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Let This Awesome Graphic Novel Teach You 9,000 Years of Beer History

Random House

Random House

Professional brewer Mike Smith understands something that we all know to be true: There’s a lot of geek overlap between beer and comics. That’s part of the reason why Smith, illustrator Aaron McConnell and writer Jonathan Hennessey teamed up to write The Comic Book Story of Beer, a 173-page graphic novel due out in September. The book tells a historical narrative starting from 7,000 BC, weaving in everything from the chemistry of fermentation to surprising beer-related factors that led Europe out of the Dark Ages. “Beer is so cool because it is everything. It is a metaphor for human history,” Smith tells NPR’s The Salt.

Here are five things about beer the book has taught us already:

  1. Beer was likely created in ancient times because farmers didn’t want to lose grain, a precious resource, during wet winters. So they preserved the valuable source of calories by figuring out how to malt grain and brew it.

  2. The covered beer stein was invented during the Black Death to defend brews from swarms of flies that piles of dead bodies attracted.

    Random House

    Random House

  3. The tax structure on beer ingredients of Medieval Europe affects the way we brew beer today: Barley and hops became primary ingredients partially because of taxation.

  4. Hennessey told NPR’s The Salt: “One eye-opening revelation was that our culture arguably inherited a bias against grain-based beverages from the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Oriented as they were in grape-growing regions, the Greek and Roman civilizations were centered around wine. Beer was the choice of the "barbarian” enemies that surrounded them, and this doomed beer and beer drinkers to a second-class status for centuries to come.“

  5. Laborers who built Egypt’s pyramids, like the Great Pyramid of Giza (built around 2500 BC) were paid in beer.

H/T the salt

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