Friday, June 1, 2012

Beer & Mythology, a pairing for the ages

Ever notice how many beers are named after gods from mythology or crazy creatures from old fables? A LOT of them. As part of the Philadelphia's Weekly's annual edition celebrating Philly Beer Week, I penned a spiffy little feature about this link between beer and mythology called "There's a Reason So Many Beers Are Named After Myths, Gods and Monsters." Take a gander at an excerpt:

Drinking beer: It’s an act that transcends mere enjoyment, isn’t it? Throughout history, we’ve had an almost spiritual connection with our beer, one that leans toward the most fierce, primal part of who we are as human beings. Whereas wine is seen as civilized, refined, and at times erotic, beer conjures up something quite different—something wild, something untamed.

In ancient days, triumphant warriors returned home from a day of plunder to down their ale while bragging of victory—intoxication swelling each boast into a bloated, fantastical account of deeds that defy human abilities. Small wonder, then, that so many modern beers are named for creatures and heroes out of myth and legend. Osiris Pale Ale. Storm King. Griffin’s Bow. From Egyptian gods to hidden beasts seen only in fleeting glimpses, we attach a level of EPIC to our brews that no other beverage can match. The idea of Odin’s Beard coffee or Serpent’s Tail orange juice would strike us as silly, but when it comes to beer, it just seems natural.

Part of the reason is that beerlike beverages go back at least 9,000 years, predating recorded human history. In a sense, they have been with us for as long as there has been an “us.”



  1. !!! This article hits me where I live - albeit more on the cocktail side of things (you may have already noticed #AvengersCocktails on Twitter a couple of weeks ago). There's so much to explore in the intersection of myth, alcoholic terrior (for all categories of booze), chthonian deities, archetypes, and just plain meaning.

    How long did it take to compile all that (and it sounds like you did a great amount of first-hand research as well)?

    I feel very inspired to go write a blog series on the subject from the spirits-side, but I don't quite have words or structure yet.

    Still, in the meantime, have a few items to muse on:

    Thor scotch whiskey.

    And then, of all things, compare this with this.

  2. Not too long. Once my editor threw the idea my way it came together fairly quick. I was already familiar with a good number of those beers, as well as a good deal of the history and mythology. It was largely a matter of confirming the things I remembered, checking my information, and (hopefully) putting it together in an interesting way.

    I would LOVE to see a blog series on the spirits side of things. I'm interested in the whole world of spirits but am admittedly a complete novice, largely because I only very, very rarely drink spirits. I'd be eager to see what you put together.

    And those photos? Seeing them side-by-side ... wow. That's one helluva germ of an idea.

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