In time we will talk of cocktails. All those delightful and crazy concoctions that are often more fun to drink than to wake up to. The joke goes you have to gnaw your arm off, but sometimes itâ€™s your head. Cocktails are later, but now, while the heat is on, the hot grab a beer. Itâ€™s an ancient tradition, that comforting brewskie that fits so perfectly in the opposing thumb-grip of your hand, because beer is an ancient drink. Beer is one of the Original Beverages, the hallowed OB club that consists of beer, wine and other fruit beverages like cider, all as old as manâ€™s need to quench a thirst and forget what needs forgetting.
Every culture had its way to take water and turn it into a noble drink. You see, though we may praise water very highly today, have glamorous models drinking from designer bottles and fancy-ass dieticians encourage us to consume six whole glasses of the stuff daily, water was not always so cool. In fact, water used to be a highly suspicious drink, full of nasty, life-threatening beasts that we could only deal with millennia later through the lens of a microscope.
Water was killing people, so we had to find a way to make it palatable. All across the world, cultures evolved their own methods, and the most successful was fermentation. In acts of unsung heroism, ancient booze alchemists grabbed whatever the farmers were bringing in, fermented it and saved the townspeople from the deadly water. Why you donâ€™t see action movies starring Mel Gibson in this manly role is anyoneâ€™s guess.
The people of Europe and Africa fermented grains and grapes, the smaller Japanese, rice. The Mexicans had to make do with cactus, but what a good job they did of it. Africa is beer country, something I donâ€™t have to tell anyone who walks into a bar here. Itâ€™s no wonder that our home-grown beer corporate (nameless lest they blitz me like they do guys who make fun-loving T-shirts) are about to rule the beer world. These guys print money the way we drink their beer. Even so, we have to put up with their TV ads that make beer drinking look like a game of charades or a bosberaad with the companyâ€™s human resources officer after a hard dayâ€™s work. What kind of thanks is that?
Drinking snobs have at times been hard on beer, but there are many things to like about it. The hallowed thirst quenching ability. The satisfying sound it makes when you open it. The fact that you can drink a whole lot more of it than any other drink before you need to check your wallet to see who you are. You can sip it, slug it or chase it. The thing that makes beer such a winner is how happy it is to fit into any situation. Itâ€™s the least demanding of any drink, the perfect companion. It starts the evening, spaces the other drinks, refreshes your palate, ends the evening. It chaperones you through the dark and dangerous patches of the night, and itâ€™s as happy to park off at your side in the day. What a pal.
The Beer Most Loved by Women: Paulaner Weissbier
The Beer Least Loved by Women: The six-pack youâ€™ve just finished
The Beer Thatâ€™s Good for You: Guinness
The Beer Thatâ€™s Not As Good For You: Sterling Light Lager
The Most International Beer: Heineken
The Least International Beer: Carling Black Label
The Best New Beer on the Block: Pilsner Urquell
Not the Best New Beer, But Itâ€™s Beer: Miller Draft