What Beer Contains, Circa 1897

pint-glass
Here’s another classic. This book is entitled Applied Physiology, which is subtitled “including the effects of alcohol and narcotics.” It was published by the American Book Company in 1897. It was written by a Dr. Frank Overton and apparently was intended for primary grades, according to the title page. Today those are usually grades 1-3, and sometimes include kindergarten. But given the subject matter, I can’t imagine that was true in 1897, but who knows. But then again, in the “Preface,” they state that they’ve included “only those subjects which are directly concerned in the growth and development of children,” adding this.

The value of a primary book depends largely upon the language used. In bringing the truths within the comprehension of children, the author has made sparing use of the complex sentence. He has made the sentences short and simple in form, and logical in arrangement.

In 21 short chapters, totaling 144 pages, they tackled such subjects for children as “Living Bodies and Cells,” “Elements of the Body,” “Oxidation,” “Fermentation and Alcohol,” “Digestion of Food in the Mouth,” “Alcohol and Digestion,” “Narcotics,” “Drugs and Poisons,” and even “The Flow of Blood in the Body” and “Regulation of the Flow of Blood.”

applied-physiology

Here’s some highlights from:


CHAPTER VII

FERMENTATION

61. How yeast makes alcohol. — Yeast will grow only where sugar is. When it has grown for some time there is no more sugar, and instead of a sweet taste there is a sharp or sour taste. The yeast has changed the sugar to alcohol. All alcohol is made from sugar by yeast.

AP-yeast

64. Alcohol. — Alcohol is a clear liquid and looks like water. It has a sharp taste and smell. It burns very easily and makes a very hot flame. Its smoke cannot be seen, and its flame will not make anything black, as a match flame will do.

65. Use of alcohol. — Alcohol will dissolve more things than water will dissolve. It is used to dissolve drugs, varnishes, perfumery, and many other things. It will dissolve even oil and fat. Tailors clean grease spots from clothes with it. It takes water away from flesh and makes it dry, hard, and tough. It will keep anything from rotting. In museums we pour alcohol over pieces of flesh or [Pg 40] plants in glass jars. Then they will keep and we can look at them at any time. Thus alcohol is a very useful thing, and we could hardly do without it.

66. Strong drink. — Some men use alcohol in a wrong way. They swallow it as a drink. But men cannot drink pure alcohol, for it would burn their mouths. They always drink it mixed with some water. Alcohol in water is called strong drink.

67. Why men use strong drink. — Some men take strong drink to make themselves warm, and some to make themselves cool. Some drink to keep themselves awake, and some to make themselves sleep. Some drink to keep themselves still, and some to make themselves stir around faster. Men use strong drink really because it seems to make them feel strong for a while. It does not make them stronger, but it harms the body and the mind. Its alcohol does the harm.


CHAPTER VIII

KINDS OF STRONG DRINK

68. Wine. — All strong drink is alcohol and water. There may be other things to give it taste, but alcohol and water are always in it. No strong drink is over one half alcohol.

In olden times wine was the only strong drink. Men used to crush out the juice of grapes and let it ferment. This made wine. But very often they used the juice before it fermented. Then it had no alcohol and could do no harm, but was a good food. We read of wine in the Bible. Some of it was fresh fruit juice.

In wine, the sugar is changed to alcohol. The rest of the juice stays the same. All wine is made by the yeast plant growing in fruit juice. No yeast is put in, for there is always enough on the outside of the fruit. Wine is about one tenth alcohol.

69. Homemade wine. — Cider is a kind of wine. It is made from apple juice. It has alcohol a day or two after it is made. All homemade wines have alcohol. Any of them can make a person drunk. Using weak homemade wine and cider often makes an appetite for stronger drinks. The alcohol in any of them is enough to harm the body.

what-beer-contains

70. Beer. — After man had made wine for a long time, some one found out how to cultivate yeast. Then men could make sugar and water ferment whenever they wanted to. So men boiled grain to take out its sugar. Then they poured off the liquor and added yeast and let it ferment. This made beer and ale. Now millions of bushels of grain are used every year in making beer. Men call beer a light drink. But it has alcohol and is a strong drink, and can make men drunk.

So much misinformation, it’s starting to make me think that Doc Overton might be a prohibitionist. Beyond getting the history so utterly wrong, there are also these little judgmental statements peppered throughout the text.

74. Habit. — Some strong drinks have only a little alcohol and some have a great deal. No one begins to drink the strong liquors. He begins with wine or beer. When he has once learned, he has a hard time to stop drinking. It is dangerous to drink even weak drinks.

75. Strong drink and thirst. — When a man is thirsty, water will satisfy him but strong drink will not. Sometimes the mouth is dry and dirty and then a man feels thirsty. Rinsing the mouth [Pg 45] with water, and rubbing the tongue and teeth clean will help the dryness and stop the thirst. At any rate, strong drink will only make the mouth dryer.

Some men drink only when they are tired. Then a cup of strong and hot tea or coffee will make them feel much better than a glass of strong drink, and will not harm them so much.

When strong drink is swallowed, its alcohol takes water from the mouth. When your mouth is dry, you feel thirsty. Strong drink makes the mouth dry, and so a drink makes a man more thirsty. The alcohol also makes the mouth smart. Men need another drink to cool the mouth after the first one. So one drink leads to another. All the while a person drinks water with the alcohol until he has too much water. But his mouth is dry and he feels as thirsty as ever.


CHAPTER X

BREATHING, HEAT, AND CLOTHING

117. What becomes of alcohol in the body. — When alcohol is taken up by the blood, it is carried to the liver. The liver tries to get rid of it by taking some air from the blood and burning it up, just as it burns the real food of the body. But this takes some air from the cells of the body. Then they do not burn as they should.

When a stove gets too little air through its draft, it makes an unpleasant smoke, and cools off. Just so, when the cells of the body do not burn as they should, they produce the wrong kind of smoke and ashes. This poisons the body and makes men sick. The most of the poisoning of alcohol is due to these new poisons.

