On making beer

Someone, somewhere, discovered that, when kept at a constant temperature, grains submerged in liquid will eventually ferment. Into something drinkable. Into something with alcohol.

Someone else, somewhere else, discovered that this fermentation happens because of yeast. Someone else determined the steps to replicate the process. Someone else figured out you could save this and sell it.

Each of these steps may have taken years or decades to discover. Through trial and error, connections were made. From grain to beer, hundreds of things can go wrong. And that’s with a set of steps that have been practiced and perfected for thousands of years just to make the basic product: an alcoholic liquid.

Someone, somewhere – thousands of times, this happens – makes a slight change that updates the process and pushes it forward. Making it safer. Improving the taste. Creating a way to save it. Discovering ways to make beer better.

Overly complex, the history of beer making is a form of evolution, each new batch the product of a new set of steps, the better products saved and passed on, survival of the fittest brew.

Someone harvested and bred the right yeast.

Someone narrowed down the best starch source.

Someone decided a weed called “hops” would help improve taste.

Someone added sugar to provide carbonation.

Someone perfected the sanitation process.

Someone, somewhere, organized the timing and products needed to create a batch of beer. Someone, somewhere, standardized the methods we use today. And we ride on the backs of that history, taking for granted the amount of work that went into evolving the brew process, assuming it was always there, created by some overarching power.

Forget the eye: if there’s any evidence in favor of that crazy intelligent design talk, let’s present beermaking as exhibit A.

This was lovingly handwritten on August 8th, 2011