One Busy Guy presents...

A Beer Lovers Story!

I can well remember the first time I tasted beer... I was appalled! It was a Genesee Cream Ale. I couldn't imagine how anyone could ever develop a fondness for this foul tasting beverage. I think my own mother-in-law disliked me in part because I had no stomach for beer and wasted many a can in the tasting. Eventually I figured out that it was the can I disliked. Since then I have moved on to embrace the bottled brew with gusto!

There are many stories claiming the true origins of beer. Most I believe are apocryphal at best. It is also a very old beverage extending back to ancient Egypt. Depictions of breweries have been discovered upon tomb walls as well as recipes in text. What could be more simple than the myriad combinations of water, hops, yeast and barley? It requires less knowledge, equipment and discipline than the baking of bread.

Herodotus gives credit to the Egyptians for creating the first true beer. However, the newest evidence indicates that Mesopotamians and Sumerians were drinking beer as far back as 10,000 years. Early brews were little more than undercooked bread combined with water and wheat. When left in the sun it would ferment and then be filtered. By changing the bread you could change the flavor of the brew. Apparently this type of beer is still made in the Sudan.

       Many historians feel that the making of beer was discovered by accident. Not an unbelievable concept given the easy way in which wine might have come about. It isn't a far leap to imagine grapes fermenting in the sack. Of course, someone had to be the first to taste it which must have been a little weird! The term 'beer' is thought to have originated from the name of the plant 'beere' later replaced by barley. Others say the term stems from the Latin word 'bibere' which means 'to drink' . The Spanish word for beer is 'cerveza' after Ceres the Roman Goddess of Agriculture. 

A diary found relating the experiences of the Mayflower states that these travelers brought with them a goodly supply of beer. They were afraid of running out and so dropped off their passengers sooner than expected. I guess they stopped at Plymouth Rock in a panic! The first brewery in America was founded by two Dutch colonists in 1610 on the very tip of Manhattan Island. The first public brewery in 1622 was a real struggle. Barley being largely unavailable, they tried substituting a variety of ingredients (corn, maple syrup etc.). Even today barley is grown in only 3 states. Barley grows best in colder climates which is what gives Germany its' edge. According to my research William Penn began what would be Pennsylvania's first brewery around 1683. This seems somewhat unlikely to me since as a Quaker he would probably be the most temperate statesman ever!

The brewing industry had to kick into high gear during the revolutionary war. The British had stopped exporting their beer for obvious reasons. In a short  time a good number of German colonists would arrive and bring their heavier, lager recipes. This rather displaced ale as the dominant brew of the day. By 1860 Portland, San Francisco and Denver all had operating breweries. In 1873 Adolph Coors took over what was then known as the 'Golden Brewery'. 

On January 16th of 1920 the 18th amendment to the constitution was voted into law effectively criminalizing beer and the production thereof. Prohibition almost single handedly created organized crime. Tell people what they can't have and someone will find a way to get it for them. Most urban dwellers ignored prohibition altogether making it near unenforceable. The illegal (and un-taxable) neighborhood 'speakeasy'. The economy in general suffered severely culminating in the great depression of 1929. Apparently Prohibition was a very bad idea indeed. One of the first official acts of President Franklin D Roosevelt in 1933 was to enact the 21st amendment to the constitution... that repealing the 18th amendment. Happy days are here again! 

The beer can came along in 1935. Advertising had improved right along side media thus enabling brand names to proliferate. In a few decades we had non-returnable bottles and twist off caps. Today we also enjoy the phenomenon of the micro-brew... regionally specific brews lacking national distribution. However, every nation has its' own special beer identity. American beers are generally light and pale. German beers are the heavier lager and full bodied brews. Celtic beers are darker bock... sweeter and thicker etc.

Beer is a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone. Much of that is due to my own patronage! Beer can actually be colder than water since the alcohol prevents it from freezing. Popular phrases enter the lexicon of American slang. "This buds for you." "It's Miller time." And the ever popular...

'Beer... helping white guys dance since 1932!'



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