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Episode: 10 Beer Though we made this episode two years ago and the quality is not what we do now but in terms of content its one of our all time favorites. We cover some of the historical uses of beer, its changing meaning over time, the development of taste, and perhaps even share a few ancient recipes! From contemporary hipster cans to drinks of ancient Egyptian Pharaohs you don’t want to miss this episode! Cheers, Prost, Salud, Allinta Qali!
Aneil Tripathy: [00:00:00] Hi everybody and welcome to the first episode of the second season of This Anthropological Life. The day we're in to talk about beer and all of its multifaceted forms in our culture and society. And what anthropology has to say with it.
Adam Gamwell: [00:00:25] It's one of these theories postulates that when we used to start collecting barley, barley would grow in certain places in Mesopotamia and was now in the Middle East and people would make sort of clay jugs to sort of hold the Bartley in. And of course, when you're in a hunting gathering, you're moving from place to place.
So what they would do is they would just leave the barley in these pots or pans or cases and then leave and go hunting and gathering, come back a couple of days later and eat the barley, but sometimes it would rain as tends to happen with the weather outside and these pots weren't covered. And so the idea is that it would then rain on top of it.
And then if it rained more than once and it sort of filled it up a little bit of rain would start activating the barley and that would start to sprout. And then it rains again and sort of, you know, there's a deluge of water in the barley and then it starts to ferment. And so when people would come back from hunting and gathering a couple of days later, they would look and say their barley's all wet.
Oh man. You know, what do we do with this? But then they would, some brave soul took a sip of this barley water mixture and then realized we have something here and thus was the invention of beer, a natural process in many ways. But again, that sort of set the course, they say of the rise of this type of sedentary lifestyle.
Ryan Collins: [00:01:31] Right, a sort of happy accident that this even came into being. But I'd like to add that what we see with evidence of beer today is based upon ceramics, but there's potential for earlier forms of fermentations of beer and other alcohols through baskets because baskets don't preserve as well in the archeological record, but baskets would retain water in the same way.
So people were probably still doing it. And then later on started firing clay jugs. And one of the hypotheses that is really is starting to get a little bit more weight these days is that the glass, the clayware was actually your happy drinking vessel that people would, dish these out at parties, and that would be your drinking cup and then at the end of it, you go and smash your drinking cup type of thing.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:02:18] A whole ritual in and of itself. You know it's incredibly interesting. You know, also when we think about the history of beer is also how we in the present are projecting onto that history and you know, what exactly we wish to gain from it.
Even that we called all these different drinks, beer, it has a meaning in and of itself. There was a great, Google talk on YouTube that you guys can all check out by Sam Calagione who's one of the heads of Dogfish Brewery. If you guys are familiar with them, and he's incredibly interested in this idea of going back to our past and thinking about how we can view beer differently.
There's this idea really established in Germany, that beer should be made of four key ingredients, hops, malt, water, and yeast. And of course, a lot of the idea of this was a standardization similar to when they standardized vodka in Russia in the 1800’s, this idea that we need to really preserve and understand what exactly we do as a society and what exactly beer is. I'm sure a lot of you guys have seen those shirts. Beer is culture around the place and you know, it's incredibly interesting to think what exactly this means. And I think Adam, you have a lot of very interesting thoughts on this.
Adam Gamwell: [00:03:41] Yeah. I like the idea of thinking of beer as culture. It's a wonderful idea and it means it can mean so many things. I mean for one, here in our wonderful state of Massachusetts the culture of craft brewing is really quite alive and well, I mean, there's, there's some 22 new breweries that are petitioned to be opened by the Massachusetts brewers association and I think 15 new ones have opened up in the past three years. So, I mean, there's a huge explosion of new brewer culture of how we can grow our beers and Aneil, as you said there's a certain tradition, or we could say a culture of what ingredients should be put in beer, but of course there's a fun side of this too, kind of hearkening back to our, our multi-species episode last season.
That beer itself is a culture, it's made of cultures of yeast, right. Of certain bacteria. And so even what makes beer itself is a culture, as well as, you know, sort of activities that we do around beer, whether it is the traditions of smashing our clay jugs. You know, or just saying prost and pushing our glasses together after a long, hard day at work or something.
But again, so beer is a really wonderful example side being a wonderful beverage that really covers so many aspects of what we might think of as culture being from a biological aspect of these different cultures of yeast, all the way to how a beer should be made, what ingredients should be used, what activities should go around a beer, right? When is it appropriate to drink beer with whom. And why.
Ryan Collins: [00:05:00] Right. And even what vessels are you going to drink your beer out of? As we know today, different types of beers come in different types of serving glasses. And that's very important for a lot of people in how beer etiquette is supposed to be. That's another thing that gets into this culture of beer. It's again, the materials that come around the beer and not just the beer itself and how beer is even structuring our social practices.
Adam Gamwell: [00:05:23] And we can think about that too, in terms of where the word culture even comes from, right? This comes from Latin, which is cultus.
And of course, when we talked about doing cultural anthropology and archeology, cultus is Latin for, to a farmer to or to tailor, or to cultivate. And so if you think about it, these notions of agriculture, horticulture, viniculture, your culture, whatever we might call that, you know, are based around again, this sort of attachment to the land, the certain usage of material surroundings, our environment and our landscape are somewhat shaped. And so culture again is not this sort of abstract thing just out there, but again, it's very much tied to the material landscape and of course, in our case beer, the ingredients that are used to make beer. And again, there's an interesting, Aneil, as you said, this tradition sort of the German lager tradition, right?
To make these, this certain kind of beer that you're going to have, uh, your hops and your barley needs specific examples. But again, of course, as, as our friend from Dogfish brewery points out, that there's why are we calling it? All of these kinds of things again, with Dogfish is kind of famous for doing, uh, they have beers such as Theobroma, which as Ryan and I were talking about, which is sort of built off of, is it an Aztec recipe?
A maya recipe, that has cacao which is used to make chocolate and different ingredients that are, you know, obviously chilies, chili pepper stuff. Right? Yeah. Have you ever had. What was it called? They called Maya hot chocolate or right. You know, it has chili peppers too you know, whether it is Mayan or not, but the idea of spiking this beer, a certain kind of thing is there are, there are ingredients.