When alcohol takes air from the cells of the body, they do not get enough air. Then they are like a short-winded boy, and do not do their work well. In this way alcohol makes the body weak.

Alcohol does not cease to be harmful because it is burned up in the body. It is harmful just because it burns so quickly. Using alcohol in the body is like trying to burn kerosene in a coal stove. The body is not made to burn alcohol any more than a coal stove is made to burn kerosene. You can burn a little kerosene in a coal stove if you are very careful. Just so, men can burn alcohol in their bodies. But kerosene will always smoke and clog up the stove, and may explode and kill some one. So alcohol in the body burns quickly and forms poisons. It always harms the body and may destroy life at once.

AP-inside-body

118. Alcohol and the lungs. — If you run a long race, your lungs will need a great deal of air. If you take strong drink, the alcohol will use up much of the air, and you will not have enough to use on your run. So you will feel short of breath, and will surely lose the race. You cannot drink and be long-winded.

Two drinks of whisky will use up as much air as the body uses in an hour. It would be easy to smother a person with strong drink. Drunken persons are really smothered; they often die because of the failure of their breathing, even while their heart is able to beat well.

Alcohol often causes the lungs to become thickened. Then air cannot easily pass through their sides, and a person suffers from shortness of breath. Sometimes these persons cannot lie down at all, but must sit up to catch their breath.

119. Drinking and taking cold. — A strong, healthy man can stand a great deal of cold and wet. If he breathes deeply in his work, all the cells of his body get plenty of air, and if he eats good food, the cells get plenty to eat. Then it will take a great deal to harm them. But alcohol hinders the digestion of their food, and also takes away their air. So the cells are both starved and smothered, and are easily hurt. Then a little cold and wet may do great harm to his body, for a drinker cannot stand bad weather or hard work so well as he could if he should leave drink alone.

Men often drink to keep themselves from taking cold. The alcohol really makes them more liable to take cold. It causes the blood to flow near the surface of the skin; there it is easily cooled, and the drinker soon becomes chilled; then he feels colder than ever. The cold harms the cells of his body, and then the white blood cells cannot easily fight disease germs. For this reason a drinker easily takes cold and other diseases.

120. Alcohol lessens the warmth of the body. — Alcohol causes the blood tubes in the skin to become larger. Then more blood will touch the cool air, and the body will become cooler. But because more warm blood flows through the skin, a man feels warmer. But he is really colder. Alcohol makes men less able to stand the cold. Travelers in cold lands know this and do not use it.


CHAPTER XI

THE SKIN AND KIDNEYS

135. Alcohol and the skin. — Alcohol interferes with digestion and causes biliousness. This makes the skin rough and pimply. A drinker seldom has a clear skin.

Alcohol causes the arteries of the face to become enlarged. Then the face is red. A red nose is one of the signs of drinking. When a person uses strong drink he is often uncleanly. He does not care for the bad looks of his clothes and skin, and so he lets them stay dirty. This harms the skin and makes it look bad. The dirt also poisons the skin and may itself be a cause of sickness.

Because alcohol poisons the whole body and often produces kidney diseases, the drinker is apt to catch other diseases. Drinkers are the first to catch such diseases as smallpox and yellow fever. Where there are great numbers of cases, the drinkers are the first and often the only persons to die. This is because their skin and kidneys [Pg 82] have been harmed by the alcohol and cannot throw off the poisons of the disease. Any kind of sickness will be worse in a drinker. Surgeons do not like to operate on drinkers, for their wounds do not heal so quickly as in other people.

When there is too little air, a fire burns slower, and makes a blacker smoke and more ashes. Alcohol takes some air from the cells of the body. So they burn with smoke and ashes of the wrong kind. The skin has to work harder to get rid of these, and sometimes it cannot do it well. Then the body is poisoned. The alcohol is burned and cannot poison the body any more. But it causes the body to make poisons, and so it is to blame. The poisons do great harm to the skin and kidneys. Alcohol causes more kidney disease than all other things put together.


CHAPTER XII

THE NERVES, SPINAL CORD, AND BRAIN

154. Alcohol takes away thought. — Alcohol affects and weakens the cells of the brain sooner than it does those of any other part of the body. It first makes the thought cells weak. Then a person does not think how he acts. He lights his pipe in the barn and throws the match in the hay. He drives his horse on a run through a crowded street. He swears and uses bad language. He gets angry at little things and wants to fight. He seems to think of himself, and of no one else. He is happy, for he does not think of the bad effects of the drink. He has a good time, and does not care for its cost. He likes to drink, because it makes him feel happy.

155. Alcohol spoils motion. — Some cells of the brain cause the arms and legs, and all other parts of the body, to move. Alcohol next makes these weak. Then a person cannot move his legs right, but he staggers when he walks. He cannot carry a full cup to his lips. His hands tremble, and he cannot take care of himself. He is now really drunk.

156. Alcohol takes away feeling. — After a man is drunk, he loses the sense of feeling. He does not [Pg 96] feel cuts and blows. Because he does not feel tired, he feels very strong. He often sees two things for one, and hears strange noises. The whole brain at last gets weak, and cannot act. Then the drinker lies down in a drunken sleep, and cannot be waked up. Some die in this state.

AP-brain

157. Insanity. — When the brain is misused by alcohol for some time, it cannot get over it. Then the person becomes insane. Drink sends more persons to the insane asylum than all other causes put together.

158. Delirium tremens. — If a drinker gets hurt, or becomes sick, he sometimes has terrible dreams. In them he sees dirty and savage animals coming to harm him. These dreams seem very real to him, and he cries out in his fright. This is called delirium tremens. A person is liable to die from it.

159. Alcohol harms a drinker’s children.—The children of drinkers are apt to be weak in body and mind. A drinker hurts his children even more than he hurts himself. They are liable to catch diseases, and are often cross and nervous, or weak-minded. It is a terrible thing for a man to make his children weak and nervous.

