The Brothers Grimm & Fairy Tale Beer

fairytale
Today is the birthday of Wilhelm Grimm, who along with his brother Jacob Grimm, created numerous fairy tales under the name the Brothers Grimm. Their best known stories are classics, tales like “Cinderella,”, “The Frog Prince,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Rapunzel,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” and “Snow White.” We usually think of these old fairy tales as being strictly for kids, probably because of how Disney and others have sanitized them, but the originals are often genuinely frightening, and their moral and purpose was to scare children, the original “scared straight” stories. In a few lesser-known stories, beer is mentioned and in a few cases is actually an important factor in the tale. Here’s a few of these Grimm’s fairy tales involving beer to read to your kids or just enjoy yourself.

Clever Elsie

Clever-Elsie

There was once a man who had a daughter who was called Clever Elsie. And when she had grown up her father said: ‘We will get her married.’ ‘Yes,’ said the mother, ‘if only someone would come who would have her.’ At length a man came from a distance and wooed her, who was called Hans; but he stipulated that Clever Elsie should be really smart. ‘Oh,’ said the father, ‘she has plenty of good sense'; and the mother said: ‘Oh, she can see the wind coming up the street, and hear the flies coughing.’ ‘Well,’ said Hans, ‘if she is not really smart, I won’t have her.’ When they were sitting at dinner and had eaten, the mother said: ‘Elsie, go into the cellar and fetch some beer.’ Then Clever Elsie took the pitcher from the wall, went into the cellar, and tapped the lid briskly as she went, so that the time might not appear long. When she was below she fetched herself a chair, and set it before the barrel so that she had no need to stoop, and did not hurt her back or do herself any unexpected injury. Then she placed the can before her, and turned the tap, and while the beer was running she would not let her eyes be idle, but looked up at the wall, and after much peering here and there, saw a pick-axe exactly above her, which the masons had accidentally left there.

Then Clever Elsie began to weep and said: ‘If I get Hans, and we have a child, and he grows big, and we send him into the cellar here to draw beer, then the pick-axe will fall on his head and kill him.’ Then she sat and wept and screamed with all the strength of her body, over the misfortune which lay before her. Those upstairs waited for the drink, but Clever Elsie still did not come. Then the woman said to the servant: ‘Just go down into the cellar and see where Elsie is.’ The maid went and found her sitting in front of the barrel, screaming loudly. ‘Elsie why do you weep?’ asked the maid. ‘Ah,’ she answered, ‘have I not reason to weep? If I get Hans, and we have a child, and he grows big, and has to draw beer here, the pick-axe will perhaps fall on his head, and kill him.’ Then said the maid: ‘What a clever Elsie we have!’ and sat down beside her and began loudly to weep over the misfortune. After a while, as the maid did not come back, and those upstairs were thirsty for the beer, the man said to the boy: ‘Just go down into the cellar and see where Elsie and the girl are.’ The boy went down, and there sat Clever Elsie and the girl both weeping together. Then he asked: ‘Why are you weeping?’ ‘Ah,’ said Elsie, ‘have I not reason to weep? If I get Hans, and we have a child, and he grows big, and has to draw beer here, the pick-axe will fall on his head and kill him.’ Then said the boy: ‘What a clever Elsie we have!’ and sat down by her, and likewise began to howl loudly. Upstairs they waited for the boy, but as he still did not return, the man said to the woman: ‘Just go down into the cellar and see where Elsie is!’ The woman went down, and found all three in the midst of their lamentations, and inquired what was the cause; then Elsie told her also that her future child was to be killed by the pick-axe, when it grew big and had to draw beer, and the pick-axe fell down. Then said the mother likewise: ‘What a clever Elsie we have!’ and sat down and wept with them. The man upstairs waited a short time, but as his wife did not come back and his thirst grew ever greater, he said: ‘I must go into the cellar myself and see where Elsie is.’ But when he got into the cellar, and they were all sitting together crying, and he heard the reason, and that Elsie’s child was the cause, and the Elsie might perhaps bring one into the world some day, and that he might be killed by the pick-axe, if he should happen to be sitting beneath it, drawing beer just at the very time when it fell down, he cried: ‘Oh, what a clever Elsie!’ and sat down, and likewise wept with them. The bridegroom stayed upstairs alone for a long time; then as no one would come back he thought: ‘They must be waiting for me below: I too must go there and see what they are about.’ When he got down, the five of them were sitting screaming and lamenting quite piteously, each out-doing the other. ‘What misfortune has happened then?’ asked he. ‘Ah, dear Hans,’ said Elsie, ‘if we marry each other and have a child, and he is big, and we perhaps send him here to draw something to drink, then the pick-axe which has been left up there might dash his brains out if it were to fall down, so have we not reason to weep?’ ‘Come,’ said Hans, ‘more understanding than that is not needed for my household, as you are such a clever Elsie, I will have you,’ and seized her hand, took her upstairs with him, and married her.

