Any historical information is valuable, even if the revelation is as minor as the type of material used to make clothing, or the specific kind of silverware a certain group used. However, some groundbreaking studies not only teach us about the minutiae of history, but also can be linked back to things that are very relevant today.

Recently, scientists made a wild discovery that drew the fascination of not only academic types, but also the everyday person. That’s because the research gave us some pretty shocking insight into one of modern society’s most popular beverages.

A team of Stanford scientists led by professor Li Liu recently set out to uncover information about a highly interesting and historically significant group of Ancient people, the Natufians.

Stanford News

The Natufians were an ancient people who lived in the Levant, which is now the Middle East. Even before sustained agriculture, these peoples sustained sedentary, non-nomadic lifestyles — a rare and impressive feat.

When the scientists began their study, they simply sought to understand more about the Natufians’ diet, including what kinds of plant-based foods they ate. However, what they discovered would be far stranger.

While combing through an old graveyard located near the modern-day city of Haifa, Israel, the experienced researchers found something that they never expected to see.

What they had stumbled upon appeared to be a beer-making setup, complete with mortars, stones for cooking, and even grinding equipment. Liu suspected that this apparent brewery would add up to be a very special find indeed.

Wanting to nail down the timeline of when these materials could have originally been used, the team got straight to work analyzing the mortar and testing it to assess its age.

Stanford News

The conclusions were astounding: the operation dated back to between 11,700 and 13,700 years, even more significant because of its chronological relation to another seriously important milestone.

Stanford News

Amazingly, this time line puts the brewing of beer as happening years before the first cultivation of grains into cereal or bread. Put another way, the study suggests that humans were throwing back alcoholic drinks before they ever tried toast.

And this theory was not entirely unprecedented. The idea has been floated in one way or another since the 1950s, but it wasn’t until now that people have actually begun to take it seriously. Liu had more theories.

As Liu commented, this tells us that beer “was not necessarily a result of agricultural surplus production…but it was developed for ritual purposes and spiritual needs, at least to some extent, prior to agriculture.”

In fact, other research that has been done on the Natufians substantiates this amazing fact. It is likely that they made and drank beer for the purposes of special feasts, in particular as a manner of commemorating the dead.

The Culture Trip

However, in a broader sense, there’s a large amount of evidence that beer might play an even more fundamental role in the development of human society, one that people might not suspect.

It’s widely thought that beer was essential in breaking down social codes, allowing human beings to achieve things such as love, exploration, and art, which otherwise would have been stifled by oppressive cultural norms.

However, even after making this staggering discovery, the Stanford researchers were not finished. They needed to do one more thing to advance their theory, and the results were interesting…to say the least.

The scientists decided to recreate the old process of beer-making, a procedure that contained three crucial steps. They got to work using old-fashioned materials similar to the ones the Natufians would have had.

Homebrew Academy

First, they had to put the grains in water. Next, they drained and dried them, resulting in a substance known as malt. And finally, they mashed the whole thing together. Then, it was time to taste it…

Ironhill Brewery

The result was not exactly what they expected, as the drink they made was most certainly a far cry from the craft beers and microbreweries that hipsters love to frequent today…

The alcohol that they had created using the age-old process was not foamy and delicious like the stuff of today is. Instead, it had a thin, grainy consistency almost akin to a porridge or gruel.

Daily Mail

Yet while we may not want to drink it ourselves, there’s no need to look down on the Natufians and the liquor that they liked to imbibe. This discover proves just how ingrained alcohol is to society, even tens of thousands of years ago.

As another scientist on the team, Jiajing Wang, commented, “Beer making was an integral part of rituals and feasting, a social regulatory mechanism in hierarchical societies.” For some people, this was an inspiring message.

It was for Del Hall. It all began on March 6, 2019, otherwise known as the first day of Lent. The 40-day observance is often a time for Catholics to abstain from “unsavory” habits, though for Del Hall, he decided to lean into one.

sgtdel / Instagram

As the director of sales at Fifty West Brewing Company in Cincinnati, Hall practically drank beer for a living. He’d sampled hundreds of brews over the years, each time picking up a new story to go with them.

