Sunday, March 3, 2013

They've Been Watering Down Our Catholic Beer For Centuries

No surprise that another large multi-national corporation is accused of cheating its customers:

“Our information comes from former employees at Anheuser-Busch, who have informed us that as a matter of corporate practice, all of their products [mentioned in the lawsuit] are watered down,” [attorney Josh] Boxer said, according to the Associated Press. “It's a simple cost-saving measure, and it's very significant.”
The excess water is added just before bottling and cuts the stated alcohol content by 3% to 8%, he said.

Now when I think of watered-down beer I immediately think of one brand: Miller Lite. How anyone could drink a bottle of that liquid nothingness was always beyond me and I'm one of the great lightweights of all time. The fact is, Lite tastes like a glass of water with a slight hint of beer. Hell, Aquafina holds more of a kick.

And so THAT got me to thinking about the whole Lite Beer from Miller ad campaign, going back to the '70s and '80s, when they used ultra-macho pro sports athletes: 

to talk skeptical American males into believing that they weren't the following if they drank light beer:

Of course, the notion that drinking light beer can make you feminine is long gone in our modern American society. So far gone that contemporary Lite beer campaigns make drinking their dainty swill a test of manhood in and of itself:

The ridiculousness of that last ad isn't just in the claim that drinking Lite beer makes you more manly. It's in the very fact that they are bragging about the so-called "triple-hops brewed" quality of their beer. What makes that so outrageous is the simple fact that hops is estrogenic, so adding "triple hops" to the process means they are giving you manly macho men THREE TIMES the estrogen you would normally be consuming.

Triple the estrogen makes you more of a man! Only in our modern American corporate wasteland could something like that fly.

And so THAT got me to thinking about this post I came across one day:

Prior to the German Beer Purity Act of 1516, beer almost never contained hops. In fact, more than one hundred different plants were used in brewing beer for at least ten thousand years prior to the introduction of hops in the middle ages. For the last thousand years of that period, the most dominant form of “beer” was called gruit, which contained a mixture of yarrow, bog myrtle, and marsh rosemary. These herbs, especially in beer, are sexually and mentally stimulating. (It is rare to become sleepy when drinking un-hopped beers.)
The Catholic Church had a monopoly on the production of gruit, but competing merchants and the Protestants worked together to break their monopoly and force the removal of all sexually stimulating herbs from beer. They replaced them with an herb that puts the drinker to sleep and dulls sexual drive in the male. The legislative arguments of the day all hinged on the issue of the stimulating effects of other herbs that were used in beer. A pilsner, for example, was originally a henbane beer (pilsen means “henbane”), which is an incredibly strong, psychoactive beer, used earlier in history by German berserkers before battle. The German Beer Purity Act was, in effect, the first drug control law ever enacted.

And then THAT got me to thinking about the extra research I did into this fascinating topic:

One of the arguments of the Protestants against the Catholic clergy (and indeed of Catholicism) was Catholic self-indulgence: in food, drink, and lavish life style. And it was this Protestant outrage that was the genesis of the temperance movement. (It would not stop, of course, with the assault on gruit ales but would continue on to include ale itself and any kind of psychotropic or inebriating plants and drinks by the twentieth century.)
The Protestant reformists were joined by merchants and competing royals desiring to break the brewing monopoly of the church. The result was, ultimately, the end of a many-thousand-year tradition of herbal beer making in Europe and the narrowing of beer and ale into one limited expression of beer production, that of hopped ales or what we today call beer.

The fact of the matter is, the potency of your beer had been weakened immensely a long time before Anheuser-Busch got bought by a soulless Belgian multinational. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Protestant Reformation - the original buzzkill.

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