I Want a Beer May 7, 2010

I Want a Beer

I’ve never had a beer in my life, but maybe it’s time to start:

In the early part of fall 2008, a small Danish brewery, Bryggeriet Djævlebryg, released a new Imperial Stout titled, “Gudeløs.” Those translate to “Devil’s Brew” and “Godless” in English…

“Devil’s Brew and the Danish Atheist Society have entered into an unholy alliance, and the result is ‘Godless’ – an ale brewed entirely without superstition. [Godless] is an imperial stout with burnt and sweetish impressions, together with notes of licorice. To exercise social responsibility, Devil’s Brew donates one Danish Crown to the Danish Atheist Society for each bottle sold.”

On a serious note, I do wonder how certain products (that normally remain neutral on such issues) would do if they were marketed specifically to an atheist audience…

I would totally buy Godless Tapioca Pudding.

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  • Wendy


    /sorry that does not compute

  • Alan E.

    I find this post highly offensive for my tastes. I can’t believe that someone of your stature would say such a thing. I thought you were open to different ideas, but to go out and say:

    I’ve never had a beer in my life

    is just blasphemy. You are missing out on the experience of your life, filling you with the presence of a magical euphoria. I think someone needs to call PZ and give you a wake up call.

  • You’ve never had a beer?!?!?!

    …I don’t blame you, beer is nasty ;P

  • NewEnglandBob

    I have had 2 beers in my life. The first was in 1968, at a friend’s party. The second was 15 minutes later. Halfway through that one, I opened the kitchen door, walked out into the driveway and vomited. End of beer drinking. Vodka is my top choice now.

  • Pockets

    Beer and religion have had a long history. Monks have been brewing beer for centuries. (doesn’t make the beer religious per-se)

    And while I am an atheist I am perfectly happy to sample the wonderful brews that have been perfected for hundreds of years by monks.

    btw I really want to try this, I am a sucker for a good Imperial Stout

  • Nora

    Never had a beer?!?!


  • Yeonghoon Joung

    This is heresy on an unprecedented scale. (Your not having drunk a beer in all your life that is).

  • Greg

    I’ve never drunk a beer in my life either.

    Well, actually, I have had half a pint, but I don’t count that.

    /me is a cider man

    By the way, does anyone think someone will reply to the topic, or just continue talking about the shock of Hemant not having had a beer?

  • GentleGiant

    In the early part of fall 2008, a small Danish brewery, Bryggeriet Djævlebryg, released a new Imperial Stout titled, “Gudeløs.” Those translate to “Devil’s Brew” and “Godless” in English…

    Just a correction from the article, “Devil’s Brew” is actually “Devil’s Brew Breweries” or “The Brewery Devil’s Brew.”

    The brewery has a homepage, located here

    They also have a beer called OriginAle, which is a tribute to Charles Darwin.

    (note, I actually didn’t know about this brewery before Hemant’s post above and haven’t tasted any of their beers)

  • Daniel

    Good god man, get ye to a pub and start drinking! That’s like not having had… I dunno, anything with chocolate in it, or never having had citrus. It’s a whole flavor continent you’ve missed!

  • Sean Wiills

    I have to say, I’m a little disappointed by all of the ‘OMG you’ve never had a beer’ replies (even if most of them are firmly tongue in cheek). I’ve also never had beer in my life, and I get this kind of response from people all the time in real life when I tell them.

    It gets tiring after a while.

  • I’ve never had a beer in my life…

    I know what each of those words means separately, but strung together in that order they make absolutely no sense.

  • medussa

    Might as well have never had sex. Wait. You have had sex? Never mind, I don’t think I want to know.

  • Sean Wills

    And I just realised I spelled my name wrong on that last comment.

    Hey, maybe I actually am drunk, somehow…

  • Revyloution

    To misquote Benjamin Franklin
    “Beer is proof that God exists, and he wants us to be happy”

    Never tried beer? That deserves some ‘splainin Hemant.

    Are you against inebriation completely? If so, your’e in good, godless company. Harry Houdini, Frank Zappa, James Randi, and Weird Al Yankovic all claim to have skipped all drugs and alcohol in their lives. I love how Randi puts it. He says that reality is far to interesting to be dulled down with intoxicants. I really respect these men for all their creativity and critical thinking, and wouldn’t dream of faulting them for keeping their bodies clean.

