Budweiser Clydesdales Debut On April 7, 1933

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Today, of course, is known by many names: National Beer Day, Beer is Back Day, Legal Beer Day, Brew Year’s Day, and New Beer’s Day. And that’s because while the repeal of the 18th Amendment wouldn’t be ratified until December 5, 1933, the Cullen-Harrison Act took effect on April 7, 1933, having been enacted by Congress on March 21 of the same year. And that meant that at least some lower-alcohol beer could legally be served in about twenty states in the United States, which I imagine after a thirteen-year drought was a welcome relief to beer lovers everywhere. Here’s the nutshell history from Wikipedia:

The Cullen–Harrison Act, named for its sponsors, Senator Pat Harrison and Representative Thomas H. Cullen, enacted by the United States Congress March 21, 1933 and signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt the following day, legalized the sale in the United States of beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% (by weight) and wine of similarly low alcohol content, thought to be too low to be intoxicating, effective April 7, 1933. Upon signing the legislation, Roosevelt made his famous remark, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”

Of course, he actually signed the bill on March 22, 1933, which is when he made that remark, still a full sixteen days before he could actually do so.

According to the Cullen-Harrison Act, each state had to pass similar legislation to legalize sale of the low alcohol beverages in that state. Roosevelt had previously sent a short message to Congress requesting such a bill. Sale of even such low alcohol beer had been illegal in the U.S. since Prohibition started in 1920 following the 1919 passage of the Volstead Act. Throngs gathered outside breweries and taverns for their first legal beer in many years. The passage of the Cullen–Harrison Act is celebrated as National Beer Day every year on April 7.

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And while you often see this photo of Budweiser’s Clydesdales pulling a beer wagon to deliver beer in Washington for the president at the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt, this could not have been taken on April 7, but would have been a few weeks later at the earliest. Although the clydesdales did debut today in 1933, it was not in Washington D.C. Here’s the story, from Anheuser-Busch’s website:

On April 7, 1933, August A. Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch III surprised their father, August A. Busch, Sr., with the gift of a six-horse Clydesdale hitch to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition of beer.

Realizing the marketing potential of a horse-drawn beer wagon, the company also arranged to have a second six-horse Clydesdale hitch sent to New York on April 7 to mark the event. The Clydesdales drew a crowd of thousands on their way to the Empire State Building. After a small ceremony, a case of Budweiser was presented to former Governor Alfred E. Smith in appreciation of his years of service in the fight against Prohibition.

This hitch continued on a tour of New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, thrilling thousands, before stopping in Washington, D.C., in April 1933 to reenact the delivery of one of the first cases of Budweiser to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The St. Louis hitch also toured in celebration, stopping in Chicago and other Midwestern cities.

Shortly after the hitch was first introduced, the six-horse Clydesdale team increased to eight. On March 30, 1950, in commemoration of the opening of the Anheuser-Busch Newark Brewery, a Dalmatian was introduced as the Budweiser Clydesdales’ mascot. Now, a Dalmatian travels with each of the Clydesdale hitches.

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Original Budweiser Clydesdale Six-horse Hitch and Beer Wagon, in front of the St. Louis Brewery in 1933.

And here’s the story from Wikipedia:

The Budweiser Clydesdales were first introduced to the public on April 7, 1933, to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. August A. Busch, Jr. presented the hitch as a gift to his father, August Anheuser Busch, Sr., who was guided outside the brewery by the ruse of being told his son had purchased him a new car, but instead was greeted by the horses, pulling a red, white and gold beer wagon. The hitch proceeded to carry the first case of post-Prohibition beer from the St. Louis brewery in a special journey down Pestalozzi Street in St. Louis.

Recognizing the advertising and promotional potential of a horse-drawn beer wagon, Busch, Sr. had the team sent by rail to New York City, where it picked up two cases of Budweiser beer at New Jersey’s Newark Airport, and presented it to Al Smith, former governor of New York and an instrumental force in the repeal of Prohibition. From there, the Clydesdales continued on a tour of New England and the Mid-Atlantic States, a journey that included the delivery of a case of beer to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House.

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The Budweiser Clydesdales are still going, of course, and have been a great marketing tool for the beer company. My daughter is a horse lover, and has been doing equestrian vaulting (essentially gymnastics on the back of a moving horse) since she was six-years old. When she was seven, in 2011, I took her to see the clydesdales at the Fairfield Budweiser brewery. I had called ahead, and we had a private tour of the brewery first, which was fun, and then the horses arrived in several specially designed trucks and put on a demonstration in the parking lot. We watched as they unloaded them, groomed them and then got them ready. Then they hooked them up to the wagon and they circled the parking lot. My daughter had a great time and the horses, to her at least, were beautiful and the attention to detail they put into them was amazing. Anyway, here’s a few photos from that trip.

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My daughter Alice, ready for the brewery tour.

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The horses arrives.

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Alice in front of the beer wagon.

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After getting the horses ready, they started hitching them up, one by one.

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Until they were all hitched and ready to go.

Beer Birthday: Tom McCormick

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Today is the 60th birthday — The Big 6-0 — of Tom McCormick, Executive Director of the California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA). Tom’s also owned and ran a distributorship and the Pro Brewer website, worked with Wolaver’s for a time, but has found his true calling promoting and defending small brewers in California. Tom is the most unflappable person I’ve ever met, and hands down one of my favorite people in the industry. Join me in wishing Tom a very happy birthday.

Tom McCormick, Nancy Johnson & Dave Buehler @ Wynkoop
Tom, with Nancy Johnson and Dave Buehler at Wynkoop for GABF a couple of years ago.