I have to go with it such as Barley, but we do see other things through the material record through human history of different kinds of things that were put into beer which are going to well worth exploring. I mean, we have examples of things such as a special kind of peat from bogs.
As well as hallucinogens we've seen examples of that they will put certain kinds of mushrooms in. So you'd have this sort of holy intoxication, we can call it right where you can sort of detach yourself to see, see the new world just by drinking beer. Yeah.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:07:20] I think the Dogfish case is really fascinating because of course, anthropologists are incredibly involved in it. You have archeologists working with Dogfish, analyzing the pottery, figuring out what the ingredients were used and it's fascinating how Dogfish is at the same time really trying to reinvent how we think about beer. They're also trying to ground what they do in the past. They tried to look at the archeological record, our ideas of our history to affirm what they're doing and give meaning to the process.
They really are adding culture or making a very significant part of their drinking experience. And so many things go into this and present day breweries are constantly seeming to try to engage our history of beer and even add new traditions. You think about beer tours, you know, so much about beer drinking is about the experience.
And right here in Boston, you know, we have the Sam Adams Brewery, which is free for a tour. If you're over 21, you can go there. They'll give you lots of free beer. You walk into this factory set up, which of course is not a real factory producing massive amounts of beer, but it is supposed to give you the idea, the experience.
So that every time after that, when you order a Sam Adams, you'll feel as if you were in a place that was, you know, you'll feel connected to this experience. So feel connected to holding the hops in your hands, smelling the hops, it's a whole aesthetic experience. And it also goes back to, as you said, Ryan, to the, even what you drink it out of, the vessel.
And Sam Adams will give you a free beer glass, which they say that they've specially designed so that it amplifies the qualities of their beer, their specific, not just any beer, certain types of Sam Adams beer. So there are lots of ideas of particularities involved in this and anthropology especially is incredibly well engaged with its academic tools to understand this. I feel because we're able to really analyze what these substantive ideas are and what their effects are.
Adam Gamwell: [00:09:33] Yeah. And I think, I think what you're hitting on too, is this notion of the importance of places we've been saying. Right. And so these hops do come from specific places. And if you go to the tour at the Sam Adams brewery up to Ipswich or I mean anywhere really.
I mean, Wachusett if you want to go to the nice blueberry lager, right? Any of these places will, I mean, the tour always involve where they get their hops from when you can get some from Western Massachusetts, some from Vermont, New Hampshire, whatever. I mean, and there's a pride of saying we get our hops, these specific kinds of, we get these floating from Bavaria or whatever, right.
There's a very specific notion of place that's tied to these in the flavor then in some ways takes you to that place, right? They say, you have to have the spirit, you should try it, which is why, again, Dogfish head is such an interesting example, because again, you said, archeologist Patrick McGovern is working with the Dogfish team again.
And essentially what the Smithsonian magazine calls this guy a beer archeologist, he's a professor of forensic brewing, which is amazing. And so again, his job is to travel the world getting all liquid residues from sarcophagi, from jars and copic jars, not copic jars that would be disgusting, they hold the whole body parts. That'd be disgusting, but, other jars there you go. Yeah, it's a really fascinating job anyway and, so he sort of claims to have found, we might say is like the earliest known booze of any kind, which is up to 9,000 years old. It's a neolithic grog you can call it, from China's Yellow River Valley.
Really fascinating. And again, he's sort of responsible. He's found some of the oldest grape wine that we've seen around 5,400 BC. as well as the oldest beer barley beer that we know of is from Iran in the Xigris mountains are about 3,400 BC. So you see these things dating back really far. And so I get 9,000 BC is actually pushing us a little bit more or in some ways the agricultural revolution that we know of, even if we're talking 10,000 BC, we're talking between 10,000, 8,000 BC, more or less. It's really kind of interesting to see this, you see these drinks right, coming up at the same time.
Ryan Collins: [00:11:27] It's really interesting to think about how this whole of the ancient sort of gives it an appeal, gives a beer and this currency has sort of power through it. You know, we don't have many things from the ancient world that we can really fully integrate into our society today and appreciate usually because of a loss of preservation, like most of the music that was ever written doesn't exist today. But if we can pull recipes of ancient beer from the past, that's something special that gets down to an experience that people thousands of years ago could have had that we can also share in today.
Adam Gamwell: [00:12:00] Absolutely right. And I mean, even with the rise of cookbooks, which is really only about 150 to 200 year old practice, you know, and sort of taking cuisine and moving it across into different spaces saying it's available in this cookbook, but you're right. There's recipes of libations written on stone stele predating this by thousands of years. Fascinating. Right. Um, and we can write, creative writing in some ways, right? And actually this is a wonderful tongue in cheek documentary called How Beer Saved the World, highly recommended. It's a little ethnocentric about Western history, but it does point to this fact, and that perhaps once people sort of started becoming more sedentary after they started wanting to cultivate more barley to make more beer then came the rise of record keeping, bookkeeping.
And cuneiform is one of the oldest forms of writing, which has just little wedges pointing different ways. And the theory kind of postulates that beer bookkeeping is one of the first reasons that we had writing. We need to count how much beer we have and it's actually one of the earliest symbols because once cuneiform starts being more widespread as a popular...
And you think about why would writing be spread? Of course, it’s usually going to be for some common medium using an agricultural product. Again, barley could be, that could be that product. And even in the old and the old alphabets, they have these things called like line scripts that old dictionaries. There's 160 characters related to beer. That's more than the Eskimos have for snow.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:13:20] That's nice. So it shows its importance. Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's a huge, and also thinking about the present reality of beer, especially being in the United States where we are right now, there's so many moments in our culture where I think beer has such a key vital place. We have the Patriot Superbowl, if the patriots are in, they might not be. But, you know, we have all of these traditions, July, when you have a picnic outside this supposed to be cold beer, or you think of King of the Hill, you know, all of these country, Western songs, there's one that's specifically called Drink a Beer.
So in our own culture, we have all of these manifestations. And right now thinking as we were a little bit earlier about the culture of microbreweries, larger breweries, Anheuser-Busch are also incredibly interesting to think about and what their effect is and how we view them, because some people really feel Anheuser-Busch is American, you know, and drinking Anheuser-Busch makes you American and it's almost patriotic to a degree.