Del Hall

But there was one legend that Hall just couldn’t seem to shake, especially when Lent came around. It was the story of the Bavarian monks of Germany, whose Lenten traditions were enough to make even the frattiest of frat boys nauseous.

Back in the 17th century these monks would fast for the entirety of Lent, subsisting only a high-carb, high-nutrient beer called doppelbock. That’s right: no breakfast, no lunch, no dinner. Only beer.

Mother Nature

Hall had always wondered how true to fact this story really was — after all, how could the human body survive for 40 days solely on beer? Well, after years of wondering, he finally decided to put this practice to the test.

sgtdel / Instagram

“My family thought ‘Oh, that’s just Del being Del.’ No one really believed me. To me it’s not that big of a deal. I’ve done all kinds of crazy things in my life,” Hall told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “I know when I put my mind to it, I’m going to do it.”

sgtdel / Instagram

An Army veteran and former marathon runner, Hall was no stranger to a challenge, though this promised to be his most difficult yet. Not only was he giving up all of his favorite foods, but he was also putting himself through incredible physical strain.

sgtdel / Instagram

He decided to get his doctor involved, opting for regular check-ins to make sure he wasn’t doing irreversible damage to his body. Hall also agreed to drink water alongside his beer regiment to ensure he wouldn’t become dehydrated.

The first few days proved the most difficult for Hall, as his body had to adjust to the initial shock of an all-liquid diet. Drinking two to five beers a day, Hall steadily began replacing large, regular meals with sweet, foamy suds.

To keep himself from getting too buzzed (we all know how easy that is on an empty stomach), Hall made sure to space out his beers throughout the day. And after just two weeks, he already began to notice changes in his body.

sgtdel / Instagram

For starters, Hall dropped 24.5 pounds, which was to be expected of someone who hadn’t eaten solid foods in 14 days. Yet Hall claimed he felt better than ever — and it was all thanks to craft brews.

sgtdel / Instagram

“Beer isn’t as bad a people think,” Hall explained. “People really vilify beer. Everything in excess is bad for you and really, the average American diet will kill you faster than craft beer will.”

Yahoo

But what’s even more incredible was the fact that Hall’s all-beer diet didn’t turn him off to the stuff. While he was beginning to grow somewhat sick of the intense sweetness of doppelbock, his fast had led him to enjoy a number of new styles of beer.

sgtdel / Instagram

By the time he reached day 40, Hall said he felt like he was in his 20s again. He was sleeping better, had a clearer mind, and had lost more than 40 pounds — all by drinking beer.

sgtdel / Instagram

Yet Hall’s commitment to his traditional Lenten fast wasn’t about losing weight: it was about proving to himself that he could set a goal and stick to it. And what’s more, Hall’s fast had also helped him to gain perspective on his relationship with food.

“When I thought I was hungry, I wasn’t. True hunger isn’t that rumbling in your tummy,” Hall said. “If I didn’t eat for 46 days, missing one meal isn’t going to kill me.”

sgtdel / Instagram

Hall’s fast ended on April 21, a full 46 days after it first began. The beer connoisseur was eager to sink his teeth into some real food — specifically, some freshly made sushi — though things wouldn’t be so easy.

Gaijin

With his stomach now totally dependent on liquids, he’d have to slowly wean himself back onto solid foods. He began by eating only warm broth and then gradually made his way up to steamed vegetables and then to small amounts of meat.

The Vermont Country Store

A week later, Hall was back to eating his favorite foods again, albeit this time in moderation. But even so, he’s always sure to have a nice cold brew on hand to wash it all down.

Del Hall

“My health is so much better. My blood pressure. My cholesterol. Everything has improved over what I was eating before on the standard American diet,” Hall beamed. “Craft beer is the way to go.”

sgtdel / Instagram

Yet if you offered a craft beer to one North Carolina man, he’d most likely decline — after all, he was drunk nearly 24/7 despite never drinking a drop. It all began in 2011, when a course of antibiotics left him with some unusual lingering effects.

