Schaefer Beer

Pabst, which does not brew any beer but owns the rights to many iconic brands from the 1950’s and 60’s, is bringing back Schaefer Beer. Schaefer is associated with Brooklyn, but it is not being brewed there. F.X. Matt in Utica, N.Y. is producing the beer. You can read more about it here.

This is an excerpt from Brewing Battles, about Rudy Schaefer and Schaefer beer during World War II.

Rudy Schaefer, the owner of Schaefer Brewing, had become president of the USBA in 1941. Schaefer Brewing had begun in 1842 and was one of the country’s first lager brewers. Frederick and Maximilian Schaefer emigrated from Russia and eventually operated a brewery near Grand Central Station. Rudolph, Maximilian’s son, took over the brewery in 1912 and moved it to Brooklyn in 1915. During Prohibition, Rudolph Schaefer died, and his two sons, Frederick and Rudolph, Jr. took over. In 1927 Rudy, a Princeton graduate, gained sole control of the brewery. Having survived Prohibition, the company expanded with additional plants in Baltimore and Albany. In 1938 the brewery produced one million barrels and was consistently one of the nation’s top ten breweries. Rudy Schaefer was a long time participant in the USBA.[1]

At the beginning of 1942, Schaefer, in his capacity as president of the USBA, offered his assessment of the state of the brewing industry and its planned participation in the war effort. The good news was that “public acceptance of beer as an essential food” had increased. Tax increases were a less positive development. Schaefer maintained that the industry could not withstand any additional taxes, and that an increase would have a diminishing effect on federal revenue. After all, the industry paid over four hundred million dollars in state and federal taxes in 1941, making beer brewing the fourth most heavily taxed industry in the country. Despite this strong participation in the country’s economy, Schaefer wanted the industry to make a specific contribution to the war effort, and pledged sales of defense bonds to all of the over 60,000 employees in the industry. On a personal level, Schaefer became vice-chairman of the carbonated and fermented beverage committee of the Red Cross War Fund of Greater New York.[2]

[1] Jos. Dubin, “The War’s Effect,” Modern Brewery Age, December 1941, 8-9.; Downard, Dictionary of the History of the American Brewing and Distilling Industries (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press., 1980), 166; F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company, To commemorate our 100th year : the F. & M. Schaefer brewing co. : America’s oldest lager beer (Brooklyn, N.Y. : The Company, 1942); Will Anderson, The Breweries of Brooklyn: An Informal History of a Great Industry in a Great City (New York,: Anderson, 1976), 6, 7.

[2] Modern Brewery Age, January 1942, 18, 82, 85; “Beer is Accorded Wider Acceptance as a Food, Says President of Brewers,” New York Times, January 2, 1942, 39.

© Amy Mittelman October 7, 2020.

Here is Louis Armstrong singing the Schaefer Jingle, from MjayzToonz:

Maine Beer

I recently read an article about Maine beer. The state is second, after Vermont, in the number of breweries per capita. Maine has over 80 breweries.[1]  Maine’s love of beer is a recent development. Here is an explanation from Brewing Battles.

“In Jacksonian America, the various states regulated the retail sale of alcohol, placing license fees on dealers as a minimal control on consumption. The growing temperance movement attacked the license system as inadequate and advocated new legislation. By 1850 reformers had moved from local control of liquor sales to statewide prohibition.[2] In every northern state except New Jersey and Pennsylvania legislators enacted or popular referenda passed “inclusive prohibitory or constitutional measures.”[3]

“In the 1850s, no state had the police capacity to enforce the provisions of this legislation, known as the Maine Law. As a result, advocates of the legislation created extra-legal groups, ostensibly to gather evidence and swear out complaints. Unfortunately, the “leagues” often overstepped these boundaries, generating violence. Both retailers and drinkers refused to accept the legitimacy of prohibition legislation. Liquor sellers organized to fight the Maine Law and the extra-legal enforcement “leagues,” and German and Irish immigrants opposed the law for cultural and economic reasons. The working class as a whole also resisted state intrusion into customary behavior.”[4]

Maine was the first state to pass such a law. Most states repealed the legislation by the 1860s. Maine repealed its law temporarily but reinstated it in 1857 and didn’t repeal it until 1934.[5]

Today, however, Maine is a poor state and beer is a source of reliable revenue. You can go on a Maine Beer trail and visit some of the over 80 breweries. We will be in Maine in August and I plan to visit at least of few of the breweries on the trail. I’ll let you know about the results.