Stan Hieronymus & Tom McCormick @ Great Divide
With Stan Hieronymus Great Divide’s annual media reception.

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Tom with Amy Dalton, from All About Beer magazine at the World Beer Cup dinner in San Diego.

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Tom and Nancy Johnson at a BA dinner.

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Tom and me at the 2012 Mammoth Festival of Beers & Bluesapalooza.

The Nickel (Beer) In New York

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This is an interesting article I stumbled upon, from a Time magazine article about Sam’s Bar & Grill in St. Mark’s Place in the East Village of New York City. It was from April 4, 1949

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The Nickel In St. Mark’s Place


Monday, April 4, 1949

Pale and shaken, 51-year-old Sam Atkins backed away from himself with a feeling somewhere between disbelief and awe. By a single, splendid cerebration he had been lifted out of the ruck into the status of a television curiosity. In his humble Manhattan saloon, Sam had decided to cut the price of beer (the 7-oz. glass) from a dime to a nickel.

Up to that moment Sam was just a pensioned pumper driver from the Bayonne (N.J.) fire department, and Sam’s bar & grill was like any neighborhood joint around St. Mark’s Place on the Lower East Side. Its only distinctive touch was Sam’s cousin, “Bottle Sam” Hock, who amused the trade by whacking tunes out of whisky bottles with a suds-scraper. But the customers got a joyful jolt when Sam opened up one morning last week.

All around the walls, even over the bar mirror, tasteful, powder-blue signs proclaimed in red letters: “Spring is here and so is the 5¢ beer.” The early birds drank and took their change in mild disbelief. The nickel wasn’t obsolescent after all. The word spread. Sam’s bar & grill started to bulge like Madison Square Garden on fight night. People drank, shook hands with strangers and sang.

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Then something went sour. The two breweries that supplied Sam cut him off, and an electrician came around and took the neon beer sign out of the flyspecked windows. Somehow, it seemed, Sam had betrayed free enterprise. An organization of restaurant owners muttered that Sam might not be cutting his beer, but he was cutting his throat. The Bartenders Union threw a picket line in front of the place because it was nonunion.

But Sam hung on. He signed up with the union, managed to get his beer through a couple of distributors and a Brooklyn brewery, announced that he was going to have the windows washed, and keep at it. Said he solemnly: “The people want it.” By this week Sam’s idea had spread to other saloons in Washington, D.C. and New Jersey, and Sam was getting more trade in a day than he had drawn before in a week. The nickel beer was here to stay, Sam announced.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Billy Carter

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Today is the birthday of William Alton Carter III, better known as Billy Carter (March 29, 1937–September 25, 1988). He “was an American farmer, businessman, and politician. Carter promoted Billy Beer, and was a candidate for Mayor of Plains, Georgia. He was also the younger brother of former Georgia Governor and U.S. President Jimmy Carter,” who signed into law the bill re-legalizing homebrewing.

BILLY CARTER

He was a proud redneck, and capitalized on his image as a beer-drinking roughneck bumpkin to sell Billy Beer.

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Billy Beer was a beer first made in the United States in July 1977, by the Falls City Brewing Company. It was promoted by Billy Carter, whose older brother Jimmy was the incumbent President of the United States. In October 1978, Falls City announced that it was closing its doors after less than a year of Carter’s promotion. The beer was produced by Cold Spring Brewing, West End Brewing, and Pearl Brewing Company.

Each can from the four breweries that produced it were slightly different. And you can see those differences in the cans below.

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“After Billy Beer ceased production, advertisements appeared in newspapers offering to sell Billy Beer cans for several hundred to several thousands of dollars each, attempting to profit from their perceived rarity. However, since the cans were actually produced in the millions, the real value of a can ranged from 50 cents to one dollar in 1981.”

circa 1975:  A shopkeeper selling 'Billy Carter Beer'. Billy Carter, the brother of American President Jimmy Carter, is a noted beer drinker and has named a beer for himself.  (Photo by Peter Keegan/Keystone/Getty Images)

“Billy Beer was also featured on an episode of the reality series Auction Kings, where an appraiser deemed a case of unopened Billy Beer to be worthless; however, at the featured auction, the case was sold for $100.”
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Here’s part of his story from 6 Presidential Siblings and the Headaches They Caused, published in Mental Floss:

Truly the standard by which all other presidential sibling’s antics are judged, Billy burst onto the national scene as the boisterous, hard-drinking counterpoint to his pious, reserved brother Jimmy. Billy’s early antics were amusing and fairly innocuous: he endorsed the legendarily terrible Billy Beer in an effort to make a little cash off of his hard-living image, and he made quips like, “My mother went into the Peace Corps when she was sixty-eight. My one sister is a motorcycle freak, my other sister is a Holy Roller evangelist and my brother is running for president. I’m the only sane one in the family.” While he worked hard to convey a roughneck bumpkin image to the press, Billy’s confidantes claimed that he was in fact well-read and an able businessman who used his Southern bona fides to help his older brother’s political cause. On the other hand, Billy’s drinking turned from amusing to tragic as his fame grew.

In 1979, he had to go into rehab to curb his drinking. Around the same time he nearly lost his Georgia home to the IRS for failing to pay a six-figure federal income tax bill for 1978.

The real capper, though, came when Billy began consorting with Libya at a time when relations between the North African nation and the U.S. were starting to strain. In 1978 he made a trip to Libya with a group of Georgia businessmen who were interested in expanding trade with the country; Billy then hosted a Libyan delegation in Atlanta. When questioned about his dealings, Billy responded, “The only thing I can say is there is a hell of a lot more Arabians than there is Jews,” a public-relations nightmare for which he later apologized. The damage got worse in 1980 when Billy registered as an agent of the Libyan government and received a $220,000 loan from the Libyans for helping facilitate oil sales. This transaction led to accusations of influence peddling and a Congressional investigation. In short, it was enough to make Jimmy Carter long for the days when his brother’s antics only included such little quirks as urinating in public in front of a group of reporters and dignitaries.

