Jacob Ruppert Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Today, Jacob Ruppert, legendary owner of the New York Yankees and a prominent New York brewer, was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame by the Pre-Integration Era Committee. This committee considers players, owners, and umpires “whose contributions to the game were most significant from baseball origins through 1946.” For more on this click here.

I am an avid Yankee fan and I wrote about Jacob Ruppert and his role in the brewing industry in my book Brewing Battles. In honor of his election to the baseball Hall of fame I am posting an entry I did on September 22, 2008 before I had a word press blog.  (I have reformatted it to work better in the current blog). You can also read a post I did about George Steinbrenner and Jacob Rupert here,

September 22, 2008

Yesterday I gave a book talk at a really nice beer bar and restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Justin, the owner of Beer Table, used to be an importer and he has a very nice selection of regional and imported beers.

Driving home we listened to the closing ceremonies for Yankee Stadium. On April 18, 1923 Yankee Stadium opened. Jacob Ruppert, a brewer, owned the Yankees and had the stadium built. The Yankees won that first game and Babe Ruth hit a home run.

Jacob Ruppert gave many things to Yankee fans, baseball fans, and beer lovers. He played a major role in creating an iconic sports dynasty. In 1923 the country was in the fourth year of Prohibition. Jacob Ruppert and a few other brewers kept the brewing industry afloat while it was illegal. I am a devoted Yankee fan and it gave me great pleasure to be able to write about Jacob Ruppert, Babe Ruth, and beer in Brewing Battles. Jacob Ruppert was a leader in both baseball and brewing.

Jacob Ruppert Time 1932




Schlitz Palm Garden

Of the four days and three nights we were Milwaukee for the OAH we spent one day getting there, one day sightseeing, and one day and a half days actually going to the convention. On Saturday we spent the morning going through the book exhibit which wasn’t as impressive as I thought it would be. Then I went to a session on the Schlitz Palm Garden.  I wrote about the Garden in Brewing Battles so I was interested in heard James Deutsch from the Smithsonian Center for Folk Life and Cultural Heritage speak on it.

The Schlitz Palm Garden was on Third and Wisconsin and was attached to the Schlitz Hotel. The Palm Garden was an attempt to have the fellowship and community of outdoor beer gardens year round. The Schlitz Brewing Company also wanted to have an indoor drinking establishment that was not a saloon.

The Palm Garden opened in 1896 and closed in 1921 because of Prohibition. In 1922 the Palm Garden reopened as the Garden Theatre and was a movie theater until the 1960s. In 1963 a bank and parking lot were built on the site of the Palm Garden. These were demolished in 1980 to make way for a mall.

At his presentation, Deutsch served Schlitz beer and cookies. The Schlitz beer came in a package that said it was 1960s style and did not indicate that Pabst owns it or that Miller brews it. It is not brewed in Milwaukee. The Schlitz was warm and tasted similar to Budweiser which is to say it tasted like nothing.

Palm Garden

Better Late Than Never

The current issue of The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs has a review of Brewing Battles. The book was published over three and a half years ago but such delays are fairly common in academic reviewing.

If you want to read the full review you must be subscribed to the journal. If you have any interest in the topic I would encourage you to do that.

Martin Stack reviewed both Brewing Battles and Maureen Ogle’s Ambitious Brew. Here is an excerpt:

“Mittelman’s approach is quite different. She provides a more complete chronological overview, beginning decades before Ogle does. While she doesn’t spend as much time as does Ogle in connecting changes in the beer and the brewing industry to broader cultural and social developments, she is excellent on two key topics that Ogle downplays, regulation and worker-brewery relations. Mittelman examines thoroughly the history of the complex regulatory environment connecting beer, breweries, and the state and federal government, highlighting how and why this set of interconnections has changed over time. … Mittelman makes a significant contribution in her detailed discussions of how breweries and the federal government set about to develop a post-repeal regulatory system. …

Another topic Mittelman handles very well concerns worker-brewery relations. This discussion draws from some of her earlier work, and she provides some excellent analysis here. Of particular import is her discussion of brewery workers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; she notes that brewery workers, as did workers in many industries, focused too much on their internal struggles. For brewing this proved particularly short sighted, as workers and owners did not ‘form a self-conscious alliance … to combat prohibition forces … until 1913.’ (p. 61)

Together, the Mittelman and Ogle books bring much needed attention to an understudied topic. … As a student of this industry, I greatly prefer Mittelman’s book.”

