Several weeks ago, while researching the birthday of Pennsylvania brewer Henry Fink, I happened upon the advertising poster below. Intrigued, because I’m fascinated with symbols, I couldn’t make out what they were because the largest image I could find is this one. All I could figure out at the time was that it had something to do with a song.


Eventually I gave up, and moved on, because if I’m not careful I’ll keep going off on tangents and down rabbit holes until I’ve gotten myself well and truly lost, not to mention wasted hours of unproductive time. But I kept coming back to it, and eventually, I had to figure out what exactly it was or go crazy. So I started taking a closer look into the poster and figured out that they’re all over the place and it’s a famous German song called the “Schnitzelbank.” And the Fink’s ad poster, or versions of it, is everywhere and has been used by breweries, restaurants and others for years. Which makes sense because, although it’s a “German-language ditty for children and popular among German Americans with an interest in learning or teaching German to their offspring,” it’s also commonly sung by adults for entertainment and nostalgia, and usually while they’re drinking beer.


In German, Schnitzelbank apparently “literally means ‘scrap bench’ or ‘chip bench’ (from Schnitzel ‘scraps / clips / cuttings (from carving)’ or the colloquial verb schnitzeln “to make scraps” or “to carve” and Bank “bench”); like the Bank, it is feminine and takes the article “die”. It is a woodworking tool used in Germany prior to the industrial revolution. It was in regular use in colonial New England, and in the Appalachian region until early in the 20th century; it is still in use by specialist artisans today. In America it is known as a shaving horse. It uses the mechanical advantage of a foot-operated lever to securely clamp the object to be carved. The shaving horse is used in combination with the drawknife or spokeshave to cut down green or seasoned wood, to accomplish jobs such as handling an ax; creating wooden rakes, hay forks, walking sticks, etc. The shaving horse was used by various trades, from farmer to basketmaker and wheelwright.”

A traditional shaving horse around 200 years old.

And that’s also why the posters always include a Schnitzelbank, because in addition to it being the title, it’s also how the song begins.


Here’s one description of the Schnitzelbank song:

A Schnitzelbank is also a short rhyming verse or song with humorous content, often but not always sung with instrumental accompaniment. Each verse in a Schnitzelbank introduces a topic and ends with a comedic twist. This meaning of the word is mainly used in Switzerland and southwestern Germany; it is masculine and takes the article “der”. It is a main element of the Fasnacht celebrations in the city of Basel, where it is also written Schnitzelbangg. Schnitzelbänke (pl.) are also sung at weddings and other festivities by the Schitzelbänkler, a single person or small group. Often the Schnitzelbänkler will display posters called Helgen [which is “hello” in German] during some verses that depict the topic but do not give away the joke.

Often the songleader uses the poster to lead people in the song, pointing to the symbols as they come up in the lyrics, as this photo from the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Lodge illustrates.


The song uses call and response, with the leader singing one lyric, and the chorus repeating it back as it goes along. So here’s what the traditional version of the song sounds like:

Some Sauerkraut with Your Schnitzelbank? has an interesting reminiscence of a visit to a Fasching Sonntag in the St. Louis area around 1982, and includes his experience taking part in the singing of the Schnitzelbank song.

In the evening, everyone moved upstairs to the parish hall, which was the typical multipurpose gymnasium with a stage at one end. Set up with long tables in parallel rows on both sides, the band in place on the stage, and the large crowd ready for the music to begin, the hall had lost its bland, bare, everyday atmosphere. On the stage, off to one side, was a large easel with a poster on it. I didn’t pay much attention to it, thinking it was for announcements later in the evening. The band started, and the dancing began in the clear space down the middle of the hall, mostly polkas and waltzes, with a few variety numbers like the dreaded Duck Dance, which explained the need for pitchers of beer. Finally, when the crowd was well exercised and well lubricated, someone approached the easel with a pointer in his hand. People started shouting “Schnitzelbank! Schnitzelbank!” The music began, and the person with the pointer called “Ist das nicht ein Schnitzelbank?” and the crowd heartily responded “Ja, das ist ein Schnitzelbank!” Then came a chorus of music, to which everyone sang, “O Die Schoenheit un der Vand, da das ist ein Schnitzelbank.” And so it continued for several verses, the person on stage pointing to another object on the poster with “Ist das nicht ein.…?” and the crowd responding at the top of their voices. I was puzzled at first, but eventually joined in and didn’t think much more about it. I’m pretty sure that only a few people knew all the German words, and that some had memorized it over the years, while the ones in front were close enough to the poster to read the words under the pictures—everyone else just shouted a cheerful approximation of what they thought their neighbor was saying.


