Milwaukee

The Museum of Beer and Brewing opened in Milwaukee on May 11th. It is open  Friday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday  noon to 6 p.m.  The website doesn’t say anything about exhibits or events yet.

Twelve years ago, I spent several days in Milwaukee, attending a conference.  We did several beer related things including visiting both Pabst Mansion and the site of the Pabst Brewery.

Here is one of the posts from April 30, 20212 that I wrote about the trip. Apaprently Best Place still exists and you can still go on tours. I wonder if there is any connection between Best Place and the new museum.

He who drinks Pabst drinks best

After visiting the Pabst Mansion, we walked to the site of the Pabst Brewery. The plant ceased operations in 1996. The brewery was massive and consisted of twenty-eight buildings. Some are in disrepair and many are gone. A parking garage is on the site of a few buildings.

The buildings that housed the corporate offices and the visitor’s center still remain. Pabst tours were very popular, partially because the center apparently served unlimited beer. In the courtyard there is a very large statue of Frederick Pabst.

Frederick Pabst, Best Place, Milwaukee

In 2001, Jim Haertel, a genial, local entrepreneur, purchased these buildings and is slowly renovating them. He has named the facility Best Place as a historical nod to the founder of Pabst Beer, Jacob Best Sr. You pay seven dollars at the gift shop, which existed when the brewery was in operation.

You are then brought into a large tavern. The bar serves many of the beers that Pabst owns, such as PBR and Schlitz, but they also serve craft beers. I had a Hopdinger from O’so which is located in Plover, Wisconsin. It was really good and had a great hop flavor. We also got pretzels.

Besides the free beer and pretzels, your seven dollars gets you a viewing of old commercials, which were mostly Schlitz, and a talk by the owner. In his talk, Haertel briefly recounted the history of Pabst and the story of his purchase of these buildings. After his talk, he took us upstairs to see the offices which are not in great shape.

Former Office, Pabst Brewery, Milwaukee

Seeing the massive complex that comprised Pabst Brewery in such disuse and disrepair tells the story of American business in general and the brewing industry in particular in the late twentieth century. Pabst is a virtual brewer; all of its brands are brewed by Miller. The corporate headquarters are in California. Haertel hopes they may relocate to Best Place.

The Pabst Brewery, Milwaukee

 

National Beer Day

Sorry for the delay in posting. The day for doing that is still a moving target.

Last Sunday was National Beer Day. It celebrates the day in 1933 when low alcohol beer and wine became legal after 13 years of Prohibition. This article discusses what are currently the bestselling beers. That honor goes to Modelo.

Here is a post written February 19, 2020, just before the pandemic, about Mexican beer. I have edited it slightly.

Mexican Beer

Before 1910 most beer in Mexico was brewed by small brewers. In the 1890s big modern breweries developed and by 1899 five firms controlled sixty three percent of the market. By 1910 the major brewers distributed nationally. The companies were vertically integrated, holding monopolies in everything from bottles to the railroads.

Corona Extra is the sixth largest beer brand in America and the top import. Constellation Brands owns Corona and Modelo. Modelo is the seventh largest beer brand. An industry analysis of Constellation stated “Constellation’s story includes … a powerful demographic tailwind. Its core consumer base skews towards Hispanics, a sizable demographic whose primacy will only increase over the coming years. We find it fairly intuitive that Hispanics place a premium on Mexican beer, as it speaks in part to a shared culture and heritage, and in our view, these dynamics are at the heart of Constellation’s superb operating profile…”  There are some stereotypical assumptions in this analysis. For the full analysis, click here.

In 2010 Heineken bought the Mexican brewer Femsa; its brands are Dos Equis and Tecate. The company had a 43 percent share of the Mexican beer market. Dos Equis is twentieth. A German brewer in Vera Cruz created it in the nineteenth century. Tecate is 29th; Since 2013 it has had a 35 percent decrease in shipments. For the  full list of the top 31 brands, go here.

