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L. Neil Smith's

Number 851, December 13, 2015

It is time to finish the American Revolution

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Keep Your Dirty Ape Hands Off My Beer!*
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

It says here, that the Food and Drug administration, not content merely to murder countless individuals every year by denying them medicines whose manufacturers haven't jumped through all the expensive bureaucratic hoops, has now decided to go after that substance which Benjamin Franklin said is "proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy".


I was not really what you'd call an enthusiastic beer drinker until my mid-30s. I could usually be counted on to have a Foster's Lager or a Coors about twice a year, and then get up from the table without finishing it. Then a couple of things happened to change all that.

The first was when a family friend brought over a "growler"—that's a small jug—of a local brew-pub's Christmas ale. I was enchanted. The pub was Coopersmith's, the first of what would become many Fort Collins breweries, but I never learned why they call it a growler.

Then I bruised a couple of vertebral disks while mucking my house out after the Flood of '97. No prescription drugs that I was offered did anything for the pain. But a couple of beers in the afternoon, while listening to the Rockies lose on the radio, cut my pain about in half. (A proper Margarita or two on the weekend made it vanish altogether.) The beer was another local product, made just a few blocks away, New Belgium's Fat Tire, which has since gone national and famous.

Deservedly so.

I also learned that beer is much more enjoyable drunk from a glass than from a bottle or <shudder> a can. I slowly migrated to darker and darker beers until I more or less settled on Negro Modelo, which sort of looks like a macro product, and is very broadly available here, but comes from a modest little brewery deep in Mexico. It isn't at all bitter, and it leaves no nasty aftertaste, but is more like a good meal.

After a bit, I hit on the miraculous Guinness, a famous Irish stout, very dark, loved by people and ostriches alike, which seems most like a friendly cold barley soup. I never, ever get up without finishing it to the very last, lovely drop. Have a shot of Jameson's Irish on the side, and you're in an extremely Celtic version of heaven.

My goodness!

Somewhere in there, I recalled trying "red beer" in college. I had no ordinary tomato juice around, but I had some Clamato, which I love to drink by itself. Mixed half-and-half with Negro Modelo, it was a lovely thing, but I eventually discovered it's better with Corona or Sol, or some other pale ale. Add a lemon wedge and you're set for the afternoon. To my surprise, I discovered that I had been anticipated, and that the resultant drink, very popular in Mexico, is called a "chelada".

Turns out "Chelada" is a commercial name up here, for a Budweiser product, available with light beer or real beer. The trusty barkeeper at our local, a pool hall called "Match-ups" makes mine with ice, lemon slices, and the discovery of the century, a nice, fat little pepperoncino. I've taken, at home, to adding a slice if orange and a slice of lime. I used to have salt around the rim, but as a bypass survivor, can no longer do that without a loving wife, a loving daughter, numerous hearty therapists and various surgeons hollering on me.

I still look forward to my afternoon beer. That, and an occasional harder drink (I love tequila and orange liqueur and Irish whiskey) have all but taken the place of the somewhat scary narcotics (they make me think about Limbaugh) I was issued to help me sleep, as a result of the stroke I suffered last year, and the surgery I underwent this Spring.

They are good medicine. The booze, not the drugs.

Now the vile FDA wants to make it more difficult and expensive for small brewers—which are the great source of progress in this trade—to do business. Calorie counts and protein information is to be required on all containers. This means the number of different beers would have to be reduced. I would guess that the major brewers aren't particularly unhappy about this. I have heard that the market they used to take for granted is evaporating in front of their eyes. I understand.

But, as New York Post columnist Mary Kay Linge pointed out in her own very useful coverage of this bizarre, anachronistic, Progressivist villainy, nobody who makes a practice of drinking craft beers (that's what they call micro-brewed suds) gives a rusty fuck about the calories. The drinkers are there for the taste, one of life's small pleasures that would be denied to them by those who, as H.L. Mencken observed of neo-Puritans, wake up in the middle of the night, sweaty and trembling in the secret terror that someone, somewhere, might be happy.

It's time to deny them the perverse pleasure they derive from denying others. Yes, by all means write to your worthless, sluggardly Congressthing. In addition, do what I'm going to do: write straight to Anheuser-Busch and tell them that if they don't defend their fellow brewers, and stop this vicious bureaucratic nonsense, I'm going to stop buying (as Nero Wolfe's employee Fred Durkin put it) their damn slop.

* With apologies to Charleton Heston

Celebrated and award-winning author of over 30 books and countless shorter pieces, L. Neil Smith is available, at professional rates, to write articles and speeches for you or your organization, providing that our principles are compatible.
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