160. Other bad things about drink. — There are many other terrible things about drink, besides the harm it does a man’s body. Many a man has made himself drunk so as to steal or kill. No man can drink long without becoming a worse man for it. Men will not trust him, and he loses the respect of his friends.

Making strong drink takes thousands of men away from good work. They might work at building houses, or raising grain, or teaching school. As it is, their work is wasted.

A great deal of money is wasted on strong drink. All the mines of the world cannot produce enough gold and silver to pay the drink bill. The people of the United States pay more for strong drink than for bread.

The price of two or three drinks a day would amount to enough, in ten years, to buy a small home.

The cost of strong drink is made much greater if we count the cost of jails and insane asylums. Over one half of all crimes and cases of insanity are caused by strong drink.

We must also add the misery and suffering of most children of drunken fathers. This loss cannot be counted in money. Numbers of children become truants from school and learn theft and falsehoods from lack of a father’s care. When all the cost is counted, nothing will be found so expensive as strong drink.

On the other hand, what do people get for their money and suffering? They get only a little pleasure, and then they are ashamed of it. Men use strong drink only because they like it more than they dislike its bad effects.

Since drink does a great deal of harm, with no good to any one, it is right to make laws to control its sale.


CHAPTER XIII

THE SENSES

171. Alcohol and the eyes. — Alcohol makes the eyes red. It weakens the eyes and may produce blindness. A drunken person often sees double.

179. Taste. — We taste with the tongue. Dry food has no taste, but it must first dissolve in the mouth. Spoiled food tastes bad. Bad-tasting food is not fit to eat. Taste tells us whether food is good or bad.

We can learn to like the taste of harmful things. At first no one likes tobacco or strong drink, but the liking is formed the more one uses these. We ought to be careful not to begin to use such things.

Alcohol and tobacco burn the mouth and harm the taste. Food does not taste so good and we may eat spoiled food and not know it.


CHAPTER XV

MUSCLES

194. Alcohol and the muscles. — Men use alcohol to make themselves strong. It dulls their weak feelings, and then they think themselves strong. They are really weaker. The alcohol hinders digestion and keeps food from the cells. Then the fires in the body burn low, and there is little strength.

Alcohol sometimes causes muscle cells to change to fat. This weakens the muscles.

Men sometimes have to do hard work in cold countries; and at other times they must make long marches across hot deserts. Neither the Eskimos in the cold north, nor the Arabs in the hot desert, use strong drink. Alcohol does not help a man in either place. It really weakens the body. The government used to give out liquor to its soldiers; but soldiers can do more work and have better health without liquor and it is no longer given out.

A few years ago men were ashamed to refuse to drink. Even when a new church building was raised, rum was bought by the church and given to the workmen. Farmers used to give their men a jug of rum when they went to work. Farm hands would not work without it.

Now all this has changed. Men do not want drinkers to work for them. A railroad company will discharge a man at once if he is known to drink at all. A man can now refuse to drink anywhere and men will not think any less of him.

AP-skeleton

You can read the whole thing online either at Project Gutenburg or you can read a scanned version of the original at the Internet Archive.

Where Can You Buy Beer In Grocery Stores?

grocery-cart
Late last month, the Huffington Post, of all place, actually had an interesting series of charts detailing the availability of different kinds of alcohol in each state. In Here Are The Rules To Buying Alcohol In Each State’s Grocery Stores they have charts for beer, wine, spirits and where you can but alcohol on Sundays. Check out the post for all of the charts, although the beer chart is below, which used data provided by Legal Beer.

where-you-can-buy-beer

Beer In Ads #1322: How Much Is The Brewing Industry Paying Into The U.S. Treasury?


Tuesday’s ad is another one from the United States Brewers Foundation, from 1951. This a series of ads they did in 1951 using a Q&A format aimed at highlighting different positive aspects of beer and the brewing industry.

Q
How much is the Brewing Industry paying into the U.S. Treasury?

A
Nearly $700 million annually — half again as much as the 1950 Federal provision for highways.

This figure is just for federal excise taxes, and they claim that that amount is $200 more than the entire amount spent by the federal government on U.S. highways and also is greater than how much we spent on atomic energy during the first two years we were developing it.

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How To Drink Beer, Circa 1623

history
Here’s a fun little account from the annals of history, the 17th century to be precise. This description of “How To Drink Beer” comes from “Via recta ad vitam longam,” by Tobias Venner, published in 1623.

“Beere that is too bitter of the hop… hurteth the sinewes, offendeth the sight, and causeth the head-ach, by filling the ventricles of the braine with troublesome vapors… Here some may demand, Whether it be better to drink their Beere cold, or a little warmed, especially in the Winter season? Whereto I answer, that I see no good reason to approve the drinking thereof warme, as I know some to do, not only in the Winter, but almost all the yeere: for it is nauceous and fulsome to the stomack… Moreover, it doth not so well quench the thirst, temper the naturall heat, and coole the inward parts, as if it be taken cold.”

I guess they had some back then, too, who didn’t care for overly hoppy beers.

great-drinkers-of-north

Beer In Ads #1321: How Popular Is Beer In America Today?


Monday’s ad is another one from the United States Brewers Foundation, from 1951. This a series of ads they did in 1951 using a Q&A format aimed at highlighting different positive aspects of beer and the brewing industry.

Q
How popular is beer in America today?

A
Beer is now served in about two out of three homes in America.

The number cited in the ad, 62.2%, is confusing. In the text it says it applies to “all Americans” but in the headline it seems to be “households.” It’s also unclear if that number is in relation to other alcoholic beverages: is it two-thirds of drinkers, or two-thirds of all persons, teetotalers included. Most surveys today are of the former kind, and show beer’s percentage hovering around 40%, plus or minus a few percentage points each year.

