I have long maintained that beer is the ultimate social beverage. Indeed, beer is commonly considered to be the catalyst of the beginnings of civilization itself. A 1998 study by the Social Issues Research Centre cites several renowned researchers and concludes, “[T]he attractions of mild inebriation provided the true motive for developments which, coincidentally, led to a selective advantage among beer drinking groups and their immediate descendants.” In other words, ancient Mesopotamians opted to band together and cultivate grains for the sole purpose of producing beer. The beer they produced was consumed in social settings, often as tribute to their gods.
Throughout history, there are examples of how beer has brought people together. Even Shakespeare commented on it, writing that alehouses were “ … where people of disparate status mixed … brought men, high born and low, into relation, fostering a propinquity that might secure, adjust or threaten hierarchies.”
Flowery writing says alehouses were gathering places for men of all means, to do all manner of things.
Writer Eric Burns (The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol) says that even our forefathers understood the social engineering opportunities afforded by beer. Three years after a discouraging defeat for a seat in the Virginia General Assembly in 1755, George Washington ran again. This time, he had barrels of beer and other alcoholic beverages placed near polling sites with supporters encouraging voters to imbibe before voting. Washington won.
In recent years, University of Basel professor Matthias Liechti and colleagues concluded that little research had been done on how beer affected social tendencies and emotions. They studied the effect of beer on 60 subjects – 30 men and 30 women – to see how beer affected emotional empathy and the ability to identify happy faces. The results overwhelmingly showed that subjects who drank alcoholic beer were able to choose images of people with happy faces better than those given non-alcoholic beer. They were also much more likely to want to join those happy people in a social group.
Liechti concluded, “These effects of alcohol on social cognition likely enhance sociability.”
So, if we weren’t already convinced beer is a social lubricant, this study seems to put speculation to rest. Beer indeed factors into fostering the desire for social interaction.
Practice some of your social skills at these beer-centric locations around Northeast Florida:
1506 King St., Riverside
Cozy and comfortable, The Cow, as it’s known, is perfect for socializing with a small group of friends. The extensive tap and bottle selection of craft and import beers is even more reason to get chatty.
333 First St. N., Jax Beach
On weekend evenings, this German-beer-hall-themed watering hole is packed with happy drinkers looking to socialize. Expect crowds, lots of cold German and craft beers and plenty of lively comingling.
European Street Café
2753 Park St., Riverside
1704 San Marco Blvd.
5500 Beach Blvd., Southside
992 Beach Blvd., Jax Beach
The daily happy hour scene at any E-Street is the apex of social interaction. On a nice day, there are plenty of interesting beer-lovers laughing and enjoying the outdoor patio. Two-for-one 22-ounce beers help the conversations flow.