Mental Floss has an article entitled A Brief History of Billy Beer, which is actually a reasonably thorough account.

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The side of the twelve-pack carton of Billy Beer.

And here’s his biography from Find-a-Grave:

Folk Figure, Businessman. Known for his outlandish public behavior, he was a younger brother of former Georgia Governor and US President Jimmy Carter. After graduating from high school, he attended Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia but did not complete a degree. He then served four years in the US Marine Corps and after his discharge, he returned to Plains, Georgia to work with his brother in the family business of growing peanuts. In 1972 he purchased a gas and service station in Plains and operated it for most of the 1970s. In 1976 he attempted to enter the political ring when he ran for mayor of Plains but lost the election. In 1977 he endorsed Billy Beer, capitalizing upon his colorful image as a beer-drinking Southern “good ol’ boy” that developed in the press when his brother ran for US President. After Billy Beer failed, he was forced to sell his house to settle back taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service. In late 1978 and early 1979, he visited Libya three times with a contingent from Georgia, eventually registering as a foreign agent of the Libyan government and received a $220,000 loan. This led to a US Senate hearing on alleged influence peddling which the press named “Billygate.” In the autumn of 1987, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and after receiving unsuccessful treatments for the disease, he died the following year at the age of 51. In 1999 his son, William “Buddy” Carter, published a biography of his father titled “Billy Carter: A Journey Through the Shadows.”

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The hit television show The Simpsons featured Homer drinking a can of Billy Beer in the 1997 episode “Lisa the Skeptic”; after Bart tells him that the skeleton he is trying to hide is probably old enough already, he counters Bart’s remark by introducing his Billy Beer stating that people said the same thing about the beer. After he drinks the beer, he says “We elected the wrong Carter”. Also in the 1992 episode “The Otto Show”, Homer excitedly finds a can of Billy Beer in the pocket of his old “concert jacket”, and drinks it.

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Top 50 Breweries For 2016

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The Brewers Association has also just announced the top 50 breweries in the U.S. based on sales, by volume, for 2016, which this year they’re calling the “Top 50 Overall Brewing Companies.” This includes all breweries, regardless of size or any other definitions or parameters. Here is the new list:


Top 50 Overall Brewing Companies

Breweries in bold are considered to be “small and independent craft brewers” under the BA’s current definition. That there are so many footnotes (23 in total, or almost half of the list) explaining exceptions or reasons for the specific entry, seems illustrative of a growing problem with the definition of what is a craft brewery. I certainly understand the need for a trade group to have a clearly defined set of criteria for membership, but I think the current one is getting increasingly outdated again, and it’s only been a few years since the contentious debate that resulted in the current BA one. But it may be time to revisit that again.

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Rank Brewing Company City State
1 Anheuser-Busch, Inc (a) Saint Louis MO
2 MillerCoors (b) Chicago IL
3 Pabst Brewing Co (c) Los Angeles CA
4 D. G. Yuengling & Son, Inc Pottsville PA
5 North American Breweries (d) Rochester NY
6 Boston Beer Co (e) Boston MA
7 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co Chico CA
8 New Belgium Brewing Co Fort Collins CO
9 Lagunitas Brewing Co (f) Petaluma CA
10 Craft Brew Alliance (g) Portland OR
11 Gambrinus (h) San Antonio TX
12 Duvel Moortgat (i) Paso Robles/Kansas City/Cooperstown CA/MO/NY
13 Ballast Point Brewing Co (j) San Diego CA
14 Bell’s Brewery, Inc (k) Comstock MI
15 Deschutes Brewery Bend OR
16 Founders Brewing Co (l) Grand Rapids MI
17 Stone Brewing Co Escondido CA
18 Oskar Blues Brewing
Holding Co
(m)
Longmont CO
19 Sapporo USA (n) La Crosse WI
20 Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn NY
21 Minhas Craft Brewery (o) Monroe WI
22 Artisanal Brewing Ventures (p) Downington/Lakewood PA/NY
23 Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Milton DE
24 SweetWater Brewing Co Atlanta GA
25 New Glarus Brewing Co New Glarus WI
26 Matt Brewing Co (q) Utica NY
27 Harpoon Brewery Boston MA
28 Alaskan Brewing Co Juneau AK
29 Abita Brewing Co Abita Springs LA
30 Great Lakes Brewing Co Cleveland OH
31 Anchor Brewing Co San Francisco CA
32 Stevens Point Brewery (r) Stevens Point WI
33 August Schell Brewing Co (s) New Ulm MN
33 Long Trail Brewing Co (t) Bridgewater Corners VT
35 Summit Brewing Co Saint Paul MN
36 Odell Brewing Co Fort Collins CO
37 Shipyard Brewing Co (u) Portland ME
38 Full Sail Brewing Co Hood River OR
39 Rogue Ales Newport OR
40 21st Amendment Brewery Bay Area CA
41 Flying Dog Brewery Frederick MD
42 Ninkasi Brewing Co Eugene OR
43 Gordon Biersch Brewing Co San Jose CA
44 Allagash Brewing Co Portland ME
45 Narragansett Brewing Co Providence RI
46 Green Flash Brewing Co (v) San Diego CA
47 Tröegs Brewing Co Hershey PA
48 Uinta Brewing Co Salt Lake City UT
49 Bear Republic Brewing Co Cloverdale CA
50 Pittsburgh Brewing Co (w) Pittsburgh PA

