Human beings are social animals. But just as important, we are socially constrained as well.

We can probably thank the latter trait for keeping our fledgling species alive at the dawn of man. Five core social instincts, I have argued, gave structure and strength to our primeval herds. They kept us safely codependent with our fellow clan members, assigned us a rank in the pecking order, made sure we all did our chores, discouraged us from offending others, and removed us from this social coil when we became a drag on shared resources.

Thus could our ancient forebears cooperate, prosper, multiply — and pass along their DNA to later generations.

But then, these same lifesaving social instincts didn’t readily lend themselves to exploration, artistic expression, romance, inventiveness and experimentation — the other human drives that make for a vibrant civilization.

To free up those, we needed something that would suppress the rigid social codes that kept our clans safe and alive. We needed something that, on occasion, would let us break free from our biological herd imperative — or at least let us suppress our angst when we did.

We needed beer.

Luckily, from time to time, our ancestors, like other animals, would run across fermented fruit or grain and sample it. How this accidental discovery evolved into the first keg party, of course, is still unknown. But evolve it did, perhaps as early as 10,000 years ago…

Once the effects of these early brews were discovered, the value of beer (as well as wine and other fermented potions) must have become immediately apparent. With the help of the new psychopharmacological brew, humans could quell the angst of defying those herd instincts. Conversations around the campfire, no doubt, took on a new dimension: the painfully shy, their angst suddenly quelled, could now speak their minds…

OTOH, some folks will never get over being uptight.

  1. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Jr History Buff says:

    I’m reminded of two tangents:

    1. “Studies show” that it may have been alcoholics that drove mankind forward. When danger is presented to a clan of people, the majority will cower back and hide. Its the alcoholics who grab and stick or stone and run out to confront the danger. ….. Who knows?

    2. Making wine is an art. Brewing Beer is a science. aka Making wine is an individual activity while making beer requires society.

  2. roberto says:

    First of all; early humans did not “removed us from this social coil when we became a drag on shared resources”. There is plenty of fossil evidence that early man would take care of sick and injured members of their communities even though they were obviously a “drag on resources”.

    Secondly; “these same lifesaving social instincts didn’t readily lend themselves to exploration, artistic expression, romance, inventiveness and experimentation” is about the dumbest thing you can say about groups of nomadic people we can track by studying the art work they left behind as well as the tools they invented and the hunting methods they developed through experimentation. As far as romance goes, that was invented during the renascence and has nothing to do with the subject.

    Writing words based on trying to make a cool point while ignoring facts is no way to live your life.

    • Tim says:

      Try my Grog, please.

    • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Jr History Buff says:

      Roberto–I take your point. But for fun, as a challenge, can you reread the heading above and interpret it so that it is closer to your (our) view of reality?

      Like–yes, our ancestors took care of the sick, old, and dying===but NO society (except ours?, aka a 20th Century innovation only allowed by drugs and machines) has ever cared for the old and dying when those same resources were needed to stay alive.

      …..all depends on how you define “drag”

      Same with the second point. Yes there is “art” but when drunk you scribble outside the line, et violet: Picasso.

      Just playing ping pong with the ideas, going back and forth.

    • mharry860 says:

      Roberto, not so for traveling tribes who foraged for food. They regularly left behind those not able to keep up anymore. the well being of the tribe exceeded the needs of the one.

  3. MWD78 says:

    i think on a much less complicated level, beer and wine were a staple beverage on the grounds that they were often safer to drink than the water.

    • Doctor Drink says:

      How true! In prehistoric times, particularly around Mediterranean areas like Greece and Italy, wine was the drink of choice. And like you said, that’s probably because the water made people sick more often than any spirits did. They really didn’t know much about water borne “pathogens” and things like microbes. For thousands of years (also considering places like Egypt), they sometimes thought people got ill due to little tiny invisible trolls or possibly by not praying to the right god(s) — other than that particular porcelain one, of course.

      Funny how traditions, even when they are clearly unhealthy or wrong, are such hard things for people to give up. You could even say that traditions might explain politics and religion too — although I do admit that it’s getting harder to tell much of a difference these days. Maybe that’s because one needs to be drunk! (…Or just plain crazy.)

    • Wrigsted the Dane says:

      Wine was also one of the reasons the British again and again tried to get a foothold in France during the Middle Ages.
      And the reason we started to grow grain was beer. One third of the nourishment my grandparents got as Danish farmers came from beer.
      But I find the article a pot of thin beer.

  4. John E. Quantum says:

    It’s interesting to note that there are rough geographic boundaries between historic beer and wine cultures. Generally speaking, beer cultures thrived in areas that were unsuitable for grape cultivation. These same boundaries created political divisions and rivalries such as the Mediterranean cultures verses the Germanic tribes, or Norse raiders verses the southern European coastal peoples. Only in modern times is it easy to say “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do…”

    Also interesting is the fact that while beer (and wine) helped to gestate civilization, coffee and tea brought about rapid advances in political and scientific achievement.