After Hans had had her some time, he said: ‘Wife, I am going out to work and earn some money for us; go into the field and cut the corn that we may have some bread.’ ‘Yes, dear Hans, I will do that.’ After Hans had gone away, she cooked herself some good broth and took it into the field with her. When she came to the field she said to herself: ‘What shall I do; shall I cut first, or shall I eat first? Oh, I will eat first.’ Then she drank her cup of broth and when she was fully satisfied, she once more said: ‘What shall I do? Shall I cut first, or shall I sleep first? I will sleep first.’ Then she lay down among the corn and fell asleep. Hans had been at home for a long time, but Elsie did not come; then said he: ‘What a clever Elsie I have; she is so industrious that she does not even come home to eat.’ But when evening came and she still stayed away, Hans went out to see what she had cut, but nothing was cut, and she was lying among the corn asleep. Then Hans hastened home and brought a fowler’s net with little bells and hung it round about her, and she still went on sleeping. Then he ran home, shut the house-door, and sat down in his chair and worked. At length, when it was quite dark, Clever Elsie awoke and when she got up there was a jingling all round about her, and the bells rang at each step which she took. Then she was alarmed, and became uncertain whether she really was Clever Elsie or not, and said: ‘Is it I, or is it not I?’ But she knew not what answer to make to this, and stood for a time in doubt; at length she thought: ‘I will go home and ask if it be I, or if it be not I, they will be sure to know.’ She ran to the door of her own house, but it was shut; then she knocked at the window and cried: ‘Hans, is Elsie within?’ ‘Yes,’ answered Hans, ‘she is within.’ Hereupon she was terrified, and said: ‘Ah, heavens! Then it is not I,’ and went to another door; but when the people heard the jingling of the bells they would not open it, and she could get in nowhere. Then she ran out of the village, and no one has seen her since.

Frederick and Catherine

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There was once a man called Frederick: he had a wife whose name was Catherine, and they had not long been married. One day Frederick said. ‘Kate! I am going to work in the fields; when I come back I shall be hungry so let me have something nice cooked, and a good draught of ale.’ ‘Very well,’ said she, ‘it shall all be ready.’ When dinner-time drew nigh, Catherine took a nice steak, which was all the meat she had, and put it on the fire to fry. The steak soon began to look brown, and to crackle in the pan; and Catherine stood by with a fork and turned it: then she said to herself, ‘The steak is almost ready, I may as well go to the cellar for the ale.’ So she left the pan on the fire and took a large jug and went into the cellar and tapped the ale cask. The beer ran into the jug and Catherine stood looking on. At last it popped into her head, ‘The dog is not shut up—he may be running away with the steak; that’s well thought of.’ So up she ran from the cellar; and sure enough the rascally cur had got the steak in his mouth, and was making off with it.

Away ran Catherine, and away ran the dog across the field: but he ran faster than she, and stuck close to the steak. ‘It’s all gone, and “what can’t be cured must be endured”,’ said Catherine. So she turned round; and as she had run a good way and was tired, she walked home leisurely to cool herself.

Now all this time the ale was running too, for Catherine had not turned the cock; and when the jug was full the liquor ran upon the floor till the cask was empty. When she got to the cellar stairs she saw what had happened. ‘My stars!’ said she, ‘what shall I do to keep Frederick from seeing all this slopping about?’ So she thought a while; and at last remembered that there was a sack of fine meal bought at the last fair, and that if she sprinkled this over the floor it would suck up the ale nicely. ‘What a lucky thing,’ said she, ‘that we kept that meal! we have now a good use for it.’ So away she went for it: but she managed to set it down just upon the great jug full of beer, and upset it; and thus all the ale that had been saved was set swimming on the floor also. ‘Ah! well,’ said she, ‘when one goes another may as well follow.’ Then she strewed the meal all about the cellar, and was quite pleased with her cleverness, and said, ‘How very neat and clean it looks!’

At noon Frederick came home. ‘Now, wife,’ cried he, ‘what have you for dinner?’ ‘O Frederick!’ answered she, ‘I was cooking you a steak; but while I went down to draw the ale, the dog ran away with it; and while I ran after him, the ale ran out; and when I went to dry up the ale with the sack of meal that we got at the fair, I upset the jug: but the cellar is now quite dry, and looks so clean!’ ‘Kate, Kate,’ said he, ‘how could you do all this?’ Why did you leave the steak to fry, and the ale to run, and then spoil all the meal?’ ‘Why, Frederick,’ said she, ‘I did not know I was doing wrong; you should have told me before.’

The husband thought to himself, ‘If my wife manages matters thus, I must look sharp myself.’ Now he had a good deal of gold in the house: so he said to Catherine, ‘What pretty yellow buttons these are! I shall put them into a box and bury them in the garden; but take care that you never go near or meddle with them.’ ‘No, Frederick,’ said she, ‘that I never will.’ As soon as he was gone, there came by some peddlers with earthenware plates and dishes, and they asked her whether she would buy. ‘Oh dear me, I should like to buy very much, but I have no money: if you had any use for yellow buttons, I might deal with you.’ ‘Yellow buttons!’ said they: ‘let us have a look at them.’ ‘Go into the garden and dig where I tell you, and you will find the yellow buttons: I dare not go myself.’ So the rogues went: and when they found what these yellow buttons were, they took them all away, and left her plenty of plates and dishes. Then she set them all about the house for a show: and when Frederick came back, he cried out, ‘Kate, what have you been doing?’ ‘See,’ said she, ‘I have bought all these with your yellow buttons: but I did not touch them myself; the pedlars went themselves and dug them up.’ ‘Wife, wife,’ said Frederick, ‘what a pretty piece of work you have made! those yellow buttons were all my money: how came you to do such a thing?’ ‘Why,’ answered she, ‘I did not know there was any harm in it; you should have told me.’

