Years ago, I hosted a beer tasting for a large wine appreciation group. They were ready to sniff, swizzle and sip the beer the way wine tasters do. Those wine people were going to sip a little and then spit it out! Spit it out? Of course, it wasn’t long at all before they were smiling, relaxing, giggling a bit and actually swallowing the stuff. This was a direct result of what I call the lupulin effect.
Lupulin (2,5T lupinol) is the active ingredient in hops. You may have imagined that drinking beer has the effect of getting one inebriated. Well, maybe, but the real change is from the lupulin: one has a feeling of relaxed well-being. You feel like talking and exchanging views. The lupulin effect seems to be educational. You can talk about any subject at great length. The lupulin effect also leads one to sing. It seems to enhance the voice, even if you don’t know the words—any words will do. “Through the lips and over the gums, lookout stomach, here it comes!” The lupulin effect reduces one’s inhibitions. You become erudite, intelligent, friendly and in dire need of another pint.
Lupulin contributes to our good health by stimulating deep breathing and song; but best of all it makes the drinker feel richly contented. It’s the lupulin in beer that makes you sleep well and wake up happy; it does this by reducing anxiety and nervous tension—acting as a mild depressant. The lupulin acts as a damper on aggressive tendencies, which, in some people, are released by the alcohol. There’s also an improvement in one’s sex life. Beer drinkers are better lovers.
Lupulin is, however, increasingly addictive. No longer will one be satisfied with Bud Light and a mere eight units of bitterness. No, this will not do at all: one needs more lupulin to survive. Soon Heinekens and even Bass is left far behind as one strives to achieve the lupulin effect.
The Wisdom of the Ancients
Of course, there’s more than mere lupulin at work here. There’s also bubbles and foam. Beer that has been freshly poured or drawn will develop a wonderful head. The head on beer is a deep bed of tiny bubbles that snap crackle and pop, if one cares to listen—and I do, always.
Beer is also a spectator event. The brilliant amber, copper, ruby, brown or even black liquid is a thing of beauty and a joy to behold, to paraphrase a famous poet. When a good beer is poured, the bubbles seem to gather themselves together and then spring forth with a magnificent effort—zing—and the head forms from nowhere. Bubbles no longer! We now have head and a magnificent one at that.
With the appearance of its head, the beer becomes ever more enticing. We sniff—the hop bouquet is an overwhelming fait accompli—the lupulin grabs our olfactory nerves and we are lost once again, lost in the stunning beauty of the moment.
“In heaven there is no beer, so we must drink it here!” Now is the time to drink. Drink! Drink! Drink! Immediate refreshment is the reward that awaits the beer drinker. An old German proverb* says “Die brauerei ist die beste apotheke” (the brewery is the best drug store).
*Brown, Bob, Let There Be Beer, privately published 1933, author is reputed to have been Robert Wahl.
There’s an ancient prescription: “To cure yourself of any complaint, don’t waste money on spas & travel, just stay at home, avoid spice and wine, drink good old beer, eat asparagus and watercress salad.” It’s true, beer is the only alcoholic beverage with vitamins; plus it’s also loaded with minerals, especially phosphorous.
One obviously tongue-in-cheek report tells us to take the Munich “beer cure” at Oktoberfest, which takes exactly two weeks.
Consume just the amount that human nature tells you to, this is seldom too much and never too little. Relax and completely satisfy for once the taste that never dies. Lie back at your ease, adequately quench your thirst and freshen both body and soul at the same time. At the start fourteen quarts a day will be too many…and four quarts too few…. The ideal amount is…two gallons…always take care of your thirst, nurse it along, be careful not to lose it…you will be able to laugh easier, louder and longer. Of course, too much beer is as bad as too little. Be conservative. As in other cures, occasional fast days are recommended. To get the full benefit, it is good to take a day off from the regimen once a week or so, and drink nothing but water. These so-called thirst days are splendid for your morale, you return to your regime refreshed and fit. You go back to beer with renewed verve make the rounds more eagerly and keep them in your consumption schedule.
The same source tells us that if beer makes you fat—eat less!
Beer and Health
Indeed, beer appeals to all five senses. The judging formula from the Wehenstephan Brewing School in Munich tells it all: “To sight it must ring clear as a bell, it must snap in the ear, feel pleasantly sticky between the fingers, smell fresh and tempting and taste heavenly. The foam must be sprightly, upstanding and crackling; it is as important as the bead on old ale or wine. The connoisseur can tell much about the body of the beverage by the mere sight of the white collar—exactly the right shade is as important in judging beer as in judging diamonds.” More important, beer soothes all the senses.
What is particularly galling to me is that the Surgeon General’s government warning is patently ridiculous. It would make more sense if it read “Pregnant women shouldn’t drink and drive tractors.” Sadly, there are a lot of women out there depriving themselves of moderate beer drinking, or worse, feeling heavy guilt for drinking a beer at bedtime the day before they found out they were pregnant.
The truth is that the medical people really don’t know what causes most birth defects, although heavy drinking is certainly an important factor. There is really little, if any, evidence that an occasional beer can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but of course until the medical profession sees fit to tell it like it is, we are forced to advise pregnant women they cannot drink and drive tractors. There have been overzealous prosecutors going after pregnant women who have had an occasional beer during their pregnancy. In the old days, doctors actually advised parents to even feed their baby an occasional sip of beer in the interest of good health.
Actually, the health benefits of beer are well known in medical circles. Moderate consumption leads to longer life, reduced risk of heart attack and reduced stress, leading to better sleep and increased appetite. Moderate drinking is especially good for invalids and seniors, giving them a mild and enjoyable experience.
Many doctors feel that beer is a wonderful relaxant, enabling the system to better utilize nutrients and remove tensions to increase the body’s natural healing powers. A while back, the AMA noted that beer, in moderation, was good to fight the common cold; and research has shown that 1-2 bottles a day reduces the heart attack rate by 50%, possibly because beer increases the HDL (High Density Lipo-proteins—beneficial cholesterol) levels in the blood stream. Most medical advice these days tells us to “enjoy alcohol in moderation.”
Indeed, most of the benefits of moderate beer drinking are also available to moderate wine drinkers, and the great wine writer Leon Adams summed it up best when he said, “The great craving that these people (the new prohibitionists) have is to interfere with another person’s pleasure. This is the great disease of the Western Protestant ethic—to equate sin with pleasure.” ‘Nuff said!