Thanksgiving Wishes From The Brookston Beer Bulletin

I just finished my family’s Thanksgiving feast, enjoyed with a 2015 magnum of Our Special Ale from Anchor Brewing, and finished a piece of peanut butter pie. Boy am I stuffed. Before I’m found drooling on the sofa, watching the Packers game, I wanted to take a moment to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving.


I’m incredibly thankful that people come here to read what I write, see what I share and drink what I drink. Thank you from the bottom of my pint glass.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day is here at last …
     The family’s come from far and near.
The kitchen’s smelling mighty nice;
     And Dad’s got Ballantine on ice.
That’s the beer we like best …
     Deep-brewed to meet the “icebox test.”
We chill the bottles thoroughly …
     Flavor that chill can’t kill, you see!

Priceless. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Anchor Christmas Day 2015

Time was when today, the Monday before Thanksgiving, was the traditional day on which Anchor’s Our Special Ale — a.k.a. their Christmas Ale — was released each year. Every year since 1975 the brewers at Anchor Brewery have brewed a distinctive and unique Christmas Ale, which is now available from early November to mid-January.
From this year’s press release:

This is the forty-first annual Christmas Ale from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid–January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year—as is the tree on the label—but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew.

Our tree for 2015 is the Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara), better known as the California Christmas Tree. Native of the Himalayas, it takes its name from the ancient Sanskrit devadaru, meaning timber of the gods. This coniferous evergreen, with its gracefully droopy branches and blue-green needles, has been a San Francisco favorite for over 150 years.

The annual search for the perfect tree for our Christmas Ale label usually takes us far afield. This one began and ended with the search for a parking space near the Brewery! Getting out of the car, we couldn’t help but notice the way the late-afternoon sun danced amid the branches of two lovely Deodars just half a block from Anchor’s front door.

Our longtime label artist Jim Stitt — who has been drawing trees for us since 1975 — loved “our” Deodars and, like us, was amused that they were about as local as local gets! His charming illustration evokes the radiant beauty of our arboreal neighbors as well as the spirit of the season. Cheers from the Anchor brewers!

Even though for the last several years, Anchor’s Christmas Ale is released in early November, I continue to observe Anchor Christmas Day on the Monday before Thanksgiving. I know I’m a sentimental old fool, but I liked that they used to wait that long to release it, even though I understand why they had to abandon it. But some things are worth waiting for. If you agree with me, please join me in drinking a glass of this year’s seasonal release tonight. Happy Anchor Christmas Day!


Home For The Holidays Session

For our 106th Session next month our host will be yours truly, who writes this here Brookston Beer Bulletin. For my topic, I’ve chosen Holiday Beers, by which I mean this.

For seasonal beers, the Solstice/Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Mithra time of the year is my mostest favorite. This past weekend, we had our fifteenth annual holiday beer tasting for the Celebrator Beer News, and sampled 42 of this year’s Christmas beers. Here’s how I’ve described them in the introduction of the tasting notes for the holiday edition each year:

Holiday beers are by design no one style, but are a chance for individual breweries to let their talent and imagination run wild. At the holidays, when people stop their busy lives and share some precious time with family and friends, the beer they choose should be equally as special as the time they’re sharing. So a holiday beer should be made to impress, to wow its audience, to stand out. That’s the only criteria that should be met by one of these beers. Will it impress? Different breweries, thankfully, do this in many, many different ways. Some use unusual spices or fruits, some use special malts or hops, some use other uncommon ingredients like spruce or rye, and some make a style that itself is unusual. So there’s nothing to tie these beers together apart from their celebration of the season. That makes it both a delight and a challenge to judge. Ultimately, perhaps more than any other tasting, these beers are simply a matter of what you like and our judging is a matter of what we like. So try them and discover for yourself the many flavors of this holiday season.