Catherine stood musing for a while, and at last said to her husband, ‘Hark ye, Frederick, we will soon get the gold back: let us run after the thieves.’ ‘Well, we will try,’ answered he; ‘but take some butter and cheese with you, that we may have something to eat by the way.’ ‘Very well,’ said she; and they set out: and as Frederick walked the fastest, he left his wife some way behind. ‘It does not matter,’ thought she: ‘when we turn back, I shall be so much nearer home than he.’

Presently she came to the top of a hill, down the side of which there was a road so narrow that the cart wheels always chafed the trees on each side as they passed. ‘Ah, see now,’ said she, ‘how they have bruised and wounded those poor trees; they will never get well.’ So she took pity on them, and made use of the butter to grease them all, so that the wheels might not hurt them so much. While she was doing this kind office one of her cheeses fell out of the basket, and rolled down the hill. Catherine looked, but could not see where it had gone; so she said, ‘Well, I suppose the other will go the same way and find you; he has younger legs than I have.’ Then she rolled the other cheese after it; and away it went, nobody knows where, down the hill. But she said she supposed that they knew the road, and would follow her, and she could not stay there all day waiting for them.

At last she overtook Frederick, who desired her to give him something to eat. Then she gave him the dry bread. ‘Where are the butter and cheese?’ said he. ‘Oh!’ answered she, ‘I used the butter to grease those poor trees that the wheels chafed so: and one of the cheeses ran away so I sent the other after it to find it, and I suppose they are both on the road together somewhere.’ ‘What a goose you are to do such silly things!’ said the husband. ‘How can you say so?’ said she; ‘I am sure you never told me not.’

They ate the dry bread together; and Frederick said, ‘Kate, I hope you locked the door safe when you came away.’ ‘No,’ answered she, ‘you did not tell me.’ ‘Then go home, and do it now before we go any farther,’ said Frederick, ‘and bring with you something to eat.’

Catherine did as he told her, and thought to herself by the way, ‘Frederick wants something to eat; but I don’t think he is very fond of butter and cheese: I’ll bring him a bag of fine nuts, and the vinegar, for I have often seen him take some.’

When she reached home, she bolted the back door, but the front door she took off the hinges, and said, ‘Frederick told me to lock the door, but surely it can nowhere be so safe if I take it with me.’ So she took her time by the way; and when she overtook her husband she cried out, ‘There, Frederick, there is the door itself, you may watch it as carefully as you please.’ ‘Alas! alas!’ said he, ‘what a clever wife I have! I sent you to make the house fast, and you take the door away, so that everybody may go in and out as they please—however, as you have brought the door, you shall carry it about with you for your pains.’ ‘Very well,’ answered she, ‘I’ll carry the door; but I’ll not carry the nuts and vinegar bottle also—that would be too much of a load; so if you please, I’ll fasten them to the door.’

Frederick of course made no objection to that plan, and they set off into the wood to look for the thieves; but they could not find them: and when it grew dark, they climbed up into a tree to spend the night there. Scarcely were they up, than who should come by but the very rogues they were looking for. They were in truth great rascals, and belonged to that class of people who find things before they are lost; they were tired; so they sat down and made a fire under the very tree where Frederick and Catherine were. Frederick slipped down on the other side, and picked up some stones. Then he climbed up again, and tried to hit the thieves on the head with them: but they only said, ‘It must be near morning, for the wind shakes the fir-apples down.’

Catherine, who had the door on her shoulder, began to be very tired; but she thought it was the nuts upon it that were so heavy: so she said softly, ‘Frederick, I must let the nuts go.’ ‘No,’ answered he, ‘not now, they will discover us.’ ‘I can’t help that: they must go.’ ‘Well, then, make haste and throw them down, if you will.’ Then away rattled the nuts down among the boughs and one of the thieves cried, ‘Bless me, it is hailing.’

A little while after, Catherine thought the door was still very heavy: so she whispered to Frederick, ‘I must throw the vinegar down.’ ‘Pray don’t,’ answered he, ‘it will discover us.’ ‘I can’t help that,’ said she, ‘go it must.’ So she poured all the vinegar down; and the thieves said, ‘What a heavy dew there is!’

At last it popped into Catherine’s head that it was the door itself that was so heavy all the time: so she whispered, ‘Frederick, I must throw the door down soon.’ But he begged and prayed her not to do so, for he was sure it would betray them. ‘Here goes, however,’ said she: and down went the door with such a clatter upon the thieves, that they cried out ‘Murder!’ and not knowing what was coming, ran away as fast as they could, and left all the gold. So when Frederick and Catherine came down, there they found all their money safe and sound.

The Golden Goose

golden-goose

There was a man who had three sons, the youngest of whom was called Dummling,[*] and was despised, mocked, and sneered at on every occasion.

It happened that the eldest wanted to go into the forest to hew wood, and before he went his mother gave him a beautiful sweet cake and a bottle of wine in order that he might not suffer from hunger or thirst.

When he entered the forest he met a little grey-haired old man who bade him good day, and said: ‘Do give me a piece of cake out of your pocket, and let me have a draught of your wine; I am so hungry and thirsty.’ But the clever son answered: ‘If I give you my cake and wine, I shall have none for myself; be off with you,’ and he left the little man standing and went on.

But when he began to hew down a tree, it was not long before he made a false stroke, and the axe cut him in the arm, so that he had to go home and have it bound up. And this was the little grey man’s doing.

