Edited by: Kimberley J. Hockings and Robin Dunbar
Alcohol, as we know it, is the result of a respected science and art form in a glass that can be enjoyed in the highest echelons of society down to the humble but beloved dive bar. We create memories, good and bad, and every day is a reason to celebrate.
However, most never consider the depths of how important alcohol consumption is to our society. Think of how many people we are able to connect with on a daily basis and it normally comes out to perhaps a max of 20. Now think of a wedding, funeral, beer fest, or any other event with the liberal indulgence in alcohol, and suddenly that changes. Even if one didn’t make associate with many individuals that evening, they will come across others that were present to enjoy the memory. It creates a connection, and humans thrive on it, and alcohol eases that creation.
In fact, we may not have progressed as far together if it wasn’t for alcohol. In Alcohol and Humans: A Long and Social Affair, it traces through our earliest known use of alcohol (fermented fruits), how it was used to bond people in rituals, and how we were able to create communities large enough to develop sustainable societies. Think about it: the hangover sucks, but the bond created by the communal hallucination via a hedonistic liquid makes something memorable about the evening, even if it isn’t completely remembered.
Speaking of hangovers, our bodies had to evolve to break down alcohol. If we look to evolution, we can observe ancestral frugivory (the eating of fruits) in our distant ancestors. They were exposed to low-level concentrations of ethanol, and anything that is ingested must be used for a purpose. Ethanol plumes could help early hominids identify ripe fruit, and with ingestion, stimulate a desire to eat more. Explains that drunken desire for tacos or other poor dietary decisions!
This book dives into a phenomenal amount of detail about how humans developed with alcohol, and is further accentuated by providing examples of world cultures with their forms of fermentation from amylolytic mold to tattoos to competition with primate cousins because despite our advances, we are apparently still down for a fight over a worthy beverage.
Beer drank while writing this: Launchpad Brewery's Festbier