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Alcohol Doesn’t “Cause” Violence

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This one is sticking in my craw, and would be turning me to violence except for the fact that I’m not a terribly violent person, even when I drink. But to hear Alcohol Justice, and many others recently, you’d think that one sip of beer turns every person into a homicidal maniac. I don’t know how much more obvious this could be, but alcohol doesn’t cause violence. It’s not the primary catalyst of domestic violence. It may exacerbate it, it may intensify it, it may even be used as an excuse for it, but if you remove alcohol from a dysfunctional relationship, the violence doesn’t magically disappear. The underlying causes of domestic violence, and all violent behavior, is more complicated. I grew up with an alcoholic, psychotic, and frequently violent stepfather, but the issues that led to his outbursts were not caused by the alcohol he consumed. He often used that as his excuse, and as a way for society to overlook the root causes, because during periods of time when he wasn’t drinking, his violent tendencies were undiminished.

So watching the news regarding the NFL recently, I’m amazed that people are trying to blame alcohol. Not surprisingly, the prohibitionists at Alcohol Justice are leading the charge, since they’ll use any excuse to promote their agenda. You just have to see their recent and frequent use of Robin Williams’ image in numerous tweets, as if he was tacitly endorsing them or prohibition, to know how far they’ll go. Tellingly, this began shortly after his death, when he no longer could agree to be their spokesperson or have a say in how his image or story was used. So naturally if the NFL is having problems, it must be the fault of alcohol.

In their latest press release, Alcohol Justice Says Roger Goodell and Anheuser-Busch InBev Blame Personal Conduct, Ignore Alcohol Policies and Sponsorship, they’re at it again.

The latest brouhaha with the NFL has left me with mixed feelings. I think John Oliver hit the nail on the head when he recently said that the NFL was America’s FIFA, in terms of corruption and dysfunction. In a lengthy segment during the World Cup earlier this year, he detailed all that is wrong with FIFA, but ended with the admission that he was still really excited to watch the soccer during the tournament.

And that’s how I feel about the NFL. There’s so much I hate about them — from their non-profit status, the denial of the long term effects of concussions, the way they treat the referees and cheerleaders, how the wealthy owners manipulate communities to get new stadiums and economic concessions, thumbing their nose at those same communities when they don’t get what they want, like petulant children, even as they get tax breaks while the cities crumble into economic ruin. And yet…. And yet I still look forward to football season, watching the games on Sunday with my son and cheering on my favorite team (the Green Bay Packers, who, I like to point out, is the only major sports team owned by the community, a loophole the NFL closed the moment after the Packers incorporated in 1950).

But now there’s this latest spate of incidents of violent behavior off the field giving the league a black eye and tarnishing their image. This is both for the behavior of the players and for the way the league is, or more correctly isn’t, dealing with these issues. Most commenters and pundits and people paying attention believe during his tenure beginning in 2006, commissioner Roger Goddell is at least partially, if not mostly, responsible. And yet he apparently continues to have the support of all the team owners, as he said during the travesty of a press conference he held recently, during which by all accounts he did more harm than good. That alone, tells us quite a bit about how out-of-touch with their fans the league really is, but then we’ve seen that over and over again during the many scandals in recent years.

What I’m truly amazed at, is how many people seem surprised that professional football players are having trouble controlling their anger and violence. They’re trained to be violent as one of the main requirements of their job. They’re no different than professional fighters, who are taught to be aggressive from Pop Warner football, high school and college football programs, so that by the time a player reaches the professional ranks of the NFL, they’re a finally tuned machine of hitting, tackling, and other skills necessary to succeed in a game that celebrates violent behavior. It’s modern gladiatorial sport, although happily no one dies at the end or gets eaten by lions.

The real question is why anyone would think they wouldn’t become violent people in the process, or find difficulty switching between their work life and their home life? Everybody brings their work home with them, at least a little. It’s the same shock and surprise that people express every time a soldier comes home from the war and commits some violent act. How could he? The pundits wonder aloud. How could he not? He was trained to meet violence with violence, taught to engage the enemy, to kill or be killed. And yet we think a soldier should be able to turn off that like a switch when he’s no longer on the front lines. I’ve never been in a combat situation — luckily, my time in the military was relatively peaceful — but we know that war changes people. We’ve known it for centuries, and since World War I have studied it more closely and found all sorts of psychological problems created by the sacrifice many veterans make by going into battle on our behalf. But knowing that, we do precious little help them adjust back into civilian life or deal with the changes that being in war brings to their personality.

So whether the battle is in some war torn region of the world or on a 100-yard field of grass, we’ve bred people to be aggressive and then asked them to walk off those fields and turn off that aggression and be gentle, caring societal role models for the children. What could go wrong? I’m sure it’s partly because I”m getting older, but the world seems more violent today than it did when I was younger. It just seems that today it’s more taken for granted in our society, and accepted. And issues with acts of violence by NFL players off the field is nothing new, but doesn’t it seem like it’s intensified in recent years? More arrests, and for more and more serious crimes is how it seems to me, at least. Were there any football players accused of murder in the 1960s? I don’t remember any. It seems like that would have been a big deal back then.

So we’ve created a class of individuals, incredibly well-paid — our modern gladiators — and as the amount of money at stake is growing larger and larger, we’re finding that they can’t be controlled and can’t be expected to meet the responsibilities of the morals clause of their contracts, that compels them to act in a certain way to protect the image of themselves, their team and the league in way that they can still be considered role models to children and which allows the league to sell a product that’s very, very profitable. And all the while demanding them to be aggressive, violent players during their game each week.

But now Alcohol Justice has to take this situation and blame it all on alcohol. In the subtitle to their press release, the “Watchdog demands end to alcohol industry’s toxic relationship with NFL, teams and big game advertising.” It’s the same dead horse they been beating for years, and the same one that most prohibitionist organizations have been similarly beating since 1933, when Prohibition was repealed. Limiting alcohol advertising as dangerous was the very first tactic undertaken by the temperance movement when they realized prohibition had failed. But here we go again.

