Louis’s Pyjamas

On Wednesday, I read an excellent op-ed in the New York Times by Lisa Selin Davis who happens to be a family friend. Entitled, “My Daughter is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy,” it is about her daughter’s gender identity.

Lisa’s daughter likes to wear “track pants and t-shirts” and has short hair. She is secure in her identity as a girl and finds it perplexing that adults can’t seem to understand that.  When I was growing up, people deemed my sister a “tomboy” while I was quite “girly” because I loved dresses and dolls.

Lisa’s point is  that there is a wide spectrum of behavior that fits within being a girl. Our society has very rigid gender roles and retailers persist in presenting a narrowed version of gender. Boys also face restricted gender options. After reading Lisa’s op-ed I remembered an essay I wrote  when my older son was five. Here it is:

October 1991

Louis’s Pajamas

      I have two sons – age five and a year and a half. When the older one, Louis, was a newborn baby, my husband and I read a newspaper article about a psychologist’s study of sissies. If your son plays dress up and you take pictures, you’re helping to create a sissy.  Shortly after, we bought a crib doll for Louis and named it Sissy Sam.

      If your baby has blonde hair and beautiful curls and wears any color other than blue, people assume he’s a she. Keep the hair long, put barrettes in it, and your pediatrician tells you that you are putting your child at risk.  At risk for what?

      Last year I went shopping for winter pajamas for Louis. My choices were tanks, military aircraft or football; I went to the girls department and bought two pairs.  The first had a picture of cats – probably female – in a jeep carrying skis and skates on a white background. It said “Let It Snow.”  The other pair was pink.

      Girls will be girls and boys will be boys. The manufacturers of children’s clothing won’t let you forget that.  If, as a parent, you have other ideas about people being people and coming in all shapes, sizes and colors, you are swimming upstream.

      I am not sure you can control what kind of man your son will become. One of the first things I realized when I gave birth was that the baby had come out with his own personality. Louis is a sweet, sensitive boy who loves playing make-believe with characters. He likes dinosaurs and the Yankees and wants to learn how to play ice hockey and own a Barbie doll. Too feminine?  Too masculine? I only hope he’s happy and learns how to make other people happy.

This is a picture of Louis with my mother at the beach in Lake Waubeeka, Danbury, CT. 

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Quarterly Report

Since it is the fourth month of the year I thought I would take stock of my stated goals to tweet at least once a day and to blog at least once a week.

Tweeting has been going very well. I have tweeted every day and I have often tweeted several times a day.  The current political situation has helped. I started the year with 1938 tweets; as of today I have 2095. That is thirty-six more tweets than the number of days. I have also gained a few more followers but I don’t have an exact count. That number also fluctuates. Tweeting every day has been relatively painless and pretty enjoyable.

Twitter has its own analytics which I think is an attempt to get me to buy ads. It counts impressions. According to that metric, my top tweet recently was one about figure skating.

Blogging has been harder. I have blogged every week so far but it hasn’t been that easy to find topics. I try to write it a day or two before Friday and then have it ready or almost ready to post. It is too much to think of a topic, write and post it in one day.

The topics that have been easiest for me to write involve alcohol, primarily beer. I do want to start posting about other topics, particularly the material connected to my book about faculty wives.

I can’t really tell if blogging more frequently has led to increased readership. I seem to have about twenty-five people on most days.

I set these goals for myself because I wanted to increase my online presence and I thought the structure would help me with writing my book.  That has not been going as well. Because my life since the end of October has been very crazy with a lot of family issues, I haven’t had a lot of time. Since I wanted to maintain my commitment to blogging, I have done that but not really any other writing.

Given that, my goals for the next quarter are to continue the tweeting and the blogging but find a way to work consistently on the book. I will keep you posted on my progress.

 

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Happy National Beer Day

Today is National Beer Day. It commemorates the day drinking beer became legal after fourteen years of Prohibition. In 2008, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the event, I wrote the following blog post about Repeal. The post also included information  about the Theo. Hamm Brewery which reopened after Prohibition but no longer exists. Much of the material in the post comes from my book, Brewing Battles.

