Friday, March 19, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Beers of Martin Luther




-Luther's Favorite










Because he traveled, Luther could have had many of favorite beers, but there is only one with claims to the effect that it was his favorite. Frederick Salem, in his Beer, Its History and Its Economic Value as a National Beverage (1880) notes, "Luther's fondness for beer is well known, and on the evening of that eventful day at Worms, April 18, 1521, the Duke Erich von Braunschweig sent him a pot of Eimbecker (Einbecker) beer, to which he was specially fond of."
Also, Michael Jackson, in his New World Guide to Beer (1988), notes that Luther received a gift of Einbeck beer on the occasion of his wedding. Luther scholar Luther Peterson recalls a visit to a restaurant in Einbeck where he found a beer coaster with portraits of Martin and Katie on one side and a tale about their receiving a barrel of Einbeck beer as a wedding present. Although he adds, "How authoritative a beer coaster can be is another question."
Einbeck beer was known as early as 1325 and in One Hundred Years of Brewing (1903) is said to be the most famous beer of the Middle Ages, available everywhere in Germany and shipped as far as Jerusalem. It began with two thirds barley malt, one third wheat malt. Kiln-dried malt was not used as the beer was to be "yellow in color and clear." It was a top fermentation beer. The author noted that it was vastly different from the present (i.e. 1903) top fermentation beers, nor to be compared to either the normal beer (probably lager), or the weiss beer, or the double-brew (probably doppelbock) beer. It was brewed only in winter, from about St. Martin's day at the end of September until the first of May. As the beer kept its quality very long, enabling it to be shipped far away, it stands to reason that it was not only rich in malt, hence in alcohol, but also strongly hopped.
Von Bergzabern's Herbal, the 1613 edition, is also quoted in One Hundred Years of Brewing, and describes Einbeck beer as "thin, subtle, clear, of bitter taste, has a pleasant acidity on the tongue, and many other good qualities."
Einbecker evolved into the Bock style that flourishes to this day -- an extra strong beer, malty with a smooth hop finish. We can be sure, however, that the Einbecker beers enjoyed by Martin Luther tasted nothing like the Einbecker Ur-Bocks of today. In Luther's day, Einbecker was a top-fermented beer made with a large portion of wheat and fermented with multiple yeast strains, each vying to impart its own flavor to the beer. The thin, acidic quality noted in 1613 was probably a product of bacterial infection at the start and the multiple yeast strains, plus wild yeast from the air, all working together to ferment every last bit of sugar.
With today's pure yeast cultures, only 75% or so of the sugars are consumed in fermentation, leaving some sweetness and body. And because today's Bocks are bottom-fermented with a single yeast strain, they are far cleaner and simpler in taste. In spite of the evolution from Einbecker to Bock beer, the Luther identification has remained strong. In the 20th century, an Einbeck brewery even used a portrait of Luther on its label when its beer was first imported into the U.S.
If you do wish to drink beers similar to the beers Luther drank, the closest you will come are probably today's Belgian Abbey Ales. Their top fermentation, complex flavors, full attenuation, and highly individual character are all in keeping with the beers of the monasteries that Luther knew as a young man, and with many more of the beers of Luther's time.


-Luther on Commercial Brewers














As much as Luther loved beer, he did not love commercial brewers. One evening over dinner he noted, "Whoever it was who invented the brewing of beer has been a curse for Germany... Horses devour the greatest part of the grain, for we grow more oats than rye. The good peasants and the townspeople drink up almost as much of the grain in the form of beer." And on another occasion at the table, he said, "No doubt (Adam) was a very sensible man and well practiced in a variety of trials. He lived most temperately and drank neither wine nor beer. I wish brewing had never been invented, for a great deal of grain is consumed to make it, and nothing good is brewed."

