FUN BEER FACTS
The first canned bear went on sale today (Friday) in 1935. The American Can Company and the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company collaborated to package 2,000 cans of Krueger's Finest Beer and Krueger's Cream Ale. It was an immediate success. By the end of 1935 most major breweries had begun using cans.
• Beer is Medicine: Beer was often used as medicine in medieval times. But those people used just about anything as medicine whether it worked or not, right? Modern people wouldn’t be so silly. Or would they? Shortly after the start of Prohibition the government ruled that doctors could give out beer for medicinal purposes. This made members of the temperance movement furious; here they had finally won their long fight to outlaw alcohol and people were still going to be able to get it because of a loophole in the 18th Amendment.
• The World’s Oldest Brewery: It’s a terrible stereotype that Germans are all huge beer drinkers. However, their country of 80 million did until just a few years ago have more breweries than the 300 million strong USA. They also lay claim to the oldest brewery. Located in Bavaria, Weihenstephan Abbey has been making beer since 1040. That’s almost 1000 years of continuous beer production.
• Drinking Ages: The age at which you are allowed to buy alcohol varies surprisingly little from country to country, usually falling between 16 and 21. However, parts of India have a drinking age of 25, the latest in the world. Many Muslim countries outlaw alcohol consumption altogether while a very few countries allow anyone of any age to buy beer. The age at which you are allowed to purchase alcohol is often different from when you can legally drink it. For example, in the UK you must be 18 to purchase alcohol but it is legal for you to drink it in a private home under adult supervision from the age of 5.
• Beer and Spit: The Incas and some Pacific Island cultures used spit to ferment their beer. Beer or Chicha was very important for Incan festivals. They had large breweries devoted to making enough of the stuff. The recipe went something like this: take a large vat of water and let it warm up in the sun. Get a bunch of women to chew corn until it is a pulp in their mouths. The women then spit the pulp into the vat of warm water and let it sit for a few weeks. Then simply strain the lumpy, cloudy mixture and it’s ready to serve.
• The Earliest Beer Recipe: Beer brewing dates to almost 6000 BC. However, it was the Sumerians around 2000 BC who really loved the stuff. Their plaques and carvings often center on people or gods drinking from large jars of beer. A hymn to one of their most important goddesses, Ninkasi, is actually a very detailed explanation of how to make beer; this was helpful in a society that was almost entirely illiterate. Want to make some beer but can’t read the recipe? Just start reciting the hymn and you’re set. Beer was so important that the average Sumerian couldn’t be bothered to stop drinking it for anything apparently, as there is a carving of a woman drinking out of a beer jug in the middle of sexual intercourse. That’s some dedication to your booze.
• Beer is Dangerous: For your liver, obviously. But beer brewing is also a dangerous process due to the chances of bottles exploding, as today’s home brewers know. Sometimes, however, you get beer destruction on an even larger scale. At a London brewery in 1814, a vat containing more than 100,000 gallons of ale exploded, sending the beer rushing down the street through poor residential areas. It destroyed two houses and one pub, killing nine people in the process. However, one of those people only had himself to blame. When the beer settled into the gutters, people, enticed by free booze (even if it did have bits of road in it), rushed to the streets to drink it. A gentleman indulged a little too much and died from alcohol poisoning the next day.