April 7 2008
Repeal – Seventy-Five Years Later

When Franklin Roosevelt became the 32nd President of the United States on March 4, 1933 the country was in the worst economic depression in history, with 13 million people unemployed. Roosevelt set to work trying to repair the nation’s economy. On March 12 he addressed the nation in the first of his many “fireside chats.” The president declared a bank holiday. Immediately after the fireside chat, he sent a message to Congress requesting immediate modification of the Volstead Act to exempt beer with an alcoholic content no greater than 3.2 percent alcohol by weight. Roosevelt believed that “now would be a good time for beer.”[1] The President was calling on the beer industry to provide the nation with a much-needed boost in morale as well as assist him in his agenda of reform and repair of the economy. In turn the brewers would get a much desired chance to start anew.

As the movement to repeal Prohibition gathered steam, proponents for reestablishing legal liquor sought to remove federal control and return regulatory powers to the states. State regulation of liquor prior to Prohibition had involved licensing of retail establishments as well as sumptuary legislation. States generally did not tax liquor before 1933. The Twenty-First Amendment repealing Prohibition and legalizing the production and sale of alcohol achieved the return of regulatory control to the states. The federal government resumed its primary concern with taxation.

The states, as well as the federal government, saw the brewing industry as a source of economic relief. Following Repeal, many states established Liquor Control Boards and began taxing alcoholic beverages. The highest tax the brewers had paid prior to Prohibition had been $3 a barrel.Modern Brewery estimated that the newly reestablished brewers were facing tax increases of “400 to 600 percent.”[2]

After fourteen years of Prohibition, on April 7, 1933 the legal production of beer resumed. The New York Times proclaimed that “beer flows” in 19 states. The newspaper was recording the return of legal 3.2 percent alcohol beer to many cities across the nation including Philadelphia, St. Louis, Baltimore, Milwaukee, and San Francisco. All of these municipalities held “gala night” in honor of modification of the Volstead Act.[3]Prior to Prohibition the country had approximately 1250 brewers; by June there were 31 brewers operating. In 1934 there were 756 brewers who produced 37,678,313 barrels. Production for 1914, the last “normal” year prior to Prohibition, was 66,189,473 barrels.[4] The brewing industry had achieved an amazing rebirth; the public was extraordinarily grateful. The challenge for the brewers, as the nation sought to regain its economic footing, was to maintain their good public image and restore their industry.

Repeal proponents had touted increased revenue as a benefit which made liquor taxes inevitable. Amazingly, a week after beer became legal, legislators passed a tax bill. Echoing their Civil War predecessors, Congressmen sought the highest possible rate from the beer tax that would not cause fraud and corruption. They settled on a rate for legal brewers of $5 a barrel plus a $1,000 annual license fee for each brewery.[5]

In the immediate aftermath of modification of the Volstead Act and prior to ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment, the government was looking forward to the economic benefits that Repeal would bring. Postmaster General Farley predicted that “it will provide approximately $800,000,000 annually in revenue.”[6] Taxes on beer had helped to reduce the government’s operating deficit and Farley was optimistic that the end of Prohibition would help reduce federal taxes on everything else.

Michigan was the first state to ratify the Twenty-First Amendment and the amendment became final on November 7, 1993 when Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah voted their approval. The amendment’s language made Repeal effective December 5, 1933. The Eighteenth Amendment and its antidote the Twenty-First stand as unique events in American history. The first outlawed a legal industry and deprived thousands of business people of their livelihood. The Eighteenth Amendment is the only amendment to have been repealed. The Founding Fathers used state constitutional conventions to enact the Constitution; the Twenty-First Amendment was enacted in the same manner. Joseph H. Choate, Jr., as head of the Voluntary Lawyers Committee, contributed this expeditious and successful legal approach as part of the anti-Prohibition movement.[7]

