Liquid bread: beer and brewing in cross-cultural perspectiveWorldCat•LibraryThing•Google Books•BookFinder
I read this excellent book back in late March to early April. Why has it taken me so long to comment on it? Because I have seriously struggled with making a decision as to how much of my reading notes I should include. But I must dig in and try to make them useful to the reader.
The short version is that this book is the winner of the Choice Magazine Outstanding Reference/Academic Book Award 2011 and it is an excellent interdisciplinary read on the subject of beer. It seems to be reasonably widely held by libraries and it is available at Amazon in both hardcover and paperback, with the paperback actually affordable at $24.50 currently. I would suggest getting it from a library first, though, to be sure it has enough of interest to you. I got it from Barber Library at COCC: GT 2884 .L57 2011.
Anyway, let’s begin:
“The chapters of our book bring together in a novel way discussions of evolutionary, archaeological, biomedical, technical, commercial, ethnographic, social and psychological facets of the rich cosmos of beer. In its cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary approach, the volume reflects the interests of the members of the International Commission on the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (ICAF) (http://www.icafood.eu, see also the Preface), but the editors believe that this collation of perspectives on beer will also intrigue many readers in the general public.
For many, thinking about beer may first suggest the quenching of thirst on a hot day, as well as happy scenes in a convivial setting. In this volume, a deeper understanding of its social role in promoting conviviality and enjoyment in company is stressed” (2).
- List of Figures
- List of Tables
- List of Contributors
- Introduction: Assembling Perspectives on Beer – Wulf Schiefenhövel and Helen Macbeth
- 1. Natural Ingestion of Ethanol by Animals: Why? – W.C.McGrew
- 2. Healthy or Detrimental? Physiological, Psychiatric and Evolutionary Aspects of Drinking Beer – Peter Kaiser, Gerhard Medicus and Martin Brüne
- 3. Beer: How it’s Made – The Basics of Brewing – Keith Thomas
- 4. Interdisciplinary Investigations into the Brewing Technology of the Ancient Near East and the Potential of the Cold Mashing Process – Martin Zarnkow, Adelheid Otto and Berthold Einwag
- 5. Beer in Prehistoric Europe – Hans-Peter Stika
- 6. Beer and Beer Culture in Germany – Franz Meussdoerffer
- 7. Europe North and South, Beer and Wine: Some Reflections about Beer and Mediterranean Food – F. Xavier Medina
- 8. Living in the Streets: Beer Acceptance in Andalusia during the Twentieth Century – Isabel González Turmo
- 9. The Thirst for Tradition: Beer Production and Consumption in the United Kingdom – Paul Collinson and Helen Macbeth
- 10. Beer in the Czech Republic – Jana Parízková and Martina Vlkova
- 11. Alcohol Consumption and Binge Drinking in German and American Fraternities: Anthropological and Social Psychological Aspects – Gerard Dammann
- 12. Rugby, Racing and Beer in New Zealand: Colonising a Consuming Culture – Nancy J. Pollock
- 13. Beer, Ritual and Conviviality in Northern Cameroon – Igor de Garine
- 14. The Gender of Beer: Beer Symbolism among the Kapsiki/Higi and the Dogon – Walter van Beek
- 15. Ritual Use of Beer in South West Tanzania – Ruth Kutalek
- 16. Brewing Sorghum Beer in Burkina Faso: a Study in Food Technology from the Perspective of Anthropological Linguistics – François Belliard
- 17. Rice Beer and Social Cohesion in the Kelabit Highlands, Sarawak – Monica Janowski
- 18. Tradition and Change: Beer Consumption in Northeast Luzon, Philippines – Dante Aquino and Gerard A. Persoon
- 19. Culture, Market and Beer Consumption – Mabel Gracia Arnaiz
- 20. Beer and European Media: Global vs. Local – Luis Cantarero and Monica Stacconi
Provides a general introduction and gives an overview of each contributed chapter.
On the social catalysis of mind-altering substances:
“Alcohol was and is consumed in very many traditional societies, but where it is not, some alternative forms of mind-altering drugs will usually be found. The first Nations of North America, as well as the Melanesians, Micronesians and Polynesians of the South Pacific, are examples of peoples who did not develop and indigenous technology of beer brewing, nor did they make wine, even though either would have been environmentally possible, since there were starchy or sugary plants available as raw material. South Pacific islanders traditionally made and make kava, a non-alcoholic but mildly hallucinogenic drink, made from Piper methysticum (Mückler 1996), and in many countries of the West Pacific, as well as southern India and Taiwan, chewing betel nut (Areca catechu) has been very popular since pre-European times (Farnworth 1976).
