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Thank Beer For Life As We Know It, Study States Brewing Likely Fostered Civilization

Mar 22, 2013 04:38 PM EDT

Beer-making was crucial to the development of human civilization by fueling a "culture of feasting" that gave rise to agriculture in the ancient world, a study by Canadian researchers has stated.

A team of three researchers from Simon Fraser University synthesized dozens of studies on the ancient Natufian culture that occupied a region just east of the Mediterranean Sea in what we now call the Middle East, which is widely believed to be the cradle of agriculture.

There, pre-historic peoples shifted from living in hunter-gatherer societies to stable, sedentary communities which grew crops, including the cereal grains which are essential to beer making.

While scientists have not found "a smoking brew pot" that provides absolute proof that a love for beer drove a once nomadic people to settle, the team concluded that "feasting and brewing very likely provided a key link between increasing 'complexity' and the adoption of cereal cultivation," the study stated, as reported by the Ottawa Citizen.

Brian Hayden, the study's lead author, said to the Ottawa Citizen that brewing beer was just part of the picture during humanity's great shift from nomadic to stable communities but that it was "important in making feasts such powerful tools for attracting people and getting them committed to producing surpluses."

The researchers assert that "the domestication of cereals was for the purposes of brewing beer rather than for basic subsistence purposes."

But beer brewed back then was likely drastically different from what we know as beer today.

"Beers made in traditional tribal or village societies generally are quite different from modern industrial beers," the paper states. "Traditional beers often have quite low alcohol contents (two to four per cent), include lactic acid fermentation giving them a tangy and sour taste, contain various additives such as honey or fruits, and vary in viscosity, from clear liquids to soupy mixtures with suspended solids to pastes."

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