Both the government and the liquor industry were quite comfortable reestablishing their old relationship, particularly since officials were willing to limit tax increases, citing concern over the continued presence of bootleggers. Tax revenues had fallen to 1.5 billion in 1932 — the lowest collection since 1917; following Repeal they began to rise. In the first six months that legal 3.2 beer was available, Americans drank 7,037,969,264 eight-ounce glasses. This gave the government $84,917,539 in revenue.[8] Liquor taxes continued to grow in strength; by 1936 excise taxes on alcohol contributed thirteen per cent to the federal tax system, providing fiscal support for New Deal legislation.[9]

The brewing industry, newly legal and providing a product for which there was pent-up demand, was well situated to meet the goals of New Deal legislation that sought to increase production and reduce unemployment. Unlike other industries, they also had a history of government regulation and control. The challenge for the brewers would be to flourish in a new regulatory environment.

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[1] Schlesinger, Almanac, 461-462; Quoted in Kenneth S. Davis, FDR, The New Deal Years 1933-1933 (New York: Random House, 1986), 63.
[2] Oregon State Archives, “Prohibition in Oregon: The Vision and the Reality,” http://sos.oregon.gov/archives/exhibits/highlights/Pages/prohibition.aspx (Accessed April 7, 2017); Modern Brewery, February 1933, 20. Modern Brewery Age began as The Brewer’s Art (1923-1932), and then became Modern Brewery (1933-1935), Modern Brewer (1936-1940), and then Modern Brewery Age (1940-2004). It is now available online only at http://www.breweryage.com/.
[3] “Beer Flows in 19 States at Midnight as City Awaits Legal Brew Today,” New York Times April 7, 1933, 1.
[4] United States Brewers Association, Brewers Almanac (Washington, D.C.: USBA, 1940), 14; “Chronology of the American Brewing Industry,” Beerhistory.com, http://www.beerhistory.com/library/holdings/chronology.shtml(accessed January 16, 2002).
[5] Carl Miller, “We Want Beer: Prohibition and the Will to Imbibe,” Beerhistory.comhttp://www.beerhistory.com/library/holdings/prohibition_2.shtml (accessed January 20, 2006).
[6] “Farley Holds Liquor Will Balance Budget,” New York Times,September 1, 1933, 36.
[7] Brewers Almanac, 1940, 60; United States Brewers Association, Brewers Almanac (Washington, D.C.: USBA: 1980), 110; Robert LaForge, “Misplaced Priorities: A History of Federal Alcohol Regulation and Public Health Policy” (Sc. D. diss., Johns Hopkins University, 1987), 135-136.
[8] New York Times, October 28, 1933, 32.
[9] Amy Mittelman, “Taxation of Liquor (United States)” in Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: An International Encyclopedia, ed. by Jack Blocker, et al, (Santa Barbara, 2003), vol. 2, 609-61.

Excerpted from Brewing Battles: A History of American Beer (Algora Publishing, 2007) copyright Algora Publishing 2007

 

 

 

 

View of the Theodore Hamm Mansion at 671 Greenbrier. The building was destroyed by a fire in 1954.

In 1934 the 756 brewers operating breweries faced a world they could not have completely prepared for and there was nothing preordained or predetermined about who would survive and who would fail. Some breweries initially succeeded but now no longer exisit. One such brewery was the Theo. Hamm Brewing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota. The Theodore Hamm Brewing Company dated from 1864. Theodore Hamm, the founder was from Baden, Germany. The company incorporated in 1896; Olympia Brewing bought the brewery in 1975. William Hamm gave St. Paul Hamm Park in 1910 to honor the memory of his father, Theodore. The park still exists as does the site of Hamm’s original brewery. The brewery is no longer operational and there are plans to turn part of the building into an Asian Community Center.[1]

 William Hamm’s son, also named William, was famous for having being involved in a kidnapping which remains notable because the case, in 1933, was the first time the FBI used a now standard procedure for identifying finger prints. The “latent fingerprint identification” procedure uses silver nitrate to obtain fingerprints from surfaces that can not be “dusted” for prints. Using this method the FBI determined that the Barker/Karpis gang had been behind Hamm’s kidnapping.[2]