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They jump right in with their own agenda. “The NFL’s Roger Goodell has yet to show any understanding that alcohol use by players is a major cause of domestic violence, child abuse, arrests and even suicide and homicide. Though he has shown progress in recognizing that domestic violence is a serious problem, he and the sport’s biggest sponsor — Anheuser-Busch InBev — continue to blame individual behavior as the cause. What they continue to ignore is the influence of the complete saturation of the NFL with alcohol sponsorships of teams, stadium advertising, tailgating, beverage sales and TV broadcast of games, especially the big one in February.”

What I can’t for the life of me understand is why Alcohol Justice is so utterly against “individual behavior.” Why are prohibitionists so convinced that people should not be responsible for their own actions. Except instead they’d prefer to blame alcohol, as if without it no violence would ever take place, as if people don’t have any control over their actions, as if alcohol makes people do things against their nature. It’s baffling. Consider the KISS principle — keep it simple, stupid. Is it more likely that people are complicated, that violent behavior has many, many causes and like all human experience cannot be generalized so easily — or — does one drop of alcohol turn every person into a violent monster? Yet that’s the position taken by Alcohol Justice and other similar groups, especially as they increasingly take the position that no amount of alcohol is “acceptable,” or “safe.” It’s heroin to them; no difference. As dangerous, as addictive, as sinful, as bad for society, like the temperance of old where all roads led to ruin, every indulgence led to another one, and only abstinent perfection was the proper way to live.

Maybe the question should be why do they not blame individual behavior? Why is it acceptable to blame alcohol for all of society’s problems, but not the people who abuse it? How does that make any sense? Why can’t they bring themselves to ask, or insist, that people take responsibility for their actions? It should again be obvious that millions of people drink, most moderately, but even a few immoderately, without turning violent. That fact alone should persuade a reasonable person that alcohol won’t make everyone who drinks it turn violent.

Curiously, AJ also points to a statement by a well-known sociologist, Harry Edwards, who’s been a staff consultant to the San Francisco 49ers, among other sports teams. Apparently shorty after Goddell became commissioner in 2006, Edwards “warned him that players’ personal conduct would become the defining issue of his tenure.” That’s “players’ personal conduct,” not alcohol. And yet now in a San Francisco Chronicle article he’s “pointed to alcohol as the leading factor.” That’s all he says, though. The quote in AJ’s press release where he says this is based on his “experience,” not any actual evidence or statistics, is nowhere to be found in the article, but even so is contradictory and fairly absurd.

So when AJ says: “Anheuser-Busch InBev distanced itself from Rodger Goodell and the NFL on Tuesday, September 17, 2014 with a hypocritical statement of concern over “…the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own culture and moral code,” I can’t help but think they’re the ones being hypocritical, which is not terribly uncommon for them. Can they really think that ABI wants their customers beating one another? That they’re somehow in favor of domestic violence? I’m willing to bet that privately they don’t believe anyone in the alcohol industry has a “moral code,” given the way they usually characterize us. It never seems to occur to prohibitionists that we have families, whom we love, too. So why should it surprise anyone that ABI, or any of the other NFL sponsors who are questioning the handling of recent incidents, such as P&G, Radisson and Nike, would do so? Most are taking a wait and see approach, primarily because there’s so much money at stake. You’d think that ABI’s statement would be applauded for putting morals ahead of money, unlike most of the NFL’s sponsors, but because they make alcohol, instead Alcohol Justice accuses them of being hypocritical.

The entire statement was very short, but to the point:

We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season. We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.

But who could disagree with that? I feel the same way about the NFL’s handling of this, don’t you? Only I can’t share my “concerns and expectations with the league,” and even if I could, they wouldn’t listen, as they’ve shown time and time again they don’t really care what their fans think. Just ask the refs, or the cheerleaders, or the many former players with head trauma and brain problems. But ABI can get the league to listen, so maybe we should applaud their efforts instead of belittling them. If their doing this is so counterintuitive, as many have thoughtlessly commented, then shouldn’t that show just how important an issue it is? Instead of adopting this pointless air of mock surprise, in effect characterizing ABI as an unfeeling, amoral monster (and by extension all of the rest of us in the beer world) then doesn’t this disprove the very point they think they’re making? Maybe it should make prohibitionists rethink their view of alcohol companies. Of course when they donated water for earthquake relief, all they did was complain, as they do no matter what we do. But maybe being one of the few NFL sponsors doing the right thing is just the right thing to do?

But instead they continue to, in a sense, change the subject and blame domestic violence on alcohol ads during games and at stadiums. If it weren’t for the advertising, everyone would stop drinking, just as nobody smokes anymore now that they’ve banned tobacco advertising. And in any event, alcohol consumption in the U.S. is declining, a fact conveniently ignored by prohibitionists while spreading this kind of propaganda. No matter, AJ’s director of public affairs (whatever that means), Michael Scippa has this to say. “To deny any responsibility in the wake of the NFL’s problems, or the massive alcohol-related harms their products cause to the public, is just ludicrous.” To me what’s ludicrous is to take a very real problem — domestic violence, violent behavior of any kind and a history of sweeping it under the rug and not dealing with it because of the money involved — and instead using it to promote their anti-alcohol agenda. What most people have been discussing here is the violence, the culture that fosters and supports it, and how our society as a whole does not treat seriously violence against women, and instead turned it into another alcohol bashing session. Nobody brought up alcohol at all, not until they saw their opening when ABI had the audacity to be one of the few courageous sponsors to ask the NFL to do better, to use their clout for a good cause. That should be celebrated, but as usual, let no good deed unpunished. As I mentioned, Alcohol Justice also complained mightily when ABI canned water and sent it to earthquake-ravaged Haiti a few years ago, taking issue with them putting their logo and name on the cans. I’ve never seen an organization so committed to finding fault with absolutely everything another organization does. It’s remarkable, really, how blindingly absolute their hatred is.

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And I just knew they’d bring this up.

