By Mary Clark
Culture are the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. By extension, culture also refers to something much more important, but also much more fundamental.
Culture connects people, and what better way to connect than over an ice cold brew?
Beer has been around since 9500 BC. It’s sold in convenience stores, grocery stores, some liquor stores, and in breweries. It’s available at every social event that’s not strictly for kids (and let’s be real, even Chuck E. Cheese’s serves it). American culture sees it primarily as a party drink, good for a good time, and good for giving hangovers.
But that’s not what it is. In the Irish culture, pubs, and beer by extension, aren’t for drunkenness and rowdiness. It’s about family, connectedness, bonding, and sharing. Pub culture is predominant in many cultures, including Irish and English, as a social space and activity, and beer culture forms around this phenomenon.
The culture of beer isn’t just in the enjoyment that brings people together; with a history of almost 12,000 years, beer means a lot more than just grabbing a cold one with friends. When beer was created, it was a cultural norm for everyone in a society. Some drinks like wine and bourbon have, throughout history, been socially stratified, meaning that monarchs and rulers had much higher quality stuff than the working class. Beer, on the other hand, is beer. Everyone drank it, everyone enjoyed it, and everyone laughed and talked and conversed over it. It was a normalizer of sorts.
Today, just like we have connoisseurs of wine, bourbon, food, art, and literally every aspect of culture, we also have connoisseurs of beer. Brewers and some consumers take immense interest and pride in beer, some only for their personal favorites, and some for all that they can get their hands on. They take the production process incredibly seriously, and just like scholars who study art for years to be known as an expert, these beer fanatics know everything there is to know about the drink.
For some brewers, taking their craft seriously is an amazing thing. Take beer kings Anheuser-Busch for example. It’s one of the nation’s biggest beer breweries, and absolutely one of the most famous. The Clydesdales, the Super bowl commercials…it’s a big deal. Anheuser-Busch epitomizes beer culture in America, even renaming their premier beer, Budweiser “America” during the summer of 2016.
Furthermore, Memphis doesn’t play second fiddle when it comes to beer culture. The city is home to 4 beer breweries and their presence adds life to an already lively community. Here in Memphis, beer culture manifests itself in the pride, and glory that Memphis thrives on. We’re not the biggest or most popular, but we’re solid, interesting, and there’s nothing else out there like it. The same is true for our local breweries.
Beer is more than just a four letter word. For a dozen millennia, beer has connected people of all kinds. It gives people something to care about, to learn about, something to enjoy, and to admire. Beer gives life to cities and purpose to peoples. It’s a catalyst of culture, and it’s a culture all on its own. So go out, grab a cold one, and enjoy
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Mary Clark is an editor with The Galleon and is an English for Corporate Communications major at Christian Brothers University.