After this the second son went into the forest, and his mother gave him, like the eldest, a cake and a bottle of wine. The little old grey man met him likewise, and asked him for a piece of cake and a drink of wine. But the second son, too, said sensibly enough: ‘What I give you will be taken away from myself; be off!’ and he left the little man standing and went on. His punishment, however, was not delayed; when he had made a few blows at the tree he struck himself in the leg, so that he had to be carried home.

Then Dummling said: ‘Father, do let me go and cut wood.’ The father answered: ‘Your brothers have hurt themselves with it, leave it alone, you do not understand anything about it.’ But Dummling begged so long that at last he said: ‘Just go then, you will get wiser by hurting yourself.’ His mother gave him a cake made with water and baked in the cinders, and with it a bottle of sour beer.

When he came to the forest the little old grey man met him likewise, and greeting him, said: ‘Give me a piece of your cake and a drink out of your bottle; I am so hungry and thirsty.’ Dummling answered: ‘I have only cinder-cake and sour beer; if that pleases you, we will sit down and eat.’ So they sat down, and when Dummling pulled out his cinder-cake, it was a fine sweet cake, and the sour beer had become good wine. So they ate and drank, and after that the little man said: ‘Since you have a good heart, and are willing to divide what you have, I will give you good luck. There stands an old tree, cut it down, and you will find something at the roots.’ Then the little man took leave of him.

Dummling went and cut down the tree, and when it fell there was a goose sitting in the roots with feathers of pure gold. He lifted her up, and taking her with him, went to an inn where he thought he would stay the night. Now the host had three daughters, who saw the goose and were curious to know what such a wonderful bird might be, and would have liked to have one of its golden feathers.

The eldest thought: ‘I shall soon find an opportunity of pulling out a feather,’ and as soon as Dummling had gone out she seized the goose by the wing, but her finger and hand remained sticking fast to it.

The second came soon afterwards, thinking only of how she might get a feather for herself, but she had scarcely touched her sister than she was held fast.

At last the third also came with the like intent, and the others screamed out: ‘Keep away; for goodness’ sake keep away!’ But she did not understand why she was to keep away. ‘The others are there,’ she thought, ‘I may as well be there too,’ and ran to them; but as soon as she had touched her sister, she remained sticking fast to her. So they had to spend the night with the goose.

The next morning Dummling took the goose under his arm and set out, without troubling himself about the three girls who were hanging on to it. They were obliged to run after him continually, now left, now right, wherever his legs took him.

In the middle of the fields the parson met them, and when he saw the procession he said: ‘For shame, you good-for-nothing girls, why are you running across the fields after this young man? Is that seemly?’ At the same time he seized the youngest by the hand in order to pull her away, but as soon as he touched her he likewise stuck fast, and was himself obliged to run behind.

Before long the sexton came by and saw his master, the parson, running behind three girls. He was astonished at this and called out: ‘Hi! your reverence, whither away so quickly? Do not forget that we have a christening today!’ and running after him he took him by the sleeve, but was also held fast to it.

Whilst the five were trotting thus one behind the other, two labourers came with their hoes from the fields; the parson called out to them and begged that they would set him and the sexton free. But they had scarcely touched the sexton when they were held fast, and now there were seven of them running behind Dummling and the goose.
Soon afterwards he came to a city, where a king ruled who had a daughter who was so serious that no one could make her laugh. So he had put forth a decree that whosoever should be able to make her laugh should marry her. When Dummling heard this, he went with his goose and all her train before the king’s daughter, and as soon as she saw the seven people running on and on, one behind the other, she began to laugh quite loudly, and as if she would never stop. Thereupon Dummling asked to have her for his wife; but the king did not like the son-in-law, and made all manner of excuses and said he must first produce a man who could drink a cellarful of wine. Dummling thought of the little grey man, who could certainly help him; so he went into the forest, and in the same place where he had felled the tree, he saw a man sitting, who had a very sorrowful face. Dummling asked him what he was taking to heart so sorely, and he answered: ‘I have such a great thirst and cannot quench it; cold water I cannot stand, a barrel of wine I have just emptied, but that to me is like a drop on a hot stone!’

‘There, I can help you,’ said Dummling, ‘just come with me and you shall be satisfied.’

He led him into the king’s cellar, and the man bent over the huge barrels, and drank and drank till his loins hurt, and before the day was out he had emptied all the barrels. Then Dummling asked once more for his bride, but the king was vexed that such an ugly fellow, whom everyone called Dummling, should take away his daughter, and he made a new condition; he must first find a man who could eat a whole mountain of bread. Dummling did not think long, but went straight into the forest, where in the same place there sat a man who was tying up his body with a strap, and making an awful face, and saying: ‘I have eaten a whole ovenful of rolls, but what good is that when one has such a hunger as I? My stomach remains empty, and I must tie myself up if I am not to die of hunger.’
At this Dummling was glad, and said: ‘Get up and come with me; you shall eat yourself full.’ He led him to the king’s palace where all the flour in the whole Kingdom was collected, and from it he caused a huge mountain of bread to be baked. The man from the forest stood before it, began to eat, and by the end of one day the whole mountain had vanished. Then Dummling for the third time asked for his bride; but the king again sought a way out, and ordered a ship which could sail on land and on water. ‘As soon as you come sailing back in it,’ said he, ‘you shall have my daughter for wife.’

