Beer and American Culture

With a collegue of mine, I recently started a new book project on beer and American culture. We are still at the very very very early stage and are drafting our first essay/chapter. It is about country music and beer. But in a larger context, beer and the U.S. have an interesting relationship.

Prohibition was almost 100 years ago. But the tabooness of alcohol is still prevalent. Holland (where I live now) and its vicinity were dry areas till recently. Unlike in England or Japan, few people stop at a bar on their way home from work in the U.S. A friend of mine from the U.S. was shocked when he saw Japanese business people drinking beer from a can on public transportation.

On the other hand, beer is all over the place too. We see so many beer ads on TV. It’s very difficult to avoid beer ads when you are watching sports. They appear not only as TV commercials but also as advertisement boards that surround the field or the ball park. A typical college student may visit bars more often than a library during his or her tenure as a student. And of course, we cannot forget about all those parties that happen on and off campus. I used to teach an 8am class on Fridays. It was quite common to have a student showing up still smelling like alcohol.

“A love / hate relationship” is a cheap way to picture the relationship between alcohol and the U.S. But beer seems to represent and symbolize a big part of American culture.Hopefully, our book project will address some of the important questions about cultural values of beer.

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