Even the Daily Show, disturbingly infused with alcohol advertising of its own, which many youth watch, exposed the irony of AB InBev’s statement. Isn’t AB InBev’s chief “culture and moral code” to sell more beer for fans to consume at stadiums, tailgating parties, sports bars and at their homes? And then they solely place blame on players if they are abusive and destructive while under the influence?

I, too, winced to hear Jon Stewart (especially because I’m usually such a big fan of the Daily Show) refer to alcohol as “maybe one of the only substances that is proven scientifically to increase the likelihood of domestic abuse.” Again, it won’t make someone become violent unless they also have that in their nature. We all know that bad drunk who has a problem, but that’s not everyone, and it’s not even most people. Most of us can have a few drinks and not beat our wives or children. But there’s no “scientifically proven” causation. In fact, the research suggests that alcohol abuse is not a direct cause of domestic violence, but that it can exacerbate situations, as I said earlier. Even the World Health Organization, which is generally anti-alcohol, admits that violence is usually the result of “the harmful use of alcohol,” which is very different from the way most of us consume our beer.

But who exactly is “solely plac[ing] blame on players if they are abusive and destructive while under the influence?” I haven’t heard that one. Have you? What I’m hearing is AJ solely placing the blame on alcohol and not blaming individual players for their actions, in fact mocking the idea that they should take personal responsibility for their violent behavior. This is the modern version of the devil made them do it. But letting people blame the alcohol, in fact insisting on it as AJ is doing, does more harm because it’s removing the responsibility for one’s actions. Saying we can’t blame individual behavior allows it to continue, allows it to be used as an excuse for the violence, in effect allowing a person to say I couldn’t help myself, I’d been drinking. Which is utter bullshit. Most of us can drink a little, or even a lot, and it never once occurs to us to hit somebody, to do anything violent whatsoever. So if you’re saying you can’t, then yeah, you’ve got problems. You definitely should not be drinking. But don’t presume that your problem is my problem, or everyone else’s problem.

Scary statistics follow, the same propaganda they’re usually peddling. Then this statement from AJ’s sheriff, and chief hypocrite, Bruce Lee Livingston. “AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito can declare all day long that the problem is the NFL’s, but both the NFL and the beer barons need to back away from advertising and team sponsorships.” This is pure substance-free propaganda, and it’s not actually doing anything useful. First of all, AJ is the only one blaming the violence on the advertising of alcohol during games and team or league sponsorships, as if that’s what led these players to become violent. That is the issue here, that NFL players are being violent off the field, and the NFL is not dealing with it. Period. It should not be an opportunity to pile on your agenda.

But even so, they’re worried about kids seeing alcohol advertising. I’m more worried about kids being beaten and abused. Watching Sean Fucking Hannity defending beating kids while talking about how his Dad hit him with a belt, all the while insisting he’s not in therapy was painful. It should have been obvious to everyone seeing that, that although maybe he didn’t go to a therapist, perhaps he really should. And now; right away. But the number of people and pundits defending the physical abuse of children as an acceptable form of discipline was almost as unsettling as the abuse itself. That so many think that it was alright to raise welts on a four-year old because he wasn’t listening and because that’s what your Dad did was appalling, especially when you realize that studies consistently show that discipling children by physical force — spanking, hitting with a belt, etc. — are not only ineffective but actually lead to greater problems later in life. It’s sad to see how unevolved we are on this subject. The United Nations, in 1989, adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which, among other things forbids abusing children, which would include spanking and other physical discipline. Every member nation in the world ratified the convention, agreeing to abide by its tenets, all except two, that is, which to this day have not ratified it. Those would be Somalia and the United States. We apparently won’t ratify it because we want to keep our precious right to put a child to death, whereas the convention forbids capital punishment for children. But I’m amazed how many people here still seem to think spanking, or worse, is actually effective or, at least, harmless. To me, this is a far greater problem to be focusing on then whether kids see an ad for alcohol.

And second of all, Brito never said that “the problem is [only] the NFL’s.” Read ABI’s short statement above, in its entirety. Does it say that? No, it fucking doesn’t. They say they’re “disappointed and concerned” (which I am, and so are most people) that they are “not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of [these] behaviors (again, I’m not, you’re probably not. Who exactly is satisfied, apart from the team owners?) and that the violent behavior “clearly go against our own company culture and moral code” (which of course, it does). Just because ABI makes beer doesn’t mean they condone violence against women, violence against children or violence of any kind for fucksakes, and yet that’s the connection AJ, and sadly Jon Stewart, are making. That since a minority of people abuse alcohol, and may commit violent acts while intoxicated, that means beer companies either don’t have a moral code or have one that thinks violence is okay. Using that logic, there should be no gun manufacturers either. Because if you make a gun, and someone kills another person with it, well that means you’re condoning violence using the same twisted logic they’re employing here. And if you have a gun, you have no choice but to kill somebody. You can’t help it, there’s no personal responsibility. How dare anyone even suggest that you take responsibility for your actions? That would be ludicrous, wouldn’t it?

Then there’s this gem. The “prevention of domestic abuse and player violence off the field has to begin with the end of the NFL’s promotion of alcohol.” Really, that’s where the NFL needs to start in addressing this? Promoting alcohol is not the same thing as promoting violence, as that statement suggests, and yet again AJ is turning the debate toward their own agenda, despite the fact that it has little to do with what’s going on here.

Sadder still, they provide a list of truly tragic events where former players committed suicide, murder or were arrested for being drunk or shooting off firearms. And those are awful, but those incidents did not occur for the sole reason that any one of them took a drink. People don’t kill themselves just because they got drunk, they do so, or worse, because of deep-seated problems that most likely had little or nothing to do with alcohol. Because most if us do not take to violence when we drink. A violent drunk is a violent person.

