Gin vs Beer : figthing for survival
The origins of Gin are not glorious. Gin is deemed to have devastated entire generations, pushing them into misery and starvation.
At the end of the fifteenth century, Genever is marketed by the Dutch in England; rewarded with a great success from the English people. However, in 1688, William of Orange, King of England, banned its import in the context of a series of protectionist measures.
To meet the demand of English consumers, English distillers start producing an alcohol called Gin. Through reduced taxation, it becomes less expensive than beer!
Thus, begins a race to manufacturing and distillating thisalcohol. Cereals and potatoes are largely used to make it, even at the expense of food supply. This cheap alcohol is heavily drunk by the lower classes of the population and it intensifies poverty.
Laws are passed to try to stop this vicious circle, with little success. Gin is demonized: the British accuse it to be the cause of their poverty and the omnipresent social chaos.
For several years, a heated debate ensued between the followers of Gin and those promoting the merits of beer, drink an industrious and prosperous society through excellence (according to them)
William Hogarth, an English artist of the time, has made two prints to demonstrate the merits of drinking Beer and to prohibit Gin.
These Beer Street and Gin Lane engravings have certainly influenced the series of laws from 1751 in which the Parliament restricted Gin consumption and encouraged a production of higher quality.