 

[1] https://www.craftbrewingbusiness.com/news/infographic-what-states-have-the-most-breweries-per-resident/

[2] Tyrrell, Sobering Up, 226.

[3]; The Cyclopaedia of Temperance and Prohibition, (New York, 1891), 275–361.

[4] Tyrrell, Sobering Up, 290–307.

[5] William L. Downard, Dictionary of the History of the American Brewing and Distilling Industries (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980), 17.

Happy July 4th

In honor of the Fourth of July, here is an article about the top twenty-five beers in America, according to home brewers. I haven’t drunk many of them so the article has given me a goal.

Apparently today is  “National Independent Beer Run Day”; a day that the Brewers Association made up to get consumers to buy  independent, that is not macro beer, for the holiday. Marketing schemes like this are not new.

After Repeal, brewers attempted various campaigns The most prominent one was for bock beer in the spring. Here is another post from my pre-WordPress blog. It was for the Session, which was a blog carnival, which stopped publishing in 2018.

July 4, 2008


The Session #17: Going Against the Grain: Drinking Anti-Seasonally 

In my book, Brewing Battles,I explored the attempts of the immediate post-Prohibition brewers to develop a marketing strategy that would cover all seasons. The centerpiece was bock beer; for the journal, Modern Brewery Age,  this beer was the epitome of spring.

In the years before beer marketing was national and also before wide spread air-conditioning, the summer months usually saw an up surge in beer sales. However today it is not clear if increased beer drinking is so synonymous with warm weather.

Brewers vary in their focus on bock beer as a harbinger of spring. On a personal level when it is very warm I prefer a lighter beer such as a heifenweizen with a lemon. I also like a shandy or panache but I have been told that brewers dislike such combinations.

The Session is a blog carnival originated by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer.  For a summary of the Sessions thus far, check out Brookston’s handy guide

 

 

Light Beer

Recently the New York Times had an article about craft brewers trying to create new  craft version of light beer. This is a bit like trying to square a circle since low calorie beers are generally also low in taste  and represent the largest selling beer in macro brewers product lineup.

Here is an excerpt from Brewing Battles about Miller’s creation of lite beer.

Following the purchase of Meister Brau, Miller began working on its own low calorie beer. In 1975 Miller unveiled Miller Lite and made history. John Murphy, the McCann Erickson advertising company, and Miller Brewing, using the resources of Phillip Morris, unleashed an advertising campaign on an unprecedented level for the brewing industry. With their clever, sports-driven television commercials, Miller created a new product and greatly accelerated the consolidation of the brewing industry. Miller expended vast sums to market and promote Miller Lite which eventually prodded Anheuser–Busch to develop its own light beer, Bud Light, and match Miller’s advertising spending. Ultimately most of the country’s other brewers could not keep up. Miller steadily and rapidly gained market share, not at the expense of Anheuser–Busch but by incapacitating Pabst, Schlitz, and others.[1]

Miller wanted people who liked sports to drink Miller Lite; the company’s advertising used sports heroes to drive home the point that men drank the new beer. Matt Snell, a New York Jet who had played in Super Bowl III in 1969 when the Jets beat the favorite, the Baltimore Colts, was in the first Miller Lite commercial. This first ad was not funny and used the tag line “new lite beer from Miller is all you ever wanted in a beer and less.” The focus was on carbohydrates; eventually “less filling” became the key message.[2]

The second commercial was with Mickey Spillane, the crime writer, and Lee Meredith, a Playboy Bunny of 1973. Meredith was “the doll” in the commercials that tried to be funny about athletes and their unsuccessful flirting with a beautiful woman. The appearance of the athletes in the commercial legitimated the masculinity of drinking Miller Lite and indicated that the market for sports was nationalizing as was the market for beer.

The final tagline for the commercials became “Lite Beer from Miller. Everything you wanted in a beer . . . and less.” Many of the spots featured athletes and other figures debating between “tastes great” and “less filling.” It took Anheuser–Busch over a year to respond. The company essentially copied Miller’s advertising strategy and lured away several of the athletes including Mickey Mantle.[3] Ironically, Mantle would die in 1995 following a liver transplant that was necessary due to advanced alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver.[4]

Figure 20: Lite Point of Sale, 1976. Photo courtesy of Miller Brewing Company Archives.