Mexico has a small craft brewing segment. These brewers produce ale; the majority of Mexicans drink lager. Most Mexican craft beer is exported since there is not really a market for it within Mexico. Mexico is third in global exports of beer, most of which goes to Canada and the United States.

 

 

 

 

Craft Brewers Combine

Last month news broke that FX Matt, a Utica NY based contract brewer, would acquire Flying Dog Brewery based in Frederick MD. FX Matt is the 14th largest craft brewery in the country, producing 183,200 barrels in 2021. Besides providing brewing capacity for other brewers including Flying Dog, FX Matt’s own beer line includes Saranac and Utica club. It is the 4th oldest family-owned brewery in the United States, dating from 1888.

Flying Dog, the country’s 34th largest craft brewery, is much younger. It began as a brew pub in Aspen CO in 1990. In 2006 the company purchased Frederick Brewing Company and is now based solely in Maryland. In 2009 both the Michigan and Colorado liquor commissions banned the labels connected with the brewery’s Raging Bitch beer. Flying Dog sued, winning both cases and used its $6 million settlement to create the First Amendment society. It is not clear if FX Matt will continue Flying Dog’s controversial advertising approach. I personally find such a name and its’ connected labeling misogynistic and salacious. I am, however, free not to buy the beer.

Flying Dog produced 81,231 barrels in 2021. Once the two breweries have combined, their output would make them a top ten craft brewery, according to the Brewers Association’s definition. Although the deal between the two companies will produce one larger brewery, the projected production level of at least 264,000 barrels is miniscule compared to the 495 million barrels Anheuser-Busch produced in 2021.

Taxes and Inflation

Two things I read recently reminded me of the central argument of my dissertation and Brewing Battles. At the beginning of the month, I read a review of Roger Lowenstein’s new book Ways and Means: Lincoln and His Cabinet and the Financing of the Civil War. Eric Foner wrote the review. Eric is a very prominent historian and was my dissertation sponsor.

The other thing I read was from a newsletter I get from the New York Times DealBook. DealBook which is about business and economic news had a post that Roger Lowenstein wrote discussing inflation and how war can affect the economic climate of the country.

Both Eric’s review and Lowenstein post talked about the need of the north to finance the war which resulted in a myriad of taxes being a placed on a variety of objects and activities. Many years ago, I discovered that Salmon P. Chase, Treasury Secretary, and the Lincoln administration established taxes on alcohol and tobacco as well as creating an income tax. Although Congress repealed almost all the other taxes from following the end of the war, the Internal Revenue taxes on liquor and tobacco remained. These taxes provided over 50% of the federal government’s revenue until the enactment of the Internal Revenue tax in 1913.

What follows is an excerpt from Chapter Two of Brewing Battles that describe the efforts by Chase and the Lincoln administration to finance the war.

“From the moment Southern troops fired on Fort Sumter the Federal government required large sums of money to finance the Civil War. A Special Session of the Thirty-Seventh Congress (July­–August 1861) attempted to meet this need by increasing certain customs duties, imposing a direct tax of $20 million on the States, and instituting an income tax.[1]

It soon became clear that these measures alone could not relieve the country’s financial burdens. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase was hoping to raise $85 million and sent a bill to the Thirty-Seventh Congress. Congress, which reconvened on December 2, 1861, reviewed his request for a small increase in the income tax and excise taxes on manufactured goods. Distilled spirits, malt liquors, cotton, tobacco, carriages, yachts, billiard tables, gross receipts of railroads, steam boats and ferries, and playing cards all became taxable items. Signed by President Lincoln July 1, 1862, the measure became effective the following month.[2] By the 1870s Congress had repealed most of the excise taxes; the liquor tax, however, has remained in effect until today. The Internal Revenue Act of 1862 marked the entrance of the federal government into the affairs of the liquor industry; it has never left.

