Discovery Channel’s documentary, How Beer Saved the World, feels like a story dreamed up in a pub. It accomplishes what McHughing wants to accomplish: String together interesting scientific facts and theories into a profound, preposterous, and still plausible tale, all with an amused twinkle in its cinematic eye, as if the beer is doing the telling.
Forget about food and shelter, power and glory, truth and meaning. Forget even about sex. Turns out the icon of western civilization is not the farmer, the philosopher, or the great king, but rather the cartoon stick figure who first sips accidently fermented barley and gets that smile-and-raised-eyebrow face of the lecher, except all this lecher wants is more beer.
The great motivation for human civilization is the desire for beer. It motivated the original Mesopotamian hunter-gatherers to settle down and cultivate barley to make beer, to invent the plow and the wheel to move beer around, to develop mathematics and writing to keep track of who owns how much beer. That’s just the beginning of the story. The desire for beer also built the pyramids, defeated disease, founded America, created the modern factory, and more.
We know this because a parade of scientists, anthropologists, and historians tell us—while they’re drinking beer. We believe this just the like pretty young people shown in bars drinking beer believe it. Perhaps we’ll even remember in the morning.
It's a hoot, and it may even be true. Check it out.