The Schnitzelbank, or Schnitzel Bank, is a song with short verses, meant to be sung the way it was at the Fasching Sonntag, with a leader and group response. It is sung in some areas of Germany for Fasching, Fastnacht, or Karnival, and also during Oktoberfest, and other occasions where there is a happy, celebratory crowd. In America, the posters are displayed at a few German restaurants and some tourist attractions with a German American heritage, such as the Amana Colonies in Iowa and some Pennsylvania Dutch locations. Singing the Schnitzelbank in America dates at least to the turn of the 20th century, which is when the John Bardenheier Wine and Liquor Company printed its version on an advertising poster.

According to “The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk,” first published in 1966, the melody first appeared in 1761 by a French composer and lyrics were written a few years later, n 1765, and it was known as “Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman,” but it became far more well-known as “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep” in subsequent years. Apparently it first appeared as “Schnitzelbank” in 1830.


This is the most common version of the poster, and as far as I can tell the symbols have become more or less fixed sometime in the mid-20th century. Perhaps it’s because one company is licensing the imagery to various purposes, or the song has simply evolved to its modern form, made easier by recordings and a growing number of shared experiences.


So let’s break down the most common version of the song:


            Symbol Translation
schnitzelbank1 Is this not a Schnitzelbank?

(“Yes this is a Schnitzelbank”)

schnitzelbank17 Short and Long
schnitzelbank2 Him and Her
schnitzelbank3 Criss and Cross
schnitzelbank6 Shooting Gun
schnitzelbank18 Wagon Wheel
schnitzelbank4 Crooked and Straight
schnitzelbank5 Big Glass
schnitzelbank7 Oxen Bladder
schnitzelbank19 Heap of Manure
schnitzelbank9 Cantankerous Boy
schnitzelbank10 Heavy Woman
schnitzelbank8 Fat Sow
schnitzelbank11 Tall Man
schnitzelbank12 Fir Tree
schnitzelbank14 Wedding Ring
schnitzelbank15 Dangerous Thing



schnitzelbank-frankenmuth-clockFrom Mader’s Famous Restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Here’s another band performing the song. This is the Gootman Sauerkraut Band at the Bravarian Pretzel Factory 2014.

As I mentioned, this all started because a brewery used the Schnitzelbank poster as an advertisement. Apparently that was not unique, and I’ve find a number of others who did likewise. Here’s a few of them:

The Eastside Brewery of Los Angeles, California, from the 1930s.

Drewery’s, the Canadian brewery, from the 1940s.

The Huebner Brewery of Toldeo, Ohio, from sometime prior to prohibition.

This one, though not for a specific brewery, was for Sitter’s Beverages, a distributor of beer, wine, liquor and cordials in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It’s undated, but given that the telephone number is “1917” (yes, just those four numbers) I suspect it’s pre-prohibition. One source puts the date between 1912 and 1919.

A promotional towel, from Koerber’s Brewery, also from Toledo, Ohio.

The Pearl Brewery of San Antonio, Texas


Jacob Ruppert’s Brewery of New York City, 1907. Though notice that the almost uniform symbols were changed for Ruppert’s ad, substituting his own beer and brewery, along with other more beer-friendly items into the song list.


Although it’s possible that the symbols weren’t quite as settled in the early 20th century, as this postcard, also from 1907, has several that deviate from the standard symbols, including some also in the Ruppert’s poster, but also some that are not in that one.


Yuengling Brewery also apparently had their own Schnitzelbank poster, based on the Ruppert’s design. This one is a linen towel being used as a window shade, though it’s too small for me to read the date.


