Saturday, August 6, 2016

Puritans, Medicos, and thirsty folks. Concepts of drinking and health

President Roosevelt signs the bill legalizing the sale of beer, March 22, 1933.  Contrary to what people generally imagine, the repeal of the Constitutional prohibition on the sale of alcohol did not legalize all alcohol overnight as a Federal proposition.  It came in, in stages.  This is true of the states as well, including Wyoming, which had its own prohibition laws that had to be addressed before alcohol could be sold again, and with Wyoming as well, it was beer that was first legalized.

I've written on the topic of alcohol a few times before here (but not, apparently, as many times as I thought that I had).  This post however looks at a topic that's only been sort of addressed in the prior ones. That being, how much is too much.

No, actually that isn't the topic either.

The topic is, how much is perceived as being too much, which is, after all, a completely different topic.

This comes about for a couple of reasons.  The first one is that I happened to stumble across an item regarding the cause for canonization of the great G. K. Chesterton.

I wouldn't expect everyone who stops in here (not that this is a lot of folks) to be familiar with Chesterton, although I'll put up one of his quotes from time to time here.  He is a man who is very hard to define, so even though who are familiar with him in one way or another may be surprised that there is a cause for his canonization.  Of course, not everyone would know what that means. That is, he's being considered for a formal declaration of sainthood by the Catholic Church.  It's far from certain, as all such matters are, and it can take decades and decades for a cause to be fully examined.  Chesterton is up for consideration, however, as amongst his many writings, he was a true polymath, are a whole selection of those which are deeply religious in nature.  He, together with Hillaire Belloc, Tolkien and C. S. Lewis formed a group of highly Christian writers all in the same period of English history and they all knew each other.  Of that group, all were Catholic except for Lewis, who was a very dedicated Anglican.  Chesterton and Lewis were converts to their faiths, Chesterton having converted from a lukewarm Anglican upbringing and Lewis having converted from Atheism.

All of which would seemingly be way off topic and mostly is.

Anyhow, like all such individuals, there are those who are dedicated in opposition to them, and in Chesterton's case those individuals, apparently have claimed he lacked temperance.

Well, in reading the article, I didn't come away with the impression that he was not intemperate at all. Rather, what I came away with was the impression that he was one of those peculiar intellectual people who we run across from time to time, more in the past than now, who were sort of indifferent to their own care.  It seems that Chesterton was just always sort of personally sloppy and that in addition his dietary habits didn't meet the current puritanical definition of what they should be.  That is, he wasn't thin as a pipe rail in later years (early on he was) and he didn't spend hours at the gym.

He did die, probably, of complications from being hugely overweight in his late years.  But that doesn't mean he was drinking it up for his entire life.  In actuality, there were large portions of his life where he didn't drink at all, or only barely did.  In later years he tended to drink beer by observation, and as he was a huge man, he many have been able to drink a beer more than most people who drink beer might consider the amount you should drink.

Or, rather, let's rephrase that.  He drank a beer more than most people who do not drink beer regard as the amount you should (or shouldn't) drink.  He was quoted on drink, as follows:

Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when you are wretched without it, or you will be like the grey-faced gin-drinker in the slum; but drink when you would be happy without it, and you will be like the laughing peasant of Italy. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell. But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world.

He also  ate pretty much a meat and potatoes diet, which is also something a lot of people today regard as intemperate.
I like beer / It makes me a jolly good fellow / I like beer / It helps me unwind / And sometimes it makes me feel mellow.

Read More: Top 10 Country Songs About Beer |
I like beer / It makes me a jolly good fellow / I like beer / It helps me unwind / And sometimes it makes me feel mellow.

Read More: Top 10 Country Songs About Beer |
I like beer / It makes me a jolly good fellow / I like beer / It helps me unwind / And sometimes it makes me feel mellow.

Read More: Top 10 Country Songs About Beer |

I don't know of Lone Star is the "national" beer of Texas, but at least by my limited observation, it's pretty bad.  Ack.  But it does show how widespread regional brands of beer have been.

Which gets me to my point.

The way it strikes me is that Chesterton is being criticized by some, as are others, under a current contemporary standard that may not be all that realistic itself, and which may also be very temporary.  We live in a very puritanical age regarding food, and like all things puritanical, the current concepts of what is proper are perhaps not only not well grounded, they are frequently ignored, but they are also the source of much shaming.

Eating a Reuben sandwich for lunch?  Shame on you.