Adam Gamwell: [00:14:32] Right and Budweiser did a good job of selling that. Of course, they were bought by a Belgium company a couple of years ago. So this is an ironic thing. They're right. But it's true but even the fact of having a Miller light or a Coors light, you know, these, these are also kind of associated with Americanism. Right.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:14:45] But again, of course, Rocky mountains right on the core is can when they had that whole campaign, you know, be as fresh as the Rockies or as cool as the rock
Adam Gamwell: [00:14:53] Tap the Rockies. Yeah.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:14:54] And they have a picture of the mountains right on the can.
Adam Gamwell: [00:14:56] And that useless, but kind of fun looking blue mountain thing to tell you the beer is cold because your hand can't tell, look, the bottle says it's cold and exactly.
But to think about that too, I mean, this notion of tradition is really important, you know, because again, we do think the Budweiser is like, and I mean, they've had an American flag on the Budweiser cans for a long, they don't want any more, but they had for a long time, you know, and the Clydesdale horses actually live in the United States.
But it's interesting to think about that too, because with the rise of, again, beer culture in the United States, even, Coors and Miller were German immigrants. I forget it's like Frederick Coors and William Miller or something, or vice versa. And actually since that was like, we were talking before about the traditional German brewing on these specific ingredients.
And that's where, like the idea of lager of a certain kind of beer came to the US from Germany. And what's fascinating about that. This was again in the early 1900’s, we didn't really have commercial refrigeration so we could make beer. But you only make a certain kind of beer because, you know, to make a lager, it has to be cold.
And so, I mean, the tradition in Germany before this was to literally chip ice off of tops of mountains, ship it down to the brewery, stick it in the brew kegs to cool it so you could brew it at a certain temperature that we weren't able to do that in the United States.
I mean, obviously this is why Coors is over by the Rockies, cause you need to be by the mountains. Miller's in Texas, so that makes no sense, but you know, but for the time being, that's why I think it's over there in the Rockies. And so it needed this kind of thing. But again, one of the things that beer sort of postulates is the rise of commercial refrigeration to the fact that you and I have a refrigerator in our homes as something we don't even think about in the size of the refrigerator, again, was in some ways paid for research and development and pushing by the beer industry because that made beer production possible year round. Which we’d only be able to make in the winter time.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:16:41] And it has a huge impact of course, on the experience of drinking beer, being someone who's had lots of incredibly warm beer in India, stuck in an area without refrigeration, it's definitely much less enjoyable. Right, right. Yeah.
Ryan Collins: [00:16:56] It's really it's testament to how beer has been a prime mover of innovation amongst human culture, across the globe. So we look at different ways that different countries, different cultures have been making beer over time in order to make it keep. We have to think of the strategies that people had in order to make beer last for voyages across the ocean or for mass transport or for other ways of drinking it.
So you have IPA’s which are super hoppy and that added hops is what made them keep during long voyages from the British Navy to India.
Adam Gamwell: [00:17:29] Yeah, that's a great point too, right? I mean, We now may think of here in Massachusetts, particularly in Cambridge and Somerville where a number of us live that, you know, IPA's are kind of associated with hipsters, right?
The hipster beer, right. The more hops it's better, you know, but really you're right that the hops were necessary to make it be able to get from point A to point B, which is a long ship voyage to, you know, to get it from Britain to India.
Ryan Collins: [00:17:57] Initially it wasn't the source of pride that we take in for today, but then it became transformed into it. So these ways of making these different types of beers may have humble origins but become these larger symbols as time progresses.
Adam Gamwell: [00:18:10] Yeah. I mean, if you could see this moving from, as you said before, Aneil, about the notion of Budweiser seeming to be this there's something American about Budweiser, regardless of the fact that it moved to Belgium, it's still American, right?
It hasn't lost that, which is interesting. And again, as you said, IPA is like the humble origins of how we're going to get this all the way around Africa? Oh, I know. Add more hops. But now it's associated with something totally different. But nonetheless, you know, no less real, no less meaningful.
And again, that's kind of a notion of, some ways like polysemy, and that's like the same thing can have different meanings in it. And we talk about a lot, the same thing will change, meaning over time. Right. Especially over place between who adopts it and why, and maybe who knows in 60 years, maybe a lager will be the new thing for the cool kids or something. I don't know.
Ryan Collins: [00:18:57] Right, I think something we're also touching on here is that beer is a very ritualistic drink. And whether we're talking about ritual in the sense of religion, or we're talking about it in the sense of, you know, state sort of governance, or we're talking about rituals that we find amongst different groups of people, you know, on the smaller scale, those are the workforce.
So as who you are, your friends, your comrades, or even, you know, in the past different militaries and things like that, beer has enforced sort of congregation and communal meetings that occur again and again and again.
Adam Gamwell: [00:19:30] Yeah. That's a great point. I mean, one of the things that we saw with the rise of the American revolution, actually, and just from sort of the time that the Pilgrims and Puritans were calling us, whatever you want to call them, landed.
Actually one of the things that's funny about the history is that beer again, beer made the sort of Atlantic transpacific voyager's even available because you can't drink seawater. Right. And water will go bad if you just leave it sitting in a barrel for a couple of days, couple of weeks, you know, it'll go,but beer could survive the voyage.
And so actually, when the, what do you call them pilgrimage? Now, when the pilgrims came over from England, they actually had a certain amount of beer, and they were aiming for Virginia but they ran out of beer and they had to stop at the nearest port and that happened to be Plymouth.
So little, did we know, we would talk about Plymouth rock being the landing point. It was the landing point, but because they ran out of beer. But with that then as you said, this sort of communal aspect of a beer drink is written. So we see it actually starting in the United States and a little bit in Europe too, but why are they in the US because again, this is what they saw this as a quote, virgin land that was sort of open and uninhabited.
And obviously we know that's not the case, but from their perspective, that was the thing. And so they, in order to have sort of centers of meetings and communication and commerce, we see the rise of the tavern. And so not only does beer figure as a drink to get from point A to point B across the ocean, but on top of that, it becomes the meeting point, the central point for communication, where you can meet up with your workmates, your friends, to discuss what's happening in the village, what's happening in the next village, what crops are being grown. So again, it becomes this very important communal center that we still enjoy today, right? Who doesn't love a good pub as long as you’re of age.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:21:10] Beer. It has , you know, a huge role, I think in bringing people together. As do lots of other forms of consumption, eating with people, for instance, the idea of a family meal, even going outside, having a cigarette, then you talk to other smokers.
