Do you find this site useful?
Donations gladly accepted!
Stranger than Fiction
How beer has changed history and language
It was the accepted practice in Babylonia 4,000 years ago that for
a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his
son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer,
and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called
the "honey month" - or what we know today as the "honeymoon".
Before thermometers were invented, brewers would dip a thumb or finger
into the mix to find the right temperature for adding yeast. Too
cold, and the yeast wouldn't grow. Too hot, and the yeast would die.
This thumb in the beer is where we get the phrase "rule of thumb".
In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So in old
England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them
to mind their own pints and quarts and settle down. It's where we
get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's".
Beer was the reason the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. It's clear
from the Mayflower's log that the crew didn't want to waste beer
looking for a better site. The log goes on to state that the passengers
"were hasted ashore and made to drink water that the seamen might have
the more beer".
After consuming a bucket or two of vibrant brew they called aul, or
ale, the Vikings would head fearlessly into battle often without armor or
even shirts. In fact, the term "berserk" means "bare shirt" in Norse, and
eventually took on the meaning of their wild battles.
In 1740, Admiral Vernon of the British fleet decided to water down the
navy's rum. Needless to say, the sailors weren't too pleased and
called Admiral Vernon "Old Grog" after the stiff wool grogram coats he
wore. The term "grog" soon began to mean the watered down drink itself.
When you were drunk on this grog, you were "groggy", a word still in
Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into
the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they
used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle" is the
phrase inspired by this practice.
In the middle ages, "nunchion" was the word for liquid lunches. It was
a combination of the words "noon scheken", or noon drinking. In those
days, a large chunk of bread was called lunch. So if you ate bread
with your nunchion, you had what we still today call a luncheon.