Nobody could hazard a guess at how many thousands of mugs of beer had been served over the old mahogany bar at Weis Brothers Saloon. Bartender John Mich, who had manned the beer taps at the Milwaukee watering hole since the 1890s, probably could have come closest in his estimate if he had tried. But it seemed only a matter of trivia now for the 20 or so patrons gathered in the back room of the establishment. After all, there was a funeral at hand. They had come together to pay their final respects to their beloved old friend, John Barleycorn.
None in attendance was consoled by the fact that the dearly departed was a mere character of fiction, immortalized in song as the mythical personification of beer. On the contrary, as the ceremony began, some stifled tears, including Mich, whose moans and gurgles were loudest. With hands folded and heads bowed, the somber group encircled the casket, which was artfully decorated with floral tributes placed inside beer mugs and lit candles stuck in liquor bottles… read more >