________________________________________
[1] Downard, Dictionary, p. 87; “A Walk Through Historic Upper Swede Hollow by Karin DuPaul St. Paul, Minnesota © 1994”, http://www.swedehollow.org/Photos/SwedeHollowWalkingTour/SwedeHollowWalkingTour.html, (accessed on April 7, 2017); New York Times, June 12, 1931, 16; personal communication, Tom Brock, Marketing Projects Director,St. Paul RiverCentre Convention and Visitors Authority, March 26, 2007.
[2]“A Byte Out Of FBI History: Latent Prints in the 1933 Hamm Kidnapping, https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/stories/2003/september/hamm090803, (accessed on April 7, 2017).

unpublished material – copyright Amy Mittelman 2017.

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Russian Beer Taxes

This post is in honor of the issue that has been dominating the news cycle for at least a week: Russia  and its role in the presidential election. I don’t know if you can correlate  a decrease in drinking beer with an increase in nefarious behavior but it is a fact that beer production in Russia has declined significantly since 2010.

In 2010 the Russian government decided to raise beer excise taxes by 200 percent. Before this, beer was not legally considered alcohol. It was an attempt to curtail drinking and a response to alcoholism in the country. In 2010 Russian brewers produced 1 billion deciliters, about 630,000 barrels (31 gallons to a barrel). In 2015, they produced 659.5 million deciliters. Production has steadily gone down.

Since 2010, the Russian government has increased the excises taxes on beer every year.This year the Russian government once again raised taxes. Although overall production has decreased, the largest brewers have been losing market share to craft beer.

It is not clear that the high excise taxes have produced any decrease in alcoholism rates.  The taxes, however, contribute money to the national budget. Beer excise taxes are 1.3 percent of the budget and 45 percent of the overall alcohol excise taxes.

Although most people  would assume that Russians are heavy vodka drinkers, the drink of choice is beer. Russia ranks 26th in world-wide beer consumption. The United States is 17th.

States can often have two motives for taxing alcoholic beverage – financial and sumptuary. Governments need to find a balance since deeply curtailing consumption can hurt the bottom line. Russia’s tax policy for beer seems to be more weighted towards public health and decreased consumption.

For more information about Russian beer, see this USDA report.

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Do women like beer?

The stereotypical picture of a beer drinker is a man who guzzles a six-pack at a sporting event. Most beer advertising, especially for mega produced beer, focuses on attracting this consumer prototype. This, of course, has led to a great deal of misogynist  commercials over the years. Here is one example:

 

 

 

Both before and after Prohibition, the vast majority of people who drank beer or worked in the brewing industry were male. There is, however, a long history of women brewing beer for family consumption during the Middle Ages in Europe and the colonial period in America. In the late nineteenth century, saloons were the  site for most public consumption and the clientele was overwhelmingly male. However, most saloons had a side  entrance for women to enter and buy a growler to bring home.

In 2009, I attended a talk about women in the brewing industry at that time. You can read about that here and here.

Today about thirty-two percent of craft beer drinkers are women. They are less well represented on the business side. Only four percent of over 1700 breweries  have a female lead. Several events this yea are focusing on women in the beer industry. Over Memorial Day weekend South Florida will have first first Female Brew Fest. The event will showcase only those breweries who have a “female head brewer, brewmaster or that are owned and operated” by a woman.

A few weeks ago in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the co-owner of Pearl Street Brewery, Tami Plourde, gave a talk on women in the beer industry. The growing involvement of women in brewing is not limited to the United States. Recently the Ontario Craft Brewers created new scholarships for as many as six women to complete level 1 of the Cicerone Certification Program. The co-head brewer of Folly Brewpub  in Toronto is Christina Cady. Toronto has at least two organizations of women beer drinkers; Barley’s Angels which is an international organization and the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies. Here in the States, I follow the blog, Women Enjoying Beer.

 

 

 

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Vacation

I was lucky enough to spend last week in beautiful Delray Beach, Florida. I didn’t do that much; mostly walked on the beach and swam laps in the pool.  We returned to 15 inches of snow. If I could have stayed I would have. Here are some pictures from the trip.

