How Beer Saved the World

I’m not really a fan of beer, but I think that has more to do with the beer I’ve tasted, not with me. Two times I’ve tasted beer that I liked: once, at Zum Schwarzen Bären in Göttingen, Germany, when I tasted a house-brewed dunkelbier, and once at a pub in Philadelphia following the funeral of our dear friend Sam, when I had a Chimay Rouge. I suspect my taste for beer is somewhat underdeveloped.

So a couple of weeks ago–when I mentioned the fact that I have OI, a genetic defect leading to weaker-than-normal bones–a commenter suggested that I drink beer. Beer, s/he said, contains certain bone-strengthening minerals and has been demonstrated to improve bone density and reduce fractures–more conclusively, apparently, than milk! Sure enough, I consulted Monsieur Google and found the study (and reports on that study) indicating that, indeed, beer is good for the bones.

Beings I can’t just nip round the corner to buy some house-brewed dunkelbier any more, and beings, too, that a case of Chimay Rouge would drink up as much money as I’ll earn writing a decent-length essay, I haven’t exactly been eager to incorporate beer into my health regimen, such that it is. (I am, however, eager to accept recommendations on beers I might like, keeping in mind the preferences I’ve already indicated.)

Here’s the thing, though: I want to like beer.


Because I love getting drunk? Heavens, no. A bit of ale or wine to gladden my heart is as far as I’m happy to go, thanks!

Because I want to strengthen my bones? Well, yes. That’s not a bad thought. But come on–this is the eat with joy person here.

With all due respect to Hippocrates, food (and drink) is not my medicine, nor vice-versa.

No: I want to like beer because it’s culturally important.

Egyptian Beer Making

Did you know that…

  • the Agricultural Revolution–the beginning of agriculture–was driven by beer–not grain-consumption

which means that beer helped form civilizations

  • bones from Ancient Egypt have been found to contain tetracycline antibiotics…from BEER

which means that, likely, beer helped many ancients fight off certain bacterial infections

  • you can brew beer from nasty, E.Coli infested pond water and it will become drinkable

which means that people living in cities where they’d get sick from the water available could drink beer and be A-OK.

If you’re curious, you can watch How Beer Saved the World here (or streaming on Netflix, if you have that) and learn more about this amazing stuff called beer!

3 thoughts on “How Beer Saved the World

  1. There’s an Erdinger Dunkel which is relatively widely available and is pretty good. (It’s not the best beer coming from Germany, but it still tastes like it’s connected to that lovely beer-making place.)

  2. I have grown in my appreciation of beer, but it has been slow-going and I can still only handle a few sips in the right situation! My husband has encouraged me to taste a variety of beers and learn what’s different about them. I have learned to identify some flavors, and it has been a fun experiment. Have you read A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage? It’s a great read! Here:

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