[1] “150 years of Miller beer”; Frank Deford, Lite Reading: The Lite Beer From Miller Commercial Scrapbook (New York: Penguin Books, 1984), 30.

[2] Deford, Lite Reading, 31.

[3] Ibid.,  34, 43, 49.

[4] Joseph Durso, “Mickey Mantle, Great Yankee Slugger, Dies at 63,” New York Times, August 14, 1995, A1.

William K. Coors

Last month, William K. Coors died at the age of 102.He was the grandson of Adolph Coors, founder of Coors Brewing. Here is the New York Times obituary.

In acknowledgement of his passing, I am posting an excerpt from Brewing Battles (2007)about Coors.

Until the late 1970s Coors was a regional brewer; the beer was available in sixteen Western states. The Coors family sought nation-wide distribution of their beer, but faced several problems. Their appeal and brand recognition flowed from the Rocky Mountain springs that supplied the water for the beer. Building another brewery somewhere else would negate those advertising claims. Coors planned to compete in both beer types and advertising. By 1979, the company had a light beer and hoped to produce a super premium beer in the near future.[1]

Coors’ plans to diversify its products reflected the changing nature of the beer market since Repeal. Nineteenth century brewers brewed fresh lager for patrons at saloons. A few brewers persisted in brewing English ale. Although the German brewers had argued for the uniqueness of their product when confronting federal taxes in the 1860s, for much of their pre-Prohibition history they presented and promoted beer as beer. Most brewers had only a few different products and they didn’t really advertise one over the other.

During Repeal, brewers returned to a world of consumer products and brands. Slowly they began to develop different beers. Modern Brewery Age was a leader in promoting product differentiation, advertising, and marketing campaigns around specific items. Of course the brewers pushed for great latitude in production definition when producing the industry’s NRA code. They continued to resist ingredient and alcoholic content labeling.

True product differentiation began in the 1960s with malt liquor; it accelerated after Miller and Phillip Morris introduced light beer in 1975. Other categories of beer included super premium, dry, reduced alcohol, non-alcoholic, and beer coolers.[2] Anheuser–Busch has over sixty beers including Michelob, its super premium entry which the company has produced since 1896, as well as O’Douls, a non-alcoholic beer, and Bud Light.[3] Most other breweries do not have that many products; craft brewers usually have a few different beers. Boston Beer, makers of Sam Adams, produces about twenty-five different products.[4]

Coors was obviously hoping to move onto the national level and begin producing a variety of beers. The company developed a plan to move into two or three new states a year. By 1986 people in forty-five different states could buy Coors beer. The company maintained its number five position in the industry through massive advertising expenditures. Coors spent more than $10 a barrel on advertising and its total marketing expenses were $165 million in 1985. The company’s net income was $53.4 million from sales of $1.28 billion.[5]

By 1986 the fourth generation of Coors family members was running the company. Jeff Coors stated that the brewing industry “was much more of a marketing game today.” Beyond problems of market expansion, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the company faced a series of controversies. In 1977, Local 366 of the Colorado UBW began a strike against Coors. Coors, under the leadership of Bill Coors, consistently supported conservative causes; the company attempted to change the seniority system which would have resulted in a less powerful role for the local and its influence on discipline. Claiming union busting the local was on strike for two weeks when half of the workers returned to work. The company hired replacement workers for the remaining strikers. Coors wanted an open shop despite the fact that the brewery had had union representation for forty-two years. In 1978 employees decertified the union.

The union and other interested parties including Hispanics, homosexual rights activists, and feminists undertook a national boycott. Many groups believed Coors engaged in discriminatory labor practices. By initiating a boycott the UBW was returning to its nineteenth century roots. This boycott caused California sales to diminish by fifteen percent; California represented more than forty-five percent of Coors market. The boycott was a large impediment to the company’s attempts to produce beer and market beer for the national market.[6]

Ten years later, in 1987, the union and Coors came to an understanding. Coors agreed to non-interference with union organizing and to support a union contract for a proposed building project. In response the union ended the boycott. Coors changed its hiring practices and advertising focus. Coors had also completed an agreement with the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations in 1984. Jeff Coors was determined to avoid controversy.[7]

By 1991, all fifty states sold Coors beer, and the company had risen to the number three spot in the industry. It has the largest capacity brewery in the world at its headquarters in Golden, Colorado. That same year Anheuser–Busch’s market share was forty-four percent.[8]

 

[1] Jerry Knight, “Coors Plans Expansion,” Washington Post, 79.