It is never too late for such praise.


Alcohol and the Modern State

Last week, I attended the Sixth Biennial Meeting of the Alcohol and Drug History Society. It was in Buffalo. I am a founding member of this organization, which was originally the Alcohol Temperance History group (ATHG). There were many nice people at the conference and many of the papers were excellent.

I chaired a panel on “Alcohol and the Modern State.” Brewing Battles deals with the relationship between the United States government and the brewing industry, that is probably why they choose me.

There were four papers and all were excellent.  Noelle Plack spoke on “Wine, equality and taxation in the French Revolution.” Prior to the Revolution, there was a very high indirect tax on wine. Using the rhetoric of equality common people fought for the abolition of the tax.  The taxes were reinstated between 1798 and 1804 but were much lower.

James Sumner’s paper was “Chemists in the brew house: Excise policy, chemical authority and the value of drink, 1790-1820. “ He looked at debates about how to determine the amount of alcohol in beer and what scientific methods to use. The English taxed beer indirectly and were looking for the most efficient, least corruptible way to maintain the tax and the revenue it generated.

Graceiela Marquez Colin and Gabriela Recio spoke on “Politicians and Brewers in Mexico: Taxing Beer in the 1920s.”  By 1899, five firms controlled 63% of Mexico’s beer production. Prior to the Mexican Revolution beer did not pay the stamp tax that other alcoholic beverages did. The Mexican Revolution halted national distribution of beer.  In 1912, the revolutionaries imposed taxes on beer for the first time and taxes rose five times between1912- 1922.  In response, the brewers formed a trade association that sought tariff protection, lower taxes, and a labor code.

Jon Miller gave a talk on “Petroleum Nasby and the Comedy of Excise Taxes.”  David Locke, a journalist, created Nasby as a fictional, satirical figure.  Nasby drank whiskey straight and was a Democrat. Locke used Nasby to promote support of the Republican Party and its’ polices. One of the policies he promoted the most was the excise tax on liquor. A modern comparison to Nasby would be Stephen Colbert who pretends to be a conservative Republican. Nasby was very popular and a favorite of President Lincoln.

All four papers reveal the centrality of liquor taxation to states and their need for revenue. They also reveal the different responses that varying interest groups have to liquor taxation.  In France, common people sought a reduction in taxes using the rhetoric of the revolution. In America, in the 1790s, western distillers rebelled against the imposition of a tax on whiskey.

Brewers in American, when faced with an excise tax to finance the Civil War, responded in a similar way to the Mexican brewers. They organized a trade association and sought amelioration within the tax system.The tax in the United States provided many patronage positions and this is one aspect of why Locke via Nasby supported the liquor excise. By looking at the relationship between states and liquor taxation, all the papers demonstrate how entangled liquor is in every aspect of modern life.

On the Radio

I will be a guest on “A Book and a Chat” on blogtalkradio, Tuesday March 1st  – 6:30pm.

“A Book and a Chat” has proved a hugely popular radio program with people of all ages. With two hundred shows already recorded, Barry Eva’s format of “a chat over a cup of tea” has received nothing but rave reviews from guest and listeners alike.  “A Book and a Chat” is a program for writers and readers, not so much a literary show, more like… let’s sit around have a cup of tea and a few laughs.”

Please tune in.


I recently got a yearlong appointment as a Five College Women’s Studies Research Center Associate. I actually found out in April but I have been very busy and a little reluctant to toot my own horn.  I got the associateship because of my new project, Dames, Dishes, and Degrees. I also will be giving a paper at the History of Education Society 50th annual meeting in November and I will be giving a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours putting the above information on my website. That felt a little strange because of course my website is entitled Amy Mittelman Brewing Battles. I have many questions about how I will maintain a focus on beer and Brewing Battles and move towards prompting and discussing the new book.