The federal government did not regard the liquor industry as an ordinary business. Alcohol was more than a manufactured item — officials saw drinking as a luxurious, even evil, habit that deserved a heavy tax. Ignoring the mixed history of ante-bellum attempts at taxation, collection, and sumptuary legislation, Civil War legislators assumed that an excise on distilled and fermented beverages would raise a large amount of much needed revenue.

Civil War legislation of 1862 established the federal system of taxation of alcoholic beverages. At that time, the government instituted excise taxes on liquor, tobacco, and other items as well as imposing an income tax. Most of these Civil War taxes were short lived; the liquor and tobacco taxes were permanent. Until the imposition of the federal income tax in 1913, liquor taxes generated a significant portion of the nation’s internal revenue and played an important part in maintaining the economic health of the country.

Taxation provided the context for an explicit relationship between the state and industry, a pattern that would become more common later in the century. For the liquor industry as a whole the relationship did not develop smoothly. Throughout the nineteenth century, mismanagement and politicization of the Bureau of Internal Revenue led to fraud and corruption. The government did not seek and could not maintain regulatory power over the liquor industry. Although several individuals devoted themselves to reform efforts, officials failed to develop or maintain long range plans for efficient tax collection. Within this context, the brewing industry developed a good working relationship with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and was able to hold the line on tax increases”

[1] U.S. Department, Internal Revenue Service, History of the Internal Revenue Service 1791-1929, prepared under the direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, (Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1930), 2.

[2] Ibid., 3; Charles A. Jellison, Fessenden of Maine: Civil War Senator (Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press, 1962), 149; Leonard P. Curry, Blueprint for Modern America: Non-Military Legislation of the First Civil War Congress (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1968), 149–181; Bray Hammond, Sovereignty and an Empty Purse: Banks and Politics in the Civil War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970), 52; Charles Estee, The Excise Tax Law (New York: Fitch, Estee, 1863), passim.

©All Rights Reserved. Do not reproduce without the permission of the author. Amy Mittelman, 2022.

 

Beer Roundup

I haven’t written about beer or even the liquor industry in general in quite a while and today seemed like a good day to get back to what was the original theme of this blog. I’ve decided to highlight two articles I have recently received that touch on some of the themes that I have discussed in previous posts.

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, June 2020, an African American brewer Marcus Baskerville, co-founder and head brewer of San Antonio’s Weathered Souls Brewery created the Black is Beautiful campaign ”to bring awareness to the injustices that many people of color face daily”. Black is Beautiful is a collaborative effort among many brewers to raise funds to combat police violence against people of color. You can read my post about that here.

Recently, also in an attempt to increase diversity in the overwhelmingly white craft brewing industry, Haymarket Brewing in Chicago invited six black owned beer business to collaborate on a beer, Chicago Uncommon, which they will tap this Sunday, Super Bowl Sunday. You can read more about this here.

Not only is craft brewing a very white industry, 93 percent, but it is also mostly male, 75 percent. Julia Herz was, for many years, the craft beer program director at the Brewers Association, the trade association for craft and home brewers. Last year, because of budget cuts due to Covid, she lost her job.

Now she is returning to the association, and her goal is to expand the population that participates in craft beer and home brewing. “Beer has no gender and anyone who is a legal drinking adult who wants to brew is legally allowed to brew. I want to emphasize that the club of homebrewers is open to all walks of life.” You can read more about Julia Herz and her goals for increased diversity in brewing here.

Smoking


Any practicing nurse in Massachusetts has to renew his or her license every two years. As part of the license renewal process every nurse has to have done 15 hours of continuing education credits otherwise known as CEU’s. Before I retired it was very easy for me to acquire those 15 hours because of trainings and in service workshops that the agency I worked for provided.

This year the renewal process snuck up on me and I had to figure how to meet the CEUs requirement. There are places online that allow you to fulfill the requirements by reading scholarly articles on various topics and then filling out a questionnaire. One of the essays I chose was about tobacco and smoking cessation.