[2] Beatrice Trum Hunter, “More Informative Beer Labels,” Consumer Research Magazine, October 1996, vol. 79, no. 10, 10-15.

[3] http://anheuser-busch.com/ (accessed April 2, 2007).

[4] http://samueladams.com/verification/ (accessed April2, 2007).

[5] Steven Greenhouse,” Coors Boys Stick to Business,” New York Times, November 30, 1986, 162. The family had suffered a tragedy in 1960 with the kidnapping and murder of Adolph Coors the third, eldest grandson of Adolph Coors, the company’s founder.

[6] Ibid; Amy Mittelman, “Labor in the U.S. Liquor Industry” in Blocker et al., Encyclopedia, 356-358.

[7] Ibid; Ruth Hamel and Tom Schreiner, “Coors Courts Hispanics,” American Demographic, November 1988, 54.

[8] William H. Mulligan, Jr. “Coors,” in Blocker, et. al., Encyclopedia, vol. 1, 174; Rick Desloge, “Anheuser-Busch on path to 50 percent share of market,” St. Louis Business Journal, February 11, 1991 1B.-2B.

©Amy Mittelman 2018.

Craft Beer Books

I came across this post about the “Five Best Craft Beers” on a website called The Manual. It reminded me of a post I did over nine years ago, “Beer Books on Amazon“. In 2009, Charles Papazian’s classic, The Joy of Homebrewing was no. 3 on Amazon’s list of “The most popular items in Beer”. It is one of the five  books The Manual thinks you should have on your book shelf.

Michael Jackson’s opinion on the best beer in the world, Ultimate Beer was number 23.  The Manual chose another Michael Jackson book, Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion.

I decided to look at today’s listing on Amazon to see what has changed in nine years. The number one listing is the Kindle edition of Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser Busch by  William Knoedelseder. The sale of Anheuser Busch to InBev  was a pivotal event for the brewing industry and it is great that someone wrote a book about it. I would like to read it when I get a chance.

Today on Amazon’s list of books about beer, Papazian is no. 72  and  Michael Jackson’s Companion is no. 408. That book is 25 years old which probably accounts for it’s lower listing. Michael Jackson, however, remains an authoritative source on all things related to liquor and drinking.

In 2009 the paperback of Brewing Battles was no. 84 and today it is at 1264. Oh well, it has been in print for 11 years.

In my post from 2009, I said I would, at some point, look  and see if Amazon had any listing for temperance books.  It turns out they don’t have a separate category for that and in the Social Sciences list, I didn’t find any books about temperance or prohibition. The takeaway is that Amazon lists reflect sales and popular interest not scholarly concerns.

Alewives

The relationship between women and the brewing industry is an interesting one. Women were a major force in the temperance and prohibition movement which led the brewing industry  to oppose women’s suffrage.

Historically women were involved in brewing beer throughout the middle ages and in America before industrialization. This article looks at that history. My only quibble is that women disappeared from the American brewing industry well before the 1950s.

When I was writing Brewing Battles, my research uncovered a few women involved in the United States Brewers Association. Here is what I wrote:

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.[1]*

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

©Amy Mittelman 2018.

What’s the Point?

Recently someone asked me, what is the theme of your blog? It is a good question and one that I am not sure how to answer. I started this blog as part of my attempts to publicize my book, Brewing Battles. At first I kept it strictly focused on beer and brewing history. Then, partly because I didn’t think there was anyone reading it and partly because I have varied interests, I started writing about other stuff.

Friends told me I would get more readers if I stuck to one topic. Lots of people who write about getting more blog readership agree. I guess I felt like it was my personal thing and I could write about whatever  I wanted to.

When I changed my hosting from Network Solutions to Bluehost, I did want the website to reflect that I write about more than just beer. That is why the tagline line is beer, history, women, and nursing. These past two years I have written on a variety of topics and that is probably what I will continue to do.

At the same time I am interested in getting more readers and I am still thinking about how to do that. Recently I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos, mostly about makeup application. Besides being a major waste of time, it has made me think about having a YouTube channel. Not about makeup, which would be ridiculous for many reasons, but about beer. More specifically beer history. My husband’s idea is for me to taste a beer and then talk about its history. I don’t know who would watch but it is a pretty amusing concept.

