Nothing gets people as excited as a job where they get to drink beer for a living. Need proof? Last week, when the Smithsonian Institute announced it was looking to hire a “beer historian” for the National Museum of American History, digital media nearly lost its collective hivemind. Every news outlet was talking about it. And as someone who regularly writes about beer, everyone I know was sending me the links.
But what does a beer historian really do? You know, outside of definitely not drinking beer all day every day (sorry to disappoint you all).
Well, who better to answer that question than the Smithsonian itself? Buoyed by the excitement surrounding its initial announcement, Smithsonian.com has done us all a favor, publishing its own article entitled “What Does a Beer Historian Do?” “The American History museum’s latest job opening made headlines,” the site wrote. “But what does the job actually entail?”
First, the Smithsonian outlines some examples of beer history: August Schell leaving Germany in 1848 and opening up the still operational Schell’s Brewery in Minnesota, Miller Brewing’s use of celluloid figures to market its beers, Schlitz switching to making “non-intoxicating” beverages during Prohibition, and President Carter signing the legislation that ended a Prohibition-era ban on homebrewing. All of those things are beer history. Note that no drinking is required to research any of them.
Then, getting into more specifics, the Smithsonian breaks down the position into four major bullet points: “Research brewing history,” “Document the people that keep America’s taps flowing,” “Share this new research with the public,” and “Increase and diffuse knowledge, not just drink it in.” Smithsonian.com even addresses the whole get-paid-to-drink-beer thing head on. “While we love experiencing history firsthand, this position is not about drinking on the job,” the site states. “The historian will, of course, taste some beer, but his or her real focus will be on documenting American history for future researchers, scholars, and the public.”
Are you bored yet? If not, you may actually have what it takes to be a beer historian. Otherwise, you already have a position: It’s called a beer drinker. It’s a great gig; it just doesn’t pay as well.