Monday’s ad is for Miller High Life, from the 1950s. Even though I grew up in the “tradition-rich East” Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, having been in California for almost thirty years I’m a tad offended at Miller’s implication that there’s no traditions out West. But given that odd holiday spread that the lady in red is putting out, I’m not so sure about her having a “special touch of gracious elegance.”
Today is also the birthday of Merideth Canham-Nelson, the better half of The Beer Geek duo that also includes Chris Nelson. I’d tell you what birthday she’s celebrating this year, but I don’t actually know. Merideth also recently published Teachings From the Tap, her account of the year she and husband Chris spent circling the globe visiting beer destinations. Join me in wishing Merideth a very happy birthday.
At the OBF media tasting: Rick Sellers, from Pacific Brew News, Merideth and Chris Nelson, The Beer Geek, and Meagan Flynn (at right) with her assistant, Annalou, publisher of Beer NW during the 2007 Oregon Brewers Festival.
My good friend Pete Slosberg sent me this gem, from the classic film The Lady Eve, written and directed by Preston Sturges. The 1941 screwball comedy starred Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck. I remember seeing it when I was a kid (I watched a lot of old movies late at night when I was young) but I certainly don’t remember this beery exchange. One of the main characters is Charles Pike, played by Henry Fonda, and in the story he’s the heir to the Pike Brewing Co. fortune, maker’s of Pike’s Pale, “The Ale That Won For Yale.”
The clip below is about four minutes long, but the conversation doesn’t steer to beer until around the 2:00 minute mark, and lasts for just over a minute.
I’ve also transcribed their beery dialogue from The Lady Eve below. Enjoy.
Stanwyck: “I thought you were in the beer business.”
Fonda: “Beer? … Ale!”
Stanwyck: “What’s the difference?”
Fonda: “Between beer and ale?”
Fonda: “My father’d burst a blood vessel if he heard you say that. There’s a big difference. Ale’s sort of fermented on the top or something, and beer’s fermented on the bottom; or maybe it’s the other way around. There’s no similarity at all. [pauses] See the trouble with being descended from a brewer, no matter how long ago he brewed it, or whatever you call it, you’re supposed to know all about something you don’t give a hoot about. [pauses again] It’s funny to be here kneeling at your feet, talking about beer. You see, I don’t like beer. Bock beer, lager beer or steam beer.”
Stanwyck: “Don’t you?”
Fonda: “I do not, and I don’t like pale ale, brown ale, nut brown ale, porter or stout, which makes me ill just to think about it. [hiccups] Excuse me. [pauses again] It was enough so that everybody called me ‘Hopsy’ ever since I was six-years old … Hopsy Pike.”
Stanwyck: “Hello, Hopsy.”
Fonda: “Make it Charlie, will you?”
Stanwyck: [laughs] “Alright, but there’s something kinda cute about Hopsy. And when you got older I could call you Popsy. Hopsy Popsy.”
Fonda: “That’s all I’d need.”
Today is the 48th birthday of Arlan Arnsten, who until very recently was the Vice-President of Sales for Stone Brewing. He was born in 1965, the same year Fritz Maytag bought the Anchor Brewery, with whom he also shares a birthday. Coincidence? Maybe, but he doesn’t think so. Arlan’s been with Stone since 1997, and has been a huge part of their success. He’s a terrific person to share a beer with and an indefatigable poster boy for craft beer, although he’s now looking into other pursuits. Join me in wishing Arlan a very happy birthday.
Fritz Maytag, who bought the failing Anchor Brewery in 1965 and turned it into a model for the microbrewery revolution, celebrates his 76th birthday today. It’s no stretch to call Fritz the father of craft beer, he introduced so many innovations that are common today and influenced countless brewers working today. In the last few years, Maytag sold Anchor Brewery and Distillery to Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio of the Griffin Group, but continues to make his York Creek wine and consult with Anchor as Chairman Emeritus. Join me in wishing Fritz a very happy birthday.
Fritz with the organizers of SF Beer Week at our inaugural opening event at Anchor in 2009.
Here’s a curious artifact from the 1842 Temperance Almanac, and a great example of why the prohibitionists were as nutty then was they are today. They saw, and see, evil and vice everywhere, with any single one not unto itself, but instead having to lead to more ruin and debauchery. While today we know that smoking isn’t the best choice you can make, in the mid-1800s it was considered a fairly benign pursuit, and in fact remained so well into my lifetime. I recall staying up with my psychotic stepfather, a chain-smoker, to watch the last television commercial air before midnight on New Year’s Day when they became forbidden on January 2, 1971. I’ve never been a cigarette smoker, though I used to enjoy the occasional cigar from time to time. The one thing I dislike more than smoking is obnoxious non-smokers, especially ex-smokers. But even the most ardent anti-tobacco advocate would have to admit that puffing on a pipe will not with absolute certainty lead to drinking alcohol. There’s no causation. That some people do both is, at best, a coincidence brought upon by the obvious fact that many people smoke (especially in 1842) and many people drink. But there are surely enough examples in everyone’s own experience to render such a blanket statement untenable. But for prohibitionists, it gets even weirder.
So, as Sigmund Freud would later say, “sometimes a pipe is just a pipe.” Just don’t expect a prohibitionist to believe it. Instead, if you smoke a pipe, you won’t be able to help yourself, it will cause you to drink and get drunk. According to 1842 prohibitionist logic, “smoking induces intoxication” — meaning it will actually “bring about, produce, or cause” you to drink. But that’s not where it ends, get drunk and that in turn “induces bile,” which is “a bitter, alkaline, yellow or greenish liquid, secreted by the liver, that aids in absorption and digestion, especially of fats.” That, in turn, “induces jaundice” — “yellow discoloration of the skin, whites of the eyes, etc., due to an increase of bile pigments in the blood, often symptomatic of certain diseases, as hepatitis” followed inevitably and inexplicably by “dropsy,” which is “an infectious disease of fishes, characterized by a swollen, spongelike body and protruding scales, caused by a variety of the bacterium Pseudomonas punctata.” Yeah, that seems likely. But wait, it gets even worse. That fish disease you can’t help but contract “terminates in death.” So definitely enjoy that tobacco. Or as they conclude. “Put that in your pipe and smoke it.” I’m willing to bet you can find modern prohibitionists who still believe it’s true, or that at least once you take a drink your life is over and can only fall into abject ruin.