George Will describes how beer was essential as a water purifier and human selection mechanism as the world urbanized and industrialized. This, of course, is different from Clay Shirky’s theory that rising alcohol consumption came because people had too much time on their hands and needed to burn off surplus synapses.
Personally I think it was the more mundane effect of lower unit cost due to more centralized production to serve a denser urban market, but who am I to spoil an interesting theory during cucumber season….
(Via Volokh. Who adds that wine, not beer, founded our civilization. I am tempted to quote Gandhi, who, when asked what he thought of Western civilization, replied that he thought it was a good idea.)
I need a beer. Need to feel more civilized….