Santa Claus

Raise a Glass to Santa Claus

The legend of the man we call Santa Claus stems from Nicholas of Myra, a bishop of a small town in Greece during the 4th century. Nicholas was known for protecting children and, at least once, saving them from human traffickers.

Nicholas became St. Nicholas and, eventually, Santa Claus. In addition to becoming the patron saint of children, he became the patron of brewers. Santa Claus fell out of favor during the Protestant Reformation in favor of darker figures such as Krampus. But during the 19th century, Christmas regained its jolliness and Santa was on his way to becoming the jolly, pipe-smoking man in the red suit.

Advertisers have used Santa Claus to hawk a variety of products—including beer. The latter didn’t sit well with neo-prohibitionists, who persuaded policy makers to declare Santa off-limits to beer ads. The brewing industry fought back, and successfully argued that the bans violated the First Amendment. Ironically, many of the same states that banned products like Bad Elf India Pale Ale allowed a strong German lager named Samichlaus—can you guess what that means in English?—to be sold.

Maryanne, Paul, and Ludwig wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Lingering Effects of Prohibition

It’s been 80 years since the 21st Amendment ended Prohibition and left most liquor regulation up to the states. That’s the good news. The bad news is that many states still have strange laws that govern alcoholic beverages. Author Aaron Goldfarb, writing in Esquire magazine, offers his top ten remnants of Prohibition. You’re undoubtedly familiar with some of them, such Sunday blue laws; dry counties; and ABV caps, which still exist in a few states.

Others are downright weird, such as Pennsylvania’s “case law” (you must buy at least 24 beers at a time), Indiana’s ban on cold beer sales, and bans on Election Day sales in a few states whose politics might drive one to drink. And with Christmas coming up, you should know that in Washington, D.C., it’s illegal to use Santa Claus to promote alcohol.

Jolly Old St. Nick

According to Jay Brooks, Saint Nicholas belongs on the long list of patron saints of the brewing industries. He’s also the patron of more than 100 other walks of life, including bakers, shoemakers, firefighters, lovers, and sailors. St. Nick, of course, became modern-day Santa Claus, and that brings us back to beer. Brewers, especially those in America, are reluctant to put Santa on the label: even if government regulators don’t object, anti-alcohol groups will raise–pun intended–the dickens. Predictably, one exception is Rogue Ales, which brews a “Santa’s Private Reserve.”

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