Have Bag, Will Travel
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“Drink is a sort of anaesthetic, it diminishes the pain…and I did quite enjoy the days when one went for a beer at one’s local in Paris and woke up in Corsica.” – Peter O’Toole
In Iceland March 1st is National Beer Day and my blogging pal Richard (https://abitofculture.net/) explains why…
“Before I talk about beers and bars, here’s a bit of history that might surprise you. Prohibition was introduced in Iceland in 1915, and although spirits and wine were later allowed, beer was still outlawed until 1989. The beer ban was finally lifted on 1st March that year, a day celebrated annually by the nation as Beer Day. Beer festivals, pub-crawls and drunken debauchery allegedly ensue. I’d loved to have experienced Beer Day in the bars of Reykjavik, but unfortunately got there four days too late!”
I imagine Richard found Reykjavik a little quiet as it recovered from a collective hangover!
Like Richard I have visited Iceland but never on National Beer Day. I would like to but here is a word of caution, if like me, you are tempted to join Icelanders to celebrate 1st March then be sure to take a lot of cash because beer (and everything else as it happens) is very expensive. Here is a top tip – if you are travelling to Iceland and you want some spirits, beer or wine then be sure to visit the airport duty free shop after you land because here alcohol can be bought for almost sensible prices.
But Iceland isn’t the only place to celebrate a National Beer Day.
National Beer Day is celebrated in the United States every year on 7th April, marking the day that the Cullen–Harrison Act which repealed prohibition became law. After being signed off by President Franklin D. Roosevelt it is alleged that he said “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”
Everyone seemed to agree with him because it is said that on the day that the Act was passed into law people across the country consumed one and a half million barrels of beer to celebrate. This raises a question mark for me – during prohibition who brewed one and a half million barrels of beer and why?
Not satisfied with National Beer Day, the USA has a second day of celebration on 27th October which is celebrated as National American Beer Day. There are more than two thousand breweries that manufacture beer in the United States and I suspect that they all taste the same.
In 1990 I first visited World Disney World in Florida and spent an hour or so at EPCOT World Showcase. After a whirlwind tour of the World we came eventually to the United Kingdom, designed to look like a typical British village with shops, thatched cottages and gardens. The shops sold British goods, such as tea, toys, clothing, and Beatles merchandise. I was fed up with it all by now and bypassed Hampton Court and the Cotswold village and aimed for The Rose & Crown Pub which at least served English beer.
I ordered a pint and so did an American guest but he took one sip and his face distorted in agony at the taste (English beer has flavour whereas American beers do not), he said ‘What the hell is that?” and slammed it down on the bar and left. I was tempted to take it but the bar staff, obviously used to this reaction, swiftly took it away and poured it down the sink.
And another day to mark in the diary in the USA is 24th January which is Beer Can Appreciation Day which celebrates the day in 1935 when beer was first sold in cans.
National Beer Day in the United Kingdom is celebrated on 15th June which is a happy coincidence for me because that also happens to be the day of my birth. 15th June was chosen as the day of celebration not in recognition of my birthday however but rather because it happens to be the day in 1215 when Magna Carta was signed by King John and the Barons at Runneymede and article 35 of the Charter stated “Let there be throughout our Kingdom a single measure for wine and a single measure for ale…”
During research I have been surprised to find no mention of a National Beer Day in Australia but someone suggested to me that is probably because every day is Beer Day in Australia.
If they ever did have a National Beer Day I would suggest April 30th to celebrate a gargantuan beer drinking achievement. The Australian cricketer David Boon (who had a moustache so huge it had to be taken out twice a day for a walk) famously drank fifty-two cans of beer on a flight from Sydney to London before the 1989 Ashes tour, breaking a record of forty-four set by Doug Walters and Rod Marsh on an earlier flight. Boon himself played down the achievement by pointing out that they were only small airline sized cans.
There followed an excellent meal of traditional Greek plates and interesting conversation, first with an elderly couple from Hunstanton who visit Symi every year and then a couple of walkers who gave us some tips on trails and sights. We shared our whinging story about the accommodation and lamented the lack of air conditioning in the room. They were sympathetic but he explained that he found it easier to sleep without this modern comfort and tried to reassure us that if we kept the windows open then we were sure to be nice and comfortable regardless.
Three hours later and stewing in our own sweat in temperatures of over 30º centigrade in an inappropriately pine paneled bedroom I was fairly certain that Kim did not entirely agree! And to make matters worse, sleeping with the windows open simply invited the mosquitoes to drop by and we discovered that the problem with lying on top of the sheets with no clothes on meant that we were laid out like an all-you-can-eat buffet table for creepy-crawlies. I don’t like all-you-can-eat buffets much myself because I invariably overload the plate and eat too much and the mosquitoes suffered from the same lack of self restraint because in the morning Kim was suffering from fifteen irritating bites. I had only a couple and considering how many Mythos I had drunk the previous day took pleasure from imagining that the little blighter that got me would most likely be suffering from a monster hang-over!