Cure the common cold with a few uncommonly tasty beers

Besides the obvious, beer is good for a lot of things.

It ends hangovers. It takes the sting out of losing streaks. It puts bad relationships into perspective.

And, after several nights of intensive medical research, Joe Sixpack can now assure you that beer will, in fact, cure the common cold.

I know this runs contrary to conventional medical opinion. The so-called experts tell us to avoid alcohol when we’re ill because it’s a depressant, it weakens our immune system and slows recovery. Of course, these same experts prescribe little more than expensive, foul-tasting 60-proof cough medicine.

For me, the prescribed cures are far worse than the mere irritation of a runny nose and nagging cough. Coat my snout with Vicks and dope me with heroin-strength antihistamines, and I devolve into a pathetic sack of snot with the disposition of a wounded scorpion.

Take away my beer, and I’m climbing the walls.

It seems obvious, but: If you’re going to suffer, why suffer with a dry mouth?

At the risk of inciting temperance grouches, I suggest that alcohol actually improves the ailing soul’s disposition. Indeed, the mood-altering benefits of a fresh pint of ale are renowned. Benjamin Rush, the famous Philadelphia physician, established that fact two centuries ago with his Inquiry Into the Effects of Ardent Spirits Upon the Human Body and Mind, which equated a mug of brew with a happy life. (Of course, Dr. Rush was better known for his Yellow Fever cure, which involved blood-letting unfortunate victims.)

Lately, other researchers have found evidence of beer’s healing powers. Last month, scientists reported that several compounds in hops – the dried flowers that give beer its bitter taste – slow the growth of cancer cells in test tubes.

Rather than waste my time suffering during a recent bout with the mucus/nausea/tonsil thing, I devoted myself to a regimen of intense examination of potential beer cures. Call me selfless, but that’s my job.

My findings:

Day 1 – Scratchy throat. Could be that Dominican maduro from last night, could be onset of flu. I down a spritzy Schneider Weisse with a slice of orange, hoping the vitamin C stops it in its tracks.

Day 2 – Hack cough, phlegm. Nope, it wasn’t the cigar. Maybe it’s not too late to kill off the germs with a high-octane Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale, a 10-percent barleywine-style ale.

Day 3 – More coughing, running nose. More barleywine – Anchor Old Foghorn and Victory Old Horizontal. The stuff soothes my throat and temporarily allows me to forget the gobs of goo leaking out of my nostrils.

Day 4 – Fever. I down a bottle of Coors Light and nearly fall into a coma.

Day 5 – Congestion and nausea. It feels like the night after an Eagles game. I pull Cherry Hill’s Flying Fish Belgian Style Dubbel and Germany’s Paulaner Salvador doppelbock from the medicine cabinet.

Day 6 – Cured!

I plan to submit these findings to the Journal of the American Malt Association. In the meantime, drink up.

As for doubters, I suggest a dose of leeches.

Beer Radar

St. Pauli Girl, the popular German lager, is in a familiar kind of fix. Each year, the company selects a rather ample spokesmodel, then plasters her cleavage on about a half-million posters for distribution to beer distributors and college dorm rooms. “Some girls,” the slogan goes, “are unforgettable.”

Unfortunately – in a development that confirms that, yes, all men are pigs – the brewery has forgotten the name of some of its ex-girlfriends.

Now, you can gripe about St. Pauli’s Neanderthal attitude toward women. Or you can help out these poor schmoes.

Click over to the brewery’s poster gallery ( and e-mail the brewery if you can remember any of its models’ names. Even if you don’t recognize any of them, you can still take a gander at St. Pauli’s 1999 spokesgal. She’s Jaime Bergman, who recently hoisted her mugs in Playboy’s 45th anniversary ish.

For further consideration of this genre, Joe Sixpack directs your attention to Beer City (701 E. Girard Ave., Fishtown). Decent selection of micros and imports, but the distributor’s main attraction is the back cooler, which – at least, in this humble critic’s view – features the city’s top collection of beer babe art.

Joe Sixpack (written this week with a bottle of Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot) appears every other Friday.


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