Beer (& More) In Food

Beer: The Condiment With An Attitude!

The Worst Thing You Can Find in Your Beer is (Almost) Invisible

Posted by Bob Skilnik on August 19, 2007

bonvivant.jpgYour typical beer drinker is a trusting one. Hand him a beer—any beer. It might not be his favorite brand, but if he’s like most of us, if it’s a beer—and it’s cold (and better yet, someone else is buying), it’s down the hatch without a second thought. Next time you twist a cap or pop a can, however, consider what might really be in that brew. (WARNING: If you’re eating or drinking anything while reading any further, swallow hard, take a deep breath and then put your food—including chili—or drink down).

An article in the Oregonian newspaper awhile back reported on the possible consequences when you hand a warm beer to your drinking buddy.

David C. Shippentower, a 46-year old member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon, pleaded guilty in federal court to unintentionally killing his drinking buddy, Leonard D. Strong after a day of quality partying. It seems that Strong, a practical joker for sure, handed a can of beer filled with urine to Shippentower. The two of them had already knocked-off a dozen or so 24-ounce cans of suds when Strong decided to pull the old “switcheroo.” Obviously a latent beer connoisseur, Mr. Shippentower eventually realized what he was drinking and punched out his drinking buddy who later died of head injuries.

I’ve been unable to clarify whether Shippentower knew he had been punk’d on the first sip of urine or whether he had to get down to the “bad bottoms” of the can before he realized what he was really drinking. Haven’t we all been there?

A mouthful of urine is one thing—-what this poor beer drinker below knocked back on a cold winter night will probably have me staring into every bottle of beer I drink for the rest of my life.

On December 14, 1953, the Illinois Appellate Court made a ruling on the Heimsoth versus Falstaff Brewing Corporation case, a civil lawsuit that certainly made beer drinkers in Illinois take a second look in their beers before going “bottoms up!” This is one of those case studies that never come up at the De Paul College of Law.

Some background testimony on this important event in legal history that began in early 1953 in a small neighborhood tavern in East St. Louis, Illinois is certainly warranted before the reader passes judgment. What follows is a segment from the court’s ruling, based on eyewitness accounts of this beer drinking travesty:

The bartender said he took the cap off the bottle and when he took the cap off it was a live bottle of beer, made a popping noise, and foamed. Another witness confirmed the fact that the beer had foam on it and was a live bottle of beer. The bartender testified that no one tampered with the bottle during the six hours he was on duty, from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on April 2, 1951.

The plaintiff testified that he drank about half a bottle of beer and as he was drinking it he felt a slime go over his throat and he immediately had to vomit. After he had vomited and come back to the table he asked a friend who was sitting with him, who also testified, what was in the bottle, and both he and the friend, and the bartender, and other witnesses, looked at the bottle and saw that it contained a foreign substance which was a substance often referred to as a “rubber prophylactic contraceptive latex.” The plaintiff, another witness, and three doctors, testified that plaintiff became ill and suffered nausea, sustained a fixation neurosis, and had considerable loss in his business as a result of having consumed the bottle of beer with the latex prophylactic in it.


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