Birds on the beach.

The pool at East Wind Beach

Bridge opening over the Inter-coastal.

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Craft Beer Lawsuit

Consumers who purchased craft beer from Walmart are now suing the store. Although the beer they bought has names such as Red Flag Amber that signify craft beer status, all the beer is contract brewed at Genesee Brewing in Rochester. The plaintiffs claim that the beer  does not meet the Brewer’s Association of craft beer as “small, independent and traditional.” One issue for the consumers is price. The lawsuit claims the beers are falsely marketed as craft beer to garner an “inflated” price. Coors faced a similar suit about Blue Moon but it was thrown out last year.

The definition of craft beer is a slippery slope and the Brewers Association has changed it several times., partially to enable Boston Beer, brewers of Sam Adams, to continue to claim  the craft beer designation. Boston Beer began the trend of pricing domestically produced “craft beer” at a price point between imports such as Heineken and mega produced beer like Budweiser. Ironically Sam Adams itself was contract brewed for many years.

Price is certainly an issue for consumers but many economists believe demand for alcoholic beverages including beer is inelastic which means people will continue to buy a beer they like even if the price goes up. Taste is perhaps the final arbiter. If Red Flag Amber tastes like a craft beer is Walmart then justified in selling it as such. The Brewers Association has never answered that question.

 

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Bock Is Back

Today is the March 2017 edition of The Session.  Jon Abernathy of The Brew Site is hosting it. I decided to post an excerpt from Brewing Battles.

Figure 13: Photo courtesy Modern Brewery Age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modern Brewery and its contributors advocated bock beer ad campaigns as one response to the need for advertising which reflected this new social environment. Bock beer originated in Bavaria as a special brew for Easter. Brewmasters roast the malt, producing a darker, brown beer richer in flavor than lager. Because bock means male goat in German, the billy goat became the symbol for the drink.[1]

On the eve of Repeal, Modern Brewery was looking forward to “the first Bock Beer Time in 15 years.” By March of 1935, brewers had almost two years of legal production under their belt, and advertising continued as a prime issue of concern. Modern Brewery advocated cooperative advertising as a strategy for increasing beer sales. The USBA had developed a “Bock Beer” advertising program which the journal supported, stating that “Bock Beer Season affords a splendid opportunity for brewers to get together to stabilize prices and to start thinking in terms of profits and dividends instead of large volume sales. After all, the purposes of operating a brewery are first to brew a good beer and second to make money.”[2]

The USBA felt that a bock beer campaign would increase sales in both the short and long term. “Historically Bock has been a beer on which brewers made money because they met a natural demand.” The proposed ad copy stressed the optimism and frivolity of spring which apparently was the essence of beer, particularly bock.[3]

Looking forward to the future of the renewed brewing industry, leaders continued to stress the issue of public relations and their proposed solution of “cooperative advertising.” In 1938, Herbert Barclay used the example of the “allied trades” to point the way. “The glass bottle, copper and brass products, wooden barrel, steel barrel and other industries . . . have shown how such programs can be developed and operated successfully.”[4]

In promoting bock beer advertising campaigns, the editors of Modern Brewer and the USBA were seeking cooperation on several levels. Brewers would have to agree to produce bock beer for distribution at the same time. In 1936, they apparently failed since Modern Brewery noted that “Brewers in New England, New York, Chicago, and other places have been selling Bock Beer ignoring the agreed dates. This is a serious fumble and ruins any effort at cooperative action.”[5]

Modern Brewer could not overemphasize the importance of establishing a specific “Bock Beer Day.” According to the journal, the day “opens the beer season. It should be a festival time, the welcoming of spring.” The impetus for the work required by sales executives and advertising men was that the day would “increase beer sales, not just for the short Bock Beer Season, but … through out the year.” Apparently the task of promoting bock beer was an easy one because “connected with Bock Beer are ancient legends, traditions and folklore-tales that many Americans have never heard-presenting an unexplored mine of material . . . .”[6]