I found the article informative. Something that stood out is that young people are continuing to become smokers. This is concerning because once you have the habit it is very hard to break it. Reading the essay about tobacco reminded me that in 2009 I had written a blog post about the liquor industry facing new regulations that the Obama administration had passed. I am reposting it below.

The interesting thing about the original post was that I discussed how tobacco’s fortunes had fallen while brewers and distillers were enjoying a great deal of public support. Public health advocates were not gaining much traction in their attempts to convince the public to drink less.

Society approval of the liquor industry, particularly beer, has only continued to increase in the 13 years since I posted about those tobacco regulations. Not only did the liquor industry get a tax break from the Trump legislation but most municipalities are thrilled to have a craft brewery in their town or city.

Neither the article I read for my CEUs or the blog post from 2009 talk about marijuana, but marijuana has also gained in public approval as many states including Massachusetts where I live now have recreational sale of THC.

Tobacco Legislation

6/16/2009

Last week, Congress passed, and President Obama signed legislation that greatly enhances federal regulation of the tobacco industry. As a historian, I generally think change happens slowly but the rapidity with which American society has transformed from cultural acceptance, even approval of smoking, to a completely negative view is startling.

When I was growing up, my parents and almost all the adults I knew smoked. As a teenager and young adult smoking was both everywhere – bars, restaurants, public events, and arenas – and heavily advertised on television. In the forty-five years since the Surgeon General’s report on the harm smoking causes, there has been a warning label, a ban on television advertising, the creation of smoke-free indoor space and, recently, smoke-free outdoor spaces.

The newspaper stories discussing the pending legislation use the term “addiction” to describe the practice of smoking. This also represents significant change. For much of American history, society has characterized nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol as legal, primarily harmless habits. Alcohol was usually the most problematic of the three. Now, nicotine, although legal, falls under the broad category of psychoactive, addictive substances, similar in their effects on the body.

Moralists have always viewed smoking as undesirable behavior. This attitude kept women from smoking for many years. When smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke became a public health issue, the battle lines changed. If alcohol use and or abuse ever became predominantly a public health issue rather than one of individual choice or morality, brewers and distillers could face more of an uphill battle to maintain the legitimacy of their industry.

 

Peoria Beer

When we were dealing with the flood in our basement because of tropical storm Ida, many of my files were damaged. We were able to save the files that pertain to my current book on faculty wives. Two other file drawers were also wet. Most of those files were either materials from nursing school or from Brewing Battles. Nothing smells worse than wet paper so we threw most of it out.

One thing we saved was a Works Progress Administration (WPA) catalog about breweries in Peoria, Illinois. This was very interesting to me because I think of that area of the country as being a distilling center. Whenever I have a question about brewing or distilling that I can’t answer from my own knowledge base or from Brewing Battles, I turn to the indispensable Dictionary of the History of the American Brewing and Distilling Industry, by William Downard. This is a phenomenal source but since Downard compiled it in 1980, it needs to be updated with new entries for craft beer and micro distilling.

Downard has an entry about Peoria distilling but nothing about Peoria brewing. Chicago, the largest city in Illinois, did have a substantial brewing industry but was never a center of brewing like Milwaukee or New York.

One of the breweries described in the WPA document is Gibbs which existed in Peoria from 1881 to 1954. John M. Gipps, Willis H. Ballance and Leslie Robinson were the incorporators. Each owned one-third of the corporation amount of $150,000. Eventually Ballance owned the brewery. He died in 1913. His son, Willis H Balance, Junior ran the brewery from 1912 to Prohibition. The company’s most well-known beer was Amberlin.

During prohibition, the company manufactured, among other things, non-alcoholic beverages, chemicals, and Illuminating gas. After Repeal, the company re-incorporated. In 1954, Canadian Ace Brewing of Chicago purchased Gibbs and moved the brewing of Amberlin to Chicago. You can read more about Gibbs here. It was fun to learn about Gibbs and in the future, I may write more posts about Peoria breweries.