Though the Ruppert’s design appears to be copyrighted again in 1934, based on this generic one found by someone in an antique store.


Likewise, this one for Falstaff Beer uses the traditional symbols, but adds two more, one for “Gutes Bier” (good beer) and “Falstaff Here.”


This one’s also not from a brewery, but the Alpine Village Inn in Las Vegas, Nevada. This one’s newer, as it opened in 1950, became somewhat famous, but then closed in 1970.


This one is labeled as being a “Pennsylvania Dutch Schnitzelbank” and has 20 symbols rather than the standard sixteen. And only eight of those are the usual ones. I don’t know how I missed it growing up (I grew up near Pennsylvania Dutch country in Pennsylvania, and in fact my grandparents grew up on Mennonite farms, but were the first generation to leave them).


Apparently it’s also a big deal in Amana, Iowa, where there’s a gift and toy store called the “Schnitzelbank” and where, in 1973, the Amana Society created this Schnitzelbank poster.


The Schnitzelbank Restaurant in Jasper, Indiana, uses the poster as their placemats.

This random German poster, which translates as “Oh you beautiful Schnitzelbank” has only about half of the standard symbols on it. I’m not sure when this one was created but it’s available on Polka Time as an “Oktoberfest Poster.”

Also more modern, the New Paltz Band has their own version of the song using non-standard symbols.


And speaking of music, Marv Herzog used the poster on an album cover. The album, of course, included the Schnitzelbank song.

And lastly, the Animanics did their own version of the Schnitzelbank song in episode 56 entitled “Schnitzelbank,” which aired in 1994. It’s described as “a traditional German song that the Warners learn in German from Prof. Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeyer. The lyrics were adapted by Randy Rogel.”

From Henry Sticht’s “Schnitzelbank Two-Step,” 1907.

Patent No. D510083S1: Beer Bottle-Like Musical Speaker

Today in 2005, US Patent D510083 S1 was issued, an invention of Kenneth L. Kasden, for his “Beer Bottle-Like Musical Speaker.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

The ornamental design for a beer bottle-like musical speaker, as shown and described.


Historic Beer Birthday: Coletta Möritz, Die Schützenliesl

Today is the birthday of Coletta Möritz (September 19, 1860-November 30, 1953). Möritz was essentially Bavaria’s first pin-up girl, nicknamed “the beauty of Munich,” a waitress discovered by painter Friedrich August Kaulbach, who painted her on top of a barrel holding eleven mugs of beer, while the instead of wearing a cap on her head, has a target instead. That’s because after doing a sketch of Möritz in 1878, when she was 18, he painted a large banner, roughly 9 x 16 feet, which hung outside a beer tent for a national shooting competition in July of 1881, in the same spot in Munich where Oktoberfest is held. The painting was called “Die Schützenliesl,” (which means “the shooting Liesl,” which was a popular German name derived from Elizabeth, or sometimes “the Marksmen’s Lisa”) and was an immediate hit. For the rest of her life — she lived to be 93 — Coletta was known as die Schützenliesl, and was also painted by other well-known artists while continuing to work as a waitress.

The original painting by Friedrich August Kaulbach, completed in 1881.

The Schützenliesl painting has gone on to become a Bavarian cultural symbol, used on beer labels, postcards and as a logo. In 1905, an operetta, “Die Schützenliesel,” was written by Austrian composer Edmund Eysler, with the libretto by Leo Stein and Carl Lindau.


Her story appears well-known in Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe, but much less so everywhere else. You can find it all over German websites, such as the Falk Report, Über das Leben der Münchner “Schützenliesl” Coletta, Augsburger Allgemeine, two articles on Merkur — Bavaria’s First Pin-up Girl and “I am the great-grandson of Schützenliesl” — and the Croatian Pivnica.

A photograph of Coletta when she was 22.

Here’s one of the few accounts I could find in English, from a newsletter for the German-American Society of Sarasota:

Over 150 years ago, on September 19, 1860, there was born in the village of Ebenried, Bavaria, a child who was to become one of the most admired and colorful figures in the history of Bavaria and beyond. Born Colletta Möritz, she would become “die Schützenliesl” (the Marksmen’s Lisa), beloved by all who knew her, as well as by those who knew her only through pictures of her that circulated widely. Even to this day, after she is long gone from the public scene, the well-known song “Die Schützenliesl” is played – and sung heartily.

