10 Things You Might Not Know About Beer

As this long, holiday weekend winds down, Munich’s Oktoberfest celebrations come to a close and, here in the North East, the days VERY suddenly take a turn for the colder regions of the thermometer, I thought it fitting solace to share a list I found of 10 little-known beer facts, as compiled by Mark Jacob of the Chicago Tribune:

  1. Why did the Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock rather than push on to Virginia, as originally intended? They had run out of beer, of course. As the diary of one Mayflower passenger reads, “We could not now take time for further search or consideration; our victuals being much spent, especially our beere.”
  2. In the 1600s and 1700s, midwives in Europe and Colonial America gave delivering mothers “Groaning Ale”, which was fermented for seven or eight months and tapped when contractions began. After the birth it wasn’t uncommon for the child to be bathed in the remaining ale, since it was often more sanitary that readily available water.
  3. As president, James Madison proposed the creation of a national brewery and the appointment of a “secretary of beer” (I’m now accepting nominations). Needless to say, however, congress would have none of it.
  4. In 1814, the rupture of a brewery tank in London sent 3,500 barrels of beer cascading down nearby city streets, demolishing two houses and actually killing 9 people.
  5. The Diversey Parkway and Lill Avenue in the North Side of Chicago are actually named after two early Chicago brewers, Michael Diversey and William Lill.
  6. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 devastated the local beer industry, allowing nearby Milwaukee brewers to swoop in and snatch up market share. After establishing a foothold there, breweries like Schlitz took advantage of Chicago’s extensive railroad hub to begin shipping across the country.
  7. “The Guinness Book of World Records” was first written in 1955 at the suggestion of Guinness Brewery’s top executive to “settle gentlemanly disputes, such as those that would arise over mugs of beer”.
  8. In celebration of the fact that the Cleveland Indians are right now beating up on the Yankees: Joe Charboneau, a native of Belvidere, IL, who played outfield for the Cleveland Indians in the early 80s used to open beer bottles with his eye sockets, and drink beer through a straw in his nose.
  9. During prohibition, only “near beer” (beer with less than 0.5 ABV) could be sold. Such beer, however, was often turned into high-octane “needle beer” when alcohol was injected into the barrel. And, last but not least,
  10. The idea commonly known as beer-goggles (essentially, thinking members of the opposite sex are more attractive when you’re a little tipsy than you might otherwise think if you were sober) might actually be true. A study at Glasgow University in 2002 found that slightly intoxicated students were 25% more likely to rate a person as sexually attractive than students who were sober.

And, on that note, have a happy abbreviated work week, everyone. Cheers.

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