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Beer: The Favored Drink of Civilization

Entering+the+%27Beerology%27+exhibit+patrons+are+greeted+a+wall+of+beer%2C+or+rather+the+word+beer+in+various+languages.+%27Beerology%27+runs+through+the+summer+of+2014+at+the+San+Diego+Museum+of+Man.
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Beer: The Favored Drink of Civilization

Entering the 'Beerology' exhibit patrons are greeted a wall of beer, or rather the word beer in various languages. 'Beerology' runs through the summer of 2014 at the San Diego Museum of Man.

Entering the 'Beerology' exhibit patrons are greeted a wall of beer, or rather the word beer in various languages. 'Beerology' runs through the summer of 2014 at the San Diego Museum of Man.

Fernando Yates

Entering the 'Beerology' exhibit patrons are greeted a wall of beer, or rather the word beer in various languages. 'Beerology' runs through the summer of 2014 at the San Diego Museum of Man.

Fernando Yates

Fernando Yates

Entering the 'Beerology' exhibit patrons are greeted a wall of beer, or rather the word beer in various languages. 'Beerology' runs through the summer of 2014 at the San Diego Museum of Man.

Fernando Yates, Staff Writer

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Exhibit leads patrons through beer’s cultural impact

Entering the San Diego Museum of Man one is welcomed by two giant Mayan pillars with a small bar just to the right. This bar is part of the “Beerology” exhibit, which shows the links between beer and civilization.

“[Beer] is a great anthropological and archaeological topic tied to the origins of agriculture and settled life around the world,” said Rex Garniewicz, deputy director of the Museum of Man.

San Diego could not be a better place to explore these links as the city is regarded by many to the craft beer Mecca of the United States. The city’s 84 active breweries, with about another 30 incoming this year, has been so influential with its bold and hop heavy beers that it has resulted is terms like west coast IPA.

“As we developed the topic, we began to reach out to craft breweries for advice and guidance, some of them also supported the exhibit financially,” Garniewicz said.

Sponsors for the exhibit include Stone, Green Flash and Karl Strauss. Dogfish Head brewery brewed Birra Etrusca Bronze which was inspired by an ancient ale and served at an event in January.

The exhibit points out that currently craft beer is seem by some to belong to hipsters who refuse to drink mainstream and established beers like Budweiser. That comment is not meant to be a slight as beer cultured is quickly compared to wine culture.

It probably pains hipsters to know that they are late to the beer scene as it is believed that hunter-gathers were into beer way before it was cool, brewing the first beer about 10,000 years ago according to the exhibit. Over time beer spread across the world by different names, becoming one off the most widespread drinks next to water and tea.

Along with explanations about the brewing process and explaining of the properties of key ingredients (water, yeast, hops and grain) “Beerology,” which runs through summer, explains the necessity of beer in various culture across the world.

In the Amazon beer is vital. The Shuar, famous for shrinking their enemies heads, focus heavily on brewing beer, as they depend on it for most of their calories. An adult male can drink between 3 and 4 gallons a day of their traditional beer made from cassava roots, which contain ten times more starch by weight than corn.

Continuing through the exhibit, one learns that beer is was not only a dietary staple, but also a spiritual one. For the Inca drinking their beer, chicha, was a reflection of the heavenly order. The supreme leader would drink from a gold cup and have his chicha brewed by virgin priestesses of noble birth. In Europe, monks brewed beer in monasterys and even allowed to consume beer during fasting.

The exhibit does not stop at showing importance of beer. The exhibit encourages experiencing beer with various tasting events, the next being on March 20.

“Moderate alcohol use has been part of the human experience for 10,000 years,” Garniewicz said. “I have observed fathers teaching their children about how beer is made within our exhibition and it seems like a subject like this is an opportunity for connecting generations.”

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Beer: The Favored Drink of Civilization