• May 2015

Is Beer Good for You?

An Egyptian inscription that dates to 2200 BC says: “The mouth of a perfectly contented man is filled with beer.”

Modern beer lovers can appreciate that! And in celebration of our May 2015 cover story on Stone Brewing Co., we raise a glass to the health benefits of beer — which researchers have found are plenty.

  • A Finnish research team analyzed beer samples and barley grains, which is a common starch used in brewing. They discovered hordatines, which are phenolic compounds that pack an antioxidant punch. Originally published in the Journal of Cereal Science, the study by lead researcher Juha-Matti Pihlava says barley beers are best — including lagers, ales, stouts, and porters. Light beers have lower concentration of hordatines, because they often contain wheat, corn, and rice.
  • Japanese researchers have found similar connections to the hordatines found in beer. They believe that this compound may stimulate gastrointestinal motility by binding to certain receptors in smooth, involuntary muscles. They also identified hordatines as the astringent at least partly responsible for beer’s aftertaste.

Other research suggests that:

What’s the history of this popular drink?

According to Ancient Egypt Online, beer, or more specifically, ale, is one of the oldest beverages humans have produced, dating back to at least the fifth millennium BC and recorded in the written history of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

It was enjoyed by both adults and children, was the staple drink of poor Egyptians — and was also central to the diet of wealthy Egyptians.

“The gods were often made offerings of beer, and beer was mentioned in the traditional offering formula,” experts say. “Wages were often paid in beer (and other supplies), and the workmen living in the workers’ village at Giza received beer three times a day as part of their rations.”

Plus, there is evidence that as a staple foodstuff, ancient Egyptian beer was not particularly intoxicating. Rather it was nutritious, thick, and sweet.

However, it is clear that beer could also be as intoxicating as Egyptian wine — especially at festivals of Bast, Sekhmet, and Hathor, when participants would get very drunk as part of their worship of these goddesses.

A popular myth tells how beer saved humanity when the sun god, Ra, sent Sekhmet to earth to punish mankind for failing to follow his rules. After Sekhmet had begun rampaging, Ra changed his mind, but Sekhmet was too carried away to stop.

Ra tricked her into drinking beer by dying it with pomegranate juice. Sekhmet mistook the beer for blood, drank copious quantities, and became so drunk that she passed out for three days. When she awoke, her blood-lust had passed and humanity was saved.

Here’s to the power of beer!

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