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Spitballin’

A History of Beer, Written While Drunk

If it weren’t for beer, Strange Brew would be only 11 minutes long and called Hamlet.

As so much of the story of beer is shrouded in mystery and half-truths, I have taken it upon myself to break down the true history of this fascinating libation. Many historians erroneously credit George Washington with having brewed the first beer. It’s a common mistake, but our nation’s foundingest father actually had nothing to do with the invention of beer. He did, however, invent the sandwich, and named it after his dear friend, Earl Sandwich, who was not only one of the founding members of Parliament Funkadelic but also a member of the House of Lords, sympathetic to the breakaway republic. Beer, in fact, wouldn’t be invented until five years after Washington’s death, in 1947, by president Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln brewed the first beer, Honest Abe’s Log Cabin Lager, in his famed stovepipe hat. Lincoln was attempting to create a targeted poison for controlling the nation’s burgeoning population of draculas, and here, his concoction proved an utter failure, but in the process he accidentally created beer, or as it was known at the time, America Water. On an interesting sidenote, the first effective anti-dracula poison was developed out of peanuts just 14 days later by Washington’s grandson, George Washington Carver.

Beer was an immediate hit, due in large part to the popular beer ads that featured a leggy Mary Todd Lincoln in her star-spangled bikini—hand-woven by Betsy Ross—opposite the wisecracking baseball announcer Bob Uecker, who was only 12 years old at the time. The campaign’s catchy, “Tastes great!” “Harmless to draculas!” call and response not only opened a nation to delicious beer, it would later provide an inspiring battle cry for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his gallant Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War. Unfortunately, it was Lincoln’s attempts at popularizing beer overseas that led to his assassination when Lee Harvey Oswald, in a misguided attempt at wooing actress Jodie Foster, killed the president at a wet T-shirt contest in the Grassy Knoll, a popular Texas watering hole. His exclamation, “Sic semper tyrannis,” a Dutch phrase meaning “Don’t give those fucking Euros our America Water,” lives in infamy to this day.

While America remained staunchly isolationist on the beer issue, spreading beer internally from coast to coast, a philosophy known as Oktoberfest Destiny, was extremely popular. In 1953, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, a talking Clydesdale that Lewis rescued from a Finnish circus, embarked on a mission to spread beer across the continent. They left from St. Louis’ majestic Gateway Arch, home of the first McDonald’s, to bring beer to the city of Milwaukee on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Though the mission was a success, beer never really caught on in Milwaukee. It had, however, infatuated the rest of the nation, and in just six years, beer had supplanted Eli Whitney’s cotton gin as America’s number one libation.

The story of brilliant outback scientist Albert Einstein’s contribution to beer has been well-documented by filmmaker/surfer Yahoo Serious in his critically acclaimed documentary, Young Einstein, but it bears repeating here. Beer, while delicious, had been a drab and bubble-less affair, until Einstein, using a chisel, split the beer atom and created the first bubbled beer. His discovery would not only finally couple beer and belching; three years later, it would make John Glenn’s historic mission to open the first Bennigan’s neighborhood saloon on the moon a reality. Once beer had reached the moon, keeping it from the rest of the Earth would prove impossible.

As America Water swept through The Continent, bringing with it Rock and Roll, Jason Priestley, and his lascivious hips, the crowned heads of Europe scrambled for ways to combat this Yankee menace. And so, in 1974, the German Beer Purity Law of 1516 was passed; Germany was still on the Metric Calendar at the time, hence the discrepancy. The law limited the ingredients of beer to water, barley, and hops, which was de facto protectionism, as most U.S. beers at the time were made from at least 50 percent gravy. This led directly to the American Craft Beer Movement, a reaction against the beer purity act so named because Craft Beers frequently include powdered cheese.

By the 1980s, Beer, following in the footsteps of Tang and Sunny D, had become a global beverage, and it wouldn’t be long before the first beer war. Ronald Reagan, who had recently bowed to pressure from nutritionists and educators by making beer a fruit for school-lunch purposes, launched the invasion of Grenada. Grenada, a small island nation famous for producing Mickey’s Big Mouth bottles, had fallen under the sway of Communism and had stopped producing the small round bottles. Heroic jarhead Clint Eastwood, the most decorated Marine in Grenada, would later parlay his status as a war hero and shitty beer savior into the mayorship of Carmel, California, where his entire cabinet was made up of empty chairs that he believed to be Barack Obama.

Of course, the entire history of beer isn’t so tumultuous. Beer is widely credited with curing typhoid fever and, when taken orally, temporarily alleviates the symptoms of unattractiveness in others. Beer got Baby Jessica out of her well, and when taken in sufficient quantities, can make the Tea Party platform sound like a good idea. Beer saved my first marriage and killed my second (both before they actually happened). Beer makes bowling fun and baseball watchable. Without beer, soccer hooligans would just be soccer fans and beer-league softball would be called slow-fat-guy softball. Most shockingly, if it weren’t for beer, Strange Brew would be only 11 minutes long and called Hamlet.

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