Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Thursday, November 02, 2017

On this day 500 years ago, an obscure Saxon monk launched a protest movement against the Catholic Church that would transform Europe. Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation changed not just the way Europeans lived, fought, worshipped, worked and created art but also how they ate and drank. For among the things it impacted was a drink beloved throughout the world and especially in Luther's native Germany: beer. The change in beer production was wrought by the pale green conical flower of a wildly prolific plant -- hops. Every hip craft brewery today peddling expensive hoppy beers owes a debt of gratitude to Luther and his followers for promoting the use of hops as an act of rebellion against the Catholic Church. But why did Protestants decide to embrace this pretty flower, and what did it have to do with religious rebellion? Therein foams a bitter pint of history.

Advertisement

Advertisement

More

Alternate links: Google News | Twitter

"Luther's revolt gave the weed a significant boost. The fact that hops were tax-free constituted only part of the draw. Hops had other qualities that appealed to the new movement; chiefly, their excellent preservative qualities.

"All herbs and spices have preservative qualities, but with hops, beer could travel really well, so it became a unit of international trade that symbolized the growing business class, which was tangentially connected with the Protestant work ethic and capitalism," says [beer critic William] Bostwick.

In an age where the water was unsafe, beer was drunk by everyone and was the nutritional and social fuel of Germany. "It was a really natural and very common part of every household pantry," says Bostwick.

"I compare it these days to a pot of coffee always simmering on your countertop. Back then it was a kettle of beer. Beer was brewed less for pure enjoyment than for medicinal reasons (it incorporated herbs and spices) and for pure sustenance.

"Beers then were richer and heartier than today. They were a source of calories for the lower classes who did not have access to rich foods."

Comments

Admin's note: Participants in this discussion must follow the site's moderation policy. Profanity will be filtered. Abusive conduct is not allowed.

"Luther's favorite spot to hold forth on theology, philosophy and life in general was not the tavern but the table. The long refectory table in the cavernous Luther home seated up to 50 people.

"This was Luther's especial domain," writes Andrew Pettegree in his elegant biography Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned History.

"The day's labors past, he would sit with his friends and talk. Fueled by his wife's excellent beer, conversation would become general, discursive, and sometimes unbuttoned."

Unbuttoned is an understatement. Voluble, energetic and beery, Luther's conversation zigged and zagged between the sublime and the scatological, to the amazement of his students, who hung on his every word.

The church was called a brothel and the pope the Antichrist. Former popes "farted like the devil" and were sodomites and transvestites. His students collected these jewels into a book called Table Talk. When it was published, it went viral."

He was also a Ghostbuster.

hdts.wordpress.com

#1 | Posted by Corky at 2017-11-01 01:19 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Gruit is what the herb & spice mixes were called. You can find commercial examples made with them today.

#2 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-01 11:27 AM | Reply

Ah Beer. I heard its not just for breakfast anymore. Thanks Martin!

#3 | Posted by Sycophant at 2017-11-02 11:17 AM | Reply

Luther did this? Its nice to know Christianity has some redeeming qualities. German law says beer can only contain barley, water and hops. But today micro-brewerys give us honey-lavender and jalapeno, not just IPA.

#4 | Posted by bayviking at 2017-11-02 11:25 AM | Reply

Reinheitsgebot was ... 1515 iirc. Luther nailing his reformations to the door came just two years later.

"Purity laws", more like "pay your taxes" laws. The aristocracy taxed hops, brewers went to gruit. They taxed the gruit ingredients, they went back to hops. It happened for a century or more. Thus, regulatory apparatus to force the usage of taxable hops.

#5 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-02 11:45 AM | Reply

Going beyond the beer, if people are even remotely interested in the subject, time for Dan Carlin's Hardcore History: Prophets of Doom.

www.youtube.com

"Murderous millennial preachers and prophets take over the German city of Munster after Martin Luther unleashes a Pandora's Box of religious anarchy with the Protestant Reformation."

You can still see the cages that the "heretics" were executed hanging in Munster today. Just google "Munster Church Cages". Definitely one of the more terrifying sides of Christian history.

#6 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-02 11:49 AM | Reply

#4 | POSTED BY BAYVIKING

German beer law was changed to incorporate a fourth ingredient after its discovery; yeast.

#7 | Posted by IndianaJones at 2017-11-02 12:33 PM | Reply

Dan Carlin, rofl!

Loony ex-radio dude does history.

#8 | Posted by Corky at 2017-11-02 12:35 PM | Reply

The sectarian wars that plagued Europe for about 200 years had one positive outcome, The United States enacted an establishment clause in our Constitution. Separation of Church and state is still unique to this country in many cases.

#9 | Posted by docnjo at 2017-11-02 01:16 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 3

#8 | POSTED BY CORKY AT 2017-11-02 12:35 PM | FLAG:

Don't like European history? Reality is more interesting, and terrifying, than Game of Thrones.

#10 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-02 01:32 PM | Reply

Advertisement

Advertisement

Reality and Dan Carlin haven't even a slight acquaintance.

#11 | Posted by Corky at 2017-11-02 01:48 PM | Reply

Separation of Church and state is still unique to this country in many cases.
#9 | POSTED BY DOCNJO

Not if the GOP can help it.

#12 | Posted by IndianaJones at 2017-11-02 02:08 PM | Reply

#11 | POSTED BY CORKY AT 2017-11-02 01:48 PM | REPLY | FLAG:

I haven't heard anything he's done outside of Hardcore History. On this series, his facts are accurate, easily verifiable, and the delivery is very good.

#13 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-02 02:18 PM | Reply

#12 | Posted by IndianaJones There is quite a difference between admitting that our government is based upon Judeo-Christian values and prescribing what house of worship you attend and perhaps penalizing you if you opt out. What values? Simple things that we take for granted, like equal justice before the law.