If I did have a YouTube channel, it is entirely possible that the same thing could happen. I would start by talking about beer but eventually move onto other topics. I guess if someone asks me  what is your blog about that I would answer it is about me, me and all my varied interests and thoughts about the world.

Frederick Lauer

On June 8, Reading, Pennsylvania held a celebration in honor of the renovation of a statue of Frederick Lauer, a founder and prominent member of the United States Brewers Association.  The statue was the first one ever erected in Reading. To help fund the project, the Berks Brewers Guild created a Lauer’s Fellowship ale. Sale of this beer raised over $5,000.  This article provides further details about the event.

I wrote about Lauer in both my dissertation and Brewing Battles.  In 2003 I wrote several entries about beer, brewing,  taxes, and cirrhosis for Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History, a two volume reference work edited by Jack S. Blocker, jr., David M. Fahey, and Ian R. Tyrell.

Here is the entry:

Frederick Lauer, one of  the nineteenth century’s most prominent brewers, was born in Germany in 1810. His family, wealthy Bavarian landowners, left for political reasons and immigrated to Reading, Pennsylvania in 1822.  In 1826, George Lauer, Frederick’s father built a brewery on the site of an Indian cabin in Reading.  Frederick eventually became the owner of this brewery, one of Reading’s prominent citizens, and a well-known lobbyist for the United States Brewers Association in Washington. Lauer actively participated in the USBA from the first national convention in 1862 until his death in 1883.

German-American brewers founded the USBA in response to the initiation of federal taxes on alcohol to help finance the Civil War.  The first national meeting was in New York on 12 November 1862 where Frederick Lauer was elected President of the new organization.  In 1863 the USBA appointed Lauer chair of a committee charged with overseeing the industry’s Washington affairs.

The most pressing concern of the brewers was a refund of taxes paid on beer brewed before the tax law had become effective. Lauer, along with other brewers, paid taxes on his stock on hand on 1 September 1862. The brewers’ argument for a refund was based on the specific fermentation and storage involved in producing lager beer.

Lauer worked diligently pursuing this matter with Congress but ultimately the brewers won the issue by suing and winning in the Court of Claims. Lauer achieved both a personal and industry victory.

In 1865 Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch established a commission to study the United States revenue system.  The USBA and the Association of Ale, and Porter and Lager Beer Brewers, a sister organization of ale-brewers,successfully  requested that a panel  be authorized to investigate the excise laws of Europe as they pertained to malt beverages.  Frederick Collins of New York and Mathew Read of Philadelphia were both ale brewers and they visited Great Britain for two weeks.  Frederick Lauer joined them in visiting Belgium, France, the German States and Switzerland.

David Wells, the chair of the Revenue Commission used the brewers’ report, published under the auspices of the USBA, verbatim. Lauer and the USBA were very successful in establishing an amicable, working relationship with government officials. The work they did with David Wells and the Revenue Commission in establishing the method of tax collection for beer was long-lasting.  The stamp attached to the spigot of every barrel removed from a brewery remained the way the federal government collected the excise until Prohibition.

Building on their success with refunds and collection the USBA established an Agitation Committee, which Frederick Lauer chaired.  This committee met regularly with officials and legislators, particularly when legislation was pending which was relevant to the industry.  Their greatest result came from holding the line on tax increases for 34 years. During the same time period, 1864 to 1898, taxes on distilled spirits increased three times.

Frederick Lauer was more prominent for his work as a brewing advocate than as a brewer. The Lauer brewery was never a national leader although it was the third largest in Pennsylvania at one time. Lauer turned over the running of the brewery to his sons, Frank and George in 1882. Lauer died on 12 September 1883.   In 1885 the USBA erected a statue in Frederick Lauer’s honor in City Park, Reading, Pennsylvania.  The statute still exists and is maintained by the Historical Society of Berks County Pennsylvania.

Reference

Downward, William L. Dictionary of the History of the American Brewing and Distilling Industry, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1980.

Mittelman, Amy H. “The Politics of Alcohol Production: The Liquor Industry and the Federal Government, 1862-1900”, Ph.D. dissertation. Columbia University, 1986.

Smith, Gregg. “The Fredrick Lauer Story”. The Real Beer Page

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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