Dummling went straight into the forest, and there sat the little grey man to whom he had given his cake. When he heard what Dummling wanted, he said: ‘Since you have given me to eat and to drink, I will give you the ship; and I do all this because you once were kind to me.’ Then he gave him the ship which could sail on land and water, and when the king saw that, he could no longer prevent him from having his daughter. The wedding was celebrated, and after the king’s death, Dummling inherited his kingdom and lived for a long time contentedly with his wife.

Beer In Ads #1373: Getting Outside A Guinness With R.L.S.


Thursday’s ad is for Guinness, from 1955. The ad features Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, who was born today in 1850. R.L.S. — as he’s referred to in the tagline — was the author of “Treasure Island,” the “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde,” and many others. According to the ad, which ran in the Illustrated London News, Stevenson was aboard a cruise ship in the South Pacific in 1893, when he wrote a letter to a person named Colvin, a portion of which was also part of the ad copy:

Fanny ate a whole fowl for breakfast, to say nothing of a tower of hot cakes. Belle and I floored another hen betwixt the pair of us, and I shall no sooner be done with the present amanuensing racket than I shall put myself outside a pint of Guinness. If you think this looks like dying of consumption in Apia, I can only say I differ from you.

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Jane Austen, Brewer

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I suspect I’m not the only man in the world whose wife loves Jane Austen. And I further would not be surprised to learn that I’m not alone in not feeling quite the same level of joy at every new film or television adaptation of one of her works. (Is that enough “nots” in one sentence?) Oh, I’ve enjoyed a few of the costume dramas, I confess. I thought “Clueless” was quite enjoyable. So I don’t want you to think I’m an irredeemable boor. I’ve suffered through — ahem, I mean seen — most of them, and it’s not been as horrible as, say, “Dallas” or “Knot’s Landing” or any of a number of similar dreck.

But my interest in Jane Austen just shot up 99%, thanks to an article posted by BBC Magazine yesterday, Beer: The Women Taking Over the World of Brewing. It’s a great article all on it’s own, one of the few to treat the subject of women in beer with a decent amount of respect, for a change. But what caught my attention was a sidebar about Jane Austen by alcohol historian Jane Peyton.

It is a truth that should be universally acknowledged — Jane Austen not only drank beer but brewed it too.

As a teenager she would have learned how to make beer by helping her mother in the Hampshire vicarage where she grew up.

Brewing was part of household duties and even the women of genteel 18th Century families such as the Austens would know how to do it, even if the chores were sometimes delegated to domestic staff.

In a letter to her sister Cassandra, Jane wrote “and I that have the great cask, for we are brewing spruce beer again….”

As in most houses small beer (low alcohol) was served at the Austen dining table as a safe source of drinking water for all members of the family — children too — so Jane would certainly have tasted the results of her labour.

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It certainly makes sense, though I’d never really stopped to think about it before. Austen apparently mentioned her brewing efforts in letters to her sister Cassandra. In one of them she mentions small beer while in two others she talks about her spruce beer.

Austen also mentions spruce beer in her 1815 novel, “Emma.”

“But one morning — I forget exactly the day — but perhaps it was the Tuesday or Wednesday before that evening, he wanted to make a memorandum in his pocket-book: it was about spruce-beer. Mr. Knightley had been telling him something about brewing spruce-beer, and he wanted to put it down….”

And according to “Cooking with Jane Austen,” when the Austen family lived at Stoneleigh, her mother wrote about the “mansions ‘strong beer’ and ‘small beer’ cellars.” And Mrs. Austen also “brewed beer at Steventon in the last years of the eighteenth century and at Chawton cottage many years later.”

It almost makes me want to read her again … nah. Still, she’s now a bit more interesting.

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Welcome To My Nanobrewery

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I’m behind the curve on this one, which, although it made a splash last year, I just stumbled on this morning. It’s a pretty funny piece by Denver novelist Jenny Shank that appeared on Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency back in April of last year. Welcome To My Nanobrewery is a hilarious look at an office where every cubicle has its own tiny brewery. Beer Advocate also did an interview with her after her piece was published, and her first novel, The Ringer, won the High Plains Book Award. So if you’re as behind as I am, give it a read. It’s pretty damn funny.

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The Man With The Golden Liver

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Today’s infographic is an odd one, entitled The Man With the Golden Liver. It’s a serious (as far as I can tell) review of the fourteen James Bond books written by Ian Fleming, examining how much alcohol the fictional character James Bond drank. The result of their work (reading novels, mostly) was published in BMJ, the British Medical Journal, under the title Were James Bond’s drinks shaken because of alcohol induced tremor? Here’s what they found:

Results After exclusion of days when Bond was unable to drink, his weekly alcohol consumption was 92 units a week, over four times the recommended amount. His maximum daily consumption was 49.8 units. He had only 12.5 alcohol free days out of 87.5 days on which he was able to drink.

Conclusions James Bond’s level of alcohol intake puts him at high risk of multiple alcohol related diseases and an early death. The level of functioning as displayed in the books is inconsistent with the physical, mental, and indeed sexual functioning expected from someone drinking this much alcohol. We advise an immediate referral for further assessment and treatment, a reduction in alcohol consumption to safe levels, and suspect that the famous catchphrase “shaken, not stirred” could be because of alcohol induced tremor affecting his hands.

