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Beer, water and health.


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We're all aware that one of the biggest advances in public health was the availability of clean drinking water. Add effective sewage disposal and vaccination for former big time killers like smallpox and diphtheria and you can probably account for most of the life expectancy gain that we see today compared with the 19th century. The medical advances are a bonus in top.

Now before clean drinking water was universally available people drank beer. Small beer or weak beer but it was still alcoholic. Everyone, from your infant to old person, ever day drank beer.

So the question is, did more people die of cirrhosis in those days or were those who survived more immune to it than we are today?

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4 minutes ago, Rare Bear said:

We're all aware that one of the biggest advances in public health was the availability of clean drinking water. Add effective sewage disposal and vaccination for former big time killers like smallpox and diphtheria and you can probably account for most of the life expectancy gain that we see today compared with the 19th century. The medical advances are a bonus in top.

Now before clean drinking water was universally available people drank beer. Small beer or weak beer but it was still alcoholic. Everyone, from your infant to old person, ever day drank beer.

So the question is, did more people die of cirrhosis in those days or were those who survived more immune to it than we are today?

Small beer.

V low %%%%%

It's like sterile, watery bread with a small dose of alc

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43 minutes ago, Shamone said:

Back in the day I used to brew home brew from those kits. My yeast failed once so I used a packet of dried bread yeast. It worked but the beer tasted a bit like bread.

I read somewhere that with today's yeasts it's possible to get to a serious alcohol content by just fermenting. No need for the wee still, as it used to be referred to in my part of the world.

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33 minutes ago, Rare Bear said:

I read somewhere that with today's yeasts it's possible to get to a serious alcohol content by just fermenting. No need for the wee still, as it used to be referred to in my part of the world.

Think you can ferment up to around 20% abv before the strength kills the yeast cells. Have seen kits for brewing your own 'vodka', but have always steered clear when you can buy the proper stuff for £12 a bottle or whatever. 

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Small beer.

Small beer (also known as small ale or table beer) is a lager or ale that contains a lower amount of alcohol by volume than most others, usually between 0.5% and 2.8%.[1][2] Sometimes unfiltered and porridge-like, it was a favoured drink in Medieval Europe and colonial North America compared with more expensive beer containing higher alcohol.[3] Small beer was also produced in households for consumption by children and by servants.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_beer

I've noted that I've tried the really cheap supermarket own brand beer that is the nearest we get to small beer.  This is from memory about 1.8% alcohol and was about £1 for four cans.

You can drink it all evening without getting remotely pissed but you will be getting up multiple times in the night.

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I brew my own ginger beer directly in swing top bottles.

Boil water (kills bugs) with root ginger and a bit of lemon juice a 2 tsp of sugar for every bottle to be filled e.g. 3 bottles equals 6 heaped teaspoons.

Fill bottles, let cool to bath temperature, add yeast and seal.

Job done.

All sugar turns to alcohol, whatever little amount it is and stuff has more fizz than champagne.

I imagine you could brew small beer exactly the same from a normal homebrew kit.

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42 minutes ago, Frank Hovis said:

Small beer.

Small beer (also known as small ale or table beer) is a lager or ale that contains a lower amount of alcohol by volume than most others, usually between 0.5% and 2.8%.[1][2] Sometimes unfiltered and porridge-like, it was a favoured drink in Medieval Europe and colonial North America compared with more expensive beer containing higher alcohol.[3] Small beer was also produced in households for consumption by children and by servants.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_beer

I've noted that I've tried the really cheap supermarket own brand beer that is the nearest we get to small beer.  This is from memory about 1.8% alcohol and was about £1 for four cans.

You can drink it all evening without getting remotely pissed but you will be getting up multiple times in the night.

https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/303390471

2% 25p a can. Cheaper than bottled water.

I sometimes have this on Friday, start drinking midday.

It has no effect at all. 

Tastes light  beer flavoured soda water.

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2 hours ago, Happy Renting said:

In the UK the minimum legal age to drink alcohol is 5 years old.

A niece of my wife had two or three of her children well before she got married. We used to joke that the oldest would be able to get drunk legally when the wedding eventually happened.

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14 hours ago, Rare Bear said:

So the question is, did more people die of cirrhosis in those days or were those who survived more immune to it than we are today?

Cirrhosis only really happens with hard drinking over an extended period, or regular binge drinking.

At the level of alcohol in small beer the liver is capable of processing it with no problem or damage. 

Life expectancy isn't radically different to the past once you remove child mortality, get past 21 and you will have lived in to you 60-70's. We have certainly added 10+ years but it's more a case of us allowing people to hang on that it is a reduction in the sort of things you mention, deadly as they were, smallpox particularly. That 10+ years is very recent, from the 1950's onwards.

 

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On 26/01/2021 at 20:19, Chewing Grass said:

I brew my own ginger beer directly in swing top bottles.

Boil water (kills bugs) with root ginger and a bit of lemon juice a 2 tsp of sugar for every bottle to be filled e.g. 3 bottles equals 6 heaped teaspoons.

Fill bottles, let cool to bath temperature, add yeast and seal.

Job done.

All sugar turns to alcohol, whatever little amount it is and stuff has more fizz than champagne.

I imagine you could brew small beer exactly the same from a normal homebrew kit.

I actually stuffed a hydrometer into my latest brew, two well heaped tsps per 500ml bottle gave a reading of about 1.02 (the hydrometer sank a long way) so about 1% alcohol and no sugar left and loads of fizz at fermentation end.

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On 27/01/2021 at 09:30, gilf said:

Cirrhosis only really happens with hard drinking over an extended period, or regular binge drinking.

At the level of alcohol in small beer the liver is capable of processing it with no problem or damage. 

Life expectancy isn't radically different to the past once you remove child mortality, get past 21 and you will have lived in to you 60-70's. We have certainly added 10+ years but it's more a case of us allowing people to hang on that it is a reduction in the sort of things you mention, deadly as they were, smallpox particularly. That 10+ years is very recent, from the 1950's onwards.

 

if you had a hard physical job it would wear out your heart by 40 +, that aspect has largely gone, though building is mostly still a young mans game.

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