When Colletta’s unmarried mother, Marianne Möritz, found village life too confining, she moved with her child to the capital city of Munich. As soon as Colletta grew to school age, she was given over to the poor sisters in the Au (Armen Schulschwestern) for child care and schooling. These sisters had a convent, the only one in those days where girls were trained to become teachers. Colletta yearned to become a handicraft teacher (one who would teach skills such as knitting and sewing). Her mother, meantime, became independent by opening her own second-hand shop in Munich.

As Colletta was growing up she met many Munich artists who frequented her mother’s shop, looking for old costumes to use for historical paintings or for decorating their studios. It was not just at her mother’s shop, however, where Colletta met these artists, but also at her first place of employment, where she worked as a beer hall girl. (She had failed to continue her dream of becoming a teacher because of money problems.) So by age 16 she was serving beer at the Sterneckerbräu, a popular beer hall frequented by the same artists she had seen at her mother’s shop.

The beer hall proprietor observed this new beer Mädchen and was delighted with the fact that she was such a quick learner, that she could carry 12 Maβ of beer from the basement to the Gaststube, and he noted that in spite of the hard work and menial pay, she was always cheerful. (Note: one Maβ of beer is 1 liter). Colletta was so successful at her job that she became a Kellnerin (waitress) for George Probst, who owned the Brauhauskeller. Although well known and admired, Colletta’s fame was yet to grow from these early contacts. At this point she was just a likeable and pretty beer hall girl – if unusually popular with guests.

Colletta’s world began to explode in 1881, when the 7th Deutsche Bundesschieβen was organized in Munich. A Bundesschieβen is a national shooting match, and this one became a festival of huge proportions. Marksmen from far and wide attended these shooting competitions. It so happened that one of the artists who had come to know Colletta as a beer hall girl was the famous painter Friedrich August Kaulbach. One day Kaulbach was sitting in the Sterneckerbräu tent, before the festival opened, when he suddenly had an idea – he would paint Colletta on a beer tent sign. He asked Colletta to model for him; having her hold mugs of beer in her hands and having her lift a foot as though she was dancing on a barrel. To develop the theme of the “Liesl” as a “marksmen Lisa” he added a marksman’s target to the side of her head. After he made the sketch, he took it to his studio and painted it – ready for display

Positioned on the festival field, called the Theresienwiese, were placed four beer tents (really houses), with names like “Zum wilden Jäger” (to the wild hunter), “Zum blinden Schützen” (to the blind marksman, “Zum goldenen Hirschen” (to the golden stag), and “Zur Schützenliesl” (to the marksmen Lisa). This “Gastwirtschaft” – Zur Schützenliesl – displayed prominently the Kaulbach painting. There she was, the famous Kellnerin, with her swinging skirt, and carrying 11 – not the typical 12 – overflowing mugs of Sterneckerbräu beer. The Schützenliesl, dancing on a barrel, seemed to be floating through the Bavarian beer heaven. When the Schützenfest began, hordes of people tried to get a seat in the Schützenliesl Gastwirtschaft. They wanted to sit under the Schützenliesl picture and have the real Schützenliesl bring a Maβ of beer to them. Not only did the Schützenliesl conquer the hearts of the marksmen themselves, but of all the festival visitors. Whether they were Munich natives or visitors from outside Munich, they headed for the Schützenliesl Gastwirtschaft. There the beer was flowing like a river.

