Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Brewer's droop, industrial disease, gruit and hops.

Evidently Stephen Harrod Buhner is the Garrett Oliver of his field. One of his books is Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation (1998), which I dimly recall being recommended to me by one of the (shall we say) more left-leaning of homebrewing club members at the time.

But the reason why brewer's droop has arisen in this context goes back to my friend Karen pointing me to Buhner's article about gruit vs. hops.

The Fall of Gruit and the Rise of Brewer's Droop, by Stephen Harrod Buhner (2003)

... To understand why hops replaced gruit it is important keep in mind the properties of gruit ale: it is highly intoxicating and aphrodisiacal when consumed in sufficient quantity. Gruit ale stimulates the mind, creates euphoria and enhances sexual drive. Hopped ale is quite different. Contemporary scientific research has conclusively demonstrated that hops contains large quantities of estrogenic and soporific compounds. In fact hops has been used for many thousands of years in traditional medical practice as a natural estrogen replacement therapy and to help insomniacs sleep. The high level of plant estrogens in hops makes hopped beer an extremely good drink for women in menopause but also makes it a very bad drink for men. Consumption by men of large levels of estrogenic compounds can lead to erection problems later in life. In fact, there is a well-known condition in England called Brewer's Droop which is regularly contracted by bartenders and brewers after years of exposure to hopped beers and ales.

I've no idea whether any of this is reputable, and I always thought it was the alcohol itself that contributes to erectile dysfunction, but veracity isn't my point.

Where had I heard the phrase "brewer's droop"?

It took a long while for it to surface, but finally I traced it back to Dire Straits and the song "Industrial Disease," released in 1982.

Doctor Parkinson declared 'I'm not surprised to see you here
You've got smokers cough from smoking, brewer's droop from drinking beer
I don't know how you came to get the Betty Davis knees
But worst of all young man you've got Industrial Disease'

Brewer's Droop apparently has a double meaning, as it was the name of a band, too. Why was the name Parkinson used? I'm not sure, but Cecil Parkinson was one of Maggie's favorites at the time of the album's incubation.

Downfall of Margaret Thatcher's number one guy Cecil Parkinson; HE WAS the golden boy of the Conservative Party in the early Eighties, by Neil Clark (Express)

A favourite of prime minister Margaret Thatcher, Cecil Parkinson had as Tory chairman masterminded the landslide election victory over Labour in 1983. Handsome, charming and highly ambitious, he was the man who - as newly released private papers suggest - Mrs Thatcher wanted to anoint as her successor.

Unfortunately, Parkinson's mistress turned up pregnant, and his star abruptly fell. No drooper, he; probably a wine drinker, and not Horace Rumpole's Chateau de Thames Embankment, either.

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