When we started drinking beer, we became civilized

Holger Badstuber pours beer over Franck Ribery of Bayern Muenchen after winning the DFB Cup Final match between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Muenchen at Olympiastadion on May 17, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.

"Beer is one of the founding moments of civilization," says Adam Rogers, author of "Proof: The Science of Booze". "It’s where we decided we’re going to ferment; we’re going to do this on purpose."

Rogers is talking about fermenting and distilling alcohol, beer and wine. He has spent many years researching how these drinks are made and visiting distilleries and breweries across the nation. He says none of these places look the way marketers describe them -- Jim Beam and his friends are a lot more industrialized than their pastoral packaging suggests.

"They want you to believe in the tradition and history," says Rogers. "But, of course when you really go to a place like Jim Bean, it’s a chemical plant."

So, what makes craft beer and alcohol so much more expensive?

"One of the barriers to entry for a craft distiller is that it costs a lot of money to sit on this stuff for 10 years," says Rogers. "That’s something that a big distiller can do and a craft distiller cannot because they need to get product out the door. So you are paying for their expertise, and making sure it tastes good when they’re done."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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