Later, as an old woman, Colletta recalled, “During the whole festival, our tent was packed because everyone wanted their beer served by the Schützenliesl”. The Augsburger Abendzeitung (an Augsburg newspaper, 26 July 1881) reported on that scene: “Attached to the festival tent is the Wirtschaft to the Schützenliesl of Mr. Massinger. The idyllic tower with the red-covered roof and the stork perching on top of it would have been enough to catch the eye of those looking for a Wirtschaft. But then our F.A. Kaulbach draws a ’Liesl’ on it, one so fresh, so voluptuous, so seducing as no marksman has ever seen. It is curious but this lifeless picture seems to be the main attraction. Every nook and cranny was filled with people. One day about 8 o’clock in the evening, the proprietor raced in among the masses, pale from shock, saying that the beer supply was used up to the last drop and thousands of unfortunate beer drinkers were sitting there with their tongues drooping. After a fearful hour, only a few had left their hard-won places, the rattling of a beer wagon could be heard. The steeds raced mightily toward the tent and after a 30-minute battle, the beer was back.” According to a Munich newspaper, 16,300 Maβ of beer were drunk in the Schützenliesl Wirtschaft on the last evening of the shooting contest.

The famous Kaulbach painting of the Schützenliesl hangs today in the Festsaal of the “Münchner Haupt”, short for “Königlich privilegierte Haup.”

Another painting of Möritz, entitled “Beautiful Coletta,” was done by Toni Aron in 1885, a commission by Löwenbräu.

Here’s a translation of an article entitled “‘Schützenliesl’ is symbolic figure,” from an Exhibition of the House of Bavarian History:

In Bavaria the 19th century the inn was a place dominated by men. But what would the Bavarian festival culture without the female member? For International Women’s Day on March 08, we tell the story of Schützenliesl that it has brought to successful businesswoman and advertising icon from simple Biermadl. Even today it is a well known symbolic figure.

Coletta Möritz (1860-1953) was born near Pöttmes in Aichach-Friedberg, an illegitimate child of a small farmer’s daughter and worked after moving her mother at 16 years as Biermadl, ie auxiliary waitress at Sternecker Brau im Tal in Munich.

There perverted also members of the society of artists “tomfoolery”, among them Friedrich August Kaulbach (1850-1920), which struck the attractive beer girl. So he asked in 1878 Coletta Möritz to stand him for a sketch model. The motive of this sketch it was then that the young Coletta could be for advertising icon.


The “Schützenliesl” (here a Landshuter Protect disc of 1881), a dashing beer waitress, is a popular symbol of the Bavarian festival culture. For over a hundred years, it keeps popping up in beer commercials and was immortalized in the eponymous song – an early “Wiesnhit”. Behind the legendary figure hides the waitress and hostess later Coletta Möritz (1860-1953), who came from near Pöttmes. In 1878 the young “Biermadl” was none other than the Bavarian prince and painter Friedrich August von Kaulbach model. For the VII. German federal shooting, which took place in late July 1881 the Theresienwiese, painted Kaulbach the Beautiful Coletta then as “Schützenliesl”. The colossal painting served as exterior decoration of the across Bierbude, in which the young woman also availed itself. For that time the picture was a bold presentation, it excited at the festival and beyond once a stir. Logically also be seen on the few months later bombarded memory disk Landshuter fire Schützengesellschaft that invoked the spirit of the Federal shooting again the “Schützenliesl”.

And here’s a third painting she modeled for, entitled Schützenfest, created by Johann Heinrich Hasselhorst in 1887.

After World War 2, a German songwriter Gerhard Winkler wrote a song entitled “Schützenliesl” in 1952. It was the first post-war Oktoberfest hit and remains a staple of the songs sung in the tents during Oktoberfest. The version below is performed by Marianne & Michael.


Coletta was married twice, and had twelve children. She worked in restaurants and beer halls her entire life, and lived to be 93. Throughout Europe, she’s a famous figure, although especially at Oktoberfest.

Coletta in her later life.

Beer Birthday: Sam Calagione

Today is Sam Calagione’s 47th birthday. Sam is the owner and marketing genius behind Delaware’s successful Dogfish Head Brewing. Sam’s also a great guy, and a (former?) rap singer of sorts, with his duo (along with his former head brewer Bryan Selders) the Pain Relievaz. See the bottom of this post for a couple videos of him singing after hours at Pike Brewery during the Craft Brewers Conference when it was held in Seattle. Join me in wishing Sam a very happy birthday.

Sam gives the thumbs up behind his booth at the Great American Beer Festival a few years ago.

Hosts Ken Grossman & Sam Calagione
With Ken Grossman at a Life & Limb collaboration beer dinner.

