During an afternoon of research for my upcoming book,”Richmond Beer,” I almost laughed myself into a coma reading some of the outrageous tales of misadventures concerning lager.
All are taken from Richmond papers printed in 1859, a year when lager, introduced by a wave of German immigrants, was a curiosity to much of the population in this area.
Unless otherwise noted, what follows are direct, full accounts, word for word, from the news accounts (I could neither make this up nor improve on the florid journalistic style of the day).
A CATASTROPHE. — A jolly friend, who loves his lager and his fun, came nigh making a watery trip to Davy Jones’ locker on Thursday afternoon last, whilst taking a bit of a frolic with a few fast ones, near the pump-house. — After indulging a leetle in malt liquids, “Uncle Sam,” for such we may be permitted to call him, gathered two kegs of lager, one under each arm, and attempted to cross the canal on a narrow board, but he had not gone more than half way, when the weight began to tell on him, and reeling to one side, he was instantly floundering about in the water like a blind kitten in a wash-tub. Sam’s companions immediately began to devise means for saving him, though he was then out of sight, and ran to the bank to give him aid, but he was nowhere to be seen. In a second, however, up popped one of the lager kegs, then the other, and between them arose Sam’s profile, blowing off water like a whale at play, and singing out at the top of his voice, “Save me and the lager, boys, and I’ll stand treats.” Of course he was saved, and the lager rescued, but a pipe of this favorite beverage will never induce Uncle Sam to venture so near deep water again.
Next entry, also from 1859, reprinted from the March 8 St. Louis Democrat (I love the “moderately hallucinated” line):
SIPPING THE GOBLET.– The stalwart proprietor of the “People’s Exchange” saloon, corner of Chambers street and Broadway, yesterday distinguished himself by drinking one hundred and fifty glasses of lager beer! The feat was the result of a wager of $25 and the price of the beer. The quantity was to be quaffed between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m., or the money to be forfeited by “mine host.” By 4 p.m. he had swallowed one hundred and twenty glasses, and still stood serenely and proudly on his feet — moderately hallucinated. The remaining thirty glasses he concluded to imbibe at his leisure. To give eclat to so monstrous a performance, a band of music was hired, and was placed, together with a barrel of lager and the hero of the hour with his glass, in a vehicle, which then proceeded–an imposing and sublime as well as mellifluous pageant–to New Bremen and back again.
All for now. There are several others, though, which will be shared at some point. lg