    I don’t care what the people are thinking, I’m not drunk, I’m only drinking- Albert Collins

  5. sargasso_c says:

    A tour guide at Stonehenge described a civilisation in neolithic Britain just like that. Small communities loosely linked by marriage and leadership, sharing common market places, using common rivers and woodland and quarries, meeting each autumn to celebrate harvests and to plant their human seeds for newborn in May. A huge beer and cider fuelled orgy which drew people from hundreds of miles away and lasted until winter.

    • B. Dog says:

      Whoa, dude! That tour guide sure makes the good olde days sound like fun. What price progress, eh?

  6. Ah_Yea says:

    So is the Beer Bong a natural evolution of human development??

    • noname says:

      Guinness in a bong is natural human development!

      We humans are stillevolving one drink at a time!

    • Doctor Drink says:

      No. The Beer Bong was invented to circumvent authority. (a.k.a. the (stupid) law.)

      Now, an under aged drinker who may be able to buy low alcohol content beer can get just as drunk as any skid row wino sucking on a case of “Mad Dog 20/20”.

      It’s interesting to note since when enough people are inspired or just plain fed up, they will usually figure out a way to get what they want – anyway!

  7. Hmeyers says:

    Alcohol is important because it helps ugly reproduce.

    This was very crucial back when there were less people.

    No doubt many of you reading this can relate firsthand to what I am talking about.

  8. noname says:

    I’ll drink to that!

  9. orchidcup says:

    Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

    Moderation in all things — including moderation.

    — Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) US Founding Father

    • Doctor Drink says:

      You just gotta love old Ben.

      He also thought it would be a good idea to have prostitutes available to young men on college campuses. Seriously! His explanation was that it might help some of the men stay focused on their studies. But can you imagine? One wonders just what kind of story Animal House might have been.

      • orchidcup says:

        But can you imagine?

        Fortunately there are no laws on the books concerning the act of imagining things.

        I imagine Ben Franklin to be a free thinker.

        I also imagine old Ben had a fondness for prostitutes.

      • MWD78 says:

        of course this was also a time before educating women at university. now they are more than willing to whore it up themselves at uni.

  10. Steubenvillerapper says:

    Booze seems to make people do dumb-ass things more then anything else , if you ask me.

    • Doctor Drink says:

      Booze? Really? You don’t think Sunday School is pretty ridiculous? How about politics?!

      I agree! Booze / drugs does make people do some pretty dumb things. But then so do other people / traditions make people do some pretty dumb things too.

      • orchidcup says:

        I considered Sunday School to be rather amusing.

        I liked watching the Sunday School teacher squirm in her seat when I questioned the idea that God would talk to ancient nomadic tribesmen but nobody else.

        If not for Sunday School, I would never have questioned anything.

    • B. Dog says:

      Yeah, Ill vouch for that. Still, it’s only fair and balanced if we at least mention magic mushrooms in this discussion.

  11. Admfubar says:

    amazing group picture of those who post comments here..
    oddly i dont remember taking it.. prolly had too much to drink

  12. Slartubartfaust says:

    The first ‘fermented berries’ and ‘beer’ helped some individuals develop the ‘ten feet tall and bulletproof’ mentality. Which started being shown even after the effects of the alcohol wore off.

  13. The Monster's Lawyer says:

    ok, so two monkeys walk into a bar….

  14. dadeo says:

    Luckily, from time to time, our ancestors, like other animals, would run across fermented fruit or grain and sample it. How this accidental discovery evolved into the first keg party, of course, is still unknown. But evolve it did, perhaps as early as 10,000 years ago…

    In this prehistorical scavenging would not primitive, hungry-man also discover some plants and fungi that would lessen his inhibitions? I’d think so.

  15. Somebody_Else says:

    What about weed? It has similar social effects, grows everywhere, and doesn’t require brewing. There has been speculation that marijuana kicked off the agricultural revolution.

  16. bobbo, heres one more for you says:

    170 yo beer to be brewed again. Sadly, the snipet doesn’t tell us what should already be known: what went into this beer? I’d buy if for a go if it were available. Make me feel all historical and stuff.

  17. Uncle Patso says:

    I have read that archaeologists found and tried an ancient Egyptian recipe for bread that was not intended for eating, but to preserve the grain for later making into beer. The climate made preserving the grain very difficult, even from one growing season to the next, but once it was baked into loaves, it would keep much longer.


  18. Uncle Patso says:

    Perhaps the prayer should have gone

    “Give us this day our daily beer…”

    (“Da nobis hodie cervisiam quotidianum…”)


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