A beer thinker’s guide to life

Proverbs from around the world, found in the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs; Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher; Yiddish Proverbs by Hanan J. Ayalti; and various compendia on the web

beer bottle-shaped coffin at a coffin workshop in Ghana
beer bottle-shaped coffin at a coffin workshop in Ghana
(Creative Commons-licenced photo by Eleanor Hartzell)

He who drinks beer, thinks beer.
American (attributed to Washington Irving) and Danish

Barley isn’t grown for donkeys.

If you do not have patience you cannot make beer.

Young sugarcane gives no beer.

A fine beer may be judged with one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure.

Froth is no beer.

Drunks are like beer: a lot of foam but little strength.

Better weak beer than an empty cask.

It never rains in the brew hall.

Where beer is brewed, they have it good.

One mouth doesn’t taste the beer.

When the bee comes to your house, let her have beer. You many want to visit the bee’s house someday.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
American (sometimes attributed to George Carlin)

Ale sellers should not be tale tellers.

A house full of daughters is a cellar full of sour beer.
Dutch (sour beer—lambic—is highly desirable for blending with other beers in Dutch-speaking parts of Belgium)

The innkeeper loves the drunkard, but not for a son-in-law.

Caution is the parent of delicate beer glasses.

The beer is difficult to strain.
Anyuak (explanation here)

The best brewer sometimes makes bad beer.

That beer’s of your own brewing, and you must drink it.
Dutch and Czech

Beer may warm you up, but it doesn’t dress you.

Life is more than beer and skittles.

Milk for a child, meat for an adult, beer for the old.

Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish.
Proverbs 31:6 (New International Version)

There are more old drunks than old doctors.

He that buys land buys many stones,
He that buys flesh buys many bones,
He that buys eggs buys many shells,
But he who buys good ale buys nothing else.

Beautiful beer can come from an ugly barrel.

Beauty is in the eye of the beerholder.

The rabbi drains the bottle and tells others to be merry.

Turkey, heresy, hops and beer
came into England all in one year.

Man’s way to God is with beer in hand.

The mouth of a perfectly happy man is filled with beer.
Ancient Egyptian


If you know of additional proberbs that belong in this list, please leave them in the comments. I’m not so much interested in sayings about beer as in sayings that use beer or brewing to illuminate life. I’m sure that Africa is especially rich in such proverbs, but I haven’t been able to find very many on the internet.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. Beer Proverbs

    “Kung may cerveza, may pag-asa.” (Where there is beer,/ hope is there.) Literal: If there is beer, there is hope. Filipino roadhouse Proverb.

    “Cycles run with gas, hell’s angels run with beer.” Signpost at a grill and bar in Dover, Ontario.

    “In beer we trust.” Slogan in a brewing station at a neighborhood mall. (Mississauga).


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