Beer's  Unfamiliar

"Beer is living proof that God loves us and
wants us to be happy". These well known
words, ascribed to that Father of Liberty,
Benjamin Franklin, have been emblazoned
on many a T-shirt and are well known to
beer drinkers all over this great land. Other
quotes from American history concerning our
beverage of choice have been duly reported
in various beer magazines and even in small
books containing nothing but quotations
about the subject.        

I started wondering how many beer
references that are not so readily available
were made by other famous Americans. In
doing a little research I discovered that
some pretty famous patriots made
statements pertaining to beers and
ales,sometimes as a new inspiration, ala
Franklin, often as a precursor to a more
famous quote and occasionally borrowing
words from a previous statement. I even
unearthed a few situations where the more
famous quote was , in fact, a misquote,
with the actual wording probably having
been amended at the time to reflect a more
patriotic slant.

"I have not yet begun to fight", words
immortalized by Admiral John Paul Jones on
the deck of  his BONHOMME RICHARD while
heavily engaged in a battle with the British
man o' war SERAPIS, were only the germ of
an idea uttered several hours later. While
bemoaning the sinking of his ship over a
dozen tankards of old ale, he was asked by
his First Officer if perhaps he had had
enough and should possibly slow down, to
which Admiral Jones replied: "I have not yet
begun to drink!"

One famous quotation that has come down
through history as completely unfounded
concerns the hanging of Nathan Hale by the
British. My research has finally enabled
beerfans to be clear on this issue. Mr. Hale
was actually captured in Fraunce's Tavern,
locally known for brewing it's own
outstanding porter. While standing on the
gallows, shortly before the hangman pulled
the hood over his head, Mr. Hale uttered the
words that, until now ,have been entirely
misquoted by historians:"I regret that I
have had but one life to spend in a

Our late, great President Ronald Reagan
while standing at the Berlin Wall, made the
speech that is generally considered to be
the beginning of the end of the Cold War.
But how many people know that those
words were tested a full ten years
previously? After addressing a trade
convention of the National Brewers
Association at the Coor's plant in Golden,
Colorado, then Governor Reagan was
handed a glass of an experimental product ,
eventually to become "Coor's Light", and
asked to be the honorary first sampler of
the brewery's newest offering. He took a
sip, grimaced, spat out the beer and forcibly
suggested; "Mr. Coors, Tear down this
Theodore Roosevelt never made any
reference to carrying a big stick.Instead his
unfamiliar quotation had to do with his
youthful days as an Indian fighter. Ordering
scouting parties to move stealthily and keep
well hydrated, he would stop at the ale
barrels on his way off the post and advise
his troopers to "Speak softly, take a big sip,
and you will go far"
Shortly before his passing in 1964, American
Ceaser, General Douglas MacArthur hosted a
military mess night for his old comrades in
arms. Because of a wine distributor's strike,
several cases of barleywine ale had been
ordered in for the traditional post dinner
toastings. Comparing the ale to the sherry
which was usually offered at these events,
the General took a sip, borrowed some
words from his speech to Congress thirteen
years before, and reflected: "Old
barleywines never die....they just fade away"

Because of his tragic assassination,
President John F. Kennedy was never
credited with inspiring the legislation that
eventually was signed into law by Jimmy
Carter ,years later. President Kennedy saw
no reason why Americans should be
prohibited from brewing their own beer and
in fact addressed a gathering of then illegal
homebrewers where he beseeched them to
continue to ply their craft with the
memorable words; "Ask not what your
country can brew for you. Ask what you can
brew for your country"

In September, 1864, while burning
everything in sight on his march to the sea,
General William Tecumseh Sherman
observed that midway between Atlanta and
Charleston, a small factory building had
been left standing and a whole company of
his men were carousing around it. Until now
unknown even to beer historians, it was,  in
fact, the first satellite brewery, a small trial
plant established by Anheuser Busch in an
attempt to expand their market to the
Confederacy.Although he frowned upon the
inebriated state of his soldiers, the general
was not a teetotaler and happened to be a
little thirsty himself. His aide de camp
offered him a large stein of Budweiser.
Upon tasting, General Sherman proclaimed
the words that for one hundred and forty
years have been misquoted:"Bud is Hell".

Rightfully offended by the fact that Madison
Avenue had always excluded African
Americans from their ad campaigns, the
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King  wished for
equality in this field  a full four years before
his more famous speech on the National
Mall when he said " I have a dream that one
day my four little children will live in a
nation where their beer will not be judged
by the color of it's advertising, but by the
contents of it's bottles"

During the Battle of the Bulge, General
George S. Patton's Army captured the
Grumbacher Brewery, which had been
experimenting with producing "lite"beer.
Rather than distributing the spoils of his
victory to his men, Patton justified the
witholding of the brew by saying "Don't be a
fool and die drinking lite beer. Let the other
sonofabitch die drinking lite beer!"       

Colonel William Prescott is remebered as
having advised his troops at the Battle of
Bunker Hill to not fire "until you see the
whites of their eyes". School children have
been taught this erroneous quote for
hundreds of years.My research has
uncovered what really happened. Contrary
to recorded history, Colonel Prescott did not
lie in wait for the advancing Redcoats.
Instead, his forward observers supplied the
intelligence that a whole battalion of
British  troops had stopped for lunch on the
grounds of the New England Arms, a pub
noted for it's pints of bitter ale and pastry
pies. Ordering his men to surround the
tavern and figuring that they could take
more accurate aim when they could discern
what the Redcoats were actually eating and
drinking, he further ordered them to "Don't
fire untill you see their pints and their pies" .

Lastly, and also in a miltary vein, General
Anthony McAuliffe is incorrectly remembered
for his terse response of "Nuts" to the
German request for his unconditional
surrender. Actually, the German commander
asked if McAuliffe would like to join him in a
beer AFTER his surrender and if he would
like anything to eat, to which McAuliffe
answered "Beer Nuts" .

I hope that this research has helped to
broaden beer drinkers' knowledge of
American history and dispel any false
notions they might have had. As President
Harry S. Truman said ,when gifted with
many cases of the various brews of the
Heurich Brewery and exhibiting his
preference for darker beers "The bock stops
what they
don't teach
you in

Another great
installment of
"Beer My
Dan Hodge
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Beer My Way......... proudly presents....DAN HODGE, beer reviewer, historian and raconteur
       anything and everything about beer
by   Dan Hodge