A lot of smokers will say how it's such a, it's really a lot of what drives them to smoke is the social aspect. So you have this combination of a slight intoxication in the cigarettes. You have nicotine with beer, you have alcohol, but then you also have the idea of the social. So while we almost have chemical reactions happening, we also have social reactions happening and they build on top of each other.
As you said about the tavern being a place of coming together in a way by consuming the same kind of beer, we're getting onto a common level, both socially and also chemically to a degree and that we're consuming the same item.
Ryan Collins: [00:22:09] Oh, well it drives again at this point of what would you do for a beer? And again, as we look at these different circumstances that we've already talked about, historically people go out of their way to make beer, to get beer and to have that experience of beer and as Adam and I were talking about earlier again, I think reference in this documentary that beer was such a prime mover that it was even used by pharaoh's to push people to build the pyramids.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:22:40] It created social inequality, right? That actually that goes to a point, David Graber once said that in studying the cities in Pakistan, actually earlier cities, and seeing the inequality levels, almost analyzing the past Gini coefficient, the level of inequality. We find that, for quite a long time, actually, there was almost an egalitarianism and one of the theories why this might have fallen apart is because alcohol started being increasingly consumed in large amounts.
Adam Gamwell: [00:23:10] What do, what do you mean by egalitarianism?
Aneil Tripathy: [00:23:12] And just the idea that when we look at the remains, it seems as if people had more or less the same amount of stuff, there was this kind of equality.
And then that decreases, and this, I think relates perfectly with the idea that the pharaohs might have been using alcohol to really get people to build these pyramids.
Adam Gamwell: [00:23:34] Interesting and in some ways beer sort of functioned as not only as a, as a pusher to make people do it, but as a form of currency, too, right. It was seen as such a divine special thing that the creator god Ra was actually known as the creative life of love and of beer. And in this way, beer sort of functioned as this sort of divine nice thing. And again, a form of currency, people were paid in beer.
Ryan Collins: [00:23:55] I mean, think about it this way. If somebody asks you to go do something incredibly difficult, something that you think might be impossible, you're probably going to say no. And they offer you lump sums of money. You're probably not sure because you're not sure what that will risk, but if somebody says, well, I'll buy you a drink, I'll do a favor. I'll give you a beer. Well, you might become more complacent after the first beer. And then that day two you get another beer and another beer, another beer. You can sort of see how the regression just might take place
Adam Gamwell: [00:24:23] And to put that in the Egyptian context, right. People were paid a gallon of beer a day for building the pyramids. So again, not lay currency, but it was quite a lot. I mean, so when we say, Hey, I'll buy you a drink. We mean a pint of a gallon is a lot more than that, you know? I’ll buy you a round. What’s that four gallons of beer?
Aneil Tripathy: [00:24:44] And people do this all the, all the time. Right? If one of your friends needs help moving. A lot of the time, you know, they'll bring beer or you'll drink a bit while you're moving furniture, doing physical labor.
Adam Gamwell: [00:24:55] It's, it's very true. And if you think about it again, this kind of gets us back to the point, Aneil, you're talking about consumption, right? And social relations again, cause money for us, cash money doesn't carry the same for whatever reason, moral compass or moral ideas about money. It doesn't carry the same moral ideas about back and forth or like reciprocity, but beer seems to have that in a different way. Possibly because it's a material thing that you consume and then you can have it together. Like you can't share money together. Let's hold this dollar bill together. You know, it doesn't mean the same thing versus let's have a beer, let's talk, you know, it's an invitation to something more than just an economic transaction, right? It's a social transaction.
Ryan Collins: [00:25:32] And there's so much socially around beer because when you give it out, you know, it's a prize commodity. Exactly what we're saying. But with beer, there comes a time and a place where you can do it. You know, there has to be certain social conditions in place, you know, it's saying I'm not going to be drinking on the job, or I'm not going to be noticeably drunk on the job. I'll be doing this with people in certain settings after hours. And it'll be fine to do the things the next day. Now you have to put those things in place before you can really even get more into it.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:26:04]Oh yeah. And even the act of consuming beer continues so many relationships in a way. There's, some people in companies that will even, you know, drinking might be a primary part of their job. If when you go try to get new contracts with people, especially in Asia, you have a huge drinking culture.
In Japan you'll see lots of salary men, business employees passed out in the Metro stations at night because I've had so much alcohol, that was basically, they were made to drink by their superiors in the company. So you have, you know, lots of times where beer becomes a huge part and a very important part in social relationships, creating our cultures to a degree,
Ryan Collins: [00:27:17] I'll put links up to these studies, uh, later on tonight on our website, but there has been a number of cases where beer has actually shown a fostering of creativity with people in the workplace. So if you have one or two drinks at work, it's enough to keep you creative in a way that again, fosters innovation, like we've been saying you have too much and of course, when things start to get sluggish, but with just enough, it ends up being great, innovative source.
Adam Gamwell: [00:27:46] Hmm it's it's I mean, it really, it really raises some interesting questions because again, that ties into sort of the, the social norms and taboos of when and where one can drink.
But it's interesting when sort of ladder scientific studies like this come out. So neurological studies that do say there is something about it, or, and this is a parallel kind of example, but again, there's notions that like, uh, smoking certain amounts of marijuana or ingesting certain kinds of marijuana can actually produce some neurogenesis and different kinds of things or neutrophils are taking certain kinds of prescription pills can actually help your brain generate the same with beer.
Uh, again, partially ties us back of course, to the material reality of our world and that we are biological beings and that different cultures of yeast or whatever affect our bodies in certain ways. But at the same time, two different cultures of social relations will tell us when and where we can, how much we should or shouldn't with whom, without whom we should be drinking or not drink.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:28:38] And reciprocity seems to be such a huge and vital piece in all of this thinking about Marcel Mauss and The Gift and, uh, and really the role of reciprocity of gift giving in creating our society. Uh, and creating an idea that we're going to continue certain relationships.
I notice in England, uh, when people get together, you know, you buy around and then the next person buys a round and the next person buys a round. And by the end of the night, you know, obviously there's this idea of it'll continue, we'll remember this night. Remember the rounds, it's, there's almost a tally.
