TIL When the British raised taxes on beer in the 17th century, they inadvertently made gin the cheapest alcoholic beverage in the country. The ensuing widespread consumption of gin led to substantial alcoholism problems in Britain, with the death rate overtaking the birth rate during this period

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Gin – also known as “mother’s ruin” in sunny Britain.


Johann hari talks about this in his book. It’s not just that gin is particularly bad, it’s also the rapid industrialisation that pushed farmers working outside in nature into crowded gheto-like cities to working in sweatshop like workplaces for crazy hours and little pay and all the desparation and misery that comes with that.


At this point, the sugar colonies in the Caribbean were at full tilt, and were under government subsidies. The cane sugar was used 99% for alcohol production (yes, I’m aware gin and vodka are made from grain or potatoes). But at the same time, cane sugar was a main source of human trafficking, slavery, and international commerce. The end result was that liquor production was at a boom in the 1600-1700’s. They were known as “the drinking years” and coincided with the Age of Enlightenment and the American and French Revolutions. Samuel Adams was a notoriously drunken old brewer who was at the forefront of the Boston Revolutionary movement. The bar tab for the 1st continental congress would’ve been about $250,000 in today’s dollars.


The way I read this is that we could solve all the world’s problems with free beer.


I knew there had to be some reason that such a foul tasting drink became so popular. I guess it is the historical equivalent of alcoholics drinking rubbing alcohol or mouthwash.