-Luther on Homebrew





















Luther much preferred homebrew. After Luther married, his wife Katie brewed beer as the lay brothers had brewed it in days gone by. Luther Peterson notes that Martin often began his written invitations to friends with the note that Katie had made him another barrel of beer. Once in 1535, while away from home, he wrote to her about some bad beer he had drunk 'which did not agree with me... I said to myself what good wine and beer I have at home, and also what a pretty lady, or lord.' Here's an endorsement of homebrew, and very diplomatically put as well.
We know that Luther drank at home. One biographer notes, "The German prophet became a patriarch, and the living room was dominated by his presence. He enjoyed his beer and had a great mug with three rings on it, one 'the Ten Commandments', the next 'the Creed' and third 'the Lord's Prayer'. He boasted that he could encompass all three with ease."
Luther also drank the local beer with friends, noting in one sermon delivered at Wittenberg in 1522, "I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached and wrote God's Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept [cf. Mark 4:26-29], or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it."
Beer had other virtues for Luther. All his life, he was troubled with constipation and insomnia, but in a letter to Katie while he was traveling, he mentioned the excellent local beer with its laxative qualities, "three bowel movements in three hours." On another occasion, he wrote to say how well he was sleeping because of the local beer, but that he was as "sober as in Wittenberg."

-Luther on Moderation

Above all, Luther was a champion of moderation. In his Sermon on Soberness and Moderation, delivered on May 18, 1539, he noted:
"It is possible to tolerate a little elevation, when a man takes a drink or two too much after working hard and when he is feeling low. This must be called a frolic. But to sit day and night, pouring it in and pouring it out again, is piggish... all food is a matter of freedom, even a modest drink for one's pleasure. If you do not wish to conduct yourself this way, if you are going to go beyond this and be a born pig and guzzle beer and wine, then, if this cannot be stopped by the rulers, you must know that you cannot be saved. For God will not admit such piggish drinkers into the kingdom of heaven [cf. Gal. 5:19-21]... If you are tired and downhearted, take a drink; but this does not mean being a pig and doing nothing but gorging and swilling... You should be moderate and sober; this means that we should not be drunken, though we may be exhilarated."

These notes were written for a speech on "The Beers of Luther's Germany," given to the Men's Breakfast at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Fayetteville, New York, in April 1997.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Little Known Facts

















Coca-Cola was originally green.

It is possible to lead a cow upstairs but not downstairs.

Hawaiian alphabet has 12 letters.

Amount American Airlines saved in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served first class: $40,000.

City with the most Rolls Royce's per capita: Hong Kong.

State with the highest percentage of people who walk to work: Alaska

Percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28% Percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%

Average number of days a West German goes without washing his underwear: 7 (I wonder how they discovered THIS?
This wasn't original research on my part.)

Cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven: $6,400

Average number of people airborne over the US at any given hour: 61,000

Percentage of Americans who have visited Disneyland/Disney World: 70%

Average life span of a major league baseball: 7 pitches

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

The youngest pope was 11 years old.

Iceland consumes more Coca-Cola per capita than any other nation.

First novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.

A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.

In the 1940s, the FCC assigned television's Channel 1 to mobileservices (two-way radios in taxicabs, for instance) but did notre-number the other channel assignments. That is why your TV set has channels 2 and up, but no channel 1.

The San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.

The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.

Did you know that there are coffee flavored PEZ?

The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days of old when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

When opossums are playing 'possum, they are not "playing." They actually pass out from sheer terror.

Janet Reno used to be female.

The Main Library at Indiana University sinks over an inch every year because when it was built, engineers failed to take into account the weight of all the books that would occupy the building.

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history. Spades - King David, Clubs - Alexander the Great, Hearts - Charlemagne, and Diamonds - Julius Caesar.

Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them would burn their houses down - hence the expression "to get fired."

Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2nd, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.

"I am." is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

The term "the whole 9 yards" came from W.W.II fighter pilots in the South Pacific. When arming their airplanes on the ground, the .50 caliber machine gun ammo belts measured exactly 27 feet, before being loaded into the fuselage. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, it got "the whole 9 yards."

Hershey's Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it's kissing the conveyor belt.

The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from and old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.

An ostrich's eye is bigger that it's brain.

The longest recorded flight of a chicken is thirteen seconds.

The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.

David Prowse was the guy in the Darth Vader suit in Star Wars. He spoke all of Vader's lines, and didn't know that he was going to be dubbed over by James Earl Jones until he saw the screening of the movie.

In every episode of Seinfeld there is a Superman somewhere.

The name Jeep came from the abbreviation used in the army for the "General Purpose" vehicle, G.P.

The Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, has twice as many bathrooms as is necessary. When it was built in the 1940s, the state of Virginia still had segregation laws requiring separate toilet facilities for blacks and whites.