And then you pick it up again the next couple of days, and that. Uh, so there's this almost economic tie, but then there's also the idea that you want that inequality to happen at the end of the day because that shows that you want to continue the research if you want to see this person again. Yeah.
Adam Gamwell: [00:29:28] Uh, and something else that strikes me about that again, that most talks about is like the thing with The Gift of course, is that right?
It's this invitation. In some ways to ongoing social relations, because it's unequal like I gave to you, then you must get back to me. But also with that is this notion of the spirit of the gift, there's some way it's called the Hau is Polynesia And it's like the, the spirit of the giver.
There's something about the giver that goes into the gift they give you. Um, and the reason I'm bringing that up is because, uh, actually Sam Calagione, who is part of Dogfish Head, he has an interesting quote, there's a documentary coming out called Crafting A Nation about craft breweries, and a lot of it's about Dogfish Head.
Um, and he says that, you know, he's talking about the four ingredients we mentioned before of sort of what goes into a beer, but, uh, what Calagione says that like, it's not just about these four ingredients, but it's about you put your soul into this. And so this is what struck me. You put your spirit into this and then you pass that onto the customer.
This is very Maussian. And I think it's very worthwhile to think about, it's not just about the ingredients, you know, but again, it's about putting your passion into this beer. And it's about the customer's enjoyment too. I think a really compelling way to think about, uh, as you said Aneil, this ongoing notion of reciprocity that beer has in it in a special way that some other things may , not quite so much in our beer is a good example of I suppose.
Ryan Collins: [00:30:47] That quote actually makes the production of beer sound like an art.
Adam Gamwell: [00:30:50] Hmm. Another way of saying it. Yeah.
Ryan Collins: [00:30:51] Something that we give out again and again, or we give out in one singular piece. That people keep coming back to pay reverence to in certain ways.
Adam Gamwell: [00:31:03] And, and if you think about, yeah, art versus like mechanized production, right.
Art has this notion of like artisanal right. Handmade, uh, small-scale production, uh, tender care, put into it, like good knowledge of the product. Really, I think, I think that's a great way to talk about it. Right. And I think that the craft brewing culture that we do see here in Massachusetts and other, I mean, tons of places, Portland, Oregon, absolutely.
I mean, tons of places in the U.S. around the world but just from what I know here in, Somerville and Cambridge and Massachusetts, right. This, I think artisanal is hitting the nail on the head, right. That's exactly right. It's just, they talk about it like this art and soul project.
Right. It's much more than we're just making a drink, we're making a buck, we have a business. No, these people put everything into these businesses and they talk about them. like it is this, uh, I mean, almost if we want to talk about, it's like spiritual calling right? There's something about, it's a vocation.
Yeah. That's that's the word. Yeah. Um, and what do you think about vocation?
Aneil Tripathy: [00:31:53] It's a, it's a huge thing and especially you see it if you guys check out Crafting A Nation, uh, even if you look at the trailer, it shows these guys who are really trying to start up their microbrewery and they're putting everything into it and they're going into debt and their fears that the bank will come and take their brewery away, take everything, all of their hard work, they're pouring their souls into it.
And even the title of that documentary, Crafting A Nation, the idea of. You know, even the nation being really intricately involved in this beer, the idea that everything really, it's completely embedded to a degree and that I really feel is where vocation comes in, you know, vocation originally relating a lot to the priesthood and the calling to serve God.
Right. The idea it's an extreme, uh, dedication, um, to a certain path.
Adam Gamwell: [00:32:46] Absolutely. Yeah. And just to kind of tag on them, that notion of. Of, uh, a priesthood actually. One of the things I found when researching for the show is that here in Massachusetts, there's a company that's applied to do a Trappist Abbey to make a Trappist Abbey ale and that's, and this is a very specific kind of beer.
This is actually one of the, during the middle ages. This was actually one of the ways the church made money that monks would brew beer. And this is the famous Trappist ale. There are seven abbeys in the world that make Trappist Ale, Massachusetts will have number eight, which is very cool. I think I'm excited if this happens, it will be very cool.
So again, it's a very small way of making beer, but again, it was one of the long standing traditions from Europe to here, but I'm excited to see that. So I'm speaking of vocations, we're going to see, we may see, uh, the rise of an Abbey that makes a certain kind of trappist beer.'
Aneil Tripathy: [00:33:30] beer thinking about, uh, how these ideas continue in our current day. Even, you know, the idea of being a Trappist Abbey or being Trappist monks, actually this morning, I was having some bread with soup and the bread was made from trap by Trappist monks, according to the bag and Trappist monks is actually trademarked. So it's, I think I've found it fascinating to think about, cause you know, you think Trappist is a monk tradition that's been around for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years.
How, how could that be trademarked? And yet it was so, I mean, I think that brings up a lot of ideas of how do we continue certain traditions because. If you see a trademark there, I feel there's almost an assumption that there's a threat that it's going to be used, uh, badly or there's idea that it's going to be used, uh, without authenticity, or it could be inauthentic people trademarking it to use it themselves as the case was with a Texas corporation, trademarking basmati rice.
Ryan Collins: [00:34:27] Yeah. I would have to agree with you. Warner brothers in recent years and currently is going through these different processes to trademark different logos for superheroes, not just to get the rights for their own personal good, but this sort of crystallized that these specific heroes in comic books will exist in the future so that nobody can just do away with them that they'll be continued to be used.
Adam Gamwell: [00:34:53] And to have the, the only authentic use with them. Right. And it's really kind of interesting to think about with beer. Besides beer and superheroes superheroes being cool, but the notion of how does intellectual property and patents work with beers? Cause severe, as we can see, is a constant experimentation of craft, right?
And we might call it an artisanal production, particularly from these small craft breweries. So it raises some interesting questions of like, what is the authentic production of beer? Like, and again, what, what ingredients can you use? And as we said before, when you go on a tour you're going to learn about the specific location of where the hops came from, where the barley came from, where the wheat, depending on what they're making, where the lemons are, the oranges that you're going to go see blue moon or so.
Uh, there'll be this again, this location based idea identity, but again, with, with patenting and stuff, I mean, what we are, are we ever going to see a difference? I don't know. Cause I mean, as I said before too, then there's some application for some 22 new breweries just in Massachusetts. So, uh, again, obviously these can't make totally new things every single day.
