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Rutherford B. Hayes, meet Rutherford B. Haze

The first Friday of each month brings together beer bloggers around a common topic under the banner of The Session. This month Pittsburgh Beer Snob hosts, giving us the topic Beer in History:


At many points in history you can look back and find alcohol intertwined. A lot of times that form of alcohol is beer. Beer is something that connects us with the past, our forefathers as well as some of our ancestors. I want this topic to be a really open-ended one. So, it should be fairly easy to come up with something and participate.

For this session: let’s look at the man behind our seasonal, one Rutherford B. Hayes.

The man, the myth, the beard

Rutherford Birchard Hayes: born October 4, 1822, died January 17, 1893. He became a Congressman, then Governor of Ohio and finally the 19th President of the United States. All of this seemed quite well and good, but his highest achievement didn’t come until 2013, when a small brewery in Buffalo, NY named a beer after him because his last name sounded sort of like “haze.”

His election

Our dear Rutherford came to the Presidency in one of the most egregious displays of dealmaking over democracy, straight out of an episode of House of Cards1. His opponent, Samuel Tilden, only needed one more electoral vote to become President. 20 electoral votes remained in dispute, with the issue still unresolved in January 1877.

Outgoing President Grant created an Electoral Commission to resolve the dispute. This triggered debate over the makeup of the Commission, and then for good measure once the votes were given to Hayes the Democrats decided to filibuster in protest. To end the stalemate the Republicans offered a compromise: Hayes could become the President without issue, and in return the government would withdraw its troops from the southern states that had been present after the whole “failed rebellion against the government” thing. The Democrats agreed, though it didn’t stop them from calling him “Rutherfraud,” a pretty sick burn if you ask me.

Lemonade Lucy and the irony within

Rutherford B. Hayes, as drawn by Chris Groves

Rutherford B. Hayes, as drawn by Chris Groves

Okay, okay, fine, but what about the connection to beer? Well, it turns out our beer’s namesake would not have seen eye to eye with us on, well, the existence of our company.

Rutherford’s wife Lucy strongly supported the teetotaler movement, earning herself the posthumous nickname “Lemonade Lucy.” Lucy influenced Rutherford’s views on the subject, which culminated in the President banning alcohol from the White House. They served wine at his inauguration, and again later that year at a reception for the Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia, but otherwise they kept their house White but dry.

I admit that we didn’t research Rutherford’s teetotaling ways before naming our beer after him, not that it would have mattered. Once we had, though, it bemused us, and we briefly considered naming our tart Belinerweisse Lemonade Lucy in her honor.

His legacy

Rutherford died in 1893, but his works live on. For one, he has a Twitter account, which I discovered after @PresRBHayes tweeted at us! That account confuses me. It seems to contain equal parts historical information, Game of Thrones tweets and acid trip.

And then a beer bears his name, or a bastardized version thereof, with the brewery that makes it hoping to spread a little knowledge about its namesake. I’d suggest we hoist a pint in his memory on October 4, but, well, I don’t really think he’d have liked that.

  1. Only with not as much men kissing2

  2. I mean, I assume. I wasn’t there3

  3. Rutherford/Tilden, I ship it

2 comments on “Rutherford B. Hayes, meet Rutherford B. Haze

  1. Rich Woelfel on

    Hi Community Beer Works!

    I think you should name one of your beers the Groover Cleveland! Grover loved beer! He loved Buffalo! And I live in his house on Johnson Park! Here is a great story…..when Grover Cleveland ran for District attorney against his good friend and law partner, whose name I cannot remember , they made a bet that neither would drink more than three beers each night as they campaigned, principally in saloons. But after three or four days, Cleveland met his friend and told him that there was no way that he could limit himself to three beers….He lost there bet with his friend, but won the election. The rest is history!

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