The Language of Beer

Last year, at the age of 47, Rick Lyke had a brush with prostate cancer. He survived—not only to tell about it, but to tell about it in a bold new way.

"24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence?"

—Stephen Wright

Last year, at the age of 47, Rick Lyke had a brush with prostate cancer. He survived—not only to tell about it but to tell about it in a bold new way. As an expert in marketing and communications, he understood the monstrous challenge before him. He had to persuade men to talk. To doctors. About their privates. But he quickly hit on a solution: Pints for Prostates, an organization that reaches out to dudes on bar stools and dudes at beer festivals to raise funds and awareness. "Beer is the universal language for men," Lyke told Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an interview that aired on CNN late last month.

Crazy, right? Talk about a limited vocabulary. Imagine the English language with only 11 words: Less filling, tastes great, Waaazzzup???, and all the others that repeat ad nauseum through just about every Super Bowl ad ever made.

But Lyke is no dummy. When you type the word beer into Amazon's search engine, you get more than 365,000 results. That's one hell of a canon. By contrast, Barack Obama, who tried to use the language of beer to broker peace between Henry Louis Gates and Sergeant Jim Crowley of the Cambridge police, brings up less than 7,562 results. When you search Google for beer quotes, you find names like Plato, Abraham Lincoln, and, yes, William Shakespeare. ("For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.")

The people who make beer commercials would have you believe that the men who watch them are idiots. What exactly is drinkability? What sort of guy passes up sex with Jennifer Aniston for a Heineken? And remember that poor fool in the Bud Light ad, trapped on a shopping spree with his girlfriend until he discovers men watching football inside a circular clothes rack? That was Jack from Will & Grace. It's no wonder that Homer Simpson is the beverage's leading spokesperson.

And yet there are those like Rick Lyke who truly believe that beer can inspire men to do great things. "Beer activist" Christopher Mark O'Brien wrote a book called Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World. We're not sure what to make of that idea, not when Queen Victoria once said: "Give my people plenty of beer, good beer, and cheap beer, and you will have no revolution among them." But a quick tour of the Internet reveals that barley and hops do push men to dream big—to circle the globe, to perform amazing feats of athleticism, to achieve a higher state of consciousness through the arts. And, in at least one odd way, they bring mankind closer to God: Buddhist monks in Thailand used 1 million discarded beer bottles to build this magnificent temple.


Image courtesy Green Upgrader

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