It’s Monday morning, and we’re here to drop a big WTF bomb on American history. Most Americans still enjoy drinking light-tasting lagers from the likes of Miller, Coors and Budweiser (no revelation there), but did you know that it was your excessively respectful American ancestors that are at fault?
“It goes back to the early 1900s, or even late 1800s,” said Dighe, who teaches at the State University of New York at Oswego. “Americans have preferred to drink bland beer for more than a hundred years.”
A big cog in the bland beer machine has been various temperance movements in early U.S. history; temperance movements typically criticize excessive alcohol consumption, promote complete abstinence or use its political influence to press the government to enact alcohol laws to regulate the availability of alcohol or even its complete prohibition (so says Wikipedia). Temperance movements began as early as the American Revolution in states like Connecticut, Virginia and New York, and they even continue today.
“Protestant, baptist, methodist values — they all were too strong,” said Dighe. “So the whole temperance movement had a profound effect on the type of beer Americans drank. No one touched the more alcoholic stuff.”
The result was that rather than developing a taste for all beers, Americans instead opted only for those that looked like they had the least amount of alcohol. Lighter ones, in other words. So when the country went from drinking almost no beer in the early 1800s to drinking quite a bit of it in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it was almost exclusively bland. Some 85 to 90 percent of beer consumed in the United States around that time were pilsners and lagers.
The article goes into some other cool arguments and insights that include seminal, good-beer crushing events like Prohibition and World War II (where soldiers were fed light stuff to keep them sober). It’s a quality article written by Roberto A. Ferdman, and we suggest you read the rest of it with a suitability rich, high ABV craft beer.