Common Phrases with Their Roots in Beer

Ever wonder where some of the most commonly used phrases in the English language come from? You’d be surprised at how many can be traced back to beer-related roots. For example:

  • Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get service, resulting in today’s phrase, Wet your whistle.
  • In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them to mind their own pints and quarts and settle down. It’s where we get the phrase mind your P’s and Q’s.
  • It was the accepted practice in Babylonia 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer, and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which eventually came to be known as the honeymoon. 
  • Before thermometers were invented, brewers would dip a thumb into the mix to find the right temperature for adding yeast. Too cold, and the yeast wouldn’t grow. Too hot, and the yeast would die. This became known as rule of thumb. (This one, of course, is very highly disputed.)

Know of any more? let us know and I’ll get them posted.

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2 comments

  1. The Rule of Thumb one is definitely bogus. See:

    http://hop-talk.com/2007/02/06/rule-of-thumb/

    I’m not entirely sure the etymology of the others is quite correct either. Got a source?

  2. They all came from a widget on the Alaskan Brewing Co.’s website. True or false, who knows; they just sounded pretty neat, so I passed them along.

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