The cruise liner, Queen Elizabeth II, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.

Cat's urine glows under a blacklight.

The highest point in Pennsylvania is lower than the lowest point in Colorado.

Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.

If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have 1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.

No NFL team which plays its home games in a domed stadium has ever won a Superbowl.

The first toilet ever seen on television was on "Leave It To Beaver".

The only two days of the year in which there are no professional sports games (MLB, NBA, NHL, or NFL) are the day before and the day after the Major League all-stars Game.

The name Wendy was made up for the book "Peter Pan."

One pail of water can produce enough fog to cover 100 square miles to a depth of fifty feet.

Thomas Edison was a judge at the first “Miss America” beauty contest in 1880.

At least fifteen million people are having a birthday today.

Which state was the 39th to be admitted into the Union? No one knows. North and South Dakota, the 39th and 40th states, were admitted on the same day. President Benjamin Harrison never revealed which of the two proclamations he signed first.

In 1906, the horse-drawn traffic in New York City moved of 11.5 miles per hour. In 1978, a survey showed automobile traffic in New York City averaged only 7.9 miles per hour.

What kind of animal did the three wise men ride on their journey to Bethlehem? The Bible doesn’t say they rode anything. According to Scriptures, it is entirely possible that they walked.

Felix Wankel, automotive engineer and inventor of the rotary engine, never had a driver’s license.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was written by Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond adventure novels.

The elephant is the only animal that cannot jump.

A cheetah can jump from a standstill to 45 miles per hour in two seconds — an acceleration rate that cannot be matched by even the fastest dragsters.

The five interlocking Olympic Rings are colored black, blue, red, white, and yellow because at least one of those colors appears in every national flag in the world.

Almost 50% of bank robberies take place on Friday.

By law, citizens of Vermont must take at least one bath a week.

In Oklahoma, dogs need a permit signed by the mayor in order to congregate on private property in groups of three or more.

In Roanoke, VA, it’s illegal to advertise on tombstones.

It’s illegal to put coins in your ears in Hawaii.

Little known doesn't mean not useful. There are many things most people don't know that can be extremely useful. A few of these follow.

If an item can't be removed from your credit report, you have the right to add a 100-word explanation to it, permanently. Anyone who receives the report will see your explanation. If, for example, you had an argument with a doctor over a charge, you can explain the details.

It's possible to get free x-rays. Some dental schools will x-ray your mouth for free, if you have the patience to sit there while the instructor coaches the student through the process. You then get your x-rays to take to the dentist.

You can still find towns with nice houses you can buy for less than $30,000.

As of 2009, these include Altoona, Pennsylvania, Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Independence, Kansas. Many more are listed on the web site: Houses Under Fifty Thousand .com.

You can buy two separate plane tickets to save hundreds. It cost $1750 to fly round trip from Traverse City, Michigan to Quito, Ecuador. That was the cheapest fare we found on any website. However, it was only $299 round-trip to Miami, and $405 round-trip from Miami to Quito. $704 total! Save over $1000 by buying two separate tickets.

It's impossible to fold a dollar bill in half eight times, doubling it each time. In fact, try it even with a large piece of paper. It can't be done. You can win a bar bet with this fact, so I'll classify this one among the interesting, funny AND useful little known facts.

Every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming 1/10 of a calorie.

A fetus acquires fingerprints at the age of three months.

Every person has a unique tongue print.

It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown.

Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten.

The word "Checkmate" in chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," which means, "the king is dead".

Pinocchio is Italian for "pine head."

The United States has never lost a war in which mules were used.

All porcupines float in water.

The only nation whose name begins with an "A", but doesn't end in an "A" is Afghanistan.

If you toss a penny 10,000 times, it will not be heads 5,000 times, but more like 4,950. The heads picture weighs more, so it ends up on the bottom.

Wilma Flintstone's maiden name was Wilma Slaghoopal, and Betty Rubble's Maiden name was Betty Jean Mcbricker.

Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.

The characters Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra's "Its A Wonderful Life."

The phrase "sleep tight" derives from the fact that early mattresses were filled with straw and held up with rope stretched across the bedframe. A tight sleep was a comfortable sleep.

If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle; if the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle; if the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes. (note: if the rider's head is up the horse's rear, the rider died a politician.)