Taproom à la WBT: A Sober Page of Beer Information
Taproom n. A room attached to a microbrewery serving brewery-fresh beer on tap.
|Artwork from a German beer advertisement, about 1901.|
World Beer Trivia's Three Favorite Reasons to Admire Beer
1. Historical artistic inspiration. Beer and art are centuries-old companions. Most appealing to WBT is the beer-related artwork of the 19th-century European artists, especially the French artist Edouard Manet (1832-1883), whose artwork includes French beer drinkers and barmaids. Then, too, there are the 17th-century Dutch painters who also incorporated beer drinking into their artwork.
2. Health benefits. The on-going scientific research into the health benefits of drinking beer (in moderation) spans the globe, from brain-function studies to anti-cancer research. WBT's non-medical, consumption-only opinion is this: A bottle of beer is better for a healthy adult’s body than a bottle of sugar-loaded non-diet soft drink, a.k.a. soda pop, a beverage the compiler of WBT never consumes. However, pure water, not beer, is still humankind’s top beverage for health benefits and longevity, but the anti-water words of the American entertainer and notable drinker W.C. Fields (1880-1946) must be remembered: "Say anything that you like about me except that I drink water" and "I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it." Fields preferred gin, but he also drank beer, forgetting, perhaps, that it is brewed with water as a major ingredient.
3. A drinkable family with colorful names. For the animal lover: Pig Ass, Moose Drool, Tactical Nuclear Penguin, Puppy's Breath, and Roaring Lion; for the religious-minded drinker and would-be saint: Le Fruit Defendu (Forbidden Fruit, with a label depicting a naked man and woman -- Adam and Eve, perhaps -- drinking beer in a forested garden), Saint Arnold, and Buckin' Monk; for the female exhibitionist: Panty Peeler; for the satanic and twisted of mind: Fallen Angel, Vampire Blood, Dark o' the Moon, and Dulle Teve (Mad Bitch); for Christmas-season merrymakers: Santa's Butt; and for the thirsty male warrior: SkullSplitter.
No Beer or Alcoholic Beverages in Wonderland or Looking-Glass World
Fantasy-minded beer drinkers interested in trivia about Alice in Wonderland might find WBT's sister website of interest: Alice in Wonderland Trivia (www.aliceinwonderlandtrivia.com). Beer, however, is not mentioned in Lewis Carroll’s two Alice books: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and the sequel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871). Wine is mentioned in Wonderland, but it is nonexistent wine not served during an Alice-attended mad tea party. In addition, the ingredients of the bottled beverage labeled Drink Me that Alice swallows in Wonderland is not revealed, though it has a food-flavored taste, including roast turkey.
Happily, there is ample culinary literature on what style of beer to drink while eating a roasted turkey during Christmastime or on Thanksgiving or simply on a non-holiday day. Some turkey eaters might prefer a pumpkin ale, while others may prefer a Belgian-style wheat beer brewed with orange peel and coriander and offering a slight aroma reminiscent of orange marmalade, a popular Victorian preserve that Alice encounters in Wonderland. Still other turkey eaters may want a French farmhouse ale or an English brown ale. However, no beer expert knows for certain what style of beer the original live turkey would request for a down-the-throat traveling companion to accompany its chewed and swallowed body meat -- breast, leg, wing, or butt -- as it makes its fascinating journey through the human digestive system.
The Celtic Mythological Ale of Immortality
The only antiaging beer known to bestow long life on merrymakers is the Ale of Immortality (full bodied, a good head, and a delightful aftertaste) brewed in a Celtic deity's magic cauldron located in the Otherworld, a realm beyond the human senses.
At the Celtic Otherworld feast called Fled Goibnenn, a craftsman-god named Goibniu has the mouth-watering task of brewing and serving a remarkable ale that bestows immortality, not drunkenness, on the Tuatha Dê Danann, the pre-Christian deities of Old Irish tradition. Made from sprouted grain and hops, this well-brewed alcoholic beverage protects the Otherworld inhabitants against old age and the bodily frailties and diseases that kill mortal humans.
A land of forever-young, Goibniu's Otherworld is an intriguing place to drink an antiaging ale. There is an abundance of food dispensed from magic vessels, enchanting music played by bright-plumaged birds, a prominence of the deities' favorite color, red, and beautiful women ready to satisfy all sexual desires, divine or mortal. There is no sickness, aging, or bodily decay. Complementing Goibniu's ale is the immortal Otherworld pig that is slaughtered for supper, then appears restored the next morning ready to again be killed and eaten. Mortal humans who visit the Otherworld remain young during a brief stay, but, denied a tankard of the Ale of Immortality, which is brewed only for the deities, rapidly age 300 years and crumble to dust on return to the human world.
|Detail of the silver-plated Gundestrup Cauldron in the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.|
Like other Celtic magical cauldrons, the ale cauldron of Goibniu dispenses an endlessly supply of the popular beverage. The cauldron is always full no matter how many guests are served. In appearance, it resembles the ancient Celtic cauldrons discovered in Ireland and Celtic Europe. The human-made Gundestrup Cauldron, a modern icon of Celtic religious art uncovered in Northern Europe in the late 19th century, is pure silver, decorated with mythological designs and holds 28.5 gallons (107.88 l) of liquid. However, unlike Goibniu's ale-brewing cauldron, the Gundestrup Cauldron may have been used to hold human blood after throat-cutting ceremonies, a usage horrifying to today's longevity-minded ale drinkers.
Perhaps inspired by Goibniu's life-extending ale, a modern German brewery bottled an "Anti-Aging-Bier" that purportedly contained a hodgepodge of minerals designed to slow the aging process. Regrettably, this "antiaging" brew had no ingredients that made it different from a regular glass of beer spiked with a store-bought vitamin capsule. In fact, no human-brewed beer in Europe or in America is known to reverse aging in barroom and living-room drinkers. Goibniu's ale, though reserved for deities, is still the best-brewed antiaging beverage on Planet Earth. Someday, perhaps, it will be bottled, labeled Goibniu's Forever Young Extra Special Celtic Ale, and exported worldwide to human ale-drinkers desperate for a good-tasting elixir of immortality.
Sources: James MacKillop's A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology (New York, 1998), Proinsias MacCana's Celtic Mythology (New York,1968), Miranda Jane Green's Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend (New York,1992), and "German brewery says develops 'antiaging' beer," Reuters Health Information, 1 Sep 2004.