These examples, together with the multitude of other hallucinogenic drugs consumed now and in the past around the world, serve to demonstrate that humans, as a species, derive pleasure in escaping from the realities of everyday life through altered states of consciousness, regardless of how bad the consequences which may later plague the body. Douglas (1987: 11) suggests that alcohol can help a drinker gain the sensation of ‘an intelligible, bearable world’ closer to imagined ideals.
It can thus be argued that taking some form of mind-altering stimulant has a social role. In many cases this is connected to social and religious ceremonies. Alcohol is among those substances which create a special experience, generating, in the perception of those ingesting them, psychosocial interaction and communication with the supernatural. Beer fits this pattern of a catalyst to various social activities, …” (5).
As many of you (and I) already know, Hops (Humulus lupulus) is a member of the Cannabaceae family (6). [See in reference to the above on mind-altering substances.] In both species it is the “seedless” (or pre-seed) varieties of the female “flowers” that are most prized. While there may be no deep meaning in this, I do find it utterly fascinating.
As many beer books do, they recommend having a glass of beer at hand while reading:
“As our volume has no chapter that can replace the taste-rewarding hedonism of drinking beer, we recommend that it is best for readers to carry out their own participant observation of beer-drinking in the surroundings they find most congenial” (9-10).
Perhaps also of interest: Igor and Valerie de Garine, eds. 2001. Drinking: Anthropological Perspectives. Vol. 4 of this same series, The Anthropology of Food and Nutrition.
1 Natural Ingestion of Ethanol by animals: Why? – W.C. McGrew
This is a short but fascinating overview of the possible reasons that a wide diversity of animals consume alcohol.
After a quick overview of many of the different creatures across “a variety of animal taxa, both invertebrate and vertebrate” that consume alcohol, the author launches straight into seven hypotheses as to why nonhuman species might consume a toxic substance.
“Seven hypotheses seem to explain ethanol ingestion. These need not be mutually exclusive, but each can be tested individually, at least in principle. These are present below in order of increasing complexity:
- accident, ingestion may be an inadvertent by-product of frugivory
- pathology, ingestion may be anomalous by nature or nurture, in individuals that knowingly or otherwise seek self-injury
- nutrition, ingestion may be energy-seeking
- medicine, ingestion may be health-enhancing
- gustation, ingestion may be taste-rewarding
- hedonism, ingestion may be psychologically disinhibiting, leading to enhanced pleasure or to relief from pain
- cognition, ingestion may alter intellectual capacity, leading to risk-taking or altered states of consciousness
Below, each of these hypotheses will be examined in terms of what is known in the published literature on ethanol ingestion by nonhuman species” (14).
Quite intriguing reading.
2 Healthy or Detrimental? Physiological, Psychiatric and Evolutionary Aspects of Drinking Beer – Kaiser, Medicus and Brüne
Provides a great overview of beer’s effect, both good and bad, on human physiology and psychology.
Beer as a Provider of Nutrients
“[P]rovides a high amount of energy per weight” (21)
“[C]ontains a large number of potentially health-promoting substances” (21)
Was “a much safer drink than the water available in the towns of the past” (21).
Flavonoids and Phytoestrogens in Beer
“Flavonoids from red wine are deemed responsible for the benefits of the ‘Mediterranean diet’, yet they are also present in beer” (22).
“In the days when the monasteries were the spearhead of ethnological innovation, monks cultivated hops in their gardens in order to make a sleeping draught. Not surprisingly, as hops are a plant of the hemp family (Cannabinaceae), they were used as a mild sedative, to calm gastric upsets and to fight sexual arousal (Dörfler and Roselt 1990). … In former centuries hops were smoked in England (Reinhardt 1911) in a similar way to opium” (22). [Sadly, I won’t be tracking down either of those citations as they are in German.]