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2016 Top 50 Overall U.S.
Brewing Companies Notes

Details from brand lists are illustrative and may not be exhaustive. Ownership stakes reflect
greater than 25% ownership:

(a) Anheuser-Busch, Inc includes 10 Barrel, Bass, Beck’s, Blue Point, Bud Light,
Budweiser, Breckenridge, Busch, Devils Backbone (partial year), Elysian, Four Peaks,
Golden Road, Goose Island, Karbach (partial year), King Cobra, Landshark, Michelob,
Natural Rolling Rock, Shock Top, Wild Series brands and Ziegenbock brands. Does not
include partially owned Coastal, Craft Brew Alliance, Fordham, Kona, Old Dominion,
Omission, Red Hook, and Widmer Brothers brands;
(b) MillerCoors includes A.C. Golden, Batch 19, Blue Moon, Colorado Native, Coors,
Hamms, Hop Valley (partial year), Icehouse, Keystone, Killian’s, Leinenkugel’s,
Mickey’s, Milwaukee’s Best, Miller, Olde English, Revolver (partial year), Saint Archer,
Steel Reserve, Tenth & Blake, and Terrapin (partial year) brands;
(c) Pabst Brewing Co includes Ballantine, Lone Star, Pabst, Pearl, Primo, Rainier, Schlitz
and Small Town brands;
(d) North American Breweries includes Dundee, Genesee, Labatt Lime, Mactarnahan’s,
Magic Hat, Portland and Pyramid brands as well as import volume;
(e) Boston Beer Co includes Alchemy & Science and Sam Adams brands. Does not include
Twisted Tea or Angry Orchard brands;
(f) Lagunitas Brewing Co ownership stake by Heineken;
(g) Craft Brew Alliance includes Kona, Omission, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands;
(h) Gambrinus includes BridgePort, Shiner and Trumer brands;
(i) Duvel Moortgat USA includes Boulevard, Firestone Walker, and Ommegang brands;
(j) Ballast Point Brewing Co owned by Constellation brands;
(k) Bell’s Brewery, Inc includes Bell’s and Upper Hand brands;
(l) Founders ownership stake by Mahou San Miguel;
(m) Oskar Blues Brewing Holding Co includes Cigar City, Perrin and Utah Brewers
Cooperative brands;
(n) Sapporo USA includes Sapporo and Sleeman brands as well as export volume;
(o) Minhas Craft Brewery includes Huber, Mountain Crest and Rhinelander brands as well as
export volume;
(p) Artisanal Brewing Ventures includes Victory and Southern Tier brands;
(q) Matt Brewing Co includes Flying Bison, Saranac and Utica Club brands;
(r) Stevens Point Brewery includes James Page and Point brands;
(s) August Schell Brewing Co includes Grain Belt and Schell’s brands;
(t) Long Trail Brewing Co includes Long Trail, Otter Creek, The Shed and Wolaver’s
brands;
(u) Shipyard Brewing Co includes Casco Bay, Sea Dog and Shipyard brands;
(v) Green Flash Brewing Co includes Alpine and Green Flash brands;
(w)Pittsburgh Brewing Co includes Iron City and Old German brands

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Here is this year’s press release.

Historic Beer Birthday: Joseph Priestley

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Today is the birthday of English scientist Joseph Priestley (March 13, 1733-February 6, 1804). While he was also a “clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator, and Liberal political theorist,” he’s perhaps best known for discovering oxygen (even though a few others lay claim to that honor). According to Wikipedia, “his early scientific interest was electricity, but he is remembered for his later work in chemistry, especially gases. He investigated the ‘fixed air’ (carbon dioxide) found in a layer above the liquid in beer brewery fermentation vats. Although known by different names at the time, he also discovered sulphur dioxide, ammonia, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and silicon fluoride. Priestley is remembered for his invention of a way of making soda-water (1772), the pneumatic trough, and recognising that green plants in light released oxygen. His political opinions and support of the French Revolution, were unpopular. After his home and laboratory were set afire (1791), he sailed for America, arriving at New York on 4 Jun 1794

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In the biography of Priestley at the American Chemistry Society has a sidebar about his work with fermentation:

Bubbling Beverages

In 1767, Priestley was offered a ministry in Leeds, Englane, located near a brewery. This abundant and convenient source of “fixed air” — what we now know as carbon dioxide — from fermentation sparked his lifetime investigation into the chemistry of gases. He found a way to produce artificially what occurred naturally in beer and champagne: water containing the effervescence of carbon dioxide. The method earned the Royal Society’s coveted Copley Prize and was the precursor of the modern soft-drink industry.

Even Michael Jackson, in 1994, wrote about Priestley connection to the brewing industry.

“It has been suggested that the Yorkshire square system was developed with the help of Joseph Priestley who, in 1722, delivered a paper to the Royal Society on the absorption of gases in liquids. In addition to being a scientist, and later a political dissident, he was for a time the minister of a Unitarian church in Leeds. During that period he lived next to a brewery on a site that is now Tetley’s.”

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In the New World Encyclopedia, during his time in Leeds, it explains his work on carbonation.