The editors felt that setting a specific date to begin the season was imperative. “On that day, every Bock Beer campaign should break — break like the first crash of thunder announcing the awakening of Spring! Festivals and displays should be timed to start with and follow the opening blast.” The possibilities for events and advertising were limitless and included potential nationwide Billy Goat contests which would culminate in the crowning of “King Bock.” New York City held such a contest in 1936 and was the model for this proposal.[7]

Modern Brewer had suggestions for other products to help with sales in the winter months. English style dark beer was the answer. In 1933 British brewers had undertaken an advertising campaign linking heavier darker beer with winter. This resulted in an increase in sales over seven per cent. There was precedent for American brewers initiating a similar campaign. In 1914 brewers produced 9,200,000 barrels of dark beer in America. Since estimates for 1936 indicated that production of dark beer would be a little over one million barrels, Modern Brewer presented this as another challenge. “Salesmen, advertising men … Is it in your power to regain 8,000,000 barrels of dark beer sales? Can you … in the period starting with the first of November and ending the thirtieth of April 1937?” Modern Brewer had the whole year covered.[8]

Modern Brewer persisted in presenting bock beer as the ideal brewery promotion. In 1937 the journal detailed a campaign undertaken by New Jersey brewers to hold a “Bock Beer festival” in early March. The plans for the festival were apparently very elaborate since the New Jersey Brewers Association had a “16 foot float . . . (with) a full-sized keg from which runs a spillway and down this appears to be a constantly flowing stream of Bock Beer. The base of the float is elaborately decorated with an arrangement of Spring flowers.” The plans also included a Goat show in Newark.[9]

Once again, not all brewers were as supportive of the endeavor as Modern Brewer. Apparently some brewers jumped the gun, and placed bock beer on the market in February. This action indicated that they were ignorant of the fact that “Bock Beer was still the harbinger of Spring, the ancient votive offering to the Goddess of Plenty, the brew that more than 400 years ago in the city of Einbeck was christened “Bock Beer.”[10]

In 1939 Modern Brewer reiterated that the promotional campaign was supposed to “sell the retailer and the public on Bock Beer as the traditional spring drink-and you don’t drink a spring drink in the middle of February.” Because every year was different, the journal proposed that “Bock Beer Day should be set for a definite day in the middle week of the month of March. It should be the same day every year and it should have the backing of every brewer’s association in the country.”[11]

Brewers in the greater New York City area apparently agreed and in February of 1939 announced plans for a joint campaign for bock beer. The proposed copy would run in all New York and New Jersey papers for ten weeks. At the same time the United Brewers Industrial Foundation planned a national campaign that would emphasize the “economic value” of beer.[12]

The type of ad campaigns and promotions Modern Brewer and brewing trade organizations advocated were simultaneously old-fashioned and modern. Their fascination with the Germanic properties of bock beer spoke to a disregard or denial of the problematic nature of associating beer and Germans. The campaign’s emphasis on the craft aspects of distinct beers ignored the standardization occurring due to mass shipping, national markets, canned beer, and the increase of off-premises sales. Not until the late twentieth century, with the revival of craft brewing and an increased interest in home brewing, would bock beer and other specialties once again became a focal point for brewers.

[1] Modern Brewer, March 1933, 21; Downard, Dictionary, 25.

[2] Modern Brewer, March 1935, 19, 37.

[3] Ibid..

[4] Modern Brewer, January 1936, 32.

[5] Modern Brewer, February 1936, 19.

[6] Modern Brewer, December 1936, 18.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Modern Brewer, December 1936, 19.

[9] Modern Brewer, March 1937, 31.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Modern Brewer, February 1939, 18.

[12] “Bock Beer Bungs Pop Officially March 13,” New York Times, February 9, 1939, 32.

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Beer Tourism

From March 31 to April 8, New Hampshire will be celebrating the third annual Craft Beer  Week. New Hampshire has sixty-three breweries and ten distributors.  Events such as a Craft Beer Week, which is marketing beer as a tourist activity, are a big part of today’s craft beer business.