AJ’s sheriff leaves us with this wisdom. “In the NFL culture of game aggression and beer marketing, the players alone can’t be blamed for alcohol abuse, binge drinking and addiction that leads to domestic violence, homicide, suicides and traffic collisions.” First of all, why can’t all of us be blamed for our actions. Is a Twinkie defense so ingrained in our culture that we can’t conceive of being responsible for our own actions, so much so that there has to be an outside cause we can blame? I don’t get that. If you do the crime, you did the crime. It shouldn’t, and really doesn’t, matter if you were drinking, or on drugs, or your blood sugar was too low, or you were amped up on a sugar rush eating Twinkies. Such factors may explain certain bad decisions and poor judgement, but they never excuse it. Many, many factors may contribute to our behavior every single day of our lives. But in the end, we are responsible for what we do to ourselves, and others. Why is that so hard to understand?

Finally, Livingston demands that “the NFL and sports’ biggest beer sponsors Budweiser and Coors educate on the harms and dangers of alcohol, get advertising and overconsumption out of the game, and recognize moderation and (horror of horrors) abstinence as legitimate choices for players and fans.” All of the major beer companies have responsibility programs, but of course AJ never acknowledges that they’re anything except half-hearted, forever criticizing them. The advertising angle as I’ve gone over, is the same tired tactic prohibitionists have been using for over 80 years. But I love that he says — excuse me, demands — these companies “recognize moderation and (horror of horrors) abstinence as legitimate choices for players and fans.” Who said they don’t? Oh, that’s right. You did. Because nobody else is insisting that anyone must drink, or must drink heavily, and no one’s trying to make it a requirement. And I won’t mention that as long as moderate drinking is shown to increase the average person’s longevity, barring any specific health issues, that advocating for abstinence is actually not the best choice someone might make. But I won’t mention that. It might upset your delicate constitution.

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An example of one of the big brewers’ responsibility ads that already exists, but which AJ insists they aren’t doing but demands they should.

The reality is that this is a very complicated issue, and it does little good to reduce it to a single factor, or even just a primary factor, especially when it’s the wrong one. And unlike the absolute blinders that AJ wears, I recognize that people with violent tendencies abusing alcohol could make them worse, and more violent. Such people probably should not drink, and certainly not to excess. I’ve had my fair share of personal encounters with such people throughout my life. But like most things, the dose makes the poison. I’ve also had even more experiences with many, many people with whom I’ve shared a drink with positive outcomes. Drinking sessions during which no one resorted to violence at all. For me, and I suspect most of us, that’s the norm.

I want to believe that prohibitionists are well-intentioned, that they sincerely mean well. But it’s difficult to maintain that belief when they’re so continually dishonest and manipulative, so ends-justify-the-means about everything, all the time. I’ve been watching the self-proclaimed watchdogs for a number of years now, and they constantly amaze me with their underhanded tactics and propaganda. They remind of a bad joke, but one that many people actually take seriously, and don’t realize is a joke. Which is why they’re so damn scary.

But this is really supposed to be about violence and especially violence against women and children. So it’s somewhat surprising that Alcohol Justice would try to distract the debate away from that, instead heaping the blame on their favorite target: alcohol. Actually, it’s not surprising at all, just par for the course, sad to say. But for the sake of my daughter, and women everywhere, I sure wish they’d cut it out. Unfortunately, if history is any teacher, the drive by fanatical temperance groups for another prohibition will almost certainly outlive me.

As for the NFL, I do wish they’d get their shit together. Unfortunately, I’m not hopeful, not under the current management or with the current team ownership. Money is their driving priority, which is understandable to a point, but until they leave a little room for human decency, then nothing is likely to change very much. They’re in damage control mode right now, and that will likely continue until everybody’s moved on to the next news cycle. Goddell has already tried to not do anything about it when he “promised” changes by the Super Bowl, at the end of the season, four months from now. He’s hoping everyone will just forget about it, and they probably will so long as there aren’t any new cases of player mischief that pop up. Their committees will offer some half-hearted band-aids, no real or long-lasting solutions, and that will be it, provided everything stays quiet. There’s just too much money at stake for a sweeping change, especially absent the amount of pressure from the league’s fan base that would be needed. And the larger problem with that is the way violence against women and children in our society is currently tolerated and accepted. Until that changes, it’s unlikely the NFL will change, either. But as long as people can avoid responsibility for their actions, their “personal conduct,” and can continue to blame alcohol, nothing will change, either. Which is why Alcohol Justice’s position that alcohol is to blame for violent behavior, and not anyone’s personal conduct, is so dangerous that they’re actually making this situation worse. It’s a good thing I’m not prone to violence.

Beer In Ads #1320: What Was The Menu Of The First Thanksgiving Menu?


Sunday’s ad is another one from the United States Brewers Foundation, from 1951. This a series of ads they did in 1951 using a Q&A format aimed at highlighting different positive aspects of beer and the brewing industry.

Q
What was the menu of the first Thanksgiving menu?

A
The Pilgrims and their Indian guests had game, seafood, vegetables, and beer.

“According to a written record by an historian of the time” — curiously unnamed — beer was in the table at the first Thanksgiving, in part, because then, as now, “beer was all but the universal beverage.”

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The Pantone Colors Of Beer

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Anyone who does graphics or layout work knows exactly what pantone colors are. For the rest, “The Pantone Color Matching System is largely a standardized color reproduction system. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another.” It’s not the only color system, of course, but it’s one of the most popular, especially for printing.

I’m something of a nut about color, and find the attempt to classify shades of color fascinating. So this is really cool. A graphic designer in Bilbao, Spain by the name of Txaber, created a series of beer packages using the pantone colors that correspond to the actual color of the beer inside. The simple, generic designs list simply the name of the beer, the type of beer, along with the pantone color code that matches it.

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He did both cans and bottles, and can see of the beer colored packaging at Txaber’s website.