“Furthermore, the amount of the pituitarian gland hormone, prolactin, stimulating milk production is doubled when lactating women consume beer, confirming the popular advice that breastfeeding mothers should drink a glass of beer a day (Grossmann 1988). Today, hops-extract has even been included in some herbal preparations sold for ‘breast enhancement'” (23).
Effects of Beer on Specific Organs or Organ-Systems
A table summarizes the literature of beer:
Risks include: alcoholic liver disease, liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, stimulation of gastric acid/stomach ulcer, cancer of gastro-intestinal tract, and allergy
Benefits include: reduced risk for development of kidney stones, reduced risk for development of diabetes mellitus, and reduction of Heliobacter pylori-induced gastritis/ulcers of stomach and small intestine (23)
“Beer consumption is inversely associated with the risk of kidney stones” (24)
“In other words, moderate consumption of beer seems to protect against a disease of this organ whereas alcoholism can lead to the destruction of pancreas tissue” (24).
Assorted results for different types of cancer.
Healthy Effects of Alcohol
“More than thirty international studies support the hypothesis that low to moderate doses of alcohol have a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases and thereby reduce the risk of heart attacks and cerebral strokes” (24-5).
Relationship between Alcohol Consumption and Mortality
Assorted longitudinal studies show that those with moderate alcohol intake have a lower mortality rate than either non-drinkers or heavy drinkers (25-6)
The High-density Lipoprotein (HDL)
“HDL (sometimes called the ‘good’ cholesterol) levels are significantly higher in drinkers than in non-drinkers, indicating that regular consumption of small to moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages, regardless of the type, reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis and myocardial infarct compared with non-drinkers (Rimm et al. 1991; Gaziano et al. 1999).” This finding is confirmed by other researchers (26).
Alcohol and Lifestyle
“[R]egular light drinkers tend to have lifestyles very advantageous for health” (28).
Negative Effects on Health due to Alcohol Consumption
“The detrimental influence of alcohol drinking on other organs and organ systems, e.g., the brain, or on the functioning of the liver, especially on the protein metabolism, has been examined thoroughly and is beyond the scope of this article. A historical overview is found in Klatsky (1986)” (28).
Psychiatric Diseases Caused by Alcohol Misuse
“Generally, high and chronic intake of alcohol, a potentially toxic substance has bad effects … on the brain and its cognitive and regulatory functions, necessary for leading a normal, socially adjusted life” (28).
Distinguishes between misuse and addiction, and physical and psychological addiction and then comments on the mechanisms of each. Also comments on inheritance of alcoholism.
Beer has good and bad effects on humans. Health benefits of light to moderate consumption are coming to light via research. “Whereas it was first thought that the Mediterranean epidemiology with less cardiovascular diseases was due to the role of red wine, it has now become evident that alcohol as such is responsible for the reported beneficial effects” (31).
3 Beer: How it’s Made – The Basics of Brewing – Keith Thomas
Provides just what it advertises along with some good references.
4 Interdisciplinary Investigations into the Brewing Technology of the Ancient Near East and the Potential of the Cold Mashing Process – Martin Zarnkow, Adelheid Otto and Berthold Einwag
“Based on a multiplicity of archaeological and paleobotanical circumstantial evidence, we succeeded in discovering a conceivable process for ancient oriental malt and beer production for the period around the fourteenth/thirteenth century BC, using experimental test series on location” (53).
5 Beer in Prehistoric Europe – Hans-Peter Stika
Looks at the various indications of beer in archaeological finds and ask how indicative of prehistoric beer in Europe these are? Apart from iconographic representations, the indications of beer or brewing in archaeological finds are: “remains of the malt, the residues of wort and liquid, the tools and vessels used for brewing, the features where the brewing activities took place, the flavouring additives, the transportation and storage vessels, or special drinking sets” (56).
The article discusses each of these in turns and points at some further sources for each. It then looks at the traces of an Early Celtic Brewery in Eberdingen-Hochdorf, Kreis Ludwigsburg, South-West Germany (5th c. BC). They then speculate on some of the flavor components of the beer made here based on its ingredients and processes.
6 Beer and Beer Culture in Germany – Franz Meussdoerffer
Under the headings of The German Question, Beer and Nationhood, and The Emergence of a German Beer Culture in the Nineteenth Century it tells the story of beer in Germany.