I have been on Twitter for about six months and I am one tweet away from 100. As if have probably said before I feel twitter is best for things I probably would not blog about. I also like that you can follow a conversation about trending or immediate events. It is a lot of fun to follow #Yankees during a Yankee game.

I still have not really figured out how my various online activates connect or should connect. I had decided to keep tweeting and the blog separate but I am rethinking that. I also do not really see how to keep the website vibrant since most of the new content winds up on the blog. One idea I have is to put my twitter feed on the website, but I am not sure how to do that. I also think it would be nice to give my readers the opportunity to tweet about the blog. Again, I will have to figure out how to do that.

Getting the Associateship is a wonderful opportunity; I am most excited about having a Mount Holyoke College library card. I feel motivated to think about new directions for both my work and my online presence.

101 Posts

This is my one hundred and one-blog post if you count the thirty-eight I did before I had a word press blog. If anyone is interested in reading them go to my website, amymittelman.com, and click on archives.

At the panel discussion on Monday about women and blogging, Jenny Davidson said she had started her blog because she wanted to promote her novel. I initiated my website, then the blog in both versions, for the same reasons. Somewhere along the line, however, the blog has become its own entity. I enjoy writing and I think writing more frequently has helped me to become a better writer.

My public online presence or persona has also evolved. In the beginning, I felt it was important to stick to writing about beer and other topics that directly connected to Brewing Battles. I also wanted to sell as many books as possible so I tried not to write anything controversial or potentially offensive. I also tried not to generate controversy, which may have had the unwanted effect of limiting my audience.

I still want to sell books and maintain a professional demeanor but I have relaxed about topics and opinions. Partly I am never sure whom or how large my audience is. This has given me some freedom to express myself since it is entirely possible I am talking to myself.

The internet and web have changed ideas and expectations of privacy. Because I have consciously sought a public identity, I have to expect that when I Google my name various things come up. I live in a small town so car accidents and the like are news in a way that they would not be here in Manhattan.  Because all newspapers have an online version, news items wind up being readily available.

The discussion on Monday touched on some of these privacy issues and Alexandra’s comments about the racial nature of disclosure are troubling. The real life consequences for someone’s risky behavior coming back to bite them later in life are very sobering.

Realizing this makes me more determined to behave online in an appropriate and professional way.  My blog persona is therefore close to my real life persona but not necessary how I am in the safety and security of my home and family.

This is a little more serious than I initially planned to commemorate my 101 posts. I will keep posting about beer, politics, women, and any other subjects that interest me. If you have been reading, I hope you stay around. If you are new, welcome and cheers!

Beer and Wine in Israel

In my post about Jewish Beer and Brewing I discussed Israeli and Palestinian beer. While in Israel, I had the opportunity to taste both Goldstar and Macabee. Goldstar is a medium color lager with a decent flavor and a small hoppy taste. Maccabee was pretty bad, on par with Bud or Pabst. My husband had Nesher Malt, which is a non-alcoholic beer which has been produced  since 1935.

Someone who was on our trip had Dancing Camel beer on tap and said it was very good. Their website has several different beers, some with funny names in the style of Shmaltz Brewing and He’Brew. The food scene in Israel is so amazing that I think it is just a matter of time before Israel has a thriving micro-brewery industry.

We also had a tour at the Carmel Winery in Zikhron Ya’akov. Most American Jews grow up drinking Manishevitz at Passover and think that is the extent of Jewish Kosher wine. The company dates back to 1882,Baron Edmund de Rothschild, owner of Chateau Lafite, helped established it.

Unlike Manishevitz, Carmel’s fine wines are not pasteurized which allows them to have a  better flavor. The wine we tasted was very good and our tour guide was an amazing, extremely stylish woman, originally from  Morocco. Unfortunately I can’t remember her name but I do have some pictures.

The guide is the person on the right
Wine Barrels
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