Priestley’s house was next to a brewery, and he became fascinated with the layer of dense gas that hung over the giant vats of fermenting beer. His first experiments showed that the gas would extinguish lighted wood chips. He then noticed that the gas appeared to be heavier than normal air, as it remained in the vats and did not mix with the air in the room. The distinctive gas, which Priestley called “fixed air,” had already been discovered and named “mephitic air” by Joseph Black. It was, in fact, carbon dioxide. Priestley discovered a method of impregnating water with the carbon dioxide by placing a bowl of water above a vat of fermenting beer. The carbon dioxide soon became dissolved in the water to produce soda water, and Priestley found that the impregnated water developed a pleasant acidic taste. In 1773, he published an article on the carbonation of water (soda water), which won him the Royal Society’s Copley Medal and brought much attention to his scientific work.

He began to offer the treated water to friends as a refreshing drink. In 1772, Priestley published a paper entitled Impregnating Water with Fixed Air, in which he described a process of dripping sulfuric acid (or oil of vitriol as Priestley knew it) onto chalk to produce carbon dioxide and forcing the gas to dissolve by agitating a bowl of water in contact with the gas.

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And here’s More About Priestley from the Birmingham Jewellry Quarter, whatever that is:

But his most important work was to be in the field of gases, which he called ‘airs’ (he would later chide James Keir for giving himself airs (oh dear!) by adopting the term ‘gases’ in his Dictionary of Chemistry, saying ‘I cannot help smiling at his new phraseology’). Living, as he did at the time, next to a brewery, he noticed that the gas given off from the fermenting vats drifted to the ground, implying that it was heavier than air. Moreover, he discovered that it extinguished lighted wood chips. He had discovered carbon dioxide, which he called ‘fixed air’. Devising a method of making the gas at home without brewing beer, he discovered that it produced a pleasant tangy taste when dissolved in water. By this invention of carbonated water, he had become the father of fizzy drinks!

PriestleyStamp

But perhaps my favorite retelling comes from the riveting History of Industrial Gases:

priestley-gases

The relevant findings were published in 1772, in Impregnating Water with Fixed Air

20. By this process may fixed air be given to wine, beer, and almost any liquor whatever: and when beer is become flat or dead, it will be revived by this means; but the delicate agreeable flavour, or acidulous taste communicated by the fixed air, and which is manifest in water, will hardly be perceived in wine, or other liquors which have much taste of their own.

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Priestley’s apparatus for experimenting with ‘airs.’

Beer In Ads #2211: Which Road, America?


Friday’s ad is a trade ad, by the United States Brewing Industry Foundation, from 1939. After prohibition ended, the industry started doing PSA-type ads in an attempt to create goodwill for beer and brewers. They would later go on to do a fairly sophisticated series of ads between 1946 and 1956, known unofficially as Beer Belongs. Officially, they were “The Home Life in America” series, consisting of 120 ads, with a new ad running in major periodicals each month. Last year, for my Beer in Ads series, I featured every one of them. But in the years before that, the U.S. Brewing Industry Foundation (a precursor to the original Brewer’s Association) dabbled with a variety of similar ads promoting the industry as a whole. These were especially popular during World War 2, and in fact they even won an award from the government for some of these ads. Most of the ads were black and white, although a few were in color, though usually in a minimal way, with a few colors accented rather than being in full color.

In this ad, Uncle Sam stands on a hill, looking out over America laid out before him, with at least three distinct paths to choose from, wondering to himself which one to choose. What three paths, you may be asking.

  1. The Dead-End Road to Excess
  2. The Harsh Road of Intolerance
  3. The Straight Road Ahead, Which is the Way of Moderation and Sobriety

Pretty subtle, eh? After all, beer “is the bulwark of moderation, according to the verdict of history, the weight of scientific evidence, and the everyday experience of millions.”

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Beer In Ads #2203: Thanks For The Job!


Thursday’s ad is a trade ad, by the United States Brewing Industry Foundation, from 1939. After prohibition ended, the industry started doing PSA-type ads in an attempt to create goodwill for beer and brewers. They would later go on to do a fairly sophisticated series of ads between 1946 and 1956, known unofficially as Beer Belongs. Officially, they were “The Home Life in America” series, consisting of 120 ads, with a new ad running in major periodicals each month. Last year, for my Beer in Ads series, I featured every one of them. But in the years before that, the U.S. Brewing Industry Foundation (a precursor to the original Brewer’s Association) dabbled with a variety of similar ads promoting the industry as a whole. These were especially popular during World War 2, and in fact they even won an award from the government for some of these ads. Most of the ads were black and white, although a few were in color, though usually in a minimal way, with a few colors accented rather than being in full color.

In this ad, another blue collar worker (it may be our “Mike Anders” from yesterday’s ad) walks hand in hand with his son after a hard day’s work. But he’s happy because he has a job. Now that alcohol is legal again (it was only six years after repeal) lot’s of people had jobs, and the beer industry was trying to make sure it thanked its consumers and also let them now what a positive impact their business was having on the economy.

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Beer Birthday: John Hickenlooper

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Today is the 65th birthday of Governor of Colorado — and former Denver mayor — John Hickenlooper. John was also the co-founder of Wynkoop Brewery in Denver’s LoDo District, and in fact is credited with helping to revitalize the whole area. After being a popular, and by all accounts very effective mayor, for several years, he was elected as the Governor of Colorado. John’s been great for Denver, Colorado and craft brewing. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

George Wendt, Nancy Johnson & Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper
George Wendt, Nancy Johnson & John at the Great American Beer Festival three years ago.

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With Ken Allen, from Anderson Valley Brewing, and Dave Buehler, from Elysian Brewing at GABF several years ago.

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Nancy Johnson and John at GABF.

Historic Beer Birthday: Grigori Rasputin

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Today is the birthday of Grigori Rasputin (January 21, 1869–December 30, 1916). He “was a Russian peasant, an experienced traveler, a mystical faith healer, and trusted friend of the family of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of the Russian Empire. He became an influential figure in Saint Petersburg, especially after August 1915 when Nicholas took command of the army fighting in World War I. Advising his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, in countless spiritual and political issues, Rasputin became an easy scapegoat for Russian nationalists, liberals and aristocrats.