So they undertook the examination of the drinking habits of a fictional character and concluded he was a high risk drinker, worrying what consequences might befall him. I’d laugh my head off if the goal didn’t appear to be to warn others not to follow his example and drink too much. Has their been a problem with copycats pretending to be British superspies and binge drinking in the process? And that’s been since 1953, when the first book was published. So it’s been sixty years. You think we’d have seen this epidemic by now. If anything, based on the fact that no one reads books anymore, this has to be a waning problem, if indeed it as ever one to begin with.

To be fair, a number of years ago I did something similar, looking through the Fleming novels for instances when 007 drank beer, which I detailed in a post called James Bond’s Beer. But my goal was entertainment, not science, and I had no aspirations to warm people about unhealthy behavior in a character who wasn’t real. The “scientists” who undertook this “study” even have the cojones to say that “the author Ian Fleming died aged 56 of heart disease after a life notable for alcohol and tobacco excess,” suggesting a connection between the author and his fictional creation. Fleming himself always said that he’d based 007 on a Serbian field agent, Dušan Popov, although there are plenty of other contenders.

Another ridiculous caution is their finding that based on their analysis of Bond’s consumption he would have frequently drove a car with a BAC of 0.08 or above, which they note is above the legal limit in the UK. Except that the last Bond work that Fleming wrote was published in 1966. That’s one full year before the UK passed the Road Safety Act, imposing a BAC percentage. So if we’re continuing this absurd line of reasoning, it doesn’t even work by their own standards. At any rate, it’s an interesting infographic, I could just do without the proselytizing.

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Click here to see the infographic full size.

The Romance Of The Barmaid

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In 1849, a book described as “sketches of life and character, with illustrative essays by popular writers” was published by David Bogue in London. Entitled Gavarni in London , the name comes from the illustrations by French artist Paul Gavarni. They’re apparently drawings that Gavarni did in England, and there are a total of 23 of them, each with an essay by popular writers of the day. There were acrobats, street beggars, thieves along with scenes from the West End, Greenwich Fair and others. There was also one about a Barmaid, the female bartender in the mid-17th century. The Barmaid essay was written by J. Stirling Coyne, who was an English playwright who was similar to Jonathan Swift or Alexander Pope. Open Library has the whole book available online to read, or go straight to The Barmaid to see it in the original, or just read it here below Gavarni’s illustration of The Barmaid.

Coyne-barmaid

THE BARMAID

Who is she that sitteth in the shrine of the temple of Bacchus? — the Priestess of that ancient worship whose mysteries are celebrated in the Halls of Evans. Her brows are crowned with mint and juniper, and her shining tresses curl like the rind of the artfully peeled orange upon her polished shoulders; in her right hand she beareth a bowl of fragrant nectar, and in her left presseth a golden lemon; gas-lights burn brilliantly around her, and the rich odours of Geneva fill the air; pleasantly she smileth upon her customers through clouds of incense wafted from patrician Principes or plebeian Pickwicks, and tempereth the ardency of Cognac with mild modicums from the New River. A legion of kind familiar spirits obey her behests: hers are the refreshing fountains of Soda, and hers the gently-flowing waters of Carrara! Who asks her name? Who knows not the pretty Barmaid — the modem Hebe, whose champagne is not more intoxicating than her aeillades?

Like the moon she never shines with full lustre till night; then she comes out in all the fascinations of satin and small talk — bestowing, with perfect impartiality, a smile upon one admirer, a tender glance upon another, and a kind word or two upon a third; leaving each in the happy belief that he is himself the fortunate individual upon whom she has secretly bestowed her affections. She carries on a flirtation while concocting a sherry-cobbler, accepts a lover in the act of sweetening a glass of toddy, and even permits a gentle pressure of the hand when giving you change out of your sovereign. But all this is selon son metier — a mere matter of business with which the heart has nothing to do.

Thus the Barmaid seems to be a kind of moral salamander, living unharmed in the midst of the amorous furnace in which Destiny has placed her. Long habit has perhaps inured her o this state of insensibility, upon which her safety as well as her happiness depends; but we believe it is an established fact in her history that no Barmaid ever gave away her heart, or permitted it to be sponged from her fingers’ ends, across the counter.

It is during her soiree — when her little court is filled with Gents, swells, and loungers from the theatres, that the Barmaid’s triumph is at its height. Then in the plenitude of her power she flings hack saucy repartees to pert addresses, and generally — for she has the sympathies of her audience with her — turns the laugh against the fool who has the temerity to hazard a skirmish of wit with her.

She has a wonderful acquaintance with all the floating topics of the day, and talks with as much confidence of Sir Robert’s great speech, and Sibthorpe’s last joke as a parliamentary reporter. She thinks the Guards “delightful fellows,” and declares her decided partiality for moustaches; she has a’settled conviction that Jullien is “a duck,” and considers the two mounted Blues at the Horse Guards models of manly and equine beauty.