7 Europe North and South, Beer and Wine: Some Reflections about Beer and Mediterranean Food – F. Xavier Medina
In a few short pages it tells the story of two European diets and how they arose in the Middle Ages. “The aim of this chapter is to offer a brief reflection on how beer, as an ancient drink in the Mediterranean area, has been traditionally excluded from the ‘Mediterranean diet’ model” (71).
Sections are Introduction; Beer, as a Mediterranean food; Towards a Creation of Food Models in Europe; Beer and Tradition; Beer Production, Tradition and ‘Northern’ Models: A Catalan Example; and Conclusions.
The section on Beer and Tradition was quite interesting.
Wisely offers that “We move among socially constructed models that serve specific interests, which do not always seek to reach a global, holistic vision of the facts that they intend to analyse” (77).
9 The Thirst for Tradition: Beer Production and Consumption in the United Kingdom – Paul Collinson and Helen Macbeth
“This chapter represents an attempt to draw together various themes related to the changing nature and context of drinking habits in the United Kingdom (UK) during recent decades, with a specific focus on the brewing and consumption of beer” (89).
10 Beer in the Czech Republic – Jana Parízková and Martina Vlkova
Looks at beer drinking in the Czech Republic since it has “the greatest consumption per capita and per year in the world” (101).
“Czech hops have been cultivated and exported via the Elbe River to Hamburg for the famous hops market, Forum Humuli, since the year 1101″ (102).
11 Alcohol Consumption and Binge Drinking in German and American Fraternities: Anthropological and Social Psychological Aspects – Gerard Dammann
Compares the German and American fraternity systems and the role of drinking within them. Concludes that drinking is more ritualized within the German system and thus serves a more evolved social function and is considerably safer.
13 Beer, Ritual and Conviviality in Northern Cameroon – Igor de Garine
“Beer drinking is widespread in Africa – and Northern Cameroon appears to be a good area in which to study it, as it is home to six ethnic groups: …” (133).
“The raw material is sorghum (Sorghum) and pearl millet (Pennisetum); …” (134).
“There are two main kinds of beer: a gruel-like fermented liquid (balsa) and a light, carefully filtered liquid (bilbil, a general term used in Northern Cameroon)” (134).
The Quantities Absorbed Vary According to the Groups
“In both groups [Duupa and Koma], one third of their energy is obtained from beer” (137).
“Beer is not an inert matter, it is alive. Anthropomorphic aspects are constantly referred to by North Cameroonian groups. It has a ‘head’, the top part, which is strong and masculine. So, the first drinker should be a mature individual of sufficient magical strength. The bottom, which is also strong, is female” (138).
“Many myths refer to the origin of yeast” (139).
“If we wish to paraphrase Levi Strauss, yeast represents the success of culture over the natural forces of decay” (139).
“Being able to obtain beer at will, independently of time, season and place, is a conspicuous feature of this beverage” (139).
Remaining sections: Religion; Social Aspects; Pleasure and Business; Intoxication; Merriment; Sex; A ‘Locus of Value’
Quite an interesting article.
14 – 18 Skipped
15 Ritual Use of Beer in South-West Tanzania – Ruth Kutalek
[Read 6 Sep 2013]
“The general term for traditionally produced beer is pombe (Sw). It is basically made from cereals or other starchy plants such as cooking bananas or cassava. Depending on its ingredients and stage of fermentation, pombe has various names. Komoni (from English ‘common’) is made from maize and finger millet (ulezi – Eleusine sp.); kimbumu (Be.) contains more millet than maize; ufuge (Be.) is made solely from millet; kindi (Be.) from unpeeled cassava (muhogo); myakaya (Be.) contains cassava, maize and millet; and kangara (Sw.) is made from maize and sugar or honey. Togwa (Sw.) or malenga (Sw.) indicates beer in its early stages of production. Among the Bena in the south-western highlands maize and finger millet are preferably used to produce pombe” (159). [Sw. means Swahili, Be. Bena.]
Production of Beer
“The processing and marketing of pombe is the responsibility of women (see also Obot 2000)” (160). It is sold in small clubs or sometimes in people’s homes.
“As much as 380 litres of traditional beer per person is consumed annually in rural areas (Krauss 1994).” Alcohol content = 2.5-4% and is high in nutrients. “People in the south-west of Tanzania say that pombe is ‘eaten’ not drunk. Most of the solid matter is left in, even after being filtered once during production and once before consumption” (161).