There is uncertainty over much of Rasputin’s life and the degree of influence that he exerted over the extremely shy Tsar and the strong-willed Tsarina. Accounts are often based on dubious memoirs, hearsay, and legend. While his influence and position may have been exaggerated by society gossip and his own drunken boasting his presence played a significant role in the increasing unpopularity of the Imperial couple. Rasputin was murdered by monarchists who hoped to save Tsarism by ending his sway over the royal family.”

Rasputin-in-color

Here’s his entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin, original name Grigory Yefimovich Novykh (born 1872?, Pokrovskoye, near Tyumen, Siberia, Russian Empire—died December 30 [December 17, Old Style], 1916, Petrograd [now St. Petersburg, Russia]), Siberian peasant and mystic whose ability to improve the condition of Aleksey Nikolayevich, the hemophiliac heir to the Russian throne, made him an influential favourite at the court of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra.

Although he attended school, the peasant Grigory Yefimovich Novykh remained illiterate, and his reputation for licentiousness earned him the surname Rasputin, Russian for “debauched one.” He evidently underwent a religious conversion at age 18, and eventually he went to the monastery at Verkhoture, where he was introduced to the Khlysty (Flagellants) sect. Rasputin perverted Khlysty beliefs into the doctrine that one was nearest God when feeling “holy passionlessness” and that the best way to reach such a state was through the sexual exhaustion that came after prolonged debauchery. Rasputin did not become a monk. He returned to Pokrovskoye, and at age 19 married Proskovya Fyodorovna Dubrovina, who later bore him four children. Marriage did not settle Rasputin. He left home and wandered to Mount Athos, Greece, and Jerusalem, living off the peasants’ donations and gaining a reputation as a starets (self-proclaimed holy man) with the ability to heal the sick and predict the future.

Rasputin’s wanderings took him to St. Petersburg (1903), where he was welcomed by Theophan, inspector of the religious Academy of St. Petersburg, and Hermogen, bishop of Saratov. The court circles of St. Petersburg at that time were entertaining themselves by delving into mysticism and the occult, so Rasputin—a filthy, unkempt wanderer with brilliant eyes and allegedly extraordinary healing talents—was warmly welcomed. In 1905 Rasputin was introduced to the royal family, and in 1908 he was summoned to the palace of Nicholas and Alexandra during one of their hemophiliac son’s bleeding episodes. Rasputin succeeded in easing the boy’s suffering (probably by his hypnotic powers) and, upon leaving the palace, warned the parents that the destiny of both the child and the dynasty were irrevocably linked to him, thereby setting in motion a decade of Rasputin’s powerful influence on the imperial family and affairs of state.

In the presence of the royal family, Rasputin consistently maintained the posture of a humble and holy peasant. Outside court, however, he soon fell into his former licentious habits. Preaching that physical contact with his own person had a purifying and healing effect, he acquired mistresses and attempted to seduce many other women. When accounts of Rasputin’s conduct reached the ears of Nicholas, the tsar refused to believe that he was anything other than a holy man, and Rasputin’s accusers found themselves transferred to remote regions of the empire or entirely removed from their positions of influence.

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By 1911 Rasputin’s behaviour had become a general scandal. The prime minister, P.A. Stolypin, sent the tsar a report on Rasputin’s misdeeds. As a result, the tsar expelled Rasputin, but Alexandra had him returned within a matter of months. Nicholas, anxious not to displease his wife or endanger his son, upon whom Rasputin had an obviously beneficial effect, chose to ignore further allegations of wrongdoing.

Rasputin reached the pinnacle of his power at the Russian court after 1915. During World War I, Nicholas II took personal command of his forces (September 1915) and went to the troops on the front, leaving Alexandra in charge of Russia’s internal affairs, while Rasputin served as her personal advisor. Rasputin’s influence ranged from the appointment of church officials to the selection of cabinet ministers (often incompetent opportunists), and he occasionally intervened in military matters to Russia’s detriment. Though supporting no particular political group, Rasputin was a strong opponent of anyone opposing the autocracy or himself.

Several attempts were made to take the life of Rasputin and save Russia from further calamity, but none were successful until 1916. Then a group of extreme conservatives, including Prince Feliks Yusupov (husband of the tsar’s niece), Vladimir Mitrofanovich Purishkevich (a member of the Duma), and Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich (the tsar’s cousin), formed a conspiracy to eliminate Rasputin and save the monarchy from further scandal. On the night of December 29–30 (December 16–17, Old Style), Rasputin was invited to visit Yusupov’s home and, once there, was given poisoned wine and tea cakes. When he did not die, the frantic Yusupov shot him. Rasputin collapsed but was able to run out into the courtyard, where Purishkevich shot him again. The conspirators then bound him and threw him through a hole in the ice into the Neva River, where he finally died by drowning.

The murder merely strengthened Alexandra’s resolve to uphold the principle of autocracy, but a few weeks later the whole imperial regime was swept away by revolution.

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Naturally, the reason Rasputin has anything to do with beer, is that Mark Ruedrich, the founder of North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg, California, named his imperial stout after the “mad monk,” and his Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout has become a classic beer, one of the earliest examples of what’s become a very popular style of beer, and, frankly, is still one of the best tasting.