“Brain fog” was the first significant change he noticed, likening it to the buzz you feel after chugging a few beers. This fogginess was followed by several other symptoms, including memory problems, moodiness, and even depression.

It wasn’t until three years later that the man sought treatment for his symptoms. He was prescribed antidepressants, though these failed to generate a noticeable change in the man’s behavior.

British GQ

Things only seemed to get worse from here, as his symptoms began to grow increasingly dangerous. He was dizzy, lightheaded, and at one point he suffered a serious fall that caused bleeding in his brain.

Jordan Law

But the worst of it came when the man’s symptoms flared up while behind the wheel of his car. He swerved between lanes like a drunk driver, eventually leading to an officer pulling him over.

Despite the man’s insistence that he hadn’t been drinking, the officer didn’t believe him. He refused a breathalyzer, opting to be transported to a hospital where his test results left doctors slack-jawed.

The man’s BAC was 0.2, more than twice the legal limit and the equivalent of consuming ten drinks an hour. And whether the doctors believed him or not, the man was actually telling the truth — he really hadn’t been drinking that night.

USA Today

Upon further testing, the man finally discovered the source of his symptoms: fungi. But we’re not talking mushrooms here — we’re talking about Saccharomyces cerevisiae, more commonly known as brewer’s yeast. And it was growing in his gut.

Marco Verch / Flickr

Doctors believed the antibiotics the man had taken for his hand injury had wiped out most of the good bacteria from his digestive tract, making it more susceptible to infection. While on the job, it’s likely the man had unknowingly inhaled Saccharomyces spores, leading to their presence in his stomach.

RVT Group

But how did this explain the man’s symptoms? Unlike other kinds of fungi, Saccharomyces feed on carbohydrates rather than oxygen and create ethanol — the kind of alcohol we drink — as a byproduct. This fungi was basically brewing booze in this guy’s gut.

Goshen Brewing Company

As insane as this may sound, cases like this have been popping up all over the world as far back as 1912. Coined auto-brewery syndrome (ABS), this condition actually poses far more risks than its name would suggest.

If left unchecked, a person suffering from ABS may inadvertently raise their BAC to fatal levels. By simply consuming a large amount of carbs, one runs the risk of alcohol poisoning despite never touching a drop.

Pinterest

An undiagnosed ABS sufferer also poses significant danger to those around them, just as we saw in the case of the man in his car. A person with ABS may attempt to get behind the wheel and drive without even realizing they’re drunk.

Paul Hamilton / Flickr

Unfortunately, it’s easy to dismiss many of the symptoms of ABS as drunkenness. In fact, the manifestation of this condition is nearly identical to how one would feel after having a few too many.

“These patients have the exact same implications of alcoholism: the smell, the breath, drowsiness, gait changes,” explained Fahad Malik, chief internal medicine resident at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “They will present as someone who’s intoxicated by alcohol, but the only difference here is that these patients can be treated by antifungal medications.”

Shortly after his diagnosis, the man traveled to an Ohio clinic where he was given a probiotic regiment that seemed to do the trick. He was also advised to avoid carbs at all costs, which worked to keep his ABS at bay… for a time.

After a few symptom-free weeks the man’s ABS returned full-force, at one point raising his BAC to nearly 0.4. This time, however, nothing his doctors prescribed seemed to do him any good.

ABC7

It wasn’t until the man got in touch with researchers at the Richmond University Medical Center that he was given a mix of antifungal therapies and probiotics that worked for him. His symptoms gradually subsided, and after a year of treatment he was able to resume a normal lifestyle.

SILive

This included reintroducing carbs into his diet, something the man was a little too eager to do. At one point, he actually relapsed after binging on pizza and soda without telling his doctors.

Thrillist

Since then, he’s continued taking probiotics in addition to watching his carb intake. He also keeps a breathalyzer on hand and checks his BAC regularly, something he hopes a cop will never try to do to him again.