In perusing past entries on the Brookston Beer Bulletin blog site, www.brookstonbeerbulletin.com (a terrific forum for learning about all things beer-related), we came across a rant authored by a site visitor with the clever pseudonym, “J”.
The entry starts with J describing himself as a fan of economic theory and how he has come across an interesting article in the New York Times describing a correlation between the elimination of lead from gasoline and falling crime rates in the 1990s.
It appears as if the author of the study, a Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, an economist at Amherst College, has tied the rise and fall of lead exposure rates to the curve of violent crime.
The interesting part of her study is that the exposure rates and crime rates do match up very well, just with a 20 year lag, where Reyes hypothesizes that children born into the age of lead exposure would be at their most dangerous, crime-wise, some 20 years after their first lead exposure as an infant.
Reyes even used lead content differentials in gasoline from state to state to further her cause.
Then — and this is what J is up in arms about — Reyes adds that if other sources of crime, like “beer consumption”, remained constant, then the elimination of leaded gasoline contributed to diminishing violent crime rates over the 1990s.
J and us would like to know where the stats are that link beer consumption to violent crimes. In the United States, government beer statistics are provided by the fine folks at the Brewer’s Almanac and there is no mention of crime rates linked to beer consumption.
It is also worth noticing that Reyes specifically pointed to beer consumption as a possible source of crime. No, not spirits, not wine, not coolers or ciders. Is this not problematic?
We know this was not the focus of her initial article, but when you make assertions in a published paper, it helps that they are firmly ground in reality. Linking alcohol consumption to crime rates is one thing, but singling out beer is another matter all together.
We here at the Buzz have never had to resort to crime to support our beer habit and a quick poll of the good folks around the Yukon Brewing Company confirms that the whole staff is squeaky clean when it comes to beer-related criminal convictions. This is a group of individuals who very much enjoy a good brew and, still, they do not resort to crime to support their drinking “hobby”.
The point here is that linking beer consumption to crime rates is another paper altogether for Reyes to tackle. It will be difficult for her to find statistics that clearly differentiate beer from wine and other spirituous beverages, but we are sure a well-trained academic can dig something up.
Until that time, J and us are left to wonder where this demonization of beer comes from and why it has become internalized or common-place enough for an obviously gifted academic to make blind assertions about a fine brew.
This column is courtesy of the Yukon Brewing Company, an organization that over time has served many bars … but has not served time behind bars.
Mark Beese is our co-publisher.