Andy Crouch has a very interesting post about the efforts of Daniel Lanigan to buy a bar in Cambridge. It is of particular interest to me because until recently Daniel owned the Moan and Dove which is my favorite bar. He also owned the Awful Dirty Truth which I think he envisioned as a beer restaurant but I don’t think it worked. The issue Andy is reporting on concerns the liquor license and whether the bar in Cambridge will be open until 2 a.m. The License Commission is concerned because they are trying to eliminate “barrooms””. The neighbors are concerned because of crowd control. These and similar issues were standards parts of the pre-Prohibition world. Licensing was often a tool of Prohibitionists in their attempts to curtail the liquor trade. Liquor control polices developed during Repeal also relied on licensing. A main goal of Prohibition was to eliminate the saloon; post-Repeal polices along with changes in the packaging of beer have encouraged a huge trend away from public drinking toward drinking in the home. The craft beer movement and the growth of beer pubs has reversed that trend somewhat. However, the License Commission hearing shows that public officials prefer drinking to be a part of a dining experience and frown on establishments dedicated solely to drinking.
On Sunday, I gave a talk at the Jewish Community of Amherst on “Jewish Beer and Brewing.” I didn’t actually write that much about this topic in my book, Brewing Battles, so this talk was a combination of material from the book and other sources. For this blog post, I will present primarily the new material.
In 1840, the Jewish population in America was about 15,000. By 1880, there were 250,000. The majority were German Jews. Their reasons for leaving were very similar to non-Jewish Germans. Many of the German Jewish immigrants were involved in business including banking and department stores. German Jews had not been prominently involved in brewing in Germany and thus did not gravitate to that industry in America. The industry that both German and Eastern European Jewish immigrants played a major role in was the garment industry as well as department stores. My father and his family all worked in the garment industry. Continue reading “Jewish Beer and Brewing”
Blue Laws restrict the selling of alcohol on Sundays and date back to the nineteenth century. Blue law legislation can also prohibit other commercial activities on Sunday. Most states have rescinded or overturned this legislation but Connecticut, Georgia, and Indiana still restrict sales of all alcoholic beverages. Fifteen other states , including Texas, prohibit the sale of distilled spirits only.
According to Time, these states may soon join the rest of the country in providing 24/7 liquor sales to their citizens. Although the Christian right opposes overturning the Blue laws, the states feel they are losing a valuable source of revenue by continuing to prohibit Sunday sales. Connecticut faces competition from both New York and Massachusetts while Texas feels it is losing revenue from potential sales along the border with Mexico.
The Time article points out how governments turn to alcohol as a source of revenue during hard times. The Repeal of Prohibition at the height of the Great Depression is the most striking parallel to today’s situation. President Obama certainly appears to share President Franklin Roosevelt’s affinity for cocktails but Jessica Warner, The Day George Bush Stopped Drinking: Why Abstinence Matters to the Religious Right, argues that, as a society America needs to abstain from something. If the revenue needs of states move our abstemious gaze away from alcohol, what other substance or behavior will we seek to curtail?
Right now, 12: 55 p.m. on Saturday January 10, 2009, the hardcover version of Brewing Battles is number 87 in Amazon’s list of “The most popular items in Beer. Updated hourly.” Yesterday the paperback was 84 and the hardcover 100.
The rankings really do change by the hour so it could all be different by 2 p.m. I have always intended to write at least one blog about Amazon and I have been trying for a while to catch a moment when at least one of the versions of the book was on the list so I could write about the contents of the list rather than its meaning and value .
Number One right now is How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Right the First Time by John Palmer. Of the nine other books in the top ten, eight are about home brewing, including Charles Papazian’s classic, The Joy of Homebrewing which is number 3. Number 5 is The Alaskan Bootlegger’s Bible which, according to Amazon, tells the reader “how to make beer, wine, liqueurs, cider and moonshine whiskey.” Home distilling is illegal in the United States.
In my recent AHA talk, I discussed the fact that scholarly work on alcohol and temperance has been more weighted towards temperance than the industry. The reverse is true for popular literature as the Amazon list indicates.
Number 10 on the list is Charles Bamforth, Grape Versus Grain: A Historical, Technological and Social Comparison of Beer and Wine. Bamforth is the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at the University of California, Davis.
The next fifteen follow the same general path, being either about some aspect of brewing geared toward the home brewer, or about beer styles and types of beer. Number 18 , Stan Hieronymous, tells you how to Brew Like a Monk while number 23 is the late Michael Jackson’s opinion on the best beer in the world, Ultimate Beer. Charlie Papazian makes another appearance with the same book at 24 ( one of the many peculiarities of Amazon’s list – for another post).Shine on Shiner Beer rounds out the top twenty-five and commemorates the 100 year history of the Texas brewery.
Numbers 25 to 50 cover more brewing how-tos, a book on beer drinking games, a beer memoir by Steve Hindy, Beer School:Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery, Brewing For Dummies, another book by Michael Jackson as well as another by Charles Papazian. Numebr 36 New Jersey Breweries by Lew Bryson, is a guide book; the first history on the list is number 49, Maureren Ogle, Ambitious Brew, the hardcover.
Numbers 51 -75 include books on wine, sake, and root beer as well as another book by Charles Bamforth. Number 72 is Maureen Ogle in paperback ( that peculiarity again)
Okay I have been writing this for forty-five minutes . Let’s see if Brewing Battle’s is still on the list. I am but at 89. Number 77 is Gregg Smith, Beer in America: The Early years 1587-1840 which is a good , popular history of the pre-German American brewing industry. The rest of the groups is more of the same with beer drinking games, sake, Michael Jackson, The Big Book O’ Beer which is shaped like a beer can, and several cookbooks. Number86 is Ken Wells, Travels with Barley,a journalistic endeavor. The final book, number 100 is Bill Yenne, Beers of the World. Yenne has written several books on beer.
Even though the list changes every hours and did so while I have been writing, the actual content of the list does not vary very much. You can pretty much count on Jackson and Papazian as well as a few others; then books on home brewing and beer styles with a very small smattering of more serous works.
It would have been surprising to find an anti-alcohol work on this list, but having examined the beer list, I think I will try to find a similar list for health, temperance, prohibition or the like and see what that holds.