    I myself lack that will power. I think I have more in common with Christopher Hitchens in regards to the booze.

    If you do imbibe the fermented spirits, then I would cut your teeth in Oregon when you come. As mentioned in the Visiting Oregon post, we have some fabulous breweries here.

  • …I don’t blame you, beer is nasty ;P

    Some beer is definitely nasty, but not all. Good beer is good.

    But now is it good because it defines what is good, or is good defined outside of good beer and good beer just has those qualities… Hmmm…

  • Dan

    DUDE! Listen to the chairman! “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”. Next time you are in LA, I’ll take you out for some good beers.

  • Alan E.

    Some beer is definitely nasty,

    Just about any beer that is advertised for on TV is going to be nasty (Blue Moon is an exception, and I liked it well before they started advertising on TV; we’ll see where the quality goes next). There are so many differences and flavors and additives and procedural changes that no one beer is like another. I think that people who claim that they don’t like the taste of beer just haven’t had that one good one that will get you hooked on expanding your pallet. If I want to drink to get drunk, which is almost never anymore, then I’ll usually go for relatively cheaper beers. If I am in a position to try a new beer (or many new beers like a brew fest), then I’ll almost certainly broaden my horizons by trying something new and/or exotic.

    I’ll give this one a shot, but I will have to like the beer itself to be able to buy it a second time. There is a pretty high standard that I hold, and not many beers get that coveted “buy again” status in my household.

  • Alan E.: I think that people who claim that they don’t like the taste of beer just haven’t had that one good one that will get you hooked on expanding your pallet.

    Yep, that was exactly my experience. I always thought I hated beer, but later figured out that it had a lot to do with the fact that I’d grown up around cheap beer. Once I tried various beers I found some that I liked and some that I liked a lot. Right now my favorite is Tucher hefeweizen.

    I do think this experimenting has broadened my tastes in general, though, such that when I don’t feel like spending a lot of money I am now satisfied with doing the hipster thing and just having a PBR.

  • Optimus wins this thread. IPU, now I can’t wait to get off work and have a beer!

  • Jen

    Beer is gross.

    Actually, so is tapioca.

  • Jim H

    I like my beer well-done. That is to say, scotch. (But I also like a good beer.) That said, I would definitely try a “Devil’s Still” scotch, if the brewery wants to distill its beer… 😉

  • Sunioc

    I too used to think that beer was disgusting. Then I moved to Portland, and realized that I’d never had a beer before. Now I’m a massive beer snob, and have been known to spend more on a bottle than most people spend on a six pack. My favorite has to be Old Rasputin XII imperial stout, and if I could afford the $20 a bottle price tag, I’d drink nothing else.

  • Kimpatsu

    Fufus Satan! (lit., “Fuck Satan”) is a Danish toast, like saying “Cheers!”

  • matt

    how does one never have a beer?

  • Richard Wade

    Hemant, I’ve never had a beer in your life either. I stopped drinking before you were born. Which is why I’m still alive. The rest of you, enjoy yourselves. I am.

  • Revyloution

    Good on ya Richard. Well done.

  • Sean McD

    Actually, this Danish beer is not the first one I have heard of in this context. There is a strong microbeer brewed in the Canadian Province of Quebec by Unibroue that is named “Maudite”, which is French for “damned”. On the label you can see a gargoyle with a canoe. It was named after an old Quebecois legend about some lumberjacks who sold their souls to satan to get them home by a canoe in the sky in time for Dec. 25th.

  • a thought

    Can I ask how it has come about that you’ve never had a beer? As in, do you dislike the smell, etc? No judgment; just curious.

  • Chris

    I’m shocked – any particular reason?

    I’d suggest having at least one of every type of beer on the planet. But not on the same day…

  • Stellar Duck

    Kimpatsu: Fufus Satan! (lit., “Fuck Satan”) is a Danish toast, like saying “Cheers!”

    What? I’ve lived in Denmark for 28 years, been getting drunk in a million ways for the last 14 of them, and I’ve never heard that toast before.
    Could you elaborate as the where we use that?

    On topic, I’ve never heard about this brew, but I suppose I’ll look into it. I normally don’t drink all that fancy beer out there. Too much fancy snobbery going on. Cheap Slots Øl is good enough for me. Besides, when you wanna drink 30 beers on a night you can’t afford to pay for all the poncy stuff.