Beer and hat of Santa Claus

As I said, I really enjoy the variety of holiday and winter seasonals, and they often seem especially well-suited to colder weather. I don’t really care what they’re Celebrating, be it:




Winter Solstice



And despite the fact that the rightwing nutjobs insist there’s a war on Christmas because people use “holidays” to be inclusive instead of “Merry Christmas,” a lot of seasonal beer labels from the first half of the 20th century used “holiday” rather than Christmas. And what do you know, civilization didn’t end. And that’s usually the time that conservatives point to as being what we need to return to, when America was a more innocent place, pre-1960s. But they drank holiday beers, what do you know? And as far as I can tell, nobody freaked the fuck out like they do today. After the brouhaha with Starbucks cups, it actually made me want to go to Starbucks — a place I don’t normally frequent — just because of how ridiculous it all was.

Potsoi-holiday-brewing Armanetti-holiday-beer
Kellers-holiday-beer Peoples-holiday-beer
Chief-Oshkosh-holiday-brew-tree E-and-B-holiday-brew-label-2
Special-Holiday-Beer-Labels-The-Peoples-Brewing Holiday-Special-Beer-Labels-Remmler-Brewing
Walters-Holiday-Beer-Labels-Walter-Brewing Kochs-Holiday-Beer--Labels-Fred-Koch-Brewery
holiday-brew-label Christmas-Brew-Beer-Labels-Auto-City-Brewing

So for this Session, write about whatever makes you happy, so long as it involves holiday beers.

  • Discuss your favorite holiday beer.
  • Review one or more holiday beers.
  • Do you like the idea of seasonal beers, or loathe them?
  • What’s your idea of the perfect holiday beer?
  • Do have a holiday tradition with beer?
  • Are holiday beers released too early, or when should they be released?
  • Do you like holiday beer festivals?

Those are just a few suggestions, celebrate the holiday beers in your own way. Happy Holidays!

So start your holiday celebration early. It’s never too soon. To participate in the December Session, on or around Friday, December 4, write your post, then leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail or copy me (@Brookston) in your Twitter feed with your link.


International Tongue Twister Day

Today is International Tongue Twister Day, a day to celebrate those expressions that tend to tie your tongue in knots. A tongue-twister is defined as “a phrase that is designed to be difficult to articulate properly, and can be used as a type of spoken (or sung) word game. Some tongue-twisters produce results which are humorous (or humorously vulgar) when they are mispronounced, while others simply rely on the confusion and mistakes of the speaker for their amusement value.” Here are several I managed to uncover that involve beer. Enjoy.


Brewer Braun brews brown beer (Braubauer Braun braut braunes Bier)


Bold and brave beer brewers always prepare bitter, brown, Bavarian beer (Biedere brave Bierbauerburschen bereiten beständig bitteres braunes bayrisches Bier)


Rory the warrior and Roger the worrier were reared wrongly in a rural brewery.


An old seabear sits on the pier and drinks a pint of beer.


A canner can can anything that he can,
But a canner can’t can a can, can he?


Do drunk ducks and drakes drown?


Betty Botter had some bitter,
“But,” she said, “this bitter’s bitter.
If I brew this bitter better,
It would make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter,
That would make my batter better.”
So she bought a bit of butter –
Better than her bitter butter –
And she baked it in her batter;
And the batter was not bitter.
So ’twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit of better bitter.


The bitters Betty Botter bought could make her batter bitter, so she thought she’d better buy some better bitters!


Note: the blue circle is the pump handle for Ad Hop Tongue Twister, a beer from Ad Hop Brewing in Liverpool, England.

Beer In Ads #1725: A Bear, A Beer, A Halloween Party

Saturday’s Halloween ad is for Schlitz, from 1949. Part of Schlitz’s “I Was Curious” series, each employing a three-panel structure, this one takes place at a Halloween party. A man dressed as a bear spots a table full or Schlitz beer and was apparently thirsty enough to get a beer, forcing him to reveal himself by removing his bear helmet/mask to drink the beer, at which point, the bunny behind the table removes her rabbit head to reveal a fetching blonde, and the two appear to make googly eyes at one another. Which should mean the ad will have a happy ending. But in the first panel, the bunny was holding on onto a tray while a pirate poured beers into glasses, and then briskly goes off to deliver the beers to other guests at the party. That might suggest that he’s one of the hosts of the party, and possibly the bunny’s husband or boyfriend. So maybe this ad is racier than you might think at first glance. Perhaps we’re seeing the start of an affair?


