As I prepare to review a beer with the name Dog Days, I find myself contemplating the origin of the name. Unfortunately, the deeper I dig the more I find noisome superstition and not hard science.
In ancient times, people thought that the stars in the sky existed next to each other as we see them from Earth’s surface and that our planet was the center of the universe. Imagine being on a tennis ball inside of a really, really large balloon with pictures printed on the balloon’s interior.
These ancients used the sky as a giant “connect-the-dots” and came up with stories behind the shapes their imaginations created. From this came the Greek and Roman gods and the early basis for what we know as astrology.
Now, there may be some merit to planetary positioning affecting our lives on some very minor sub-atomic measurement, but as far as star signs acting as an indicator of our personalities and compass for our fortunes, I gotta call shenanigans. Why? Because the ancients’ understanding of the positioning of interstellar objects was thoroughly incorrect. You can’t build a house on a faulty foundation and expect it to stand.
Without spending a couple of weeks digging through online reference books, what little I could research electronically in regards to brewing history with ties to astronomy/ astrology give very little insight. Ironically enough, I did find a website claiming to be Wiccan in origin and espousing the occult while deriding astrology for the most part. Their brewing advice refers to different beer being made during the four elemental phases.
Whatever. They’re both phrenology. It’s like saying you don’t believe in Sasquatch because the Yeti probably never migrated out of Nepal.
Where the phrase Dog Days is concerned, ancient Romans called Sirius, the brightest star in our sky, the Dog Star as it is a part of the constellation Canis Major, or Big Dog. Its summertime presence in our sky led them to believe that it was to blame for the increase in heat on Earth. Those months where Sirius rose just prior to the Sun were called the Dog Days.
We know that weizenbier is one of the most thirst-quenching beers on a hot day. Red Brick Brewing out of Atlanta knows this too and named their hefeweizen after the Romans’ misunderstanding. Cloudy straw-yellow, Dog Days has nice scents of banana, clove, bubblegum and faint citrus. Flavors follow the scents but with some grassy hop presence. With a light texture, crisp carbonation and low alcohol content, all the factors are in place for a flavorful beverage that can be enjoyed all day long without weighing down the palate.
I don’t need a horoscope to tell me that I like this one. Now, where did I leave my Tarot cards?