Newspaper article News Sentinel

'The Beer Bible': The History, Theory and Practice of Beer

Newspaper article News Sentinel

'The Beer Bible': The History, Theory and Practice of Beer

Article excerpt

It is thought that beer was created when an early human left a damp bowl of grains forgotten in a corner. The grains fermented and mingled with naturally available yeast, a drinkable spirit was produced, and it beat the heck out of chewing on damp cattails after a hard day of foraging. It was called gruel-beer, and it was considered pretty good -- for the time, which was around 10,000 B.C.

The Sumerians and Egyptians took things from there, as did Celtic inhabitants of Scotland, people living on the banks of China's Yellow River, and so on. Essentially, wherever there were abundant grains, there were people; and once people found they could make beer, as well as bread from those grains, they were off to the races, civilization-wise. Beer was easy to make and it made hard work a little easier. Once brewers came to harness the power of the simple recipe of malted grain, water and yeast, and the ways to keep it stable so they could share it beyond the humble home brewery, humanity was awash in choice.

For some, it might be too much choice. The labels, the types and the flavors can be inscrutable; you wonder if it's appropriate to talk about a wort in public. You don't want to have to join an Illuminati-like society to understand good beer. You'll stick to the same porter you've been drinking since 1992, thank you, although you have no idea if there are any other kinds you might like, let alone explain why you drink it.

Portlander Jeff Alworth is preaching a gospel you can embrace. His lively new "The Beer Bible," (Workman; 656 pages, $19. …

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