  • @a thought — Just never had a desire to get drunk/tipsy. I rarely drink alcohol.

  • muggle

    “Are you against inebriation completely? If so, your’e in good, godless company. Harry Houdini, Frank Zappa, James Randi, and Weird Al Yankovic all claim to have skipped all drugs and alcohol in their lives.”

    And muggle. I’m a tea-totaller. And, for the record, I agree 100% with Randi. I like reality too much. Usually, I just tell people that I know myself too well and wouldn’t want to be about alchohol as I am chocolate. Which is also true but…

    Hemant, I understand. Never appealed to me either. Drugs or alcohol.

    (I’ve got to say Frank Zappa really surprises me. The others, not so much.)

    Movies, books, that sort of thing are my escapes from reality. Them, at least, you can snap back to reality quick should the need arise. Drugs and alcohol, meh, never want to be that out of control.

    I have, however, been accused of getting drunk on coca cola. I tend to get tipsy around people who are. It’s catching. So, I guess if you have this natural ability to get silly when others are, eh, you can have the fun without the hangover in the morning. Or the puking interrupting the fun.

  • Ulrich

    Just as an aside: There’s a beer from Austria called, I kid you not, “Fucking Hell”.

    In fact, the name is a very clever (and hilarious) double entendre: The beer is brewed in the town of Fucking (pronounced “Fooking”) – and it is a kind of pale lager, called “Hell(es)” in German…

  • Revyloution

    Hey Muggle, the Frank Zappa story amazes most people, accept those who knew him. He would regularly kick people out of his house for using drugs of any kind.

    If your not a fan, you should pick up some of his music. Joe’s Garage is perhaps the most approachable for the uninitiated. He has very intricate melody and harmony with lyrics that, while crude at times, are a sharp commentary on society.

  • GMpilot

    Well, there’s that fictitious(?) beer I used to hear advertised on Freethought Radio. It was called Darwin Monkey Stout; “It’ll make a Man out of you.” Its spokesman was a guy with an Australian accent (after Darwin the city, I assume).

    I’ve always thought someone should actually make that…But I rarely drink the stuff. I have learned I can make an idiot of myself without any induced chemical help.

  • RA

    No beer for me either. I’ve tried it three times and couldn’t get past a couple of sips. Also no coffee. I’ve actually had less coffee than beer.

  • MC

    I abstain from not only alcohol, but recreational drug use as a whole. Except for medicinal purposes, I generally avoid them.

    As a bartender (believe it!), I have increasingly seen my role as a “legal drug dealer” in a bar in the same light that I view pastors in churches: to make people feel better by numbing their minds. Hell, even the bartender and the pastor are often used as armchair psychologists and philosophers; delivers of feel-good delusion-agents (sermons and booze), they’re often what people use to gain folksky advice and wisdom. Sad, but true.

    For instance, I see little difference between theism and oenophilia, and theologians and oenophiles, since they discern enormously subjective, non-existent subtitles that are about things that aren’t really there. (Well, at least the oenophile and the sommelier actually deal with something that is real!). Wine snobs, beer snobs, whiskey snobs (and even pot snobs), etc. are all part of a community whose function and domain serves masochism (pleasure from harm) and purposeful(!) delusion (in numbing one’s sensitivity to reality), however temporary or apparently “harmless”. Frankly, my animosities towards religion and superstition unfailingly spread towards the practice(s) of recreational drug use. “A lot of very smart people are highly functional while imbibing a beer or two! Even pot!” it is said. Well, aren’t Francis Collins and Ken Miller intelligent theists too? If we think that recreational drug use is OK, then we are also unjustified in criticizing them for temporarily suspending their scientific thinking. “But a drink a day lowers blood pressure!” and “but wine is good for you!” are commonly thrown at teetotalers. Rather than knowing that it is the resveratrol and anticoagulant properties in wine rather than alcohol that contributes the health benefits, people really identify the drug-induced euphoria as the reason to drink. The “French Paradox” and its associations (heavily promoted by the mutlibillion-dollar spirit and wine industry) are pretty thin on evidence. Yet there’s evidence that a cigarette temporarily promotes short-term memory, but that doesn’t justify smoking… even before your exams. People have failed to show me that there is a health benefit or a social benefit to drug use that cannot be attained by some other, more positive/rational means. I’m eager to hear or find one that is legitimate.

