Finally, proof that beer is good for us

We love the taste of it, the refreshing bitterness as it rolls over our tongue, the buzz it leaves behind (after several anyway), and now there’s proof – beer is actually good for us. Whoo-hoo, this is the sort of news I latch on to like a weasel with a jar of mayonnaise.

hols2I’m sure I’ve read news like this before, probably conveniently paraphrased from medical journals by the popular media, to sell newspapers to guys like me. Something like:

“…a small glass of beer each day can be beneficial to the health…”

What they don’t tell us is that the passages book-ending that nifty little snippet went something like this:

“If the patient’s condition does not improve when ingesting any other form of liquid…”


“…providing it is administered intravenously”.

Nonetheless, it is historians, and not scientists or medical professionals that have delivered this long-awaited good news.

Picture Europe in the dark ages, a time when no one had ever heard of bacteria, and only monks could spell it. 400 years before Dutchman Antony Van Leeuwenhoek discovered these microorganisms in the 1670s, it was not uncommon for people to become sick (and die) from something as simple as drinking from the local well or water hole.

At that same time it was documented that those that drank beer experienced fewer symptoms of disease, therefore beer was administered to the weak, the elderly and children for medicinal purposes.

What they didn’t realise at the time was that it was the beer making process – which involves heating the brew to high temperatures – was killing bacteria and sterilizing the liquid, providing a far safer beverage than your everyday cup of septic water.

The lesson therefore is that what you can’t see CAN still harm you, though I think it still took mankind a few more centuries and several devastating plagues to work that one out.

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