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For one of my newspaper columns, in the Fall of 2012, I wrote about imperial stouts, and below is an excerpt from that, the part that tells the story of North Coast’s Old Rasputin:

Happily, you don’t have to go as far as Russia, or even England, to find an imperial stout. We’re very lucky that one of the best Russian Imperial Stouts brewed anywhere is made in nearby Fort Bragg. North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout was also one of the first brewed in America, and was most likely the second (after Bert Grant’s Imperial Stout), which makes it the oldest one still being made. I visited the Fort Bragg brewery last week and watched the latest batch of Old Rasputin being bottled, as I spoke to founder Mark Ruedrich about his beer.

When they opened in 1988, North Coast had a terrific stout they called Old No. 38. But a few years later, Ruedrich decided he wanted to do something different, and noticed that almost nobody else was making the style. Grant’s version also included honey, which is not a traditional ingredient for the style. So he set to work brewing an authentic version of the style, which by that time was even nearly gone in England, too, with very few still making it.

Shortly before its 1994 debut at the pub, Tom Dalldorf, publisher of the “Celebrator Beer News,” happened to be in town visiting the brewery. He recalls Ruedrich handing him a glass and saying. “Here’s a new beer I’m about to release.” Dalldorf recalls seeing its inky black color and asking “don’t you already make a stout?” Mark responded with something like “this is different, just try it.” Like most of us, Tom immediately fell in love with it.

The beer has a definite “wow factor” from the very first sip, with gorgeous milk chocolate, roasted coffee notes and warming sweet flavors from its 9% a.b.v. It’s as bold as they come and infinitely complex, an ever-lasting gobstopper of a beer. It also enjoys near perfect balance. It’s a sipping beer, and changes as it warms in your glass. It’s a not a beer for a pint glass, you’ll want a snifter to get the full aromas of the beer as you slowly sip it by the fire.

One additional fun fact: on the label of Old Rasputin in a quote written in the Cyrillic Russian alphabet. Translated, it’s apparently a traditional Russian saying, or proverb: “a sincere friend is not born instantly.” But if you’re a fan of big beers, you’re love for this beer will almost certainly be instantaneous. For even bigger flavors, if that’s possible, try North Coast’s Old Rasputin XIV, which is their imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels.

The cyrillic text on the label is taken from an old Russian proverb. “A sincere friend is not born instantly.”

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The label also features part of a well-known photograph of Rasputin. And while you find it all over the internet, its origin seems unknown, or at least widely uncredited.

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The Smithsonian published a story on the 100th anniversary of his death a few years ago, entitled The Murder of Rasputin, 100 Years Later:

The holy man is he who takes your soul and will and makes them his. When you choose your holy man, you surrender your will. You give it to him in utter submission, in full renunciation.” – Feodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

The murder of Rasputin, Russia’s infamous “Mad Monk,” is the fodder for a great historical tale that blends fact and legend. But the death of the controversial holy man and faith healer had a combustible effect on the tense state of affairs in pre-revolution Russia. Rasputin was killed on December 30, 1916 (December 17 in the Russian calendar in use at the time), in the basement of the Moika Palace, the Saint Petersburg residence of Prince Felix Yussupov, the richest man in Russia and the husband of the Czar’s only niece, Irina. His battered body was discovered in the Neva River a few days later.

In the decade prior, Rasputin had risen rapidly through Russian society, starting as an obscure Siberian peasant-turned-wandering-holy-man and then becoming one of the most prominent figures in the Czar’s inner circle. Born in 1869 in the village of Pokrovskoye, on the Tura river that flows eastward from the Ural Mountains, where Europe meets Asia in Siberia. He seemed destined for an ordinary life, despite a few conflicts in his youth with local authorities for unruly behavior. He married a local woman, Praskovya Dubrovina, became the father of three surviving children, Maria, Dmitri and Varvara, and worked on his family’s farm.

Rasputin’s life changed in 1892, when he spent months at a monastery, putting him on the path to international renown. Despite his later nickname, “The Mad Monk,” Rasputin never took Holy Orders. Men in Rasputin’s position usually gave up their past lives and relationships but Rasputin continued to see his family – his daughters later lived with him in Saint Petersburg – and support his wife financially.

His religious fervor, combined with an appealing personal charisma, brought Rasputin to the attention of some Russian Orthodox clergymen and then senior members of the Imperial family, who then introduced him to Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra.

Nicholas wrote to one of his ministers in October 1906, “A few days ago I received a peasant from the Tobolsk district, Grigori Rasputin, who brought me an icon of St. Simon Verkhoturie. He made a remarkably strong impression both on Her Majesty and on myself, so that instead of five minutes our conversation went on for more than an hour.”

The Imperial couple had consulted unconventional spiritual advisors in the past, but Rasputin filled this role by his ability to read their inner hopes and tell them what they wanted to hear. He encouraged Nicholas to have more confidence in his role as czar, and Alexandra found that his counsel soothed her anxieties. By the First World War, Rasputin was also providing political advice and making recommendations for ministerial appointments, much to the dismay of the Russian elite.

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Rasputin cemented his relationship with the czar and czarina when he supposedly helped alleviate their only son Alexei’s hemophilia. Rasputin’s alleged healing powers continue to be debated today. The Czar’s sister, Grand Duchess Olga, wrote that she observed Rasputin healing Alexei by kneeling at the foot of his bed and praying; the calming atmosphere that he created in the palace may have assisted with the recovery. Alexandra’s lady-in-waiting, Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden, thought that Rasputin employed peasant folk medicine used in Siberian villages to treat internal bleeding in horses.