They can't make new beers every time they're all going to. But again, making a lager versus a Pilsner has a general general recipe. Right? You can add some coriander, some spices, cinnamon, orange, whatever, to sort of, you know, additives to the flavor. But again, the same time, there's a general recipe that we've been saying that goes back thousands of years for some of them right.
Ryan Collins: [00:36:11] And what we're getting at with that is really tradition. Right? What's going to constitute something that has, uh, you know, a sort of call to the past, but also that we'd like to see continued into the future. And this is a little bit of a point of contention because we tend to think of new beers coming in as seasonal things with different flavors, but will that stand the test of time?
A lot of these things are just, well, it's a new thing. It's flavorful, it's a trend, but it's not the tradition that these other beers are. So how would these different recipes get trademarked is in some ways, uh, accounting for that legitimacy.
Adam Gamwell: [00:36:45] That's a great thing to think about particularly as we're going to see the ride with these small breweries, right.
Cause they're going to have to invent something new to go to be in business for one, but then they also sell sort of, uh, you know, an identity with this, right. Same with kind of the superhero thing, I guess, is what I was thinking of. It's it's that it's never just a Batman, but it's the way Batman suit is put together the way the Batmobile looks, you know, the way the logo is right with the beers too, though, the logo on the can or the bottle, um, what image that the, uh, the brewers want to present themselves. You know, where do they want to sell their product?
Aneil Tripathy: [00:37:18] And it doesn't even have to be in the taste of the beer, right? It can be the ideas, the things that you learned from the bottle, but what information is given to consumers. And a lot of these issues relate to Heather Paxson's Life of Cheese, right? Where she talks about the idea of artisanal cheese and what really makes the cheese artisanal.
And what ideas are behind the notion of artisanship and what social and cultural capital does it give us. You know, I think, uh, there's this idea that we should, a lot of people feel better when they're drinking a locally produced beer. You know, when you've gone to the brewery, when you've seen the ingredients and what not, you feel a connection.
And a lot of that relates to, you know, culture and how as human beings. We have almost a need to constantly be making meaning, and we love engaging things that give us meaning. And so by providing us with this information microbreweries engage us. They make us feel that there's something special about them that Anheuser-Busch might not have, although Anheuser-Busch is also trying to make it seem that there's something very special about Budweiser and their other products.
Ryan Collins: [00:38:28] But therein lies an issue here. And that's that these brands that have this marketed tradition as being something sort of outside of time, right. They're sort of monumental and what they represent, a budweiser, a Coors, a Miller, there, you know what to expect. We know what you're getting when you get that. And it references somebody's name from long ago.
So the break from that causes a little bit of contention. Are you still following along with the tradition or are you changing it entirely? So what type of leeway is granted to these long standing companies and what they can, you know, use to produce something new? And it's going to be a little bit different than what we'll see with the craft brewers who are trying to establish themselves.
Adam Gamwell: [00:39:18] And I think that's why I think what I hear you guys getting at is this, um, well actually what Heather Paxson talks about is this notion that the economies of sentiment, right? It's that there's, there's a feeling that goes with it too, right? Again, it's about this whole package or even what, um, Calagione was talking about, putting your soul into this, right.
And in craft brews, give us. As we've been saying the sense of place that Anheuser-Busch may not have. However, if you think about Budweiser, right, they're very, place-based in terms of, this is an American beer, so it's not like a Milwaukie or Massachusetts, right. Milwaukee's finest. Right. And so, uh, they are still place-based, even though they're quite big in scope.
And so it's interesting to see that we can see the use of place in different contexts, but they're trying to do the same kind of thing, making us feel attached, um, and selling a certain kind of thing. Right. Again, I think the advantage. That people see with craft breweries now is, I mean, in some ways a result of the slow food movement that began in the seventies right in Italy.
But it moved over here as a, as a response to fast food, into corporate industrial food production, like artisanal cheese, which is actually a fairly new phenomenon in the United States. I mean, it's been. Artisanal cheese is not new, but like the rise of it is a new product to buy is fairly new. Um, but again, it comes with these, these notions of these economies of sentiment, these feelings that, you know, we are here to keep all of our products that we buy local to Vermont. We are going to use cows raised right here on our farm. Uh, you know, we're gonna get wheat from the, from the guy down the road a little bit, you know, uh, and, and again, a very place-based product, uh, supports a certain idea, right?
Ryan Collins: [00:40:44] Exactly. We might think of this as the beer scape. Right? But our beer scape has changed drastically over the last. Well, ever since beer came into being because your options are growing in the way we, uh, access beer in the way that we're able to transport beer, as we've talked about is undergone innovation after innovation, after innovation, to give us more options, the fuel that ever increasing desire to have something exotic
Adam Gamwell: [00:41:15] You heard it here. First folks, beer escape on This Anthropological Life.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:40:49] There'll be a book coming out fairly soon. But yeah, I think I've been really describing is a lot of this engagement, how we create something in the present while, but while we still want to keep ideas from the past, and then also we want to create new things in a way, you know, Dogfish is exciting because they're creating these beverages that no one's tasted for, you know, probably they've actually never tasted these beverages, honestly.
Although they're inspired by these past recipes, the production style is, you know, it's relatively recent. And, you know, even with Sam Adams, right, to my knowledge, no member of the Adams family has ever worked for Sam Adams. Although it's possible, maybe there was some very, very distant person, but of course, you know, Sam Adams is a very historical figure.
And beer did have a role in the creation of this country, as we were saying earlier,, you know, the Pilgrim stopping at Plymouth because they ran out of beer, the green dragon Tavern in Boston. Right. I think it was place where Paul Revere was drinking
Adam Gamwell: [00:42:17] Where the actual Sam Adams was plotting things, you know? But it's true. I mean, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were brewers. Um, and it's interesting that that gets in some ways what we might say as an art in the American DNA. Right. But brewing has been with us for a long time, what's kinda interesting to me with this too, is, is the notion of, as we were saying, kind of the size of their, like, just to kind of explain craft versus like you know, Anheuser-Busch or something.
Right. And so what the American Brewers Association talks about is that sort, just because this is curious to me, I was interested in that like, so they had to make 6 million barrels of beer or less a year. Six million is a lot, one barrel is 330 bottles. So 6 million times, 330. I can't even, I'm not gonna do the math.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:42:55] It's a large number.