This type of marketing also occurs in the other alcoholic beverage industries. Kentucky has had a Bourbon Trail for almost ten years. The wine industry has used tourism to promote its’ product for years. New Hampshire has a Beer Trail as well as  hosting the Craft Beer Week. Alcoholic beverage tourism seeks to associate the product, beer, bourbon or wine, with a particular place. Such an association increase the sense of authenticity about the product for the consumer.

BrewNH and the Granite State Brewers Association are sponsoring the week of events and activities. Prior to Prohibition most states had a brewers association which was usually connected to the United States Brewers Association. As brewing centralized, both regional breweries and state trade associations disappeared. With the tremendous increase in the number of breweries nationally over the last fifteen years, state and local associations have reemerged.

BrewNH, a non-profit, recognizes the value of the state brewing industry to  New Hampshire and seeks to build tourism around it. Their goal is to promote the state while the Granite Brewers Association wants to promote beer.

I live pretty close to New Hampshire so I might check out some of the events. When Brewing Battles was first published I did a book talk at the Vermont Brewers Festival which was a lot of fun.

 

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Beer History

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History recently hires Theresa McCulla to oversee its American Brewing History Initiative. The Brewers Association, the trade organization for small and craft brewers is funding the three-year position. McCulla is completing a Ph.D at Harvard in American Studies.   From reading about her and the position here, it appears that the project will focus on beer, particularly craft beer as a food and cultural phenomenon.

The posting of this position in July and the hiring of McCulla has made me think, again, about beer history and how I conceptualize the subject. Before I had this WordPress blog, I had an ersatz blog on my website which was then hosted by Network Solutions.

On April 3 2008 I published the following post which fairly accurately explains ow I approached writing my book, Brewing Battles. Since it is almost nine years old I have done some editing.

Obscurity

These are some thoughts I have been having about beer history and the history of Repeal and Prohibition. Sometimes it feels like I am writing this bog for myself since no one ever comments although I continue to hope that people will.  I wrote the book I wanted to write. In many ways writing Brewing Battles was the fulfillment of long-held ambitions. This is what is important to me.

Through various marketing and advertising campaigns the post-repeal brewing industry sought to generate mass consumption and a prominent place for beer in American society. These goals are not that different from the goals of the 2008 brewing industry as they seek to promote April 7th as the end of Repeal. It is interesting that the Beer Institute, the arm of the big brewers, the Brewers Association,  and beer bloggers all want April 7 1933 to be the historical moment that is celebrated.

Historians, of course, realize that the whole period from April to December 1933 constituted Repeal and that the interaction between the federal government and the liquor industry is essential to understanding both the 18th and 21st amendments.

Most modern industries have trade associations to facilitate their relationship with federal, state, and local governments as well as promote a positive image of the industry. From 1862 to 1986 the brewing industry had the United States Brewers Association to fulfill these services. In 1933 the USBA, founded by brewers whose breweries no longer exist and thus could be considered obscure, stood ready to join the government in reestablishing beer as a legal beverage.

History is on one level about winners and losers. The nature of battle is that the winners often write the history.  In the brewing industry of 2008, Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Coors, Boston Beer, and some other craft beers are the winners. But how did they obtain their winning status? If we tell that story from today back solely from their perspective we lose much of the richness that is historical narrative.  Frederick Lauer, Christian Moerlein, George Ehret and Frank Jones are no longer household names, This fact alone doe not mean they do not have historical significance.

I began Brewing Battles in the colonial period because the early colonists came from beer drinking societies and they sought to replicate that practice in their new home. The early American brewing industry was small and fragile; it existed as one among many beverages competing for colonial favor. This early period set the stage f or the subsequent rise of beer as America’s premier alcoholic beverage.

My book is heavily footnoted; interested readers can easily find the sources for my analysis. Many non-fiction books toady do not have any footnotes. The reader must take on faith that the author could substantiate his or her claims. Other books footnote only the quotations. Once again the reader must take the validity of the rest of the information on faith.  I was determined to write a book that would have high scholarly standards while being interesting and accessible to readers. The many positive reviews I have received indicate that I have succeeded.

 

 

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