These, however, are but the general outlines of the portrait : the Barmaid, like the chameleon, takes her local colour from the character of her visitors, and insensibly adopts the professional manners and language of the class in society with which she associates. Thus, at Limehouse she is marine, and in Albany Street military; in the neighbourhood of the Temple, and all about Chancery Lane she talks of sittings, and after-sittings — of caveats, pleas, and demurrers, with the gravity of an old Chancery barrister. In the vicinity of Covent Garden, along the Strand, and up the Haymarket, the Barmaid discourses most eloquently upon things theatrical; she has all the scandal of the green-rooms “by express,” and knows the name of every danseuse who gives Lord So-and-so a seat in her brougham in Hyde Park. She calls Mr. Macready “Mac,” and Buckstone “little Bucky;” she has, moreover, a white satin slipper of Taglioni’s, and a presentation copy of Baugniet’s admirable lithographic portrait of Paul Bedford, with the great creature’s autograph at foot, framed and hung up in the bar. In the Sporting Houses the Barmaid affects the Turf, and confesses, privately, that she has no objection to the Ring. She knows, the names of the favourites for the Derby and Leger, and backs them all round for any amount of gloves, handkerchiefs, ribbons, and other small wares, knowing that if she wins, she will be paid; and, if she loses, she never insults a gentleman by mentioning it. Within the circuit of half-a-mile of the London University the Barmaid is a blue; and if you be not on your guard, you may chance to get floored with a quotation from Horace, or a problem from Euclid. Besides these, there is the medical student Barmaid — near the hospitals; and the musical Barmaid — near the operas; and the artist Barmaid — anywhere; and the newspaper Barmaid — everywhere; with fifty others in various professions, who having picked up a smattering of the subjects they hear continually discussed, talk upon them as fluently, and sometimes quite as sensibly, as their instructors.

Having sketched the Barmaid at home, let us now present her to our readers as she appears abroad. True, her enjoyments beyond the narrow limits of the bar, and that mysterious little back parlour behind it, have been few; she has lived all her life amidst the grimy bricks and tiles of London. But she has an instinctive love of Nature implanted in her heart. The geranium in the little pot on her window-sill, and the flowers that she daily places in water on a shelf in the bar, are touching evidences that her heart has not lost its freshness in the withering atmosphere in which it has been placed.

When her periodical holiday arrives — that anxiously looked-for happy

“________ day that comes between
The Saturday and Monday” —

how joyfully does she prepare for an excursion with “the young man that keeps her company” to Greenwich, or Hampstead, or Rosherville; but most she delights in a trip to Richmond by water. Seldom beats a happier heart than the young Barmaid’s on a fine summer’s morning, when, with a delicious consciousness of liberty — that only those whose patrimony is servitude can taste — she hurries, with her equally happy lover, on board “The Vivid” steamer at Hungerford-pier — trembling lest they should be late, although they are full twenty minutes before the time of starting. During the voyage up, she is in raptures with every object she sees; — the winding banks — the beautiful villas, peeping through thick foliage — the green aits — and the graceful swans, whose snowy plumage acquires a dazzling splendour as they glide in the dark shadow of the overhanging shore. Everything, in short, is brighter and fairer than ever it appeared before. Then there is the landing, and the walk up the hill to the Park — where, seated under an umbrageous chestnut-tree, she gaily unpacks her handbasket, and produces her little feast. Were ever sandwiches so delicious! And the snowy napkin for a table-cloth; and the salt in a wooden lemon, unscrewing at the equator — the prize of some dexterous hand at the popular game of “three throws a penny;” and the morsel of cheese in the corner of an old newspaper; and the white roll; and the something — in the very bottom of the basket, carefully concealed from view — which must not be seen till the fitting moment arrives — and which, after the sandwiches have been dispatched, and a good deal of coaxing and coquetting has been performed, is brought forth, and proves to be a Lazenby’s sauce bottle, full to the cork with — what do you think? — real French brandy — the very best pale we engage too. Of course this cleverly managed little incident gives occasion for fresh laughter, and the lover begins to fancy how pleasant it would be to have a wife who could feel so much solicitude for his comforts; and this thought sinks into his heart as the brandy sinks in the flask; and by the time they have got on board “The Vivid” on their return, he has almost made up his mind to pop the interesting question.

We will not follow the pair to the reserved seat they have secured in a quiet comer of the deck, for there are little mysteries even in the heart of a Barmaid which we hold inviolably sacred. All we are at liberty to divulge is, that the conversation must be deeply interesting; for, when a gruff voice shouts — “Now then! Hungerford! Who ‘s for Hungerford?” as the steamer slowly approaches the pier, she raises her head with the expression of one who has been disturbed from a pleasing dream ; and looking around her exclaims — “Dear me! I declare we’re at Hungerford already!”

*          *          *          *          *          *

“A change comes o’er the spirit of my dream.” — Five years have passed away the girl has become a matron — the pretty Barmaid has ripened into a handsome Hostess. She now stands behind her own bar, the undisputed mistress of her little realm; waiters tremble at her nod, and enamoured Gents get intoxicated upon her smiles. Time has mellowed, but not impaired her beauty — at least not in the estimation of those who measure feminine beauty by the standard of Reubens. The roses on her cheeks have perhaps taken a deeper tint — her abundant hair, wandering no longer in ringlets over her neck, is clustered beneath a cap of the most becoming fashion — the light robe is replaced by the glossy black satin — and a massive gold chain depends from her neck, where the plain ribbon hung before; but she is still the same frank, lively, and kind creature that we always knew her. The Hostess, indeed, is but the perfected Barmaid; — to whose numerous admirers we respectfully dedicate this sketch.

Fantastical Fictive Beer

homer-duff
Today’s infographic is a cool new poster from Pop Chart Labs. This one, entitled Fantastical Fictive Beer, shows 71 beers used in various fictional setting: movies, television, etc. I don’t know if they used a post I did a few years ago, Fictional Beer Brands in their research, but our lists are pretty similar. It’s a pretty cool poster.

fantastical-fictive-beers
Click here to see the poster full size.

