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"How the US Army Made Lager America's Beer" Topic

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Tango0119 Dec 2018 10:05 p.m. PST

"America is a nation of beer drinkers, and that beer is lager. The fact that we call this "domestic" beer, even though it's traditionally German and brewed worldwide, reinforces the idea that there is a typical American beer, and that beer is something that ends with the word "lite." You can say that you're not a fan of it but if you've ever worn a uniform, you're part of the problem. Through beer rationing and buying power, the U.S. military had a major influence in making light lager America's default beer.

This story starts with a failed revolution halfway around the world, but we'll get to that in a minute. America was a country of immigrants who brought their beer traditions with them. In colonial America, those immigrants were mostly English, and they brewed ale. Today, ale is trendy, but for a colonist it was terrible beer. It's thick and heavy, with high alcohol content. On the upside, it brewed in a couple of days, but it goes bad just as quickly. The warmer climate in much of America is poorly suited to ale, which explains the old saying: If you turn your back on ale, it will go bad. Anyone who could afford to buy imported ales and stouts from England did so, making it a luxury product. No wonder most Americans preferred ciders and whiskeys.

Immigration was a small trickle into the 19th century. During the 1830s, only 600,000 new immigrants arrived. But in the 1840s, that number shot up to 1.7 million, then to 2.6 million in the 1850s. A hefty majority of those immigrants were either Irish or German. The Irish were escaping a severe famine that would sadly kill more than one million people. Those who escaped the famine tended to be poor, uneducated, unskilled, and they arrived with little which is probably why Americans aren't all drinking Guinness right now….."
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Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2018 11:20 p.m. PST

As someone who loves lager beer and the US Army, that was a very interesting and pretty awesome read. Thanks for posting it, Armand.

witteridderludo Supporting Member of TMP20 Dec 2018 12:57 a.m. PST

How the US Army Made Lager America's "Beer"

This would be the correct place for the quote marks.

a Belgian member :-)

Choctaw20 Dec 2018 7:15 a.m. PST

Back off our beer, Witteridderludo! Well, I agree with you but you had better back off. :)

creativeguy20 Dec 2018 9:31 a.m. PST

Long live IPA!

Tango0120 Dec 2018 11:02 a.m. PST

A votre service mon ami!. (smile)


Mkultra9920 Dec 2018 11:10 a.m. PST

are there any true Lagers left? I think Anchor right?

Rogues120 Dec 2018 1:11 p.m. PST

I live in PA and when you say Lager they hand you a Yeungling, true lager or not. It made Pottsville great again, not sure about the rest of America. Works in a pinch.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Dec 2018 2:38 p.m. PST

In the 17th century British ale was probably mostly of fairly low alcohol content – which was why it went stale quite quickly. A high alcohol content would make the beer keep better, all other things being equal.

'German' beer was, even then, made with better yeast that could continue to grow in a higher alcohol liquor and so produce a higher alcohol end result. German beer was also traditionally filtered, which British ale was not.

Cider was also the traditional working man's drink of about a third of the population of England in the late 16th to early 18th century. It was still legal to provide part of an agricultural labourer's pay in cider in some areas very late in the 19th century.

Beer was drunk more because it wasn't safe to drink the water than for its alcoholic content or effects, at least originally. Stronger beers and ales were brewed but they were not the everyday drinks of the masses.

Most beer brewing nations consider their brew superior to all others and, to their own tastes, they are right. Personally I'll try anybody's beer at least once and I've only ever drunk one American Bud but the Czech original I like.

Tango0121 Dec 2018 11:59 a.m. PST

Many thanks!.


capncarp13 Jan 2019 7:29 p.m. PST

Rogues1: since America's oldest brewery reinvigorated itself with an imported German brewmaster near the end of the 20th century and the company's products seem to have a loyal following, one can surmise that Yuengling (pronounced "Ying-ling" by us locals) is a pretty good approximation of a German Lager.
And we like it that way. We like it just fine….

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