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Racism and Beer (& Brat) Consumption

Bratwursts on the grill 

Equality can sometimes debase into a type of leveling that is the enemy of real diversity of variety. That was clear in an article in the Washington Post on “The Racial Politics of Beer” decrying the fact that “American brewing was and largely remains a white man’s world.”   What a supremely stupid thing to worry about.   But it is even worse than ordinary stupid.  It betrays that leveling mindset that find discrimination and conspiracy in every human difference that makes life interesting and enjoyable.

None of us has the same culture as our parents, because culture is in a constant state of change, but we can see the persistence of habits & values.  It would be very surprising – and very bad – if everybody just reacted the same way to everything. The basis of true diversity is difference and when you get differences you get different results. Let me write that in a separate line.

The basis of true diversity is difference and when you get differences you get different results.

Let’s think about beer.   They say that the ancient Egyptians brewed a type of beer, but we are heirs to a beer culture that originated in Central Europe in the lands that used to be part of the Holy Roman Empire.  This includes Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands, along with parts of what is now Poland, France & Northern Italy.   The Germans even had a beer purity law called the Reinheitsgebot.  The English and the Irish also have a significant beer culture, as do the Danes and to a lesser extent other Scandinavians.   It tapers off from that home area.  What do you notice about the people living in these places?  Now people drink beer all over, but they still don't always do it the same way or with equal enthusiasm.  Beyond that, many consumers of beer are not really part of the culture of beer.

Beer culture was not merely a matter of chance.    Beer is consumed in between the places where they can easily grow grapes for wine and where it is too cold and people consume hard booze.  Europe traditionally had essentially three zones from south to north and from west to east from wine to beer to vodka.   Water was not consumed much in pre-industrial days because it was so polluted and carried diseases.   People, even children, instead drank beer or wine, although the daily beer was a weaker version – small beer.

I am from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which was a center for the American beer industry.  The other center was St Louis and there were significant smaller centers in Cincinnati and Western Pennsylvania.   What these places all have in common were lots of German immigrants. (I still drink beer.  I also eat bratwurst and liverwurst.  I guess that is just because I am priveleged.)

In the early part of the 19th Century, one of the criticisms against immigrants was in fact that they were beer drinking boozers.  Beer drinking was not always a cool thing to do.   It still is not.

If you analyzed beer drinking, I am sure you would find significant geographical differences.  I am sure you would also find big difference based on ethnicity.     Big deal.   These differences are based on different preferences.

If you look for them, you can find differences in everything.  This is the way everything is. If you believe racism exists everywhere, you can find it in all of life's variation and joy.  It is really true that people’s habitual view of the world is a confession of their own characters.  Maybe those who see crooks, racists, shirkers and idiots everywhere are just looking in the mirror.


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Comments

Before reading this article I read the Washington Post article concerning beer and racism. Initially I thought it was some kind of joke. How do you find racial inequality in beer consumption? Or even in beer manufacturing? Well, obviously, you look for it--even if it doesn't exist. Which I think your article points out in succinct fashion. So here's my cent's worth on the matter. I've been brewing beer for over six years now. I regularly drink micro brews, which is a nice term for non-commercial beers. Literally non-commercial in that you will hardly ever see commercialized advertising for these specific brews. They aren't malt liquor, "lite" or even non-alcoholic. And why bring all this up? Because I'm black. Sadly enough I haven't ever seen or met another black person that drinks these type of beers or even would consider brewing them at home. This is just another longwinded attempt at reiterating what your article makes sufficiently clear. People will continue to gravitate towards those things familiar or expected. The pivotal question would be whether or not anyone is going to stop me from starting my own brewery just because I'm black. Somehow I doubt it. My credit rating on the other hand...

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