Roast beef and a glass of wine for dinner last night?  Shame on you.

You get the point.

Now, as I've also noted here on this blog, these things really change.  When I was in my teens we were lead to belief that eating eggs for breakfast would surely kill you by the time you were seventeen years old, and probably cause senility, and result in our loss of the war in Vietnam, the triumph of Communism in Cuba, and confusion over whether the Mets or the Yankees were really New York's baseball team.  Now were' told that they are a great breakfast item, and even better if you have them with sausage.

Geez, so people ate like cows for breakfast for two decades for nothing?

Apparently yes.

This isn't to suggest being hugely overweight, as Chesterton was towards the end of his life, is good. Rather, what it is to suggest is that prior to the 1970s, people didn't actually obsess about that, that much.  As we've addressed in our linking in of Fairlie's The Cow's Revenge, there's good reasons for that.

Falstaff, named for the jolly, chubby, king of literary fame.  Apparently there was a time when beer companies didn't think the beer ideal were hyperactive, over funded, 20 somethings who spend all their time partying at the beach but needing to watch their caloric intake.

Part of the neo-Puritanism that we've seen in recent years is a dedicated focus on alcohol consumption. There is good reason for this, but there are also social reasons for this.  Interestingly, the focus has probably been at least as great in Europe as the United States, and in the various European nations, some of which have strong drinking cultures of one type or another, their various governments have taken a role in that.

None of which answers the question, is there a safe level of alcohol consumption and if there is, what is it?

Well, we probably have to start off with, we don't really know.  But what we can also do, is take a little bit of a look at the history of this topic, which might be illustrative.

 You can say "Jax", but I doubt you'll get one.  I've never heard of it.

It seems that people have created alcoholic beverages as far back as we can determine. Alcohol, we know, is a poison, but many human cultures are adapted to intake it at a certain level. That means that for many human beings there is an evolutionary adaptation to alcohol, suggesting that it was something that we took on very early.  And we know from other sources that this is true.  Early recipes for brewing beer go all the way back to Mesopotamia, making those writings amongst the very oldest to be preserved. Likewise, we know that Egyptian laborers in ancient times received  part of their pay in beer.  In the Western Hemisphere, we know that Central American Indians were brewing corn beer early on.  In Africa, a type of beer called something like kraal is likewise a local indigenous drink.  Beer at least goes way back.  Indeed, it would seem to be unique amongst toxins and drugs in that its long, and actually purposeful, associated with our species is has some evolutionary adaptation in many populations to some extent.  Beer is truly ancient.

So is wine, but I don't know how far back wine goes. Far back, however.  It shows up in the Old Testament as a drink that the Jews were drinking at that time, showing that they'd developed the ability to ferment wine quite early.  Christ's first public miracle, we know, was turning water into wine at a wedding.  Wine figures very prominently in the Last Supper and in the Apostolic churches and those based closely on them is a necessary species for the transformation that gives rise for Communion. The Greeks and the Romans of course are famously associated with wine early on.

So people have been drinking for a very long time.

How much they were drinking, and how strong it was, is another matter.   The evidence suggests that wine, in the ancient world, was typically heavily watered down.  Drinking wine was a necessity for a variety of reasons (the water could kill you) but it was also commonly watered.  Indeed, at least the early Greeks believed that drinking straight out fermented wine, which does not have all that high of alcohol content, would make you insane.  And, of course, if you are in fact drinking it all day long, it

Ancient beer was likely that way as well, simply from the brewing process.  It was also flat.  It was, therefore, not only a drink, it was basically food.  Think of it like Guinness Stout.  Low alcohol (Guinness is only 3%) and like bread. Beer, indeed, was likely as much of a food item as it was a drink, sharing a status in those regards perhaps only also shared by milk.

Okay, so that's alcohol in antiquity.  So what? What does that tell us. Well, it tells us humans have been drinking it for a long time and there's also some level of evolutionary adaptation to it in most human populations.  This was done for good reason, water was often dangerous.  However, it's also been known that too much alcohol has real risks, and this too was noted by ancient sources.

