I got this book for Christmas and I love it. However something the author says in the beginning of the second chapter had me thinking.
The author, talking about misinformation and legend related to hops, states "A variety of colorful stories provide a deeper understanding of how important hops might have been in a particular culture, although they prove little about the evolution of hop usage. A few, such as the assertion that Jews were free from leprosy during captivity in Babylon because they drank beer made with hops, appear unfounded and do not merit repeating." The assertion was made by an Englishman named John Bickerdyke in a book called The Curiosities of Ale & Beer.
Here is my issue. Stan Hieronymus seems to discount this assertion outright, and I would tend to agree that just because someone drinks beer that has been flavored with hops it is not going to keep them from getting leprosy. However, hops are bacteriostatic and leprosy is caused by bacteria, also the Jewish, and in fact many ancient peoples loved to bathe with aromatics. If hop cones were used in the bathing or the essential oils they regularly used on hair and body, would hops bacteriostatic quality been enough to at least retard the bacteria to the point the body's immune system could kill off the infection?
My point being that some statements, while they may not be completely true because of the gathering of information and/or the length of time from the information, may still have had its roots in truth and therefore should not be fully discounted. Sometimes legend begins with truth.