Bill Nye isn't just a science guy, he's also a very busy guy. Between his packed schedule of debating the nature of the universe and keeping up with the latest bow-tie fashions, he stopped by SXSW to judge invention ideas submitted to online marketplace Quirky. But before he got to work, we grilled him for two minutes to tell us his theory behind beer creationism.
Do you know when beer was invented?
I believe it was about 5,000 years ago in ancient Egypt, as far as we know. Is that right? You tell me! I'm not necessarily an expert on beer invention, but I lived in the Pacific Northwest for a long time where it's very popular. Every so often somebody comes forward with hops they claim were descended from ones found in the ancient pyramids. Drinking in a pyramid, could there be more of a party than that?!
Do you know what the first beer would've been like?
From my recollection, it would've been a darker, hoppy beer. Not like an IPA, sweeter than that... but, I haven't had one...
Why was it invented? Do you think it was made by people who were looking to get drunk?
I'm pretty sure it was an accident. Once you find out that yeast can metabolize sugar into alcohol, you're going to stumble onto it. Yeast also carbonates: the gas it gives off not only gives beer and champagne their bubbles, but makes bread rise, and I'm pretty sure it gives Swiss cheese its Swiss cheesiness.
Do you think it affected people the same way back then?
Pretty much, yes.
The human brain hasn't evolved since then?
Not in 5,000 years, no. But I always wondered if back then people would laugh at the same jokes. It's hard to test, but maybe if you can read hieroglyphics really well you might find a hilarious passage. Maybe it's all a joke.
Anything else you want to add about beer?
I like it! It's very fashionable right now to make really bitter beers, but that's not really my thing.
Dan Gentile is a staff writer on Thrillist's national food/drink team who recently purchased a very nice toaster oven and is excited about exploring the world of crispy reheated food. He also enjoys hating mustard. Follow him to pots of gold/Twitter at @Dannosphere.