Seven Bottles In The Life Of The Average Man

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Today’s infographic is a spoof of the Seven Stages of Man, which is detailed in a famous monologue in Shakespeare’s play As You Like It. Created by Dario Suveljak, from Croatia, who called his version 7 Bottles in the Life of the Average Man. It begins with “H2O drinks,” proceeds through “Real-Man drinks,” ending up with “Placebo drinks.” Beer, not surprisingly, represents “Adult man.”

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CLick here to see the chart full size.

John Updike’s Paean To The Beer Can

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Today is one of my favorite author’s birthdays, John Updike. He grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town that I did — Shillington — and we both escaped to a life of writing. Though I think you’ll agree he did rather better than I did with the writing thing, not that I’m complaining. I once wrote to him about a harebrained idea I had about writing updated Olinger stories from the perspective of the next generation (his Olinger Stories were a series of short tales set in Olinger, which was essentially his fictional name for Shillington). He wrote me back a nice note of encouragement on a hand-typed postcard that he signed, which today hangs in my office as a reminder and for inspiration. Anyway, this little gem he wrote for the The New Yorker in 1964 is a favorite of mine and I now post it each year in his honor. Enjoy.

Beer Can by John Updike

This seems to be an era of gratuitous inventions and negative improvements. Consider the beer can. It was beautiful — as beautiful as the clothespin, as inevitable as the wine bottle, as dignified and reassuring as the fire hydrant. A tranquil cylinder of delightfully resonant metal, it could be opened in an instant, requiring only the application of a handy gadget freely dispensed by every grocer. Who can forget the small, symmetrical thrill of those two triangular punctures, the dainty pfff, the little crest of suds that foamed eagerly in the exultation of release? Now we are given, instead, a top beetling with an ugly, shmoo-shaped tab, which, after fiercely resisting the tugging, bleeding fingers of the thirsty man, threatens his lips with a dangerous and hideous hole. However, we have discovered a way to thwart Progress, usually so unthwartable. Turn the beer can upside down and open the bottom. The bottom is still the way the top used to be. True, this operation gives the beer an unsettling jolt, and the sight of a consistently inverted beer can might make people edgy, not to say queasy. But the latter difficulty could be eliminated if manufacturers would design cans that looked the same whichever end was up, like playing cards. What we need is Progress with an escape hatch.

Now that’s writing. I especially like his allusion to the beauty of the clothespin as I am an unabashed lover of clothespins.

In case you’re not as old and curmudgeonly as me — and who is? — he’s talking about the transition to the pull-tab beer can (introduced between 1962-64) to replace the flat punch-top can that required you to punch two triangular holes in the top of the can in order to drink the beer and pour it in a glass.
pull-top-can punch-top-can
The pull-tab (at left) replaced the punch top (right).

Originally known as the Zip Top, Rusty Cans has an informative and entertaining history of them. Now you know why a lot of bottle openers still have that triangle-shaped punch on one end.
church-key

So essentially, he’s lamenting the death of the old style beer can which most people considered a pain to open and downright impossible should you be without the necessary church key opener. He is correct, however, that the newfangled suckers were sharp and did cut fingers and lips on occasion, even snapping off without opening from time to time. But you still have to laugh at the unwillingness to embrace change (and possibly progress) even though he was only 32 at the time; hardly a normally curmudgeonly age.

Jack Kerouac’s Beer Prank

kerouac
Today is Jack Kerouac’s birthday, one of the original beat writers, whose most famous work, On the Road, provided the voice for an entire generation. By all accounts he favored margaritas when drinking, and was quoted as saying “Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” After his premature death at 47, he’s continued to be hailed as a great writer. In 1987, John Montgomery compiled and published (through Fels & Firn Press), The Kerouac We Knew, of which only 1500 copies were printed.

kerouac-we-knew

It’s a collection of remembrances, essays and photographs about Kerouac, one of which was entitled “Footnotes from Lowell.” It’s apparently written by the Kerouac family’s paperboy, who was only in his teens when Kerouac died. His (or possibly her) mother worked at the local newspaper, the Lowell Sun, and apparently when she worked the night shift, would occasionally give Kerouac a ride home. The author reminisces with the following tale about one of Kerouac’s beer pranks.

One evening, he persuaded them to stop off at Droney’s Pub on Broadway, his favorite, prior to Nicky’s: maybe in December, 1953. At one point he got off a stool and collected all the empty Harvard Ale bottles (brewed in Lowell, now defunct: Kerouac’s favorite beer, in green bottles with a cork). When he had gathered an armful, he re-stoppered them and one by one and slipped them into the old wood-burning Franklin stove in the center of the floor. The few people who did notice him figured he was just stoking the fire (the only source of heat). After he had filled the stove with 15 or 20 bottles he left the lid off and resumed his silent seat at the bar. Within minutes the pub was transformed into a diminutive Pearl Harbor. Kerouac just sat on his stool, surveying his work, laughing like a madman. This is the kind of escapade for which Jack is remembered in Lowell; escapades that poked fun at Lowell people in a loving way.

Apparently Jack Kerouac was known for his pranks, and this was a favorite one. The author speculates that this was his favorite beer, too, but I can’t find any other evidence for that, so who knows? Still, a fun little story.

Harvard-ale