It seems like an amazingly obvious thing but as I was reading more of Unger's text A History of Brewing in Holland 900-1900 last night I realized that war is bad for beer. Whenever I got to one of those charts or tables of his showing taxation or production or consumption figures over time, war was one of the key factors in when times got tough for brewing. That and the plague. And it is as true today as this business news note from Sri Lanka shows:
Ceylon Brewery has told shareholders that high taxes on soft alcohol, a ban on advertising and a downturn in the tourism industry caused by an upsurge in the island's ethnic war was affecting consumption. A decline in business in the war torn north-east region also reduced volumes.Nothing collapses an economy like war and in a way a healthy beer market is a sign of peace. And, in times of peace, beer as an intensive agricultural product can contribute towards a greener world, too. We often think about how beer expresses the freedom of the consumer and the craftsmanship of the brewer but a robust brewing industry also speaks to the peace, strength and health of the community as a whole. You have to trust your neighbour if you are going to cart casks down his road or barge it through on a canal. Before you need to worry whether the customer in the next town, county or country will like your beer, you have to trust you'll make it back when you deliver it.
And I think that might have been part of what was in the mind of Sheri Snively, a Quaker minister in the US military just back from Iraq:
I was thinking about Iraq. I thought about the Marine Corps birthday party. I thought about the beer. I talked with the waiter. I asked him about the peace rally and how late he thought it would go. I really wanted to stop and talk with them. I told him I was recently back from Iraq. I shifted subjects and asked about the brewery selections, explaining my predicament as a novice beer drinker. He solved my problem by bringing me three small tasters on the house; they were all good. I better not like them too well, though, or my low-carb diet will pay the price. Maybe my problem is that I never drank good beer. Maybe it's that I've never had the occasion to really enjoy it.Peace, strength, health and beer. Perhaps an obvious point but interesting nonetheless.