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Alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain. For many centuries, Northern Europeans drank beer because it was less likely to cause infectious diseases than water, which was usually polluted unless you happened to be up a mountain. These early beers were typically much lower in alcohol than those we enjoy today.
The grain is first dampened and allowed to germinate (a process known as "malting") before being dried in a kiln. The dried malt can be stored for several months. To start the brewing process, the malted grain is mixed with water at 65 degrees centigrade, which allows the enzymes in the grain to convert all of the starch into sugars. The mixture (called "wort" is strained then boiled, at which stage various flavourings can be added, the most common being dried hops (Humulus lupulus) which give a characteristic bitter flavour. After cooling, it is fermented by the addition of a yeast such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae or S. calsbergensis.
Beer is best enjoyed in moderate amounts amongst friends.
Reported side-effects of beer include euphoria and depression, diplopia, aggression, loss of coordination and flatulence. Repeated excessive dosing can result in cirrhosis, Werner-Korsakoff syndrome, dementia and death.