Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beer Travel: 19th Century Style

Since family issues and illness have cut down on my beer drinking/beer travel, I have been doing a bit of reading and have come across some beer related things here.

I found a book called "Europe Viewed Through American Spectacles" by Charles Carroll Fulton. Mr. Fulton was the editor of The Baltimore American and sent many letters home from his 1873 trip to Europe that were published in the American and eventually compiled in book form

Fulton and company were quite shocked by the pervasiveness of beer drinking in European cultures and surprised that in was enjoyed by all classes of people, not just drunken degenerates. He seemingly became a beer loving convert during his travels.

I'll post some selected passages that I find interesting.


Beer Drinking

Everybody in Germany drinks beer, it being part of the daily food, as much so as
coffee is in America. Mothers wean their infants on beer, and they are brought
up accustomed to drink it as freely as water. At all the stations on the road an
opportunity is given to the passengers to secure a supply, and it is more easily
obtained than water, and almost as cheap. The Germans attribute the absence of
dyspepsia to beer, and point to the rosy cheeks of their daughters as the result
of this wholesome beverage. Our party are all giving it a fair trial, and hope
to return home with a new lease of life and health. With all due respect to our
American brewers, we do not think that any of them come up to the quality of the
German article, which is of a bright and clear amber color and sparkles under a
heavy froth. The taste for it is an acquired one, and we are all getting quite
accustomed to its use. It seems to be free from all intoxicating effects, and if
it proves a cure for dyspepsia, as is claimed by our German friends, it will do
much more than the doctors have been able to accomplish in most cases of the

The "Dutch Treat"

The Germans in the United States, and those Americans who afîect a fondness
for lager-beer, don't drink it as it is drunk in Germany. They rush into a
restaurant and gulp down two or three glasses, and move on. Here a German never
thinks of finishing his glass of beer in less than ten minutes, or of drinking
it without eating something at the same time, even if it is only a crust of
brown bread. In fact, a German in the Fatherland is constitutionally opposed to
doing anything in a hurry, and especially to drinking beer with "rapid speed."
The consequence is, that we do not see men here with great, huge paunches, as at
home, capable of swallowing a keg of beer after supper. They never treat one
another, but sit down to the tables, and, though they drink together, each man
pays for what he consumes, whether it be beer or food. This of itself is a great
preventive of excess, as if a half-dozen or dozen were to sit down to drink, ae
with us, each man must treat in turn, and thus six or a dozen 35 glasses would
be guzzled, whether they wanted it or glasses would be guzzled, whether they
wanted it or not. If our temperance friends could institute what is called the
"Dutch treat" into our saloons, each man paying his own reckoning, it would be a
long step towards reform in drinking. In short, beer in Germany is a part of
each man's food. He takes it as a sustenance, and not as a stimulant.

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