Adam Gamwell: [00:42:26] A lot of beer. Right. And so just for example, in 2011, Um, Anheuser-Busch, sold 17.7 million barrels of just Budweiser. Sam Adams is the largest craft brewery in the United States and they produce 2.4 million barrels of beer. And I've, actually, I used to have a friend that worked at the Sam Adams brewery.
And it's interesting. There's always a funny contention between, is Sam Adams actually a craft brewery because they're available everywhere in the United States for the most part, uh, You know, and I do often get asked if I, if I go home to Texas or travel somewhere in the U.S. and I say, I live in Boston, like, Oh, you want to get a Sam Adams?
It's like, no, I can get those in Boston, you know, but you can get them everywhere else too. So the question is like, what, again, the notion of being craft does that have to do with how far the availability goes? Yeah. This placeness, you know,
Ryan Collins: [00:43:38] it's also interesting because the majority of Sam Adams is also brewed in Ohio. I believe.
Adam Gamwell: [00:43:46] I think you're right. It's brewed in three different places. Yeah. As you said the factory or what we actually might better say is the museum of Sam Adams is here in Jamaica Plain in Massachusetts.
Ryan Collins: [00:43:53] It’s actually, I think one of the smallest Sam Adams breweries which you may have, you know, uh, been, uh, facilitative to Sam Adams drinkers in the past, but certainly not today.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:44:07] Yeah, no, it's lost its commercial potential, but it's gained this, uh, cultural value. Uh, as we were talking earlier, how, you know, you had the IPA's. Being sent to India as a kind of a way to preserve, you know, there's this change that is always happening with, uh, the places that we use, um, our own culture, our activities, and even these companies, you know, companies evolve.
If any of you guys have seen, uh, you know, that movie about Facebook that came out. Uh, and The Social Network , you know, I think they actually did a good job showing the progression of this company, even Jobs. You know, I really didn't like that movie, but to also show the progression of Apple as you know, this one young guy, but then you have all these other people who just come in and they bring money, but there's also the idea.
There's the idea that Steve jobs is really instrumental to Apple, even though, you know, so much of the growth of the company came from other people coming in. Uh, I think as human beings also relates to our need to create meaning as we create these symbols and we map these symbols on to actual people and places, you know, as we're seeing with the Sam Adams brewery
Ryan Collins: [00:45:18] And to continue with that, it's not just places, but we're also implicating time. And as Aneil brought up earlier, it's, there's a heavy, heavy, heavy emphasis on experience here. And I'm going to toy around with this beer scape idea just a little bit more. This is just the, you know, maybe there's something about that beer. There's something about the experience of that beer that gets at those experiences that were held in the past.
That in some way, it connects you to those other people in the past, these other social settings, you can now identify with that and actually imbibe and something that could have been used hundreds of years, thousands of years, millennia, you know,
Right? Because this is true. We are delving many ways in the past. We've talked about McGovern, a number of times, the different ingredients he's gone into Egyptian sarcophagus and old peat bogs, and you know, these old Indiana Jones fun places not to get artifacts or yes to get artifacts, but not the kind of, we're thinking of not looking for the Ark of the covenant, but he's looking for the, or maybe the Ark of the covenant lager or something. Right. The specific kind of. Drinks, you know, but then again.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:45:30] A beer that will destroy the Nazis.
Adam Gamwell: [00:46:31] It’s gotta be one out there somewhere. Right.
Ryan Collins:[00:46:33] And this is archeology with real-world application, right? Literally we are having archeologists go out, find recipes or extrapolate the chemical residues from these former drinks, recreate them and then give them to you. So the past is really coming to the foreground here.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:46:52] And you experience it. And we can even take this idea of beer scape and bring it very close to home. As you know, we are on a campus, were onBrandeis University, and, you know, even in the ethos of higher education, there's the idea that you're learning, but there's also the idea that of drinking right, which comes out in so much of our, our media and our culture.
You think National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, all of these movies, Animal House. You know, all of these things, it's, I think as a huge place and the idea of, you know, even education to a degree,
Adam Gamwell: [00:47:14] In some ways it's, it's sewn in, as you were saying before, there's these new studies that say a little bit of beer may actually help us, help the brain kickstart a bit, you know? And it's funny that at institutions of higher education, we have a similar but different, you know, but you know, importance placed on alcohol and beer, consumption as part of, in some ways the experience of higher education itself, right?
Ryan Collins: [00:47:45] Exactly. There's an emphasis for graduate students to indulge in the TGIF here at Brandeis the first Friday of every month. People offer free beer for a number of hours to graduate students, to help us unwind, meet people and share in that sort of communal experience.
Adam Gamwell: [00:48:02] It's an important thing and, uh, one point I just wanted to throw out there, this is a little tangential, but it's still related. Is that beer again has been such an important part to humanity as a whole, right.
Again, we talked about sort of the rise of using a barley, um, from yesterday until today. But also again, we saw the same thing happening, uh, in what would become the Americans, right? Again, with the, I mean the Olmec, the Maya, the Aztec, the, Quechua, the Inca. Um, Like these groups did a similar thing with what we called chicha, which is actually a corn beer.
So it's interesting to think about that. You know, it happened with barley sort of in the quote Western world. And then in the quote new world, they had the same thing happen, but with corn. And regardless of the actual food or the basis that became the barrier, the process was still there.
And it's very fascinating to think about this. Like there's, there's something, if you think about, again, there's something for lack of a better term, universal about our application of beer.
Ryan Collins: [00:48:58] And we are somehow selecting for the yeast and the chemical reactions it has with the plants. So we are consuming them, creating this sort of beverage.And again, we're always drinking it in the beverage form, which is the importance here.
Adam Gamwell: [00:49:09] Yeah. We're not, we're not eating fermented corn. We're drinking it. I guess you could eat fermented corn. I don't know, but
Ryan Collins:[00:49:12] I think you can, I'm not sure I’d want to.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:49:16] To some degree.
