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According to the history of beer drinking, the modern day society first got introduced to this elixir called “Beer” about 4,000 years ago through the Sumerian “Hymn to Ninkasi”, the goddess of brewing. In this s “hymn” was also the proto-type recipe for making beer. This basically revolved around a wet piece of bread or grains became wet and a short time later, which would eventually start fermenting and the inebriating pulp was the initial form of today’s modern day beer. In other accounts of various cultures, grains of barley or baked bread was soaked till fermentation and the resulting liquid was described to make people feel “exhilarated, light headed and happy!”. Some of these ancient civilizations even considered beer to be a “divine drink” sent to them by the Gods they worshipped.
In fact, the first time beer stumbled onto the literary arena was in the Gilgamesh Epic, from the 3rd millennium B.C. According to this epic piece of literature, beer plays a vital role in the evolution of man from a primitive beast to a cultured man of today.
When the Babylonians over took Mesopotamia after the fall of the Sumerian’s in the 2nd millennium B.C. They too worked wonders in improving and mastering the art and science of brewing beer. In fact they went so far as to come up with brewing 20 different kinds of beer. However, the history of beer drinking revels that proto-type beer was quite different from what it is at this moment. It was unrefined and unfiltered. Special drinking straws where needed to drink it otherwise the brewing residue was quite bitter and distasteful in the mouth.
The Babylonian’s introduced Beer to the Egyptians and so the story continues. The Egyptians were so won over by Beer that Egyptian scribes created an extra hieroglyph for “brewer” specifically.
Anyways, Beer soon found its way into the homes and hearts of numerous nations around the world. Recipes of Tibetan beer called Chicha, Latin beer called Bibere and Spanish beer called Cerveza are also on record. Ancient Germans considered beer fit to be a sacrificial offering to their Gods. Finnish poetic saga Kalewala produced almost 400 verses for beer alone. Edda, the great Nordic epic, describes wine as a drink for the gods, while beer was for mortals and mead for the dead.
Fast forwarding to present age beer, the food shortage resulting from World War II, introduced a lighter version of beer known as malt. With the majority of the male population fighting the war, the American work force was mostly female and a lighter beer suited them just fine. But not for long, as the war ended so started a new revolution in beer brewing. Today, the world is turning back to the original methods of brewing beer and coming up with better and more refined variations of premium quality beer. Today beer is a social and cultural icon in its own right. Major sporting events can not be mentioned without mentioning their relevance to beer drinking fans.
Nothing describes the true sprit of beer drinking than these golden words of Samuel Johnson, “No, sir: There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn”.
Prohibition Law: The Nobel Experiment
The 14 year period of Prohibition from alcohol in the US is also known as the Nobel Experiment in US history. Prohibition was imposed from 1920 to 1933 and it was a period in which manufacturing, sale or transport of liquor was prohibited and was considered a legal offence. It was also the only time that an Amendment in the U.S constitution was revoked.
So how did this happen? Well the depression brought on by the American Revolution was being treated openly with liquor. Naturally crime and lawlessness was on the rise. To handle this deteriorating social situation, a number of Temperance societies were set up to remind the common people of the disadvantages of intoxication and persuade them to (if not completely refrain) than atleast drink responsibly. However, this moderate attitude soon took an ugly turn and these vigilante organizations soon demanded the complete prohibition of alcohol consumption. They blamed the rising crime rate through out the country on the irresponsible consumption of alcohol.
To pacify these Temperance societies, which by the 20th century had popped up in almost every state of the United States the 18th Amendment was passed into the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the sale and manufacturing of intoxicating products through out the country. The 18th Amendment became affective on January 16, 1920. If there was any ambiguity left in the common man’s mind about the Law of Prohibition, the Volstead Act, passed on October 28, 1919 made it crystal clear. According to The Volstead Act , beer, wine, or any other intoxicating malt or liquors that contained 0.5% alcohol volume was now illegal. Not only that, the Volstead Act also made having any item which could be used in the manufacturing of alcoholic products illegal and offenders would be fined or jailed accordingly.
However, both the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act were full of loopholes for people who wanted to drink come what may, to jump through. For instance, both the Amendment and the Act had allowed the consumption of alcohol for medical purposes. So countless prescriptions for alcohol started circulating instantly.
The Prohibition Law now opened up a whole new Pandora ‘s Box of law and order situations across the country, and in history of the United States, this is the time most remembered as the golden age of gangsters and glamour. The imbalance between the supply and demand of alcohol heralded the arrival of gangsters like Al Capone. Secret bars were set up by the henchmen of these gangsters, where people who could afford it could go for a drink. The government too did its bit by hiring Prohibition Agents to keep a look out for such illegal activities, but these agents were mostly untrained and under paid, which made them the perfect candidates for bribery.
It was under these conditions that people slowly started to realize that the Prohibition Law was not really helping the situation, but instead making it worse. It was this realization that added steam to the anti-Prohibition movement gained strength. To top it all off the Stock Market crashed in 1929 and The Great Depression began. It was then that people started realizing that in a situation where the government needed revenue and people needed jobs. The legalization of alcohol could do both these things, its manufacturing units could offer people jobs and the sales tax could bring in much need revenue for the government.
Therefore, on December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was finally revoked. The 21st Amendment nullified the 18th Amendment and alcohol was once again made legal throughout the United States.
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