Kite & Key co-owner Jim Kirk and me with Sam Calagione, Bill Covaleski & Greg Koch
Kite & Key co-owner Jim Kirk and me with Sam, Bill Covaleski & Greg Koch.

Sam Calagione @ Rare Beer Tasting
Sam at the Rare Beer Tasting at Wynkoop during GABF 2009.

Rapping at Pike Place in Seattle in 2006.

This first video is “I Got Busy with an A-B Salesgirl,” the Pain Relievaz’ first hit single.

The second video is “West Coast Poseurs,” a smackdown to the hoppy West Coast beer and brewers.

Alice Cooper And Chicken And Beer, Oh My!

Today is the birthday of American rock singer and songwriter Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier; February 4, 1948- ). Apparently early in Alice Cooper’s career, there was an incident at a 1969 show in Toronto that helped to create his bad boy persona and get him noticed in the world of rock and roll. That became known as the Chicken Incident, and there are different versions of it that have been told, with this one coming from Wikipedia.

Alice Cooper’s “shock rock” reputation apparently developed almost by accident at first. An unrehearsed stage routine involving Cooper, a feather pillow, and a live chicken garnered attention from the press; the band decided to capitalize on the tabloid sensationalism, creating in the process a new subgenre, shock rock. Cooper claims that the infamous “Chicken Incident” at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival concert in September 1969 was an accident. A chicken somehow made its way onto the stage into the feathers of a feather pillow they would open during Cooper’s performance, and not having any experience around farm animals, Cooper presumed that, because the chicken had wings, it would be able to fly. He picked it up and threw it out over the crowd, expecting it to fly away. The chicken instead plummeted into the first few rows occupied by wheelchair users, who reportedly proceeded to tear the bird to pieces. The next day the incident made the front page of national newspapers, and Zappa phoned Cooper and asked if the story, which reported that he had bitten off the chicken’s head and drunk its blood on stage, was true. Cooper denied the rumor, whereupon Zappa told him, “Well, whatever you do, don’t tell anyone you didn’t do it.”

Blueiskewl also has another account, with some additional context. Stemming from the infamous chicken incident, at some time in the 1970s, Cooper managed to be in the same room as Colonel Sanders — Harland David Sanders — the founder and face of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a connection not lost on Cooper.

A perplexed Colonel Sanders posing with Alice Cooper, who’s holding a beer, sometime in the 1970s.

During an interview which was taped for a showing of the film Super Duper Alice Cooper in 2014, Cooper answered a question about his meeting Colonel Sanders in the 1970s.

“Here comes this nice old man in a white suit,” said Cooper. “Suddenly I realize that this is the Hannibal Lecter of chickens. I have the death of exactly one chicken on my hands, and this guy has a score of 10 billion. Yet everyone loves this guy, and hates me for being a chicken killer! The irony of the two of us being in the same room at the same time was not lost on either me or the Colonel.”

And in yet another one by Interviewly, he talks about tying the two together.

What can you tell us about meeting Col. Sanders? Did he bring chicken?

There was an INCREDIBLE thing that happened in the early 70’s! Somebody threw a chicken onstage, I threw the chicken in the audience, the audience tore it to pieces, and then in the newspaper the next day the headline read “Alice Cooper tears chicken to pieces.” It’s the most notorious story about Alice Cooper that’s been going on forever. And I thought “it just one chicken and I didn’t even kill it, the audience killed it, so I thought why not take a picture with the mass murderer of chickens Colonel Sanders?” so to me it had a sense of humor to it. I mean, one chicken for me, seven BILLION chickens for Colonel Sanders. And yet I’m the villain. I would say if you interviewed the chickens they would be more terrified of him than me.

Unfortunately, I can find no specifics about exactly when or where this meeting took place. It looks like it was in someone’s house, or maybe a hotel, but no one seems to know for sure. Perhaps it’s better to leave it mysterious and enigmatic. If it weren’t for the photos, we may not believe it every actually happened.