No Beer, No Work

Today, of course, is Labor Day in the U.S. and Canada, celebrated each year on the first Monday in September since 1894, at least federally. Most countries, more than 80, celebrate something similar on May 1, and a few others on different days. In the Bahamas, for example, it’s the first Friday in June and in New Zealand, it’s celebrated the fourth Monday in October, while in Australia it’s different for every territory there. But the genesis is the same, to “honor the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.”

According to Wikipedia, “Labor Day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago on May 4, 1886, U.S. President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Therefore, in 1887, the United States holiday was established in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.” And you can read more about it at the Department of Labor.

Unlike today, when labor movements, and particularly unions, are demonized in the press and by the right-wing political machine, most people supported labor in some fashion for the very simply reason that a majority of people were part of the labor force. Today, thanks to effective propaganda, many people vote against their own interests. But that was not yet the case when Prohibition took effect in 1920. So many people in the labor force who were very unhappy about not being able to drink a beer after eight hours of back-breaking work started agitating for a repeal of prohibition, in some cases right from the start, since it became abundantly clear very quickly that a working life without the reward of a cold beer was going to suck.

Even before the 18th Amendment was to take effect on January 17, 1920, a previous measure passed by Congress, the Wartime Prohibition Act banned “the sale of alcoholic beverages having an alcohol content of greater than 2.75%” beginning on June 30, 1919.” The measure supposedly was “intended to save grain for the war effort,” but it actually “was passed after the armistice ending World War I was signed on November 11, 1918.” Since July 1st was the first day after alcohol was banned under the Wartime Prohibition Act, that day became known as the “Thirsty-First.”

So labor organizations in New York City began making plans to oppose and protest Prohibition, creating pins bearing their slogan “No Beer, No Work.”


In addition, they planned a walk-out for July 1 of 1919, which was reported in the New York Times on February 8, 1919.


The next day, February 9, 1919, the story was picked up in Chicago and ran on the front page of The Evening World.


The news even made it as far as Australia’s Northern Territory Times and Gazette of Darwin, which ran the story on April 19, 1919 (reporting on events of February 8th and 9th):


A “No beer, no work” movement has been started in New York and New Jersey. Its sponsors expect to give it a national impetus. Last night “no beer, no work” buttons were worn by all the delegates to the meeting of the Central Federation Union, one of the largest trade unions in the country. Mr. Ernest Bohn, secretary of the union, declared that labour as a whole is opposed to prohibition, and predicted for July 1st, when the nation goes “dry,” a nation-wide walk out of workmen who want beer. Asked how the amendment of the Constitution could be rendered inoperative by a ” walk-out,” Mr Bohn replied. “We can make such a protest that the Supreme Court wilt declare the amendment unconstitutional.”

But not everyone in labor agreed, as evidenced by this article in New Jersey’s Poverty Bay Herald on May 3, 1919, where 400 union delegates in the Garden State came out against the strike, although they agreed that Prohibition was a bad idea.


But there’s not much more about these efforts in New York that I could find. I did find this paragraph, by a Columbia history student, who in his junior year received a research grant, the Edwin Robbins Prize, and used it to do his senior thesis:

“New York Organized Labor and Prohibition Resistance: The ‘No Beer, No Work’ Movement of 1919.” A forgotten moment in labor history, it was a fascinating intersection of culture, gender, and class, examining the untidy boundary between “economic” and “social” life. Some local trade-unionists co-opted a catchy slogan, “No Beer, No Work,” with the intent of fomenting a national general strike, attempting to save the saloon, galvanize class consciousness, and lead workers into a labor party. The strike more than failed; it never occurred.

Perhaps more curiously, and what started this, is I discovered that more than one person took the great slogan “No Beer, No Work,” and wrote a song about it, using it as the title. The first I found was written in 1919, by Sammy Edwards.