Information for this post came from  the Peoria Historical Society as did the photograph. You can find out more about them here.

Happy International Beer Day

Today is International Beer Day. To celebrate, here is a roundup of articles about the holiday. The first describes the day and provides a brief history of beer. In 2018 there were 7,450 breweries in the United States. I wonder if that number has decreased due to the pandemic. If you know the answer, please let me know.

The second link profiles seven cities across the world, looking at their top beers, beer festivals and the best places to drink beer. If you are traveling to any of the cities mentioned and like beer, this is a handy list to have.

The third article looks at Singapore beer. The Asian beer imported to America is usually a pale, nondescript lager so I would be excited to try some of the beers mentioned. I would love to go to Singapore and other places in Asia but  it is a very long flight and the time difference is brutal.

Finally, here is a link to a post I wrote in 2016 when we were traveling in Paris and London. On that trip we drank a lot of Leffe blond beer. Once we were home it was hard to get. Apparently, a liquor store near me now sells it. I am going to get a six-pack and drink one tonight to celebrate International Beer Day.

Cheers!

Michigan Beer

I recently finished reading a book about sex discrimination at the University of Michigan in the 1970s. The same day, a news item about craft brewing in Michigan appeared in my Google alerts. You can read that here.

Stroh’s was Michigan’s largest brewer. Here are some excerpt’s from Brewing Battles about that brewery.

Detroit had thirty-three breweries in 1890. Stroh’s was the most famous and long lived; the owners were descendants of Germans who had been brewing since 1775. By selling ice cream as well as beer it existed as an independent brewery until 1999.[1]

One of the most significant transactions which indicated that brewing was moving firmly away from its nineteenth century heritage occurred on June 10 1982, when the Stroh Brewing Company of Detroit purchased Schlitz. Stroh’s, a long established regional brewery based in Detroit vaulted itself into the first tier of the industry by acquiring Schlitz, one of the country’s largest brewers. Donald Shea, a vice-president of the USBA at the time of this acquisition, assessed the deal and its implication for the industry as “constant concentration within the industry, and as that happened, more and more larger breweries were building up their own shops.”[2]

Competition in the industry continued unabated even while brewing organizations sought reductions in taxes and campaigned against various neo-temperance initiatives. In 1996, Stroh’s continued its ascent into the top tier by purchasing Heileman Brewing. Heileman had made a run at achieving top tier status in the 1980s, but the Justice Department had halted its program of aggressive acquisitions. Russell Cleary, the son-in-law of Ray Kumm and his successor, spearheaded the expansion of the company. Stalled, the company became vulnerable; 1987 Alan Bond, an Australian investor, purchased the nation’s fourth largest brewer. In 1992, Bond went to jail for fraud in connection with a deal to save an Australian bank.[3]

In the 1980s Heileman brewed many different brands of beer including Old Style, its original product, Lone Star, Schmidt, and Carling Black Label. The company was responsible for forty percent of all the new brands in the decade.[4]

In 1991, Heileman developed yet another new product, Power Master, which was a malt liquor with 5.9 percent alcohol; most malt liquors contained 5.5 percent, regular beer 3.5 percent. African-Americans and Hispanics were the core market for malt liquors. Heileman’s marketing featured a young black man. The tagline was “bold, not harsh.” African-American political and community leaders objected to the beer and its marketing. Eventually BATF intervened and prohibited the company from marketing Power Master. The agency felt the name was a subtle attempt to convey the strength of the beer to the public.[5] Heileman’s marketing struggles indicated how far the brewing industry had come from the self-regulation policies that they had pursued from the 1930s on.

The USBA had always stressed restraint in marketing. The Nebraska plan that brewers developed during Repeal was the cornerstone of their approach. Increased competition in the industry and the diminished influence of the USBA led individual brewers to be bolder in their advertising. The specter of Prohibition had diminished.