Historians continue to debate Rasputin’s impact on Alexei’s health. In his 2016 book, Rasputin: Faith, Power and the Twilight of the Romanovs, Douglas Smith observes, “Rasputin’s assurances calmed the anxious, fretful mother and filled her with unshakeable confidence, and she, in turn, transferred this confidence to her ailing son, literally willing him back to health.” In addition to increasing confidence in recovery, a key variable may have been Rasputin’s insistence that doctors keep away from Alexei. Medical knowledge was still sparse, even though drugs like aspirin were available for treatment. Unfortunately for Alexei, aspirin, considered a cure-all remedy, had the then-unknown side effect of thinning the blood, which would have exacerbated hemophilia symptoms. French historian Hélène Carrère d’Encausse argued that when Rasputin insisted that remedies prescribed by the doctors be thrown in the fire, the discarded medicine likely would have included aspirin. Rasputin’s insistence that the doctors leave him alone would have improved his condition and appeared to create a miraculous improvement in his symptoms.

Rasputin presented himself in the Imperial Court as holy man, despite no formal affiliation with the Russian Orthodox Church, and spoke as a self-appointed representative of the peasantry, but his behavior away from court offered a different portrait. His drunkenness and affairs with women of all social backgrounds, from street prostitutes to society ladies, scandalized the public. Rasputin appeared to bask in his fame, showing off shirts embroidered for him by the Empress and inviting her friends and servants to his home in Prokovskoye. (Rasputin’s wife appeared untroubled by his infidelities, commenting “He has enough for all.”)

The press, unshackled thanks to rights granted to them by Nicholas II in 1905, spread lurid tales about Rasputin both within Russia and abroad. Rumors about Rasputin’s influence over the Czarist regime spread throughout Europe. Petitioners, believing that Rasputin lived with the Imperial family, mailed their requests to “Rasputin, Czar’s palace, Saint Petersburg.”

Soldiers on World War I’s Eastern front spoke of Rasputin having an intimate affair with Alexandra, passing it off as common knowledge without evidence. As the war progressed, outlandish stories expanded to include Rasputin’s supposed treason with the German enemy, including a fantastical tale that he sought to undermine the war effort by starting a cholera epidemic in Saint Petersburg with “poisoned apples imported from Canada.” What the public thought they knew about Rasputin had a greater impact than his actual views and activities, fueling demands that he be removed from his position of influence by any means necessary.

Until he murdered Rasputin, Felix Yussupov lived a comparatively aimless life of privilege. One of Nicholas II’s daughters, also named Grand Duchess Olga, worked as a nurse during the war and criticized Yussupov’s refusal to enlist, writing to her father, “Felix is a ‘downright civilian,’ dressed all in brown…virtually doing nothing; an utterly unpleasant impression he makes – a man idling in such times.” Plotting Rasputin’s murder gave Yussupov the opportunity to reinvent himself as a patriot and man of action, determined to protect the throne from a malign influence.

For Yussupov and his co-conspirators, the removal of Rasputin could give Nicholas II one last chance of restoring the reputation and prestige of the monarchy. With Rasputin gone, the czar would be more open to the advice of his extended family, the nobility and the Duma and less dependent on Alexandra. There was hope that he would return from military headquarters and once again govern from Saint Petersburg.

The most well-known account of Rasputin’s murder was the one that Yussupov wrote in his memoirs, published in 1928. Yussupov claimed to have invited Rasputin to his palace to meet his wife Irina (who was in fact away at the time) and then served him a platter of cakes and numerous glasses of wine laced with potassium cyanide. To Yussupov’s astonishment, Rasputin appeared to be unaffected by the poison. A desperate Yussupov borrowed the revolver of the Grand Duke Dmitri, the czar’s cousin, and shot Rasputin multiple times, but was still unable to kill him. According to the memoir, “This devil who was dying of poison, who had a bullet in his heart, must have been raised from the dead by the powers of evil. There was something appalling and monstrous in his diabolical refusal to die.” There was reputedly water in his lungs when his remains were discovered, indicating that he had finally died by drowning.

Yussupov’s account of Rasputin’s murder entered popular culture. The lurid scene was dramatized in numerous films about Rasputin and the Romanovs and even made it into a 1970s disco hit by Boney M., which included the lyrics “They put some poison into his wine…He drank it all and said, ‘I feel fine.’”

Rasputin’s actual murder was probably far less dramatic. His daughter Maria, who fled Russia after the Revolution and became a circus lion tamer billed as “the daughter of the famous mad monk whose feats in Russia astonished the world,” wrote her own book in 1929 that condemned Yussupov’s actions and questioned the veracity of his account. She wrote that her father did not like sweets and never would have eaten a platter of cakes. The autopsy reports do not mention poison or drowning but instead conclude that he was shot in the head at close range. Yussupov transformed the murder into an epic struggle of good versus evil to sell books and bolster his own reputation.

The responses from the public were mixed, reflecting Rasputin’s checkered reputation. The elite, from whence Yussupov and his co-conspirators came, rejoiced and applauded the killers when they appeared in public. The peasantry mourned Rasputin as one of their own, seeing the murder as one more example of the nobility controlling the Czar; when a peasant rose to a position of influence with the Czar, he was murdered by wealthy men.

To the dismay of Yussupov and his co-conspirators, Rasputin’s murder did not lead to a radical change in Nicholas and Alexandra’s polities. To the emergent Bolsheviks, Rasputin symbolized the corruption at the heart of the Imperial court, and his murder was seen, rather accurately, as an attempt by the nobility to hold onto power at the continued expense of the proletariat. To them, Rasputin represented the broader problems with czarism. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Provisional Government leader Alexander Kerensky went so far as to say, “Without Rasputin there would have been no Lenin.”

And, apropos of nothing, there’s apparently a commercial vodka called “Rasputin.”

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