Since I began writing on the subject, I have maintained that beer is the ultimate social beverage. Indeed, beer is commonly attributed to be the catalyst that led to the beginnings of civilization. In a study created by the Social Issues Research Center for the European Commission in 1998, the author cites several renowned researchers and concludes, “…that the 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 Mesopotamian opted to band together and cultivate grains for the sole purpose of producing beer. And then, the beer they produced was consumed in social settings, often as a tribute to their various gods.
Throughout history there are examples of how beer has served as a means of bringing people together. Even Shakespeare commented on it by writing that alehouses were, “… sites … where people of disparate status mixed…[which] brought men, high born and low, into relation, fostering a propinquity that might secure, adjust or threaten hierarchies.”
That’s some flowery writing that seems to say, alehouses were the height of social gathering places for men of all means.
According to Eric Burns in his book, The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol, even the forefathers of the United States understood the social engineering opportunities afforded by beer. In 1757, after having suffered a discouraging defeat for a seat in the Virginia Assembly two years earlier, George Washington again made a bid for a seat. To help win over voters, he had barrels of beer and other alcoholic beverages placed near polling sites. His supporters were stationed at the barrels and encouraged voters to imbibe before casting their votes. Washington won his seat that year.
Prof. Matthias Liechti, of the University of Basel in Switzerland, and colleagues, came to the conclusion that very little research had been done on how beer affected social tendencies and emotions. To fill this gap, they studied the effect of beer on 60 subjects – 30 men and 30 women. The goal was to see how beer effected their ability to identify happy faces and empathy. The results overwhelmingly showed that subjects who were given 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.
In the study, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, Prof. Liechti concluded, “These effects of alcohol on social cognition likely enhance sociability.”
So, if we weren’t already convinced that beer was a social lubricant, this study seems to put all speculation to bed. Beer is indeed a factor in fostering the desire for social interaction.
Practice some of your social skills at these beer-centric locations around Jacksonville:
Silver Cow, 931 Edgewood Ave S, Jacksonville
Cozy and comfortable, The Cow as it is known by its patrons, is perfect for socializing with a small group of friends. The extensive tap and bottle selection of craft and import beers provide even more reason to get chatty.
Hoptinger, 333 1st Street North, Jacksonville 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 beer and plenty of lively socializing.
European Street Café, 2753 Park Street, Jacksonville
The Happy Hour scene at E-Street is the height of social interaction. On a nice day you can find plenty of interesting beer-lovers laughing and enjoying the weather on the outdoor patio. Two-for-one 22-ounce beers help the conversations flow.