Let's take this forward.  Actually, let's take it way forward, as I don't really have any ability with my limited resources to cover it in depth.  We know that by the Middle Ages people were drinking quite a lot.  Something on the order of a liter a day of beer was included in the pay of itinerant farm workers in Northern Europe at that time, which means that they were likely consuming that much, if we consider that such a farm worker likely had a wife and children, and they .  Oh, wait, that means he really wasn't drinking that much. . . .Well anyhow, beer was also rationed to Medieval monks in surprisingly large quantities as well, and they brewed the stuff at that, as well as operating wineries.  That might not be as much as it sounds like either, quite frankly as we don't know how much of that was being distributed to others, but we do know that it seems that the consumption of beer and wine, depending upon region (in the wine regions they weren't drinking beer, and vice versa) was a daily occurrence, and no doubt down to the child level.

Now, this seems shocking, and some people who like to be shocked have been, but once again we have to consider the reasons and meaning of this.  People in the Middle Ages weren't drinking wine and beer because they were hoping to get sloshed.  Rather, they were  drinking this much as the water could be lethal.  Wine and beer is much less likely to be lethal for a variety of reasons.  For one thing, alcohol itself will kill some bacteria, rather obviously.  Additionally, however, the care that goes into making beer and wine, including the vessels it is made in, and the care to the product, helps explain it as well.  In addition, at least in the case of beer, it has a nutritional value that's easy to preserve.  Barely and other grains can be kept, but they do risk spoiling.  Beer and wine can spoil as well, but it's less likely that they will.  It's worth noting, of course, and part of its story, that hard alcohol, like whiskey and vodka, will not spoil.

 Renaissance print circa 1592 demonstrating that there's certainly always been risks on drinking.  "
"Osculum sumis quid tu nisi toxica sumis".  "You would not be getting a kiss if she was not drunk".

Taking that forward again, this also seems to be more or less the rule in the Renaissance.  And perhaps that shouldn't surprise us.  The real difference between the Renaissance and the Middle Ages is so slight that it might not actually even exist, and rather it might be a creation by Reformation era historians simply to create a distinction, false though it might have been, between their own era and a slightly prior one.

Going on to the Age of Enlightenment this was also true, but perhaps things were beginning to change a bit.  Daily drinking was common, and at levels that would shock most of us.  John Adams, as an example, drank Madeira, a very common and popular wine at that time, with breakfast, a practice which strikes me as absolutely gross.  Ick. (I've find "champagne breakfasts or morning mimosas to be a gross thought as well).  And he certainly wasn't the only one, the practice was fairly common.  Nobody worried a great deal about that sort of thing at the time, which isn't to suggest that people approved of people being drunk all the time either.  The Mayflower, carrying the Puritans we call the "Pilgrims" put in because it was out of beer, not because it was just at the right spot.

A wine celebrating the dueling culture of the late 18th and early 19th Centuries.  Personally, I think the very common consumption of wine at the time might help explain why dueling seemed like a good idea. . . .

Indeed, early European Americans had a much closer relationship with alcohol than we imagine.  The Puritans, as noted, did not abstain from alcohol, which makes the title of our entry here a bit misleading, but that's because people have tended to be mislead about this, as well as certain other Puritan beliefs.  The Puritans certainly were harsh on all sorts of things, but they didn't advocate for Prohibition.  And this followed on for Colonial Americans for a long while.  Brewing of beer was common in the Colonies and early United States, as was the fermenting of wine.  Indeed one of the things that British soldiers noted about North America is that the beer was bad, not that it wasn't.

At some point in here things began to change.  For one thing, at least in North America, and prior to that the British Isles, the distilling of whiskey increasingly became a big thing.  Distilled drinks are, by their very nature, quite a bit different from simply fermented ones.

When people first learned the peculiar art of distillation is not known.  Some things may have been distilled prior to alcoholic beverages, such as aromatics.  Anyhow, the process is obviously quite old, but it doesn't seem to have been widely engaged in prior to the 1500s and at that, when it really started coming in on the British Isles, it was done first for medicinal reasons.  That soon gave way to simply consumption.  "Whiskey" is a Gaelic word itself, and the process crossed over to the New World with the Scots and took root in regions of North America that they immigrated to so that even by the time of the American Revolution the distillation of "corn likker" was pretty common in North America.

Bottle of Wyoming Whiskey, a bourbon.  Bourbons are distilled from a corn mash.  This one is distilled in Wyoming.  While I posted on this topic quite awhile back, and it was once one of the most read posts on the forum, I don't know enough about whiskey to opine on this one other than that one bottle we had from the first batch seemed good, and the other not so much, but then, I don't like bourbon as a rule.
There's something industrial about distilled beverages, and that's often missed about them.  Compared to whiskey, fermenting wine or brewing beer is pretty easy, even good wine or beer.  Distilled beverages are a real process however, and while its certainly possible to do it just because you want to, by and large there's more of a reason to do it than that.  In the case of North America, distilling corn became the easiest way to get remote corn crops to market.  Hauling harvested corn before it spoils to a remote market is tough.  Hauling distilled whiskey less so.

