Over the past few years, the Russian market has been full of new types of non-alcoholic drinks, including those containing coconut. Juices and nectars are becoming increasingly popular.

Can you tell the difference between juice and nectar? If a drink contains less than 50% of juice concentrate, then it is nectar (the rest is aromatizers, sugar, and citric acid). If a juice concentrate makes up 100% of a beverage, then we take it to be natural juice.

Note that for Americans, the health value of a beverage comes first. Russians pay primary attention to the taste of a beverage; then they see whether it is affordable and good for health. After that, they check whether its packaging is convenient, and whether its producer is respectable.

We are used to buying mineral and drinking water in plastic bottles. However, high-vitamin, energizing, and isotonic beverages (for sportsmen) are on the thinnest twigs of our non-alcohol tree. The average Russian consumer is not used to such products. Thus far, only the "smartest" young people buy these beverages.

Meanwhile, specialists say Russia will soon see widespread use of herbal beverages, which are already highly popular in Europe. We know that what is in vogue in Europe will eventually come to Russia.

Now let us return to the subject of beer. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of brands and varieties of this beverage. As for beer containers, the main rule is that they must be made of glass, china, or ceramics. Metal and plastic are enemies of beer. To preserve the aroma of your beer, drink it from a glass, goblet, or mug that is slightly narrower at the top. It is best to have cooled beer, the optimal temperature being six to eight degrees Celsius. (At any rate, not more than ten, and not less than five degrees). If you want to spoil your beer, put the bottles into your freezer. Another sure way of ruining your beer is to pour it from one glass into another.

Beer is a delicate beverage that requires proper pouring. Pour it into the middle of the glass, with the mouth of the bottle 2.5 cm above the edge of the glass. When the first hat of foam thickens, pour the beer until its level reaches approximately three-quarters of the height of the glass. The foam must be similar to sour cream in consistence - without bubbles and nearly white. Good beer must have foam of not less than four centimeters high, and it must retain the foam for not less than four minutes.

It is easy to check the quality of the beer. Blow on the foam. If it disappears, the beer is bad. If the foam "bends," the beer is good. To complete your research, put a coin on a layer of foam. If the coin does not sink, this is real proof that the beer is good.