Beer-based honeymoons, empty glass phobias and boozy baptisms? Our history is awash with interesting alcohol facts.
Alcohol has been a staple component of our diet for thousands of years, in virtually every non-nomadic culture around the world. Rules about how it could be produced, distributed, sold and consumed have influenced many modern manners. Here are some interesting facts from our alcoholic history. Any that you can add? Comment below and let us know any interesting alcohol facts you’ve come across.
- There are 13 minerals that are essential for human life, and all of them can be found in alcohol.
- There are more classic cocktails made with gin than with any other spirit.
- A bottle of Champagne contains approximately 49 million bubbles.
- There is a cloud of alcohol in outer space which is enough to make four trillion-trillion drinks.
- The term “Dipsomania” refers to abnormal cravings for alcohol. After work drinks on a Friday don’t count.
- “Cenosillicaphobia” is the fear of an empty glass.
- A “labeorphilist” is a collector of beer bottles. A “tegestologist” is a collector of beer mats.
- The human body produces its own supply of alcohol naturally, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
- Most vegetable and almost all fruits contain a small amount of alcohol in them.
- Guinness sells an average of 7 million glasses a day.
- The first six-pack of beer was produced in the 1940s after concluding that six cans were the ideal weight for the average housewife to carry home from the store.
- In Bavaria, beer is legally defined as a staple food.
- The (allegedly) strongest beer in the world, Schorschbrau Schorsch Bock 43, is 43% ABV which is stronger than most distilled spirits.
- The top three countries in the world in per capita beer consumption are the Czech Republic, Germany, and Ireland.
- A popular drink in Cambodia is a Tarantula Brandy made from rice liquor with freshly dead tarantulas.
The good old days
- Assyrian tablets from 2000 BC stated that Noah was carrying beer aboard the ark.
- A beer a day… Beer was used to treat over 100 illnesses in 1600 BC Egypt.
- In 1116 BC, Chinese imperial edict stated that heaven required people to drink beer.
- The Code of Hammurabi of ancient Babylonia (c. 1750 BC) declared that a tradesman could be put to death for diluting beer.
- Saint Arnold, a bishop born in 580, is considered the patron saint of beer. He encouraged people to drink beer instead of water during the Plague. Indeed, the Plague suddenly disappeared once his word spread.
- It was customary in the 13th Century to baptize children with beer.
- Until the mid-1600s, wine makers in France used oil soaked rags in lieu of corks.
- The British Army supplied its men with a cash allowance for beer, considered a vital nutritional staple on long overseas missions.
Where did that saying come from?
- The Egyptian pyramids were built on beer. Stonecutters, slaves and public officials were paid in a type of beer called ‘kash’ – which is where the word ‘cash’ originated.
- In Babylon over 4000 years ago, it was customary for the bride’s father to supply his new son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. As mead is a honey beer and their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the ‘honey month’ – or what we know today as the ‘honeymoon’.
- In 11th Century England, a bride would distribute ale to her wedding guests in exchange for donations to the newlyweds. This brew, known as Bride Ale, is the origin of the word ‘bridal’.
- Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. ‘Wet your whistle’ is the phrase inspired by this practice.
- Before thermometers were invented, brewers would dip a thumb into the mix to find the right temperature for adding yeast. Too cold and the yeast wouldn’t grow; too hot and the yeast would die. This ancient practice is where we get the phrase ‘rule of thumb’.
- In medieval Britain, town inns paid a government tax known as a ‘scot’ for serving beer. Beer lovers who left town to drink at rural pubs were said to be drinking ‘scot free’.
- The word ‘toast’ which means wishing good health, originated in ancient Rome. A piece of toasted bread was literally dropped into wine back then.
- The familiar Scandinavian toast ‘sköl’ derives from scole, the drinking bowl shaped like the upper half of a human skull. Originally, these bowls were fashioned from the actual skulls of enemy killed in battle.
- In English pubs, unruly customers were told to mind their own pints and quarts and settle down – and so began the phrase ‘mind your Ps and Qs’.
- In 1740, Admiral Vernon of the British fleet decided to water down the navy’s rum. The unhappy sailors nicknamed the Admiral ‘Old Grog’, after his wool grogram coats. The term ‘grog’ soon began to mean the watered down drink itself.