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Question for beer historians

I’ve read in books that consumption of beer was high before modern water treatment because it was safer to drink than untreated water, and that most of the beer that was consumed on an everyday basis was “small beer” i.e. with low alcohol content.

Is it possible to drink only low alcohol beer for all your body’s needs without becoming dehydrated?

I remember having monstrous hangovers in my youth and the feeling of dehydration that was part of that.

And are we to assume that once they were weaned from mom’s breasts that children drank only cow’s or goat’s milk and beer?

From all I have read, most of that is true enough.

From a biology point of view, beer is mostly water, and even drinking tons of 5% beer, you would meet your daily water needs. Obviously, the more alcohol your body needs to process and dispose of, the more likely dehydration can take place.

Also considder the fact that we consume way more salt and other suspect ingredients these days than people used to. So our systems are processing that along with alcohol. When you had your last hangover, were there any heavily salty, deep fried snacks involved (my guess is very likely).

Other facts to considder are the differences in beer centuries ago. Lower alcohol, but also way more nutrition. If you go back to Egypt or the middle east, beer was much more like liquid bread, containing tons of nutrition that they would not be getting elsewhere.

I should also point out that if you drink 6 pints of 2% beer every day you are consuming the same amount of alcohol and 3 times the amount of water vs. 2 pints of 5% beer.

And that would be spread out over the course of an entire day, as opposed to all in one sitting.

You made some good points. Thanks for your reply.

No problem. If you are interested in the origins and Ancient history of beer and wine, Patrick E. McGovern has some great books.

Another interesting point to note about wine when consumed as an everyday beverage in place of water… rich people who had access to fine wines with much higher alcohols, also would have access to clean drinking water out in the countryside (In middle ages europe for instsance.) Whereas the average poor laborer who would not have access to clean water, would be given 4th pressing dregs as part of their compensation - likely terrible wine, but also very low alcohol as far as wine goes and a reasonable dietary suppliment.

Also, I’d rather be a little dehydrated than die of Cholera!

For the first 35 years or so of my life, I never drank any water, but only milk, juice, soda, and beer. My wife got me into drinking water in recent years, based on the fact that it doesn’t cost anything, or pretty dang close. And I love saving money.

So, can people survive by only drinking small beer? You bet your patootie they can.

I would think that you could drink any beer you like and long as you have glasses of water to go along with it. We all would love to think we could survive on only our homebrew but as we have painfully discovered that only works until you wake up :shock:

Fwiw Hangovers are not just caused from dehydration. Dehydration is only part of the cause. Ever wonder why people drink bloody Mary’s next morning for hangover. It’s not hair of the dog lol. It’s cause the V8 juice. Your body is starved different minerals. Your body is missing Potassium and b vitamins. Making you feel tired and hungover. Potassium helps your heart. To much can cause congestive heart problems Other factors also help you have hang over smoking a lot more when you drink. Starving your brain of oxygen and more carbon dioxide.

There is something about the idea of drinking 2% beers throughout most of the day that agrees with me. You would probably never really get a buzz on, and it would go though you much more gradually that most of the ill effects of the alcohol would be minimized.

Unfortunately, hard to find good tasting commercial beer like that (really none at 2%), and I would not be able to make enough of it myself keep up the lifestyle. At least not right now. :slight_smile:

I know a guy who doesn’t drink water, just Bud light all day. I’ve never seen him drunk, he’s a hard worker and quite prosperous. So of course you can live on beer.

Anyone in Minnesota without a car on Sunday has had the experience of drinking 3.2 all day with no ill effects. I’d buy the story of folks drinking small beer all day long.

[quote=“lazy ant brewing”]I’ve read in books that consumption of beer was high before modern water treatment because it was safer to drink than untreated water, and that most of the beer that was consumed on an everyday basis was “small beer” i.e. with low alcohol content.

Is it possible to drink only low alcohol beer for all your body’s needs without becoming dehydrated?

I remember having monstrous hangovers in my youth and the feeling of dehydration that was part of that.

And are we to assume that once they were weaned from mom’s breasts that children drank only cow’s or goat’s milk and beer?[/quote]

Small beer was probably 1.5-3%ABV, there are very few breweries that even make beer like that now days. I can only think of 2 off the top of my head at the moment.
WIsh there was more stuff in the 2.5-3.5% everyone has to imperialize crap for all the Berliner Weisse that have been coming out lately hardly any are under 4%

I heard there’s a tasty one out there called Bud Light. :lol:

I heard there’s a tasty one out there called Bud Light. :lol: [/quote]

nope that’s like 4.5%

I heard there’s a tasty one out there called Bud Light. :lol: [/quote]

nope that’s like 4.5%[/quote]

OK fine…Miller 64 then…ruining my joke with your facts grumble grumble

[quote]

OK fine…Miller 64 then…ruining my joke with your facts grumble grumble[/quote]

and that shits is awesome

Yum

Miller 64
Michelob Ultra.

Those be some damn fine beers. :shock:

[quote=“Grizz Talker”]Yum

Miller 64
Michelob Ultra.

Those be some damn fine beers. :shock: [/quote]

Urf…

Evil Twin Brewing actually puts out a beer they call Bikini Beer that is pretty darn close to 3% abv. It’s heavily hopped but tastes too much like seltzer water to me.

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