Beer’s Role in History
Former times: Obtain assistance from neighbors; war – encourage warriors, post-celebration; taking bride to meet her groom (in the southwest); while mother instructed the very pregnant mother-to-be; when the infant was show to the community; ancestors also celebrated newborns; circumcision (Bena girls); funeral rites; beer of inheritance to divide up property (162-3).
Today: Offerings to the Ancestors
“Beer is the sacrificial food. It has a very high symbolic value (de Garine 2001: 58f.). The offering to the ancestors or tambiko is one of the few rituals practiced today in which beer is still significant” (163).
“Beer is of high social and ritual importance. Men, and in some regions also women, come together in clubs to exchange ideas, to do business or discuss family matters. Beer is used in traditional ceremonies and is especially important when communicating with ancestors. Though half of the grain in Africa is consumed in the form of beer, in few manuals on nutrition in developing countries is beer given the necessary space as an important nutritional factor (Kracht and Schulz 1999; Marchione 1999; Foster 1992). Its method of production allows women to earn money independently from male income, an aspect that up to now has not been given much attention.” This leads to increased nutrition for their families, and more likelihood the children will be educated (166).
While the ritual and social aspects of beer in (parts of) Africa in this and chapter 13 are highly interesting, I find the information that a very large portion of calories consumed (one-third in a certain region, per previous article) and an even larger percentage of grain (50%) consumed in Africa is in the form of beer. These beers are vastly different from those produced in Western countries, in that they are far less processed and barely filtered, but still. It does, though, tie in well with much of what I have read about beer in more ancient civilizations.
19 Culture, Market and Beer Consumption – Mabel Gracia Arnaiz
“This paper analyses the types of messages used by the Spanish beer industry in recent decades to promote its product” (209).
Advertising Commercials: Practice and Discourse
The Evolution of Beer Consumption in Spain
Discourses used in Beer Advertising
“In recent years, beer has been advertised by a combination of at least four predominant discourses: tradition and identity, the aesthetic, the hedonist and social differentiation” (215).
Tradition and Identity
“The discourse based on tradition and social identity has an important role. I understand tradition to be a broad concept referring to the words and images which link food to country craftsmen and the earth, and which identify the rural with values such as nature, authenticity and purity. In this discourse, the myth of all that is rural is exalted, which in turn negates all that is urban and industrial. Passage of time acquires value. In this way the tasks identified as traditional become synonymous with handicraft, craftsmanship and effort in contrast to artificiality, manipulation, and the technology of industry. Lastly, it also makes reference to popular customs in matters of guests, table manners, festive celebrations and rituals, as well as the values that refer us to the collective identity. Defined thus, the discourse of tradition, nature and identity has an important role in beer publicity” (215).
Examples follow, to include foreign beers advertised in Spain.
The Discourse of Aestheticism
Well-being, pleasure and success (218)
Allusion to sexual pleasure (usually male) (218)
The Discourse of Differentiation
“… refers to factors that differentiate beers in respect of issues such as origin, prestige, status, exclusiveness or know-how” (219). Which is paradoxical since beer is produced for mass consumption (219).
20 Beer and European Media: Global vs. Local – Luis Cantarero and Monica Stacconi
“Due to this globalising process, beer in itself loses its ability to create meaning and it is its different brand names that have come to denote distinctions. Beer drinkers, increasingly often, do not ask for a beer but for a San Miguel, a Coronita, a Heineken, and so on – a choice that is determined by the global and the local markets and the meanings associated with such brands. The analysis of the commercials of one local beer brand from Bavaria (Franziskaner) and of one global brand (Carlsberg) will allow us to elucidate such attached meanings” (224).
Global versus Local
Provides an overview of globalization, especially in the arena of food, and touches on the local movement in food, including how it is “not wholly virtuous,” either (226).
Following sections: Planet Carlsberg, Franziskaner: Das Frische an Bayern, Conclusion.
This book was a nice find. I tend to be quite intra-, inter-, and cross-disciplinary in my take on subjects and this book and its chapters were quite intriguing in numerous ways. I highly recommend this book to you. I got it from Barber Library at COCC: GT 2884 .L57 2011
I think I may end up picking up a copy of this for future reference. So many intriguing chapters.