“What care I how time advances? I am drinking ale today.” -Edgar Allan Poe
Beer lovers around the world are looking forward to a different kind of holiday. International Beer Day will be celebrated Aug. 3 this year.
According to the official International Beer Day website, this event has taken place the first Friday in August since its inception in 2007 and is celebrated in 200 cities globally, 80 countries and six continents. The day is intended to “unite the world through beer.”
The website, internationalbeerday.com, goes on to explain the purpose of the day is “to gather with friends and enjoy the deliciousness that is beer, to celebrate the dedicated men and women who brew and serve our beer and to bring the world together by celebrating the beers of all nations and cultures on this one remarkable day.”
I know I personally will be celebrating my Irish heritage with a pint or two of Smithwicks Irish Ale.
A 2012 Forbes article states Jesse Avshalomov founded the international holiday with two of his friends almost a decade ago in California. They started with their own little celebration and discovered they were joined by others in England and South Africa who had found their website. From that point on, the celebrations grew and spread around the world.
The official website offers suggestions about how to best celebrate the holiday. Suggestions include partnering up with friends to avoid having to celebrate alone, sharing the gift of beer by buying a drink for someone else, checking your local pubs and bars for celebrations, enjoying beers from different cultures around the world and, lastly, by thanking your brewer and bartenders.
The Lehigh Valley is home to many different craft breweries so there is no loss of opportunities for this last point. Some examples are the new Taylor House Brewing Company, Catasauqua; Yergey Brewing, Emmaus; Funk Brewing Company, Emmaus; Fegley’s Brew Works, Bethlehem and Allentown; Two Rivers Brewing, Easton; and Weyerbacher Brewing, Easton.
It is worth noting International Beer Day coincides with the start of Bethlehem’s Musikfest.
According to a July 2017 Gallup poll, beer is the preferred alcohol beverage in the United States.
Forty percent of those polled chose beer as their drink of choice, compared to 30 percent who chose wine and 26 percent who opted for liquor.
Many breweries around the world are preparing for the celebration in different ways, such as debuting new brews, hosting parties or offering special deals.
A group in Colorado has a different special in mind. The Green Solution, one of Colorado’s largest marijuana dispensary chains, is infusing a root beer with cannabis. The soft drink will be called NectarBee root beer.
Call me old-fashioned, but I think I’ll stick with a traditional ale.
Beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world, dating back thousands of years, according to a Smithsonian Magazine article. Patrick McGovern, the world’s foremost expert on ancient fermented beverages has identified one of the world’s oldest known barley beers in Iran’s Zagros Mountains, dating back to 3400 B.C. It has been reported drinking fermented beverages dates back well before any written evidence.
“There’s good evidence from all over the world that alcoholic beverages are important to human culture,” McGovern says in a 2017 National Geographic article titled “Our 9,000-Year Love Affair With Booze.”
According to the article, ancient Egyptian rulers were buried with miniature breweries to provide beverages in the afterlife. It was reported the brewing of alcoholic beverages may have been what turned early people from hunter-gatherers to farmers.
While beer is often viewed as a primarily male drink, the Sumerians honor the goddess Ninkasi as the first to brew beer through malting and fermentation, according to the National Women’s History Museum.
A 2017 article titled “Women and the Beverage that Changed the World,” details how it was a woman’s duty to brew the alcohol and, as most of the water at this time was unsafe to drink, beer was the primary beverage.
After the Black Plague swept through Europe, a labor and wage shortage forced the brewing out of the hands of women and became an industrialized man’s job. Only a small percentage of head brewers today are female.
Be sure to gather your friends close and share a beer or two in honor of the rich heritage this beverage has throughout the entire world.
As an additional treat for the United States, the first Saturday in August is National Mead Day.
The award-winning Colony Meadery on Harrison Street, Allentown, specializes in the honey-based beverage and is open noon-9 p.m. Saturdays. My personal favorites are the Mo-Mead-O with hints of mint and lime or the Woofiedog, which contains hops.
“Beer, if drunk in moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.” — Thomas Jefferson