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Beer on DVD  no.56

How Beer Saved The World

The movie that was originally scheduled for this review was Beer Drinkers in Space, which you can view on this link if you really want to: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1z7u8r_beer-drinkers-in-space_shortfilms The image quality leaves much to be desired.

"How Beer Saved the World" is available as a Region 1 DVD made by the Discovery Channel. Even if your DVD player is labelled so, many players sold in the UK will actually play American standard discs.

This informative and entertaining dvd with its Python-esque cover, offers us a history lesson, a geography lesson and a cookery show. Until modern times beer wasn’t just a social drink, it was vital to life, relatively germ-free whereas water was teeming with noxious substances and deadly bacteria. It can be seen as the greatest invention of all time since mankind in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilisation, moved on from being hunter-gatherers. It looks as if wild barley grains perhaps a constituent of a broth became accidentally fermented by wild yeasts into malt a good 3,000 years before breadmaking. Domesticating those grains led to the first rudimentary plough, to irrigation, to wheeled carts, to the need for farmland surveys and thence book-keeping—writing to record production and distribution of commodities like beer for which the cuneiform symbol is shown here. We know that the builders of pyramids were paid a gallon of beer a day. It was their 3% abv staple food. Beer was used as a gum-disease treatment, a dressing for wounds, and even, from spent brewing grains, an anal fumigant—a vapour-borne pesticide to treat diseases of the anus. Tetracycline has been found in the bones of mummies, that’s a long time before Alexander Fleming in his lab in 1948!

You also get two bonus shorts: In How Stuff Works: Beer Connoisseurs, our geography lesson, we get to visit the Annheuser Busch (Budweiser) fizz factory, but also hophead American brewers such as Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head (great heroes of our own Revolutions Brewing) plus underground at Pilsner Urquell in Plzeň, Czech Republic where the eponymous beer style was first created and one of the few places, even in the republic where you can drink it unpasteurised (another, surprisingly, is Albert’s Schloss in Manchester, England). The other short, Emeril Green: What’s Brewing, features American celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse cooking with beer. This includes espresso-beer ice cream.

How Beer Saved the World: If you’re lucky you might get it for under nine quid from the USA, and mine came in less than a fortnight. Otherwise YouTube will come to your rescue.


printed in O-to-K ,  Summer 2017  main text ©RKW 2017