While looking for an interesting topic to write about, I searched for birthdays and events that occurred this day, October 7th. In my search I found something that made me laugh. On October 7, 1714, there was a riot because of a beer tax in Alkmaar, Netherlands.
I wondered, are there other riots related to beer? The answer: yes.
In 1844, during the early days of May, the people of Bavaria rioted against a beer tax levied upon them by King Ludwig I. Order was only restored after the King lowered the price of beer by 10%. This wasn't the first time a government official had to concede defeat.
In 1855, the mayor, Levi Boone, decided to renew enforcement of an old law and mandated that taverns be closed on Sundays. He didn't stop there, he also raised the price of a liquor license from $50 to $300 a year. Clearly, he was insane. The relative worth of $50 in 1855 would be over $1000 today! So a liquor license of $300 would be worth about $8,000! Which is absurd because a liquor license for a tavern in contemporary Chicago is only $4,400, or approximately $160 in 1855.
His greedy decision (probably one borne out of "Know-Nothing" ideas) caused the Lager Beer Riot. One Sunday, some tavern owners, largely German immigrants, were caught selling beer and were arrested. This spun into a spar between the police and protesters. At one point the mayor ordered the swing bridges to be opened in order to prevent more protesters from crossing the river. This left some people trapped on the Clark Street Bridge, where police opened fire over the Chicago river.
After 1 death, 60 arrests and 1 year later, Levi Boone was turned out of office and the prohibition was repealed.
Beer has been the basis for more than just riots, it was also the setting for an attempted coup d'etat by Hitler. (Not to mention the fact it also happened in Bavaria and this is the third time I mentioned Germans and beer riots.) Known as the Beer Hall Putsch (putsch means coup) or Munich Putsch. In November of 1923, Hitler and his loyal followers marched to a beer hall in Munich. They were attempting to overthrow the government by trapping an important figure, Gustav Ritter von Kahr, who was addressing a crowd of 3000 people. Hitler and the 600 members of the Nazi party surrounded the beer hall. Interestingly, despite being able to rile the crowd in his favour, Hitler was unsuccessful. He was arrested and sentenced to 5 years in prison, however he was released after only 9 months.
Then there's the very well known Prohibition that took place from 1920-1933 in the United States. The reactionary measures of a few morally conscious people caused the birth of bootlegging and speakeasies. That period in the U.S. was rife with criminal behaviour. From the swinging '20s to the dirty '30s. Although I can't help but notice how after the market crashed in 1929 and the great depression occurred, it didn't take too long for them to repeal that decision. It seems that people just needed a good, stiff drink.
The last one I discovered, was the funniest. June 4, 1974, Cleveland stadium enticed fans to attend a baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers by offering 10 cent beer. That is CHEAP, no matter what year! Over 25,000 people showed up to the game! However, during the 9th inning, a fan attempted to steal a hat from the Texas outfielder, Jeff Burroughs. Burroughs tripped and this instantly sparked the Texas manager to order his team on to the field with bats swinging. Inevitably, this caused the inebriated crowd to start attacking as well. Who knew cheap beer and lots of people was a bad idea?
In short - beer has been a reason to start riots, attempt coups, and grandstand political, moral or economical ideals. Not to mention just behaving badly. BEER! Hey, I still love it. It's delicious.
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