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what beer it was? 19702 and with a foil neck and probably label. It’s not Michelob and it doesn’t strike me as a Lowenbrau. It might be something more local or regional, but given that we don’t know the location that’s not much help. It doesn’t look like the Colonel joined Cooper for a beer.


It’s The Most Wonderful Time To Drink Beer

I first made Johann, the founder of Seef Bier, in San Francisco, when he was here to do a presentation with his importer and the Belgian Trade Delegation as he was beginning to import his beer to the U.S. And I quite like Seef, and have since I first tried it. I saw him most recently last month in Belgium, when he was on hand to pick up the gold medal for Seef he received at the Brussels Beer Challenge. At any rate, this morning he sent me this fun video of Christmas Wishes from Seefbier, a spoof of the popular Christmas carol recorded by Andy Williams, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. It really is the most wonderful time to drink beer. Enjoy.

Beer Birthday: Bryan Selders

Today is the 41st birthday of Bryan Selders, who is the brewmaster at Post Brewing in Colorado. Up until March of 2011, he was lead brewer of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and one-half of the hip hop duo The Pain Relievaz, before leaving the industry temporarily to do web design at Inclind. But a few years ago, he came back to brewing, which was great new for everyone who love terrific beer. I first met Bryan at Hop School in Yakima, Washington years ago and he’s a terrifically talented and fun person. Join me in wishing Bryan a very happy birthday.

Bryan with his boss Sam on picture day at the brewery.

Bryan with some of his “fans.”

The cover of the latest CD, Awesome = Yes, the Pain Relievaz Greatest Hits, available nowhere as far as I can tell. But below is Bryan and Sam in the video “Pinchin’ Pennies.”

Note: All photos purloined from Facebook.

Dean Biersch Buys The Twin Oaks

This is more local news and will be of interest mainly to my neighbors in Sonoma County. There’s an iconic bar in Penngrove, a small town next to where I live, in Cotati. It’s even smaller than my town, but it does have a pretty cool bar called Twin Oaks, which has been there since 1924, though at least until 1933 it was simply a road house tavern and gas station. Well, maybe not simply. According to 98-year old Vivian Kehl, who worked there during prohibition when it was also a grocery store, Twin Oaks also
sold co-owner Frances Hoar’s “very good home-brewed beer that, despite Prohibition, was widely popular with local customers.” But since we moved up this way, it’s been a kick ass old bar.


But in 2013, Twin Oaks got a new owner, Sheila Groves-Tracey, who’s been booking local bands in the North Bay for decades, and she’d transformed the bar in a concert venue, as well.

On Wednesday, it was announced that Dean Biersch bought the Twin Oak. Biersch was a co-founder of the Gordon Biersch brewpub chain but left when the restaurant side of the business was sold. More recently, he opened the HopMonk Tavern in Sebastopol, and has gone on to open two additional locations, one in Sonoma and the other in Novato.

In the Press Democrat, Biersch talked about his plans for the bar:

“In my mind the Twin Oaks is a ‘heritage’ hospitality site – one of the last roadhouse, tavern, honky-honks on the Old Redwood Highway,” said Biersch, reached by phone.

He plans to keep the name and ambiance that Twin Oaks Tavern (5745 Old Redwood Hwy, Penngrove) is known for while renovating and upgrading the space to include a new dance floor, expanded outdoor patio, and new kitchen. A licensing change will allow for families and children to enter the tavern to eat. Another major draw includes a lineup of 16 draft beers.

“It’s been running for 91-years continually, and that’s pretty cool. I’ve never considered (making it) another HopMonk,” he said. “Our biggest focus is to be a part of this great property, close to other craft breweries in Petaluma with a great beer, music and bar atmosphere,” Biersch added.

Twin Oaks will close briefly in January to do some minor renovations, with plans to open again in the spring, but Biersch cautions that’s he’d not planning on changing very much of the iconic old bar.


Beer In Ads #1745: When Do Music Majors Say Budweiser?

Monday’s ad is still another one for Budweiser, again from the late 2000s. Although it’s a recent ad, it has a more vintage feel, and is part of a series that was created for college market newspapers. This one shows a caricature of composer Ludwig van Beethoven‘s head up close, and the thoughts in his head that lead him to drink a beer.


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!