#14 | Posted by docnjo at 2017-11-02 02:37 PM | Reply

"In an age where the water was unsafe, beer was drunk by everyone and was the nutritional and social fuel of Germany."

People have all but called me a liar when I've explained beer had a practical use in the past.

#15 | Posted by Tor at 2017-11-02 04:59 PM | Reply

#14 | POSTED BY DOCNJO

Thank proverbial god we are not a nation based on Judeo-Christian values (especially as defined by the unchristian evangelicals). Where did you get that objectively false notion? What is a Judeo-Christian value anyway?

If a man cheateth on his wife, or vise versa, both the man and the woman must die? (Leviticus 20:10)
If a priest's daughter is a whore, she is to be burnt at the stake? (Leviticus 21:9) [Hell, are priests allowed to have daughters?]
Kill anyone with a different religion? (Deuteronomy 17:2-7) [the conservative "christian"'s favorite]
Don't cut your hair nor shave? (Leviticus 19:27)
Don't wear clothes made of more than one fabric? (Leviticus 19:19)

Oh and this value is sure to make the flyover state citizens rot in hell:

Don't have a variety of crops on the same field? (Leviticus 19:19)

#16 | Posted by IndianaJones at 2017-11-02 05:08 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

I've got a better question why don't all conservative Christians support taxes that they know fund foodstamps?

#17 | Posted by Tor at 2017-11-02 07:15 PM | Reply

People have all but called me a liar when I've explained beer had a practical use in the past.

#15 | POSTED BY TOR AT 2017-11-02 04:59 PM | FLAG:

That's because it was badly attenuated sugar water. Far, far weaker than modern beer and very sweet. Early American beer was brewed without access to good malted grain, used lots of molasses, and the taste is not something most people will pay for.

#18 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-02 07:21 PM | Reply

That's because it was badly attenuated sugar water. Far, far weaker than modern beer and very sweet.

I always thought historical beer was on par with our session beers/light lagers with ABVs in the range of 3.5-5%.

Just enough alcohol and yeast to make sure bacteria didn't grow but not so much alcohol that people were smashed drinking beer in place of water.

Gruit is what the herb & spice mixes were called. You can find commercial examples made with them today.

I remember reading about one that Dogfish Head made as part of their ancient ale series and wanted to brew a clone batch at home.

www.dogfish.com

I gave up at the time because one of the ingredients, bog myrtle, seemed hard to find but it now seems to be readily available at online brew shops.

Guess I'll have to revive that one...

#19 | Posted by jpw at 2017-11-02 10:17 PM | Reply

#16 | Posted by IndianaJones, You do realize those quotes are from Israelite civil law, you might want to read the Mew Testament some time.

#20 | Posted by docnjo at 2017-11-03 02:39 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"Just enough alcohol and yeast to make sure bacteria didn't grow but not so much alcohol that people were smashed drinking beer in place of water."

That seems logical.

#21 | Posted by Tor at 2017-11-03 03:10 AM | Reply

I think the thing with beer is, if there's bacteria growing in it, you can tell, because it fouls it. If you've ever had beer that's off, you can tell.

I had some that was off, one of those cask ales when I was in England, at first I thought they accidentally gave me some very sour beer but I soon figured out no, this is just plain wrong.

#22 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-11-03 03:16 AM | Reply

I always thought historical beer was on par with our session beers/light lagers with ABVs in the range of 3.5-5%.

#19 | POSTED BY JPW AT 2017-11-02 10:17 PM | REPLY

From what I've read, the day labor beer was really low, 2%, in many places. I've seen it referred to as "slightly fermented liquid bread", and part of the pyramid builder's compensation was 1 gallon per day. Brews for ceremony, parties, etc, were higher, but often still low by modern standards. All of it is geography dependent of course, Amazonian beer was 3%-4%. If you want beer that doesn't spoil, best way is to just distill it straight into grain alcohol.

I've had Midas Touch quite a few times. It's pretty good, I can see why it won a medal. Cloning it sounds interesting, hope you pursue it.

#23 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-03 07:42 AM | Reply

Corky, serious question - what do you find loony about Dan Carlin? I listen to Hardcore History pretty regularly (seriously, if you like history, check it out - he pretty much keeps politics out of it), and when I had a longer commute, I listened to Common Sense and found it thought-provoking even when I disagreed with him. Besides the fact that he comes across as very intense, I don't know what's not to like about him.

#24 | Posted by dylanfan at 2017-11-03 09:12 AM | Reply

On the subject of beer. On ships crossing the Atlantic,up to the 19th century, beer is all the sailors drank- water in casks fouls in a month or so. But the alcohol content of that beer was only 1% or 2%. Wine was seldom drank unless it was diluted with water, until the 19th century. Classically it was considered indullgent to drink wine undiluted. In Proverbs it says on that subject, "Do not look upon wine when it is red",(undiluted)-add water to red wine, it turns purple.

#25 | Posted by docnjo at 2017-11-03 01:07 PM | Reply

The Romans considered beer to be a peasant's beverage. It took work to produce. Wine, self-fermenting just by leaving it out, was a Gift from The Gods.

#26 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-03 02:01 PM | Reply

The Romans considered beer to be a peasant's beverage. It took work to produce. Wine, self-fermenting just by leaving it out, was a Gift from The Gods.

#27 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-03 02:01 PM | Reply

Comments are closed for this entry.

Home | Breaking News | Comments | User Blogs | Stats | Back Page | RSS Feed | RSS Spec | DMCA Compliance | Privacy | Copyright 2018 World Readable

Drudge Retort