The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer President Tom Schlafly
Schlafly Beer will officially celebrate its 21st birthday on December 26th. As a former English major I naturally turned to the world of literature to find the meaning of this milestone, specifically A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Housman:
When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
‘Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away,
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free.’
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.
The message of the poem, written when Housman was 37, is that people often exercise pretty poor judgment at age 21. True enough, but one must not overlook the many accomplished people who are younger than Schlafly Beer. Consider entertainers such as Justin Bieber, who’s only 18, or Olympic medalists such as Gabby Douglas, who will be 17 on December 31st.
There are also lots of successful companies that haven’t been around as long as Schlafly. Google, for example, has only been around since 1998 and had annual revenues in 2011 more than 2,000 times greater than ours. There are also lots of countries that aren’t as old as Schlafly, places such as Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, East Timor, Eritrea, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and former states of the Soviet Union, whose existence formally ended the same day ours officially began.
Twenty-one, it should be noted, is the age at which Americans are legally permitted to make one of the most important decisions of their lives: what kind of beer to drink. Deciding what kind of beer to drink requires such a high level of maturity that the United States Congress and the legislatures of all 50 states will not allow anyone under the age of 21 to make this decision. Younger people may be perfectly competent to make decisions requiring lesser levels of maturity: joining the armed services, buying a house, assuming responsibility for a 30-year mortgage, choosing a spouse for a lifetime, or voting for the leaders of our nation. These are admittedly important responsibilities, but nevertheless within the competence of most 18-year-olds. But, ordering the right kind of beer? That demands a level of maturity of a much higher order of magnitude.
Bill Gates dropped out of college when he was 19. Not too long after his 20th birthday he and Paul Allen formed a partnership they called Micro-Soft. He was obviously a very bright fellow with a pretty high level of maturity. He was not, however, sufficiently mature to celebrate the founding of his company by ordering a beer. No. Our lawmakers in their wisdom correctly recognized that choosing the right beer was beyond the competence of young Bill, however precocious he might be. (Actually, there were jurisdictions in which Bill could have legally ordered a beer in 1975. Lawmakers soon recognized the inherent danger of allowing someone so immature to drink beer and remedied the situation.)
Considering the importance of making the right choice when it comes to beer, it’s fortunate that so many resources are now available to guide young adult consumers. While Schlafly was little known in the early days, as we’ve grown older we’ve received more and more attention from a wide variety of media. Our Pumpkin Ale alone has been featured in The Washington Post, Martha Stewart Living, Playboy, Esquire, Men’s Health and on the Today Show, among other media outlets.
I should note that there are some superb beers that have not yet received much critical acclaim because they haven’t been around long enough for most critics to try them. Once such beer is our Single Malt Scottish Ale, which we brewed to celebrate our 21st anniversary. The bad news is that supplies are limited. The good news is that whatever you buy can be kept in your cellar and aged for years.
In the absence of reviews of this beer by distinguished, impartial critics, I once again turn to A. E. Housman and A Shropshire Lad for inspiring words:
And malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man.
Few of the English majors I knew in college would have disagreed.