The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer President Tom Schlafly
Thomas Becket, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century, was one of two English saints named Thomas who were killed by kings named Henry, the other being Sir Thomas More, who was beheaded by Henry VIII in 1535. After Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, Henry II became remorseful and commissioned a magnificent tomb for his old friend. Visitors soon began flocking to the tomb and the tradition of the pilgrimage to Canterbury was established.
Thanks to The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, the pilgrimage now occupies a special place in English literature. Chaucer’s fictional pilgrimage began in April (probably on Wednesday, April 17, 1387 according to educated guesses by some scholars) at an inn in Southwark, a village south of the Thames River, now part of London. The book, which is regarded as one of the first literary works in English, is a compilation of stories told by the fictional pilgrims to amuse themselves on the trip to Canterbury. Six hundred and twenty-five years later, the tales are still entertaining, with adolescent boys taking particular delight in The Miller’s Tale.
April 10, 1912, 525 years later almost to the day, marked the beginning of another famous trip. It was on this date the Titanic sailed from the port of Southampton, 80 miles southwest of Southwark. As all alert readers (ARs) already know, the Titanic never completed its maiden voyage. Four days later, at 11:40 P.M. on the night of Sunday, April 14th, the ship hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and plunged to the ocean floor in the early hours of Monday, the 15th. What ARs may not know is that some of my distant relatives (through marriage) were on the ship. In all honesty, very distant.
My cousin Joe Schlafly is married to a delightful woman named Annie, whom I’m happy to claim as a relative any time. Shortly after the movie Titanic came out in 1997 Annie told me that relatives of hers named Ryerson had been on the ship; and that her great great uncle Arthur Ryerson (whose initials were AR) was mentioned in the film as the owner of the jacket that was stolen by the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
April isn’t just a time to remember a fictional pilgrimage from 625 years ago or a real shipwreck from 100 years ago. It’s also a time when golf fans from all over the world turn their attention to Augusta, Georgia, the home of the Masters. Among the many distinguishing features of this esteemed tournament is that commercial messages during the television broadcast are limited to four minutes per hour, as opposed to 12 or more for other golf tournaments. In 2003 and 2004 there were no commercials at all in broadcasts in the United States.
While it may theoretically be possible to pay for commercials during the Masters, Schlafly Beer won’t be doing so. We have, however, sponsored a golfer in a tournament on the PGA Tour. Kind of.
Steve Maritz, an AR and a loyal fan of Schlafly Beer, recently played in the AT& T Open at Pebble Beach. His caddie was John Meyer, another AR and fan of Schlafly Beer, who may be best known to patrons of The Tap Room for his annual recitation of Address to a Haggis on Burns Night. Our sponsorship consisted of providing Steve and John with Schlafly hats to wear on the course and a case of beer to help them maintain proper levels of fluids and carbohydrates throughout the tournament. We declined to provide more generous sponsorship for two reasons. First, our budget for sports marketing is rather limited. Second, we didn’t want to jeopardize Steve’s status as an amateur golfer.
April 7th, when the third round of the Masters will be played, is the ninth anniversary of the opening of Schlafly Bottleworks and the 79th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition with respect to beer, our official celebration of which will be on the following Saturday, April 14th. When we opened Bottleworks in 2003 we were worried that we might have way too much capacity. We were seriously concerned about being able to sell enough beer to justify what we had just spent on our new brewery. Nine years later demand has outstripped capacity and we’re finding ourselves scrambling to squeeze more capacity out of Bottleworks and to find supplemental capacity at other breweries.
Our journey has been at least as exhilarating as that of the Canterbury pilgrims; but, unlike them, we’re still not exactly sure where we’re going.