What If….? A Few “What If’s” From Beer History

What If….? A Few “What If’s” From Beer History

Five “What If’s” from Beer History

What If?

So the other day I watched Marvel’s “What If” series…. and it got me to thinking.

The other day I was standing around my kitchen eating snacks and pondering some interesting “what-ifs” in the world of sports.

For example: What if Ken Griffey Jr. or Bill Walton hadn’t been hobbled by injuries during their careers? Or what if Ted Williams hadn’t sacrificed five seasons – three of them in the prime of his career – to serve in the military?

After opening the fridge and spying a few beers, this train of thought led to thinking about some “what-ifs” in the craft beer world. There are plenty of them of varying degrees of importance, and the ones below might not be the MOST important find, but I thought we’d look at the concept today and throw it out to you, dear readers, for your thoughts on the subject.

For today, however, here are five that I feel are worthy of mentioning. Some may be obvious, but others might not usually come to mind. In no particular order:

The first “what-if” has to be: What if former President Jimmy Carter had never signed the law legalizing homebrewing in 1979? This legislation had huge and long-lasting effects on beermaking in the U.S. So many homebrewers have gone on to become professionals, and without that piece of legislation, we might all still be drinking major brands and/or drinking out friends’ illegal homebrews.

Our next “what-if” is also a few decades old: What if Fritz Maytag hadn’t purchased the struggling Anchor Brewing in 1965? While the craft brewing movement didn’t really start until after the 1979 legislation mentioned above, there is no doubt that Maytag’s life preserver to save Anchor from closing inspired others. He not only poured money into the small brewery, he also revamped the recipe and brewing process. He is a true craft beer hero and pioneer.

Here’s maybe an odd one: What if the British Empire had never colonized India? Think about it: Most readers know that IPA stands for India Pale Ale. The style is so named because the hoppy beers were less likely to spoil on the long voyages to India. Considering how popular the style is these days, it’s almost unimaginable to think that it might not have come about in quite the way it did if it weren’t for British colonization. Of course, colonization also did a lot of horrific things, but here’s at least one part of it that produced something good in our world today.

Staying in the past again for this one: What if Prohibition had never happened? Beer fans back in 1920 clearly didn’t like Prohibition. And looking back on it historically, most of us beer aficionados today view it as quite a mistake. There were 1,300 breweries in the country before Prohibition, and only about 100 after. We have to wonder how many of the 1,300 would have survived over the decades. And if most of them did, what would the beer landscape look like today?

We go “back to the future” for our last “what-if”: What if the internet had never come into being? OK, this is a weird one because almost every aspect of modern life would be different without the web these days, and beer wouldn’t seem to be something that is overly affected by the cyber world. But think about how much of a role the internet plays in informing all of us about beer. From columns like this one to popular sites like Beeradvocate.com and Ratebeer.com to breweries own websites, a plethora of beer information is literally at our fingertips.

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