 Really primitive distillery, or still.  Interestingly, a Jewish distillery in Central Asia is depicted here, no doubt a cultural depiction now long past.

The reason that I mention the industrial nature of whiskey, if we accept that even small scale industry is in fact industry, is that this somewhat changed the nature of drinking.  It's certainly possible and not uncommon for people to become beer or wine alcoholics, but it's much more efficient to do that with distilled alcohol.

Indeed, the distinction between beer and hard alcohol and rural traditional life and industrial life was noted so early that it was the subject of an English industrial revolution era etching called Beer Alley and Gin Lane, with Beer Alley being the scene of happy peasant life and Gin Lane being a scene of dissolute drunkenness.  That seems extreme, but perhaps there's a little something to that.  If there is, what it might be is that rural conditions of heavy labor with light alcohol weren't as destructive as urban conditions with hard alcohol.  We might be able to take that a bit further forward and note that the first real concerns with heavy drinking seem on a society wide scale seem to have come in early in the 18th Century, which is not to say that drunkenness as a problem was not noted earlier.  Indeed, St. Paul noted that drunkenness was a condition that would keep a person out of Heaven.  St. Paul, it probably also noted, was a Roman citizen and familiar with urban Roman life, which again may have been a bit different than the conditions that the rural people of the same era generally dealth with, so the same sort of conditions are somewhat analogous.

 Temperance poster, 1846.

By the concern for drink in society really began to ramp up in modern times in the Industrial Revolution, and it does seem that the level of drinking became truly stunning.  Alcohol was largely unregulated in most places, including most of the United States, so no restrictions of any kind existed on the sale of alcohol. Members of all elements of society and individuals of all ages became addicted to drink, and with that the Temperance movement rose.

The Temperance movement came into being as part of the society wide rise in various other progressive movements, some of which are now fully incorporated into the mainstream and some of which have passed into forgotten history.  Existing for decades, the movement reached the pinnacle of its popularity during World War One, and frankly because of World War One, although it had a long run prior to that.  It ramped up, as noted, after the Civil War, and at a time when when various other movements were also in circulation.  Like abolition, it acquired an association with some religions at the same time, although unlike abolition it was not well theologically grounded in that the early Apostolic Churches had very clearly never advocated for the position that Christianity prohibited any consumption of alcohol and they had also always taken the position that wine was a necessary element for transubstantiation.  As temperance movements gained strength in the US, however, some of them mixed their beliefs with interpretations of Christianity that they asserted supported their views.  However, it was a wide scale acceptance in a wide cross section of the American population over a long period of time that convinced legislatures and utlimatley the natioal legislature to ban the consumption of alcohol.  The movement was so strong that it had its own political party, the Prohibition Party, which amazingly still exists.  States and counties began to ban alcohol slowly after the Civil War, even as a saloon trade thrived where legal.  In 1881 Kansas banned the sale of alcohol by way of its state constitution.  Just prior to World War One Virginia banned the sale by statute, taking that step in 1916.

  Temperance poster, immediate post World War One period.

But it was World War One that pushed things over the top.  The fear that the war would turn young men into drunks, which of course sometimes it did, pushed the movement over the top to success.  The seeming veracity of the fear in the post war era brought about the Volstead Act in 1919, and prohibition came to the United States, but not just the US.  Most of the English speaking world also had strong prohibition movements, although not always so strong as to cause Prohibition to become law.  The UK did not, for example, ever pass prohibition, nor did Ireland, but prohibition laws were passed in Canada.  Partial prohibition came to Australia, but not to New Zealand in spite of a majority of New Zealanders voting for it in a referendum (it fell below the required 60% vote).  All the Scandinavian countries passed prohibition bills of varying degrees of strictness, and in fact they still all strongly regulate the sale of alcohol.

 Meeting just days after the end of World War One, the National Conference for World Wide Prohibition.

