Today’s ad is a holiday ad for Cinco de Mayo, for Miller Lite, though I don’t believe it’s very old. The model reminds me of Sofia Vergara from Modern Family, though my wife assures me it’s not. Viva El Gran Sabor translates as “experience the great taste.”
Given that the holiday commemorates the Battle of Puebla, where Mexican forces defeated Napoleon III’s French army in 1862, it’s odd how America has turned it into such a party holiday. Business Insider has an interesting take on How Beer Companies Turned A Minor Holiday Into America’s Favorite Mexican Drinking Day. And while it may be a relatively minor affair in Mexico, here in the States it’s actually an “official” holiday, at least since 2005, when in June of that year, the U.S. Congress sent a proclamation to the President for him to sign “calling upon the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo ‘with appropriate ceremonies and activities.’” Certainly this ad shows the amount of reverence we tend to show for what should be a more solemn holiday. Maybe that’s what Congress meant by “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
As you may be aware, today is International Women’s Day, and although I’m up to my eyeballs in work, I do want to pause and celebrate the many, many women in beer. Time was, beer was an all-boys club, and to a certain few it still is, but I couldn’t be happier to see an ever-increasing number of women attending beer events, writing about it and brewing it. There was a time when brewsters made almost all of the beer, but then men grabbed the reigns and kicked women to the curb. I, for one, think beer was all the poorer for that decision, but then it happened centuries before I had any say in the matter.
Because I don’t want to leave anybody out, I’m not going to even try to list all of the wonderful people I’ve met over the years I’ve been writing about beer who just happen to have been born female. To them, today and really on every day, I raise a toast to you.
Although I’m not naming names, here are a few others who have, and some organizations, too, that are also worth singling out. It’s not complete, of course, and I’m confident there are others I’m forgetting, but suffice it to say I mean to include everyone. To all of you, thanks for what you do, and making the world of beer a better place to work, to play and to enjoy life.
The Pink Boots Society, founded by Teri Fahrendorf, “created to empower women beer professionals to advance their careers in the Beer Industry through Education.” Today there are nearly 900 members for all facets of the beer industry.
Barley’s Angels, co-founded (I think) by Lisa Morrison in Portland, Oregon. “Barley’s Angels is a growing collection of individual chapters around the world that work with craft beer focused breweries, brewpubs, restaurants, alehouses and other public beer establishments to advance the female consumer craft beer enthusiast, resulting in increased patronage and revenue from women, while encouraging education and interest in beer among this often under-recognized demographic group.” There are currently 25 chapters in 18 states, plus 12 international chapters in five countries.
Women Enjoying Beer, started by Ginger Johnson. “Women Enjoying Beer develops and serves the female beer enthusiast. We’re the only organization anywhere doing as much, from the consumer vantage point, to benefit the craft/beer industry.”
Monday’s ad is for Tsingtao, but it’s not an old one, but instead is from this year, as the Chinese New Year began yesterday. This year is the Year of the Snake, and that’s what this ad is all about. Happy New Year.
Over in Gobbler’s Knob, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Phil the Groundhog — a.k.a. the Brewhog — raised up his head this morning and looked around, and this year did not see his shadow. You know what that means? It means an early spring, and earlier spring bock for us. You can see a video of Punxsutawney Phil here. And there’s more information about Groundhog Day from the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.
Tonight, many fans of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, will celebrate Burns Night with a meal of Haggis, Scotch Whisky and a night of poetry reading. Though Burns was apparently a whisky drinker, I feel confident saying he probably also drank beer and there are plenty of ways you could incorporate beer and whisky into your evening. I nominate for your poetry recitation, Burns’ version of the popular folksong John Barleycorn, which is believed to have originated sometime in the 16th century. Burns wrote his in 1782, and because of his fame, is one the most oft quoted versions. Here’s how I summarized it in a post about John Barleycorn a few years ago:
Primarily an allegorical story of death, resurrection and drinking, the main character—the eponymous John Barleycorn—is the personification of barley who is attacked and made to suffer indignities and eventually death. These correspond roughly to the stages of barley growing and cultivation, like reaping and malting. Some scholars see the story as pagan, representing the ideology of the cycles of nature, spirits and the pagan harvest, and possibly even human sacrifice. After John Barleycorn’s death, he is resurrected as beer, bread and whisky. Some have also compared it to the Christian transubstantiation, since his body is eaten as bread and drank as beer.
There were three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.
They took a plough and ploughed him down,
Put clods upon his head;
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.
But the cheerfu’ spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surprised them all.
The sultry suns of summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel armed wi’ pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.
The sober autumn entered mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Showed he began to fail.
His colour sickened more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.
They’ve ta’en a weapon long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.
They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgelled him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turned him o’er and o’er.
They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.
They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe,
And still, as signs of life appeared,
They tossed him to and fro.
They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller used him worst of all,
For he crushed him ‘tween two stones.
And they hae ta’en his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise;
‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
‘Twill heighten all his joy:
‘Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
Tho’ the tear were in her eye.
Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!
Christmas, of course, is the time when ugly sweaters are not only finally acceptable, but at this time of year they’re downright mandatory. Happily artist AJ Fosik began collecting and rescuing some beer-themed ugly sweaters. According to Trend Hunter, “Fosik says that all of these knits were ‘rescued from moldy basements, plucked from dingy backwaters and ripped from the backs of greasy shitleopards.’” Below, for example, is one from his collection, from Olympia Beer.
And here’s another one, for Carling Black Label.
Unfortunately, Fosik no longer maintains his Flickr gallery, where the sweater collection originally lived, but luckily the collection went viral and it still lives in that series of tubes we call the interwebs. You can see his art at the Jonathan Levine Gallery and the David B. Smith Gallery. Below is a slideshow of my Flickr gallery where I think I found most, if not all, of Fosik’s collected beer sweaters, and I even added a few others that I found along the way. To see them in their full color, full size glory, view the galley full screen by clicking the button with four arrows on it. Enjoy.
UPDATE 12.30: I just heard from an online store, Brew Town Gear, that has several of the vintage beer sweaters for sale, along with some similar satin jackets. They also have a brick and mortar store in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Stock up now for next Christmas.
Tuesday’s Christmas ad is for Rheingold Beer, from 1943. In the ad, a woman has apparently just hung the wreath, and to hammer home the point she’s still holding it in her hand. It’s impressive how she managed to hang it in the exact spot so the tagline — The Season’s Greeting — is centered inside the wreath.
From my IP address to yours. Have a very Malty Christmas and a Hoppy Holiday. Peace On Earth, Good Beer to Men (and Women).
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
— Calvin Coolidge
‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale; ’twas Christmas told the merriest tale; a Christmas gambol oft could cheer the poor man’s heart through half the year.
— Sir Walter Scott
The original image, which I doctored, was the cover of a 1950 issue of Guinness Time, “a quarterly publication by the Guinness company [that] was distributed to all Guinness staff.” I found it at Bygone Bodiam, a very cool website covering old time Bodiam, a hop growing area in England. There are also a number of great nostalgic photographs of the local hops industry back in the day.
Monday’s Christmas Eve ad is for Arrow Beer, from 1946. It’s a simple ad, showing a glass of Arrow Beer along with a bottle in front of a wreath of holly and a candle. The ad copy couldn’t be simpler. “Seasons Cheer … from Arrow Beer.”