    There are many parallels between recreational drug use and religion. In practice, institution, and culture, religion and drug use ultimately serve the same purpose and are rather related. I’m amazed that so many “freethinkers” are so eager to bash on religionists for their mind-warping practices and beliefs, and yet eagerly use drugs (and alcohol is a drug, folks) to alter their perceptions and dull their mental faculties for temporary pleasure, satisfaction, and relaxation. Sounds an awfully lot like religion to me. The only means that we have to gain knowledge is our brains, so why would one who claims to “love reality” want to shut it down or even temporarily render it dull or inactive to its fullest capacities? The excuses–“but it feels good”; “it is something we do to bond with friends”; “it makes it easier to have fun and engage in camaraderie”; “it is great, harmless, traditional fun!”–are all the similar to those that religious people use to justify their various superstitions (praying, ouija-boards, astrology, faith-healing, church attending, etc.). Having had to justify (and argue) with many people about my “secular asceticism” from recreational drugs for years now, I’m disappointed that so many otherwise reasonable freethinkers use the *same* fallacious (non-)arguments that theists do when attempting to justify themselves and their practices. I think most of what could be said to me is largely exhausted, and even from a lot of very intelligent people. “A drink now and then is harmless, and possibly good for you!” Well, there are studies that show that religious people are healthier and happier, but we know those don’t justify religious practices. Like recreational drug use, those health benefits can be attained without religious practice. Besides, if moderate, controlled recreational drug use is entirely licit, then moderate superstition is also “kosher” in some capacity too. Just *one* Bible study a week? Just *a few* calls to a psychic or tarot card reader? Give me a break. Many people use drugs as a crutch for socializing and “fun” for the same reasons people use religion as a crutch for community and stability in their lives. If my fellow freethinkers were so consistent, a much smaller number of them would not also be drinkers, smokers, and stoners.

    The following quotations offer a good (and partial) summary of my views on the matter:

    “Why people are so drawn to the irrational is something that has always puzzled me. […] I want to be, if I can, as sure of the world, the real world around me, as is possible. Now, you can only attain that to a certain degree, but I want the greatest degree of control. […] I’ve never involved myself in narcotics of any kind, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, because that can easily just fuzz the edges of my rationality–fuzz the edges of my reasoning powers–and I want to be as aware as I possibly can. That means that giving up a lot of fantasies that might be comforting in some ways, but I’m willing to give that up in order to live in an actually real word – as close as I can get to it.” – James Randi, magician and educator

    I am glad to have drunk water so long, for the same reason that I prefer the natural sky to an opium-eater’s heaven. I would fain keep sober always; and there are infinite degrees of drunkenness. I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man; wine is not so noble a liquor; and think of dashing the hopes of a morning with a cup of warm coffee, or of an evening with a dish of tea! Ah, how low I fall when I am tempted by them! Even music may be intoxicating. Such apparently slight causes destroyed Greece and Rome, and will destroy England and America. Of all ebriosity, who does not prefer to be intoxicated by the air he breathes?” – Henry David Thoreau, “Walden” (1854)

    It is held that drink and petting are gateways to joy, so people get drunk quickly and try not to notice how much their partners disgust them. After a sufficient amount of drink, men begin to weep, and to lament how unworthy they are, morally, of the devotion of their mothers. All that alcohol does for them is to liberate the sense of sin, which reason suppresses in saner moments.” – Bertrand Russell, “The Conquest of Happiness” (1930)

    O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! that we should, with joy, pleasance, revel, and applause, transform ourselves into beasts!” – William Shakespeare, “Othello”

    The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.” – George Bernard Shaw, “Androcles and the Lion” (1912)

    I’m not sure it is possible to think too much. You don’t refresh your mind by partying in Ibiza.” – AC Grayilng, “This Much I Know” (2009)

    All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy.” – Paracelsus

    Usually I say that the taking of drugs is the license to be an asshole, which is the same reason why people drink.” – Frank Zappa, “The Today Show” (1993)

    A drug is not bad. A drug is a chemical compound. The problem comes in when people who take drugs treat them like a license to behave like an asshole.” – Frank Zappa, “The Real Frank Zappa Book” (1990)

    The chief reason for drinking is the desire to behave in a certain way, and to be able to blame it on alcohol.“- Mignon McLaughlin, “The Neurotic’s Notebook” (1960)