Adam Gamwell: [00:49:17] We’ll stick to the drink for now. Yeah,
Aneil Tripathy: [00:49:18] of course. I mean, with this experience, so many things are connected to it. As we've been talking about, you know, there's a social, they're the people coming together, they're the vessels involved and even there, the other foodstuffs involved, um, and you know, so many other different types of plants and animals involved in this whole kind of ecosystem thing. Adam, uh, before the show, we were talking a little bit about the Botany of Desire, uh, and that's a very interesting book in that, you know, he traces the real value of certain plants and how they've grown with us. Right. You know, and how we started off the show, thinking about barley and the importance of barley and how it almost created a sedentary lifestyle. Uh, or was really the pivotal plant that drew humans to really want to have a sedentary lifestyle.
Adam Gamwell: [00:50:05] Yeah. It's a great question to talk about the notion of coevolution right. We always talk about, we actually talked about this in the multi-species and the supplemental episode we did. Um, Anna Singh about this too, and that, uh, you know, with the rise of agriculture, we always talk about how humans domesticated crops and bend nature to our will, which is really not true at all.
Again, the ideas we co-evolved with these plants, um, and that barley happened to be one of the good plants that grows along with us very easily. And it's worth thinking about, you know, I think, I think you're absolutely right Aneil to raise the idea of like, Michael Pollan does a good job too, in the Botany of Desire.
It is very accessible how different plants, marijuana, apples, corn, these different plants grow with us, you know, and we grow with them.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:50:48] and even, you know, thinking about Bruno Latour and actor network theory. Yeah. Right. And really breaking down, you know, thinking about people, but also everything else involved.
Adam Gamwell: [00:50:55] Yeah, absolutely. Right.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:50:59] Yeah, no, it's huge.
Adam Gamwell: [00:51:01] It is. I mean, that's in beer is just, it's a huge part of where we come from and probably where we're going. And speaking of that, there's a, maybe on a last note, I think one of the funny things is, um, at the end of the, How Beer Saved the World documentary, there's a push of beers and next move into space.
And, uh, there's a, uh, there's a brewery in New Zealand that is trying to make the first space available beer. And beer can't go to space right now because of carbonation again, when you go to space, um, liquid and gas don't separate in the same way they do because of gravity. And so, uh, the big concern of course, is you're going to have, what's called a wet burp, which we all.
You know what that is, if it's happened to you, right. And in space, there's no separations of the gas will not be separated from the liquid. So you can't drink beer, just keep coming back up. But it sounds pretty unpleasant. So they're trying to brew this sort of flat beer that can go to space, but it has the same properties, again, fermentation, naturally produces effervescence or bubbles. Right. So there's an interesting kind of challenge there of what to do with, uh, with that.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:51:54] So that's fascinating And so I actually, it seems to relate to what we're talking about with IPA's. Yeah. And how, you know, that was created for real reason, you know, almost a scientific reason. And now we have this new type of beer that's also been created for a scientific reason, but maybe, you know, the new age hipsters hundreds of years from now.that'll be the beer that they're associated with. True.
Adam Gamwell: [00:52:16] That’s true, with the rise of space tourism.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:52:17] A beer you can drink in space.
Ryan Collins: [00:52:18] It also makes me wonder what types of different alcoholic beverages or different types of beers have existed and how we've become most likely entangled to specific sets of these choices
Adam Gamwell: [00:52:29] Absolutely yeah
Ryan Collins: [00:52:30] And it might be interesting to understand how that might develop through time as well.
Adam Gamwell: [00:52:34] Yeah. And again, that's just the notion of coevolution right. These new flavors in some way may be accidents, but again, we select for certain ones. Right. And so why do we see certain ones coming in and leaving and then other ones showing up after that?
Is space beer, the new thing, I don't know, will it be an IPA or a lager or a stout? I don't know.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:52:50] I might be connected to a nation or one of our countries. That's a great question. People will feel incredibly powerful about it. You know, we might think, you know, it's kind of, it's funny to think about this and kind of a way, but then people really do care about this stuff and especially see it in Crafting a Nation, the documentary, you know, just the emotions involved and how powerfully people can be moved by beer. Right. It's amazing.
Adam Gamwell: [00:53:14] Yeah. I mean, even, even the way the production of the actual trailer, right. It's playing this, like, you know, Bruce Springsteen, American music, you know, it's a slow guitar singing about adversity and overcoming it. And, you know, in guys talking about trying to make beer and like, Oh, mean my wife work here 24 hours a day and et cetera, et cetera.
So it's true. There's a, there's definitely a sentiment and a pride. Absolutely. I mean, so I mean, w in the, in the, in the late sixties, seventies, we got the first man on the moon. Now we're gonna get the first beer on space, you know, Yeah, it might be in New Zealand, you know.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:53:42] Could be as big as having the American flag on the moon.
Adam Gamwell: [00:53:43] It could be right?
Aneil Tripathy: [00:53:45] When you have the first empty beer bottle left.
Adam Gamwell: [00:53:49] Could be, could be.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:53:50] Well, I think, you know, we've gone over a lot of really fascinating issues relating to beer and you know, how we view it, um, what its role is in our society, what it's connected to, the emotions involved. Uh, you know, it was just such a multifaceted subject.
Adam Gamwell: [00:54:06] Yeah. Our coevolution with beer, the domestication of crops, domestication of ourselves, the rise of the United States, industrialization, refrigeration, who knows it's, it's very implicated in much of our lives. And I guess the best we can say now is, you know, go out and enjoy yourself. A nice beer knowing a little bit more about it. If you're of age of course.
Ryan Collins: [00:54:21] Right.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:54:22] There you go, don't do it if you're underage, you gotta wait. That's also a cultural thing. Yeah, we must take it very seriously.
Ryan Collins: [00:54:30] We would have, if we would've had more time, it's definitely gone into it. Yeah. But, um,
Aneil Tripathy: [00:54:34] Perhaps we should just say cheers.
Adam Gamwell: [00:54:35] Yeah. Cheers.
Aneil Tripathy: [00:54:36] Go drink a beer as the country western song says.
Adam Gamwell: [00:54:40] Alright this is Adam Gamwell signing off.
Ryan Collins: [00:54:41] And this is Ryan Collins
Aneil Tripathy: [00:54:42] This is Aneil Tripathy. Thanks you guys for listening to the first episode of the second season of This Anthropological life,
Ryan Collins: [00:54:50] And we'll be back next Tuesday at 1:00 PM. Have a good week guys.