Prohibition, of course, was very unpopular in the United States.  Part of that was cultural, and part of it reflects a split in the views of different generations, although it is rarely looked at that way.  Prohibition was very popular in much of the United States. As much as it might surprise Wyomingites now, it was at first popular in Wyoming and our very own Senator Francis E. Warren pushed it over the top in Congress. Wyoming, like much of the West, had suffered under a completely unregulated saloon trade that was clearly bad for all sort of things.  Indeed, the law on everything had been very loosely enforced in the "Wild" West to start with, and in much of the West that went on a lot longer than we now recall.  Free flowing, unlicensed, dispensing of alcohol and the gathering of men in an almost all male congress of drinking is going to result in problems rather obviously.  When the Prohibition movement came, therefore, it was very widely supported here.

Trade card for Wiedemann Beer. This is a company that I've never heard of, but it turns out, they survived Prohibition, and they're still around.  Apparently folks like Senator Warren, and probably for good reason, didn't think of all the cowboy drinkers being like this somewhat long in the tooth puncher, but more like the ones in Remington and Russell paintings.  Hmmm. . . this graying puncher with mustache and gray stubble is someone I'm starting to sort of resemble. . . maybe I better to have a Widemann's.

It was much less supported in those established areas of the United States with large immigrant populations from Germany and Ireland, which had their own drinking cultures.  Beer was an integrated part of the German and Irish social structure.  Likewise, in Canada, wine was an integrated part of the Quebecois culture, as it also was in the growing Italian community in the United States.  A split, therefore, existed right from the onset.

A Klu Klux Klan poster if favor of the 18th Amendment.  If this seems exceedingly odd, and it is, keep in mind that the KKK was an organization that was racist in the sense of being not only white racist, but white, Anglo Saxon Protestant.  It hated blacks, Jews, and Catholics, the latter two of which had historical associates with alcohol in one form or another.

It also existed in regards to younger Americans who had been exposed to alcohol in a different fashion just recently in World War One. The American troops who made it overseas to the fighting were stationed in France, mostly, and therefore became familiar with a culture that, at the at time, drank daily and fairly heavily.  French water was still quite bad in the early 20th Century and the routine consumption of wine at meals and social events was something that could not be missed.  Troops who served in the Army of Occupation in Germany were additionally exposed to a German culture that treated beer in a similar fashion.  Additionally, World War One came, oddly enough, at the height of the cocktail boom in the US and Europe and therefore officers in particular came home knowing at least one or two cocktails, including the French 75, the recipe for that being:

Pinch sugar
Dash sweet and sour mix
34 oz. dry gin
34 oz. French brandy
Club soda
2 oz. champagne
Slice of lemon
It sounds ghastly.
And it also would be exceedingly stout, which is the point.  The concept of fancy cocktails of which a single example would make most people woozy and sick in the morning was new to the US, and not really welcome by an older generation of any type, understandingly.
So, Prohibition came, becoming the law on October 28, 1919.
A pro Temperance song, with a somewhat creepy illustration.

 Not everyone had always viewed things that way.

Oh well.

But it wasn't universally well received, including, ironically, even places like Wyoming that had supported it all along.  There's something, apparently, about being told "no" that inspires a unique kind of graft, greed and corruption and that followed everywhere.  It became so bad, of course, that everyone knows the end of the story.  By 1932, a mere thirteen years after it had become the law, it started to be phased out, but not all at once.  It was actually stepped out, beer being slowly allowed first, other alcohols being allowed in later.

 Crowded New York City bar the evening Prohibition went into effect, getting their last legal drink.
Unfortunately, really, the law was changed during the  Great Depression, when a lot of people really felt like they needed a drink and some of them shouldn't have been drinking. That masked the real success that even the temporary Prohibition had been.  Health problems associated with alcohol actually did diminish notably, at least at first, and while it was on.  And even after it was repealed, the fact that the states came in and freed things up slowly meant that alcohol came back in with a set of rules.  Really rules that existed for the very first time.

 Destroying individual bottles of beer during Prohibition.

It had unfortunate collateral effects of various types, including wiping out some of the well established breweries and distilleries that had made fine products prior to Prohibition.  Rye whiskey acquired a bad name during Prohibition simply because it had such a good one prior to it, as bootleggers attempted to pass their product off as Rye.  A permanent smuggling culture seemed to arise as a result of it as well, and in some ways that has never left us.

 Budweiser came right back and associated itself with various outdoor sports and farming when it was first allowed back on the scene.