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Zwanze Day 2014

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Yesterday was Zwanze Day, an annual holiday deliciously made up by Jean Van Roy of Brasserie Cantillon. Cantillon made the first Zwanze beer in 2008, which that year was a rhubarb beer. In subsequent years they’ve made beers with elderflowers, pineau d’aunis (a red wine grape) and a sour witbier, made with the traditional coriander and orange peel. This year’s beer, Cuvée Florian, is essentially Iris Grand Cru blended with cherries, a new version of a beer Van Roy made for his son to celebrate his 18th birthday.

Each year, the beer is tapped at the very same time at locations around the world, regardless of times zone. This year the Zwanze Day beer was available at 56 beer bars or breweries in sixteen countries. One of those was Russian River Brewing, one of my local breweries, so I spent the afternoon there with owners Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo, along with Rich and Tammy Norgrove (owners of Bear Republic Brewing) and a few of their friends.

But before we get to the beer, here’s a little history of Zwanze Day. Belgium has essentially two separate regions, with the northern half known as Flanders. The language spoken there is a dialect of Dutch, known by the same name as the people of Flanders: Flemish. The word “zwanze” is unique to Flemish, has its origins in Yiddish, and essentially means a self-deprecating type of humor that’s typified by sharp-edged, playful jokes, usually good-natured. It’s said that this type of humor has become “a characteristic, defining trait” of the Flemish themselves, and for some a way of life. A “zwanze” is a joke, a “zwanzer” a joker. It was with that same playful spirit that Cantillon approached the concept of making a Zwanze beer. The goal was to create a fun beer; something a little unusual, using non-traditional ingredients.

And here’s Jean Van Roy writing his explanation of this year’s Zwanze beer:

Some of you have already had the opportunity to taste Iris Grand Cru aged 3 years in a 400-litre cask. This product was sold without having been blended with a younger beer and so there was no possibility of secondary fermentation. As a result, Iris Grand Cru is a non-sparkling beer and it is meant to be drunk like cereal wine. Without cold hopping, its fragrances tend more towards the characteristic acidity of a spontaneous fermentation product associated with a slight caramel taste.

In other news, my eldest son, Florian, turned 18 on 3 May. To duly celebrate his transition to adulthood, and as the worthy son of a lambic brewer, Flo received a rather original birthday gift: an entire cask filled with “Cuvée Florian”.

Admittedly, finding the name was easy, but it was another matter to come up with the actual beer we were going to produce on this occasion. When I first tasted the Iris Grand Cru, I immediately thought that adding a touch of fruitiness to the caramel accent could be very complementary. And since my son’s favourite beer is kriek, I based myself on a mix of these two products to create his birthday present.

As my goal was not to create some kind of kriek clone, I reduced the amount of fruit by 40% in this blend with the Iris Grand Cru. After all, the core idea was to contribute fruitiness and mellowness to the base beer, not recreate a beer that tasted like sour cherries. Although cold-hopping with the same quantities used for “traditional” Iris would probably have masked the blend’s very subtle fragrances, I still wanted to add a touch of bitterness to this birthday present and decided to opt for a small dose of superb and very delicate Bramling Cross hops. The linger on the palate is very complex while the fruity fragrances of the hops play a subtle role without throwing off balance the beer’s range of flavours and bouquet.

For this Zwanze 2014 I had originally planned on using the spontaneous fermentation stout brewed at the beginning of 2013, but despite the fact that this beer is already very good I have the feeling that another year of maturing in a cask will give it more delicateness and character. In light of this we needed another beer to replace our “wild” stout so as to be able to organise our Zwanze Day, and as you will undoubtedly have understood by now, the success of “Cuvée Florian” meant that it did not take very long for us to make a decision.

I did ask the kid if he was OK with me making a new version of his birthday present, and since this was not a problem for him, it was only logical to call this Zwanze 2014 “Cuvée Florian”!

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Natalie Cilurzo announcing that the Zwanze Day beer was tapped and explaining how each person would get their pour in an orderly fashion, in an effort to avoid the day devolving into chaos. Happily, everything ran smoothly.

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The first pour of Cuvée Florian for Zwanze Day 2014.

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In order to insure that everyone got a pour of the Cuvée Florian in the order that they arrived, Russian River handed out numbered tickets. Numbers 1 and 2 arrived at the brewpub last night, and closed the place, then waited at the door overnight to be first in line when they opened on Zwanze Day. This is customers #1 and #2, Steven Weinschenk and his friend Tony Carvutto, for the Zwanze Day beer, Cuvée Florian.

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My pour. After the keg emptied, about an hour after it was tapped, kegs of Cantillon Gueuze and then Rosé de Gambrinus were tapped, too. It’s always a great experience enjoying freshly tapped Cantillon. But they were also pouring aged Beatification, Russian River’s abbey double, which was tasting awesome. But I’m also really enjoying a couple of their new beers, Dribble Belt, a “hoppy session ale, and the STS Pils.

And finally, here’s a short video of the first pours of this year’s Zwanze Day beer, Cuvée Florian at Russian River. A special thanks to Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo for their hospitality. Another fun Zwanze Day.

Beer In Ads #1319: What Was Thomas Jefferson’s Attitude On Beer And Brewing?


Saturday’s ad is another one from the United States Brewers Foundation, from 1951. This a series of ads they did in 1951 using a Q&A format aimed at highlighting different positive aspects of beer and the brewing industry.

Q
What was Thomas Jefferson’s attitude on beer and brewing?

A
He brought brewers to this country because he wanted to beer to become popular here.

Jefferson also built a brewery at Monticello after his retirement from politics. Before that, his wife Martha brewed 15-gallon batches every two weeks on their Virginia estate. But in his seventies, he hired English brewer Joseph Miller and the pair built a dedicated brewing room and beer cellar at Monticello, where he malted his own grain and grew hops. Jefferson bottled most of his beer, and sealed the bottles with corks. I believe he did say the bit about beer becoming common, in 1816. The full quote is “I wish to see this beverage become common instead of the whiskey which kills one-third of our citizens and ruins their families.” But my favorite Jefferson quote is this. “Beer, if drunk in moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.”

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