The Schlafly Beer Employee Blog

November 19, 2014

Top Fermentation - November 2014


The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer Co-Founder Tom Schlafly

Larry Schlafly played for the Washington Senators during the 1906 and 1907 seasons. In 1909, with Larry no longer on the roster, the Senators finished with a 42-110 record, prompting the renowned baseball scribe Charles Dryden to write: “Washington—first in war, first in peace and last in the American League.”

Forty-six years later the fecklessness of the Senators inspired the Broadway musical Damn Yankees, a modern adaptation of the legend of Faust, who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for immediate earthly gratification. In Damn Yankees, a middle-aged real estate agent named Joe Boyd is a die-hard fan of Senators. Frustrated by the team’s perennial losing,  Joe says he would sell his soul for a long ball hitter who could help the Senators win the American League pennant. As if on cue, the devil appears in the persona of Mr. Applegate, who is all too ready to make this deal with Joe.

Much has been written about the devil over the years from references to him as “Old Scratch” (Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens and others) to accounts of driving him away with well-timed flatulence (Martin Luther). In their 1968 song “Sympathy for the Devil” the Rolling Stones describe him as “a man of wealth and taste.” They go one to give him credit (or blame) for a litany of crimes ranging from the crucifixion of Jesus to the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy. They also say the devil was responsible for the October Revolution in Russia (which actually took place in November, 1917):

I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change.
Killed the czar and his ministers.
Anastasia screamed in vain.

The czar in question was Nicholas II, who had earned the moniker Nicholas the Bloody for a number of reasons. To celebrate his coronation in 1896 he staged a festival with free beer in Khodynka Field near Moscow. The crowd got out of hand and an estimated 1,389 individuals were trampled to death. Seemingly unmoved, Nicholas went to a ball hosted by the French ambassador that night and was widely criticized as insensitive and uncaring.

nicholasiiwithstvladimirorderGood St. Nick?

During a series of anti-Jewish pogroms from 1903 to 1906 Nicholas privately expressed admiration for the violent mobs behind them. On Sunday, January 22, 1905 (Bloody Sunday) the czar’s troops opened fire on peaceful demonstrators, killing 92 by official accounts and wounding hundreds more. Ramsay MacDonald, who would later become Prime Minister of Great Britain, called Nicholas a “blood-stained creature and a common criminal.” Nicholas also had no qualms about executing his political opponents nor about ordering the mobilization of August, 1914 that led to Russia’s entry into the First World War and the subsequent deaths of over three million of his subjects.

On July 17, 1918, Nicholas and other members of the royal family were executed by Bolsheviks. Sixty-three years later the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia recognized the last czar and these other Romanovs as martyrs and proclaimed them saints. The Russian Orthodox Church Inside Russia disputed this characterization of the dead Romanovs as martyrs, pointing out that they weren’t killed because of their Christian faith, but rather for other reasons. (Perhaps the murders and massacres ordered by Nicholas?) Nevertheless, on August 15, 2000 this same church canonized Nicholas, his wife Alexandra and their children as “passion bearers.” A shrine in their honor was constructed in Yekaterinburg and dubbed Church on the Blood.

Going back to the insightful words of the Rolling Stones, it’s apparent that the devil is the reason Russia is currently making such a nuisance of itself. The devil produced the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union produced the KGB. And the KGB produced Vladimir Putin. Q.E.D.

Military invasions aren’t the only technique by which Putin is expanding the Russian empire. Back in September Russian oligarchs, with the presumed approval of Putin, took over Pabst Brewing Company, one of the last surviving American breweries that pre-date craft beer. More recently, the Russian Parliament, again with the presumed blessing of Putin, passed legislation that would allow the Kremlin to confiscate the assets of foreign corporations on Russian soil. Fortunately for us, the Schlafly brewery does not own any property in Russia… unlike Carlsberg, InBev, Heineken and SABMiller, all of which have significant holdings.

As we know from the legend of Faust, there’s a price to be paid for making deals with the devil.