From the HBD Archive
From: <>
Subject: Charlie's Flames
Date: 1990-04-05 17:15:00 GMT

The Reasonable Majority
Homedrug Making and the Berlin Wall

Charlie Papazian

Not too far from where I live there is a computer company
engineer who was a homebrewer. His boss discovered his hobby
and in persuasive terms suggested that such avocation was
unbecoming of a company employee and that he should stop such
activity. The engineer sold his equipment and is no longer
brewing beer. On a brief vacation in the countryside of
Colorado I was enjoying a beer. A boy of eight or nine years
approached me and asked, "Hey mister, you gonna get drunk?" A
junior high school student from Wisconsin wrote me asking for
information to complete her social studies assignment: an
essay titled, "Why Does Alcohol Continue to be an Accepted
Form of Drug in American Culture?" In Michigan a child came
home with a worksheet. Question number three instructed:
"Circle the following pictures that are drugs." There were
several pictures including a hypodermic needle, a pile of
powder, pills, milk and a bottle of beer. He got that question
wrong because he failed to circle the bottle of beer. Sen.
Ted Kennedy recently introduced an amendment to the Drug-Free
Schools and Communities Act, making reference to alcoholic
beverages as a "gateway drug." Children are being taught that
beer can lead to cocaine and crack. So now we may be
considered homedrug makers. In a contemplative mood, I
imagined how great it must feel in Berlin these days. The Wall
has been torn down. The Wall that tried to keep so many things
hidden from an entire population. I read with uncomfortable
amusement how pieces of the wall have been brought to this
country as souvenirs. It seems to me that now another kind of
wall is being built around us and our children. I have mixed
feelings when children 'learn' their parents are drug abusers
for having an occasional beer. There is a lack of
discrimination here that alarms me. Are objectivity and
reality being distorted? Who is protecting whom? If walls
are going to be built, then how are our children going to
react years from now when the walls inevitably are torn down?
I don't believe many people are noticing what's going on and
what the consequences will be. Sometimes this interferes with
enjoyment of my beer. There is a battle being waged out
there, but it doesn't seem that one ever hears from the people
who make beer or enjoy it. We hear the beer industry's facts
supporting their legitimacy: 187,000 brewing industry jobs and
a payroll of $1.3 billion, $4.5 billion in taxes, $860 million
in rice, barley and hops, $4.5 billion in glass, steel and
aluminum. But really now, what is meaningful to the millions
of individuals who responsibly enjoy the pleasures of a glass
of beer? Whatever became of good old-fashioned quality of
life, friendships, memorable meals, good times, an enthusiasm
for enjoying life and respecting life with all of its
titillations? Whatever became of gut feelings? The arm you
would wrap around your buddy? The laugh? The stuff that life
and beer can be so much about? We're not all abusers. We're
not all alcoholics. Tell me, gang, are we a part of a
reasonable majority or am I a minority? I'd like to enjoy my
beer without feeling too unusual (somehow, I'd never feel
criminal, even if they outlaw it). About 20,000 people will
read this editorial. My guess is that 95 percent of you make
beer. You are brewers and have more respect for this stuff we
call beer than the rest of the American population. You can
have major impact by helping inform others that beer can be
respected and enjoyed. Be aware of what's going down. I'm a
brewer, too. The celebration and enjoyment of beer should not
be inhibited by ourselves; to do so would defeatist. The joy
is what we have going strongly for us. Our expressions of
responsibility, enthusiasm and pride are what will make a
difference. Let people know how you feel.
(This editorial may be reprinted with credit and without
(uploaded by John Isenhour with apologies to Charlie for any

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