Tattoos and Brews

Since the dawn of civilization we know two things about ancient humans: They were inked up and loved themselves a good jug of beer. Fast forward 7,000 years and what you find is that things have not changed much. People still enjoy adorning their bodies with artwork, albeit better quality, and drinking the everlasting elixir that is beer, preferably craft or rather indie beer.

The history of tattoos is vague and patchy as it’s often seen as a craft of the underbelly of society. With that being said what we do know is that ancient human remains found with a total of 61 tattoos were discovered in the Otztal Alps in between Austria and Italy. Nicknamed “Otzi” the neanderthal was inked tough from toe to the top of his head. Cultures throughout time and around the world have developed differing reasons for their tattooing. Ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Maori, and Japanese cultures have tattooed for medicinal purposes, to ward off negative spirits, and to show prowess and prestige. We can only presume that our friend Otzi got his tattoos for one of these reasons.

The rational behind tattoos has changed with the modernization of not just society but the actual act of tattooing as well. With the turn of the century tattooing became associated with the lower class and criminals, or what I like to call “the pioneers of badassery.” Pioneers of the early 18th century used a Thomas Edison design for an electric pen to construct and patent the first electric tattoo gun. This made tattooing easier and opened the door for later tattooers. After WWII there was a resurgence in the industry thanks in part to returning soldiers and sailors who were literally exposed around the world. Wanting to mark their bodies in remembrance of that time and perhaps with the thought that they may not see another day the armed forces reinvigorated the tattoo industry into the bustling and profitable industry it is today.

The history of beer, (thank the beer gods) has been recorded since the beginning of time. In early Mesopotamia workers were paid in beer that was made by women brewers. This is written in ancient a 3900 BC poem written in dedication to Ninkasi, not the Eugene brewery, but the patron goddess of brewing. As you move forward in history, beer helped keep humanity safe during the nightmare that was the Black Plague during the Medieval Era. Monasteries in which the beer was made were the only places without disease due to the brewing process that killed bacteria before human consumption. Next pint you drink make sure to cheers the monks of the Medieval Era. The Industrial Revolution in Europe brought the hydrometer and the thermometer. This gave brewers the technology they needed to be able to have more control over the brewing process. With that came about the explosive and enriching brewing culture we have today.

Now that we have gotten through that boring, although informative, yet slightly vague history of both tattoos and beer we can get to the real meaty part of this lovely blog. My name is Morgan Moran and I have been collecting tattoos since I was 18. Since that time I have covered close to ¼ of my body in collected ink. Hanging out at tattoo shops and conventions has grown my love for tattoos as well as my collection. I also am the acting Packaging Manager here at Iron Horse Brewery. I have worked at IHB for 2 years and have enjoyed everything craft beer related. With my background in tattoos there are correlations I have observed within both industries.

First, is the tough in your face attitude that both industries personify. A craft example would be IHB (I know I am bias but I didn’t ask for your opinion). The motto alone, “You’re Welcome,” tells you what they think about your hipster blog. The tattoo industry is the figurehead of a tough in your face attitude. From the frequent cash only operations to the signs in shops that tell you the rules whether or not you like them. This is something that I relate to at a molecular level. If you work hard and produce a great product, whether that be tattoos or beer, you can tell people how it is.

Second, just like beer, tattoos have festivals as well. Similar to craft beer festivals, tattoo fests feature vendors showcasing their products to further promote their business (Just make sure to bring a lot more cash to the tattoo festival!). There is always good food and music at either festival which is a must. So look out for Eastern Washington Brewfest hosted by Iron Horse Brewery and the Seattle Tattoo Convention next year for a fantastic first tattoo expo.

I hope that my little history lesson was somewhat informative. My last two cents is get inked and drink craft beer.

Cheers!

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