In 1996, Stroh’s, planning to buy Heileman, was the country’s fourth largest brewer. Coors, in third place, had 10.1 percent of the market. Stroh’s and Heileman’s combined market share would be a little over nine percent. Stroh Brewing Company had been in existence for 149 years; in 1999 the company sold its brands to Miller and Pabst. Pabst got Schlitz. This sale marked the completion of forty years of consolidation of the brewing industry. The dismantling of Stroh, which employed 2,800 people, gave Miller and Anheuser–Busch seventy per cent of the market.[6]

 

[1] William H. Mulligan, “Stroh Brewing Company,” in Blocker et al., Encyclopedia, 598-600; Downard, Dictionary, 56-57, 185-186.

[2] “Shakeout in the Brewing Industry”; Shea interview, 2005.

[3] “Heileman’s Aggressive Style,” New York Times, August 15, 1979, D1; “Alan Bond Gets Jail in Australia,” New York Times, May 30, 1992, 35; Bob Skilnick, “Heileman, G., Brewing Company,” in Blocker et. al, Encyclopedia, 292-293.

[4] Philip E. Ross, “Bid for Heileman Spurs Stock,” New York Times, September 5, 1987, 31.

[5] Anthony Ramirez, “U.S. Is Challenging New Heileman Label,” New York Times, June 21, 1991, D15; “The Threat of Power Master,” New York Times, July 1, 1991, A12; “Heileman Told It Can’t Use the Power Master Name,” New York Times, July 2, 1991, D6; Kurt Eichenwald, “U.S. Rescinds Approval of A Malt Liquor,” New York Times, July 4, 1991, D3.

[6] Robyn Meredith, “Stroh to Buy Heileman in Big Brewery Deal,” New York Times, Match 1, 1996, D2; “Last call: Detroit-based Stroh Brewery will sell beer brands to Pabst, Miller,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 9, 1999, 3D http://www.elibrary.com/education (accessed January 23, 2001).

© Copyright, Amy Mittelman 2021

 

Me-Too and the Craft Brewing Industry

Last year, in the aftermath of the George Floyd’s murder, the craft brewing industry confronted racism in their industry. You can read about one response here. This spring they are now realizing how much sexism and misogyny exists in craft brewing.

Last month Brienne Allan, who works at Notch Brewing in Salem, Massachusetts, posted on Instagram about her negative experiences working in the craft brewing industry which is overwhelmingly white and male. She got over 1,000 responses. You can read more about that here.

Here is a very brief excerpt from Brewing Battles about one woman in the brewing industry in the 1930’s in the post-Repeal period.

The newly legal brewers were also concerned with advertising and promoting beer as a distinct and pleasurable product to a public, which might have forgotten its existence. Of particular importance to brewers were “the men and women who were boys and girls in 1919” who “represented a tremendous new market with new habits and new buying perspectives.”[1] Of course the vast majority of pre-Prohibition brewers, local in nature and relying overwhelmingly on a male, working class population for its clientele in the saloon, had never approached marketing in quite this way.

Prior to Prohibition, public drinking in saloons had an overwhelmingly male face; from 1919 to 1933, both men and women drank in public at speakeasies and other illicit watering holes. Drinking became a companionate social activity. Brewers knew they would have to address their marketing to both men and women.

One way to begin to create a beverage that would appeal equally to both sexes was to employ women in the industry. Brewing was overwhelmingly male, but by 1937 Modern Brewer had unearthed two female beer sales personnel. The journal also had a woman, Elsie Singruen, as its technical editor. Ms. Singruen had studied brewing in Berlin, and had written on brewing techniques and the history of the craft. The technician made further history when she addressed the Philadelphia District Master Brewers in 1938. Ms. Singruen, the first female to speak publicly before a brewers group, gave a talk on “the history of American Brewing Literature.[2]

[1] Modern Brewer, March 1933, 22.

[2] Modern Brewer, May 1937, 25; December 1937, 64;  April 1938, 39.

© Amy Mittelman 2021