ancient beer

The Friday Mash (Hair Edition)

On this day in 1968, the musical Hair opened on Broadway. Notable songs from the “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” include “Aquarius”, “Easy to Be Hard”, and “Good Morning Starshine”.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Chelyabinsk, Russia, where a mechanic named Andrey Eremeev persuaded the beer store in his apartment building to let him run a pipeline from a keg in the store’s refrigerator to one of the taps of his kitchen sink.

Theater Cedar Rapids has added beer to its improv comedy classes. According to its education director, beer helps relieve inhibitions that can kill a performer’s creativity.

In Hastings, Nebraska, temperance advocates picketed the Do the Brew beer festival. The protesters, dressed in period garb, were actors promoting the upcoming Nebraska Chautauqua fest.

Israel’s Herzl Brewery made a beer that people might have enjoyed when Jesus was alive. It tasted a bit like honey and berries, but it was flat and cloudier than what we drink today.

Six years ago, Greg Avola and Tim Mather launched Untappd. The app now has more than 3.2 million users, and is so successful that both men quit their jobs to manage Untapped full time.

Frances Stroh has written a book about the Detroit-based brewery’s rise to national prominence in the late 1800s and its downfall amid consolidation and the city’s economic demise.

Finally, Utah liquor regulators may revoke a Salt Lake City movie theater’s liquor license for showing the R-rated film Deadpool. State law forbids a licensed establishment to show nudity. Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds donated $5,000 to the theater’s legal defense fund.

“Ask Your Doctor if Beer is Right for You”

Most news stories about beer and health emphasize how unhealthy beer is. But for most of human history, that wasn’t the case. In fact, our ancestors used beer as medicine. Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology found that before modern medications were developed, the sick were treated with beer and alcohol-containing herbal cocktails. He points out that alcohol relieves pain, stops infection, and kills bacteria and parasites in contaminated water. Alcohol also helps the digestive system break down food.

McGovern has found ancient texts that describe therapeutic cocktails. Prescriptions in ancient China and Egypt medical papyri called for wine or beer as a “dispensing agent,” with a varying mixture of herbs depending on the patient’s ailment. In addition to dissolving the herbs, alcohol made the mixture more palatable. Then, as in Mary Poppins, a spoonful of sugar helped the medicine go down.

Whether these ancient remedies actually worked is still up for debate. However, the bark of certain trees has yielded the key ingredients in aspirin, the anti-malarial drug quinine, and the cancer drug Taxol. And scientists are investigating substances in modern-day beer that might be valuable sources of medicines.

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