    When the wine is in, the wit is out.” – Proverb

    [T]he parallels between faith and a typical recreational opiate are almost elegant. […] Heroin has no power over those who have never used it. Try it a while, become addicted, and its absence will be intolerable. This is quite different from the need for oxygen. Everyone dies without oxygen; opiate withdrawal holds terror only for addicts. Doesn’t religion […] show the same pattern? […] On this view, religion in its role as guarantor of Meaning is not only analogous to a recreational drug, it is more like disease than cure.” – Tom Flynn, “The Big M” (2007)

    Don’t get me wrong folks… though I’ve never had a puff or sip of anything in my life, if I’m suffering from “AIDS Wasting Syndrome” or the effects of chemotherapy, I’d have no problem using marijuana for medicinal uses. I think the “War on Drugs” and our drug laws are miserable, misery-causing failures. Even if the analogue of the fundamentalist is the alcoholic and the junkie, and I think that having “a drink or two” after dinner is as morally conspicuous as praying before dinner, I don’t think that all drug users are bad people with problems.

    However, it is funny how people react upon learning of one’s teetotalism (or “straight edge” practices) in the same way that others react upon learning of someone’s atheism: with shock and/or disappointment, and often anger and animosity. Whether they are a believer or a recreational drug user, it sometimes seems that I’m just as unlikely to be invited to hang out with either of them after I reveal that I don’t engage or believe in their primary vehicle for transcendence and consciousness-altering (whether it is drugs or religion). Nobody takes a swig of Drano, or attends a Pentecostal church for a day (flopping on the floor) who also thinks that someone who doesn’t use drugs should do so simply because they’d be “close-minded to new experiences” if they continued abstaining. A non-drinker in, say, Milwaukee might have just as much difficulty socializing and making friends as an atheist would in a Bible-thumping Mississippi town. (See “The Social Economics of Drinking” at winepsych.com/?p=1159). The ensuing invitations to drink/use drugs (and what to drink/smoke/etc.) are all parallel to subsequent–and equally forceful–invitations to churches, Bible studies, or “friendly meetings” with pastors. Whether it is drugs or religion, people will feel an insulting sadness for “non-users” who deny wanting to experience a realm(s) of great pleasures and happiness and will inevitably try to invite you to join in with them. Myself and other non-drug users will be looked down on among social drinkers just as quickly as atheists will be ostracized in a church or religious forum. From my experiences and the experiences of other teetotalers, it is odd that drinkers are on average as aggressive and hostile against teetotalism as many hunters are against vegetarians (as religious people can be to atheists). What has occurred in this thread mirrors my experiences in “real life”: proselytization is just as quickly employed among drinkers to teetotalers as theists to atheists and secular, unchurched people. It is predictable and pathetic, I think. It just shows that there are a lot of fellow freethinkers who haven’t actually abandoned their religious/superstitious sensibilities and practices wholesale, but only transferred and employed them in other domains in life. There’s “Cafeteria Christianity” and “Cafeteria Rationalism”, it seems. I think it is weird that so many freethinker organizations meet in bars! Though it is in question whether he still smokes, Hitchens is quite the drinker and is therefore a hypocrite in light of these equivalences between drugs and religion. Yet we should take his advice (with modification): Rather than opening a sorcerers tome, a bottle of booze, or a bag of weed, if we are to alter our consciousness in a meaningful way then we’re better off looking at pictures from the Hubble telescope, watching Cosmos, or enlightening ourselves with a documentary narrated by David Attenborough. Though some people do use drugs while attending the planetarium, I doubt any drug could actually make the universe more beautiful and amazing than it already is. If someone thinks that a psychedelic drug makes nature more beautiful, then they have a vice in common with the supernaturalist and religionist, namely that nature isn’t enough.

    More thinking, less drinking, I say. The latter is at least as enjoyable as the former; between them, it is no question which one we need more of.


  • muggle

    Revyloution, now there’s something to do in my forced unpaid day off, check out some of his music. Got to be on the internet.

    I’m cringing at finding myself guilty of something that drives me insane. I’m rather hippy-dippy and came of age in the ’70’s so people assume…

  • Naug

    Dude, try everything twice (unless it brings certain death to other people, then don’t try it all.)

    Have a beer.

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