The repeal coming when it did was, as noted, also unfortunate as the Great Depression was not universally conducive to sobriety and World War Two definitely was not.  World War Two had a huge impact on the young drinking and would for a very long time.  The Bill Mauldin cartoons showing a drunk Willie and Joe were really not very far removed from the truth, and a high level of acceptance for casual drinking came into the culture.  Period movies that show hard alcohol being served at any hour of the day and in any setting, including in hte office, are not  far off the mark by any means.  For a very long time after World War Two the expectation that a gentleman would have a liquor cabinet was universal, even if that just meant a bottle of Canadian Whiskey behind the glass is the cupboard.  

This probably only really began to change in the 1970s.  Booze managed to hold its own in the 1960s even against the influx of all sorts of other competing drugs.  Indeed, the wine industry aimed at the young with "pop" wines specifically marketed towards them  In the 1970s, however, the boomers became focused on physical fitness and they started associating beer with being fat.  The beer industry with "Lite Beer", which was generally lager style beer down at or below the 3% range.  Ironically, maybe, English beers that are usually associated with being "heavy" were already down that low as a rule, as they were "session beers", meant to be consumed at a pub session with friends, and hence low in alcohol.  Americans generally preferred lagers of around 5% at the time, however, so it seemed new to them.

A lot of American beer was pretty bad at the time, and had been for quite some time, which isn't to say that it all was.  Starting in the 1980s "craft" beers started to come in and there was a renewed interest in better beers.  Or, perhaps more accurately, Americans became interested for the first time in better beers.  There's been a huge explosion in local and craft breweries since that time, but as that has occurred, there's also been an increased concern about how bad alcohol may before you.  And the concern hasn't just been in the United States, which is sort of fanatically health conscious anyhow, but in Europe as well.

As this has occurred, people have been confronted with a blizzard of news of one kind or another for about twenty years.  Some would suggest, including some governments, that no level of alcohol is safe for anyone.  Quite a few official studies and unofficial ones seem to suggest that a safe level maybe up to three "units" (careful there) per day may be okay for men, and two for women, but others legitimately note that with some drinks, wine and hard alcohol in particular, people nearly always exceed the unit right off the bat.  It's harder to do that with beer, due to the way its packaged, but really easy to do with wine, which is sometimes poured into massive glasses that are never meant to be full, ever.  Same with hard alcohol, particularly in the case of people who don't measure it, and many don't.

So, right from the onset there's a problem in that there are definite health risks.  Alcohol is associated with cancer and liver damage, just to start off with. However, it's also associated with some reduced health risks, such as  reduction, at moderate levels, in the risk for heart disease. Go figure.

Added to that, nobody really truly has a very good grasp of how much is too much, for a daily drinker. It's really clear that getting hammered is universally bad.  It seems pretty clear that exceeding three "units", ever, is bad, if you are a man, but then maybe you should stay down at two. . . or maybe one.  The British government says none.  Health benefits can easily be outweighed by health risks.

Added to that, when exactly a person is regarded as addicted to alcohol is not at all clear.  This is in part because there's a real distinction between psychological and physical addiction, and you can be addicted either way.  Physical addiction is pretty easy to spot in some instances.  If a person suffers due to alcohol withdrawal, and some people can to the extent its life threatening and they really should be hospitalized, well they're addicted.  If a person just feels they must, however, they may be addicted in a different fashion.   

This has lead, over time and place, to actual differences in opinion over what a "drunk" or an alcoholic actually is.  Way back in law school, for example, I recall attending a talk of a student's year in Australia in which he made a comment that the amount of alcohol consumed by many Australians would cause a person to be regarded as an alcoholic in the US.  I doubted that, but in later looking it up that was in fact actually somewhat correct at that time.  They weren't regarded that way there, however.  As another example, some time ago I saw an item where it was being discussed that a worker at the Sam Adams brewery remarked on one of the beers there being his favorite daily beer, with another person reacting in horror that only alcoholics drank daily.  Some may think that, but that's definitely not true.

Indeed, as noted, now some physicians are sort of endorsing the benefits of one drink, or maybe two (if you are male) per day. That's sort of cautious advice, I'd note, as others note that while that level of drink may have its benefits, alcohol's overall health risks out weigh any benefits in a larger sense.

Well, this all goes to this.  Just because in former eras people didn't worry about this nearly as much doesn't mean we've discovered everything.  Nor does it mean that those people in former eras were intemperate.

Which I suppose is that while I was finishing this post, I was drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Not a Sam Adams, Fat Tire, Newcastle or Blue Moon, but oh well, some times good enough, is good enough.

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