Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anyone who attributes that quote to Franklin is full of hops.

Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.

That quote —attributed to Ben Franklin— can be seen on the bathroom wall at a well-known Washington D.C. beer bar, and on many other bathroom walls, tee-shirts, websites, and in articles referencing beer. The problem is ... Benjamin Franklin never wrote that.

What he did write, in a rambling letter, was this:

Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.

What Ben Franklin Didn't Say About Beer
Bob Skilnik
[retrieved from the web]

Franklin was, in fact, talking about ... wine.

The four sleuths who should receive acclaim for researching this are
  • The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, which, in 2006, mentioned that it had found no corroboration of the beer-related quote.
  • Historian Bob Skilnik, who researched and posted about the situation at length on his website.
  • Mid-Atlantic Brewing News writers Alexander D. Mitchell IV and Phil Sides, who, also in 2006, wrote an article debunking the quotation.
In 2008,  the owner of the Elevator Draught Haus in Columbus, Ohio, attended a lecture by Bob Skilnik, and heard the truth. Without hesitation, the brewpub owner issued a recall and refund of all the tee-shirts,  that he had sold at his brewpub, that had been imprinted with that erroneous attribution.

Now, you too, Mr. Bar Owner: whitewash that bathroom wall!



  1. Of course whether Franklin said it or not, the quote is still true! There's no need to whitewash the expression, just remove the attribution.

    Beer IS proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.

    There, I said it. Quote me.

  2. Besides, there is no evidence he did not say that. There is no evidence that he wrote it, for sure, but that is another thing.

    Plus, as I recall from my English degree, there were plenty of writers from 1600 to 1800 who happily ascribed the drink to God's good wishes. It's in the Bible for heaven's sake. Why so much concern about Franklin?


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