Help the economy: drink beer

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2008

In 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, Prohibition was still in effect. Workers were losing faith in the government and the government's willingness to help the people out in times of trouble, and Prohibition only increased this distrust and resentment.

Some wise folks pointed out that legalizing beer might improve morale and help disgruntled workers take their minds off their troubles. Walter Lippman, a political activist, argued: "Beer ... would do a great deal to change (the working men's) mental attitude on economic conditions." The next year, Prohibition was repealed.

Now fast forward to a couple months ago. Not only did we have a local power crisis, Bush finally admitted to a recession. Did any of you purchase a beer with your economic stimulus check? Drown your sorrows in a beer, perhaps? As Lippman argued, way back in '32, "Beer would be a great help in fighting off the mental depression which afflicts great multitudes." And it is.

But how do you adjust your beer drinking to conserve money? There are a few ways to practice your own personal "economic stimulus" plan with your alcohol consumption.

First, pay attention to drink specials. Often there are beers on tap at your local watering hole that they need to move to make room for the next beer in the cellar, or are nearing the end of their freshness date, and can be a great bargain. Plus, it may give you a chance to try something out of your normal comfort zone.

Second, pay attention to the alcohol content in the beer you purchase. They vary greatly and often are quite a bit higher than you would expect. This is particularly true with Belgian Triples. Nicely balanced with the sugars, with a high carbonation rate and champagne-like flavors, they can near 10-11 percent alcohol and are often the same price as other imports. More bang for your buck, as they say.

Lastly, my favorite money conserving plan: Buy your beer in bulk. Kegs are the way to go, especially if you have a kegerator set up. With a simple CO2 system, you can have beer on tap whenever you crave a crisp, fresh cold one. The Alaskan brewery can supply you with a fresh five-gallon keg whenever you need one, and it cuts costs considerably. If you want to go larger, or have a different flavor, you can buy kegs through your local liquor store. If you have your beer on CO2 instead of introducing air to your keg, it can stay fresh and refreshing for months.

Solstice is quickly arriving and bringing with it many extra hours to enjoy the outdoors. Hanging out in the yard, at the beach, or camping is a great time to crack a keg. Not only are the kegs fairly portable, you cut down considerably on the garbage and recycling that needs to be packed back out.

Do your part to stimulate the economy. Relax, sit back and have a beer.

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