And here are the lyrics to NO BEER, NO WORK, by Sammy Edwards, 1919:

1. Johnny Hymer was a miner, always on the job.
Johnny loved his lager like a sailor loves his grog.
One day, his foreman told him that this country would go dry.
John threw his tools upon the ground. You should have heard him cry:

CHORUS: “No beer, no work” will be my battle cry.
“No beer, no work” when I am feeling dry.
I never could like lemonade or bevo, for beer is all I’ll buy.
I’ll hide my self away
Until some brighter day
When I can sip the lager from a stein.
“No beer, no work” will be my battle cry
After the first of July.

2. Johnny’s steady, ever ready to give good advice,
Said, “Go back to work or there’ll be no old shoes or rice.
Be like Kipling’s hero. Bear your troubles with a grin.”
John said, “I’ll be your hero, but I’ll be no Gunga Din.”

3. “When I was a baby,” said our Johnny with a smile,
“They raised me on a bottle. Now they want to change the style.
John Barleycorn’s a friend of mine. My daddy knew him well.
He’d bring John home with him at night and ma would give him —.

Then the very same year, another song was published by Martin Ballmann, with lyrics by Anna Ballmann and Theodore Philipp, also with the title “No Beer, No Work.” Ballman’s version was published in Chicago, and is completely different than Edwards’, apart from the title, of course.


And lastly, music-wise at least, again in early 1919 (February 26 the paper is stamped), “singing character comedian” Sam Marley created original novelty lyrics for a song he called … wait for it … “No Beer, No Work.” His typed lyrics can be found in the collection of the Library of Congress.


Here’s a political cartoon originally from “The American Issue” of Westerville, Ohio, published August 19, 1919, drawn by an artist named Henderson.


And finally, American author and poet Ellis Parker Butler, wrote a poem in 1919 also using labor’s slogan as the title, which was published in the magazine “Snappy Stories.” Butler’s poem was a parody of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Excelsior.

No Beer, No Work

The shades of night was fallin’ slow
As through New York a guy did go
And nail on ev’ry barroom door
A card that this here motter bore:
‘No beer, no work.’

His brow was sad, his mouth was dry;
It was the first day of July,
And where, all parched and scorched it hung,
These words was stenciled on his tongue:
‘No beer, no work.’

‘Oh, stay,’ the maiden said, ‘and sup
This malted milk from this here cup.’
A shudder passed through that there guy,
But with a moan he made reply:
‘No beer, no work.’

At break of day, as through the town
The milkman put milk bottles down,
Onto one stoop a sort of snore
Was heard, and then was heard no more—
‘No beer, no work.’

The poor old guy plumb dead was found
And planted in the buryin’ ground,
Still graspin’ in his hand of ice
Them placards with this sad device:
‘No beer, no work.’


To which I can only add. Happy Labor Day!

Beer In Ads #1606: 4th Of July Snowman

Saturday’s ad is for Rheingold Beer, from 1937. This was an unusual ad for independence day, using a snowman in July to talk about “the glorious Fourth.” And the snowman is lighting a firecracker, it must have really stood out in a magazine or newspaper published in the summer. And another oddity: there’s a circle containing the pjrase “beer is best,” which was a phrase being used at the time in Great Britain by a brewers trade group so it’s interesting to see it in an American ad during the same time period.


Beer Can Dads 2015

I posted these a few years ago, but given that it’s Father’s Day I figured today was a good day to take another look at them. Around 2011, the good folks at Every Guyed designed eight beer can dads.


Here was the idea:

To celebrate Father’s Day, EveryGuyed and Moxy Creative House have teamed up once again to deliver the second installment of the ‘Cheers!’. This time we had creative director Glenn Michael raise a glass — and his brush — to 8 iconic animated dads, re-envisioning them as beer cans.

When you were a kid, Father’s Day was a pretty boring affair. Now you’re of age, and all of a sudden you have the chance to do something with your dad that he’ll actually enjoy: share a cold one together.

See if you can guess all of the cartoon dads. You can see all eight of them in the slideshow above. The answers can found at the bottom of the original post I did.

Looking at this again, I still want my own dad can. What would yours look like?