A Boozy History

beeerBooze, a staple of the university experience and a pillar of the GUU – rumoured to be the union with most bars per floor in the country. But what is it? How old is it? And why did I agree to write this at 9pm on a Wednesday in beer bar? All good questions, and some of them have answers. This is my attempt to answer them using poor logic and a splash of poorly referenced facts.

Let’s start with the basics. The alcohol that is (mostly) safe to drink is ethanol. As made by yeast eating away at sugars. But unfortunately this kills the yeast off at 12-14% alcohol (the strength of wine). Because the yeast stops making alcohol, vodka needs distilling to make it strong enough for you to think another one is a good idea at 1am in the dark corners of HIVE.

But where did it all start? Well it’s hard to say, most of the records simply don’t exist, maybe because of some form of Neolithic sesh wiping everything out, or it just being too damn good. But what we do have is firm evidence of Georgian wine in 6000BC (according to Guinness World Records). Those 8,000 odd years make every night out we’ve had or ever will have seem quite insignificant. But there’s more to the history of booze than just wine. Beer has just as long a history, dating back about 7,000 years ago in Iran, but it’s not believed that it simply spread from there. It is believed that brewing of beer developed independently in many places, giving us things like the corn beer of South America and mead from Europe (some of which can still be found in the dark storage room of Chelmsford’s finest CO-OP). But going a touch stronger there’s our good friend Vodka, who can be dated back to the middle ages in Poland meaning that it’d still be fresher than the TESCO basics vodka stashed at the back of your cupboards after your flatmate tried it when they were skint.
This is Glasgow Uni. So we’ve got to have whisky. However it may not be Scottish: there’s a debate about it having an Irish origin too. As the editor of G-You is Irish I’m inclined to agree, but as I need to be plastered to even have a sip of it, I won’t be too affected either way.

Booze has gone through a lot, maybe too much for a 500 work article , but we’ve seen the past what’s the best drink of the present? Perhaps the glorious pint of fun, luminous VK, wonderful off-brand vodka and I don’t know maybe lemonade? But it’s not really what’s in it that matters so long as you’ve got mates who’ll carry you home or maybe even drag you to the nearest McDonald’s at 3AM. It’s these moments that make it worth it, and have made all of our degrees a little bit harder to do, but a little bit more enjoyable to suffer.

-Alex Robertson


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