But of course, you’ll make a point of finding out anyways. I’ve been thinking about (i.e. putting off) writing this post for at least a month now, or however long it’s been since I finished reading Alcoholica Esoterica. This book is a great tongue-in-cheek read that covers all the miscellaneous trivia you could ever possibly want to know about alcohol. And at least a few things you just don’t want to know. Like British admiral Nelson being preserved in a giant giant keg of rum after he was killed in a battle at sea. And the ship hands continuing to drink said rum. (Now you know, and there’s no amount of scrubbing, showering and gargling that’ll clean that tidbit from your gray matter. You’re welcome. )
Here, in no particular order, are the promised facts about booze you can live a happy life not knowing. (Warning: bringing these items up at parties will not make you popular.)
Yeast poop. When you get right down to it, the happy juice that makes you such a fun guy in your 20′s and makes you a fat irritable bastard by your 30′s is yeast poop. Yeast eat sugar and drop a big, steaming loads of booze wherever they go. And they fart a lot too. Ever wonder what gives your bubbly its sparkly magic? About a million little guys with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, that’s what. Kinda reminds you of that Futurama Slurm episode, doesn’t it? (Sorry, couldn’t find the clip I’m thinking about on YouTube. You have been spared! )
Beer, our debt to ancient Sumerians. We owe beer to a lazy Sumerian with a bad sense of hygiene, an iron stomach and a bunch of equally shiftless friends. Rumor has it that the first beer was a loaf of bread that was left on the sill too long. With ample time, the airborne paradise-poopers previously discussed collected on it and started doing what they do best. So when our lazy ancient brother took a mouthful (you know he didn’t bother to slice it), it knocked him on his ass. When he woke up he went to all his friends and said “you gotta try this”. Proving that nature rewards people for being slobs. Or makes them blind.
The bride’s ale. We got the word “Bridal” from drunk, slurring 19th century Englishmen. Looking for any excuse to drink, those lushes from across the pond determined it was important to have a “Bride Ale” to celebrate his fellow man’s loss of independence. (Any excuse would do in the 19th century, there were also “foot ales”, “walking stick ales”, and “cuckoo ales”. Cuckoo ales, because there’s 24 reasons to drink in a day!) Of course the drinking made the lads hungry and thus the “Bride Ale” evolved into the modern day wedding reception. And before long the word “Bridal” came to refer to everything involved with getting hitched.
Beauty in the naughtiness of fishes. Prolific alcoholic W.C. Fields had a concise reason for not drinking water. And I quote: “Fish f*ck in it.“ The irony of course is that yeast poops in his beverage of choice, which is arguably more disagreeable to the palate, theoretically. Thus proving that whatever you choose to consume, something nasty happened in it on its long journey to you mouth.
The magic of yeast flatulence. We already covered the source of bubbly, but I don’t think you yet realize the full, other-worldly potency of this gas. Did you know that a raisin dropped in a glass of fresh flute of champagne will continuously circulate from the bottom to the top and back again until the end of time? (Or until the yeast farts are all spent, whichever happens first.) Try it. And do me a favor, let me know how it works. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet.
Bonus Fact: Toasting the declaration. Did you know the founding fathers of the U.S. toasted the signing of the declaration of independence? They did. Care to hazard a guess what they toasted with? I can guarantee you got it wrong. It wasn’t Sam Adams! It was Madeira wine. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised. Neither had I before we went to Portugal. It’s the indestructible cousin of port wine that comes from Portuguese islands 360 miles off the coast of Morocco. And it was precisely this beverage’s ability to withstand years of exposure to the open air, unscathed, that allowed it to make the long sea journey to the colonial United States.
If these tasty tidbits have your mouth watering for more, go grab a brew, and consider picking up the book. (But not at the same time, I think that’s illegal in most states.) Anyways, I really enjoyed the book, and I think you will too. (You know you need a new book for the restroom, you’ve already read that September issue of Reader’s Digest cover to cover twice, and it wasn’t all that great of an issue anyway.) And because I’m such a nice guy, I’ll tell you that you may be able to find it in on of those outlet mall book stores for around four bucks. I did. (Sorry Sony Reader aficionados, it’s not listed in the Sony eBook store. Hey, I tried.)