Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hops, the Original War on Drugs

...The Protestant reformists were joined by merchants and competing royals desiring to break the brewing monopoly of the church. The result was, ultimately, the end of a many-thousand-year tradition of herbal beer making in Europe and the narrowing of beer and ale into one limited expression of beer production, that of hopped ales or what we today call beer.

The majority of historical beer writers insist that this was only because (after some 10,000 years) our ancestors accidentally discovered that hops was antiseptic enough to preserve beer. Our ancestors were neither that blind nor narrow in their empiricism. Hops kept the beer from spoiling, yes, however a number of other herbs possess strong antibacterial properties and can help beer "keep."

Many of those herbs were commonly used in ale, for instance wormwood and juniper. But hops possesses two characteristics notably different than the herbs it replaced - it causes the drinker to become drowsy and it diminishes sexual desire. Protestant literature of the time, denoting the "problems" associated with the gruit herbs, contradict contemporary beer historians and are in actuality some of the first drug control manifestos on record.

Emphasis mine. I had a local gruit yesterday and it was delicious, like a bloody mary made love to a lager.


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