The Liquor Industry and COVID-19

At the beginning of the year, thing were looking pretty good for all segments of the brewing industry. Local and state municipalities see craft beer as an important economic driver, That’s why a tax cut was part of Trump’s disastrous tax bill and why this year the industry got an one year extension for that tax reduction. Then COVID-19 happened.

Most states have closed bars and prevented restaurants from providing in house service. They are allowed to provide grab and go service. How has this affected brewers and distillers?

Here is a roundup of articles about how the liquor industry is faring during the pandemic. Like everything else in our society, regulations surrounding certain practices are being  loosened or abandoned. When this is over, many thing will be different.

Deschutes Brewery has laid off  over 300 workers and is not presently offering any to-go services.

The governor of Rhode Island  issued an executive order  that allows limited sale of beer and wine when people are getting takeout from restaurants.

Last Saturday, some Milwaukee brewers had a pop-up  brewery drive-through in a parking lot.

Before the virus, only  twelve states allowed  delivery of all  kinds of liquor while thirty-one states allowed  delivery of beer and wine. This article is arguing for a permanent change in these regulations.

Reminiscent of Prohibition, distilleries are producing hand sanitizer. The relief bill passed last week allows distilleries to do this without having to pay the excise tax.

I hope everyone is safe and stays well.

Hallmark Does Hanukkah

This holiday season both Hallmark Channel and Lifetime have produced Hanukkah movies along with the usual staple of Christmas movies. Calling something a Hanukkah movie would imply it was about that holiday and its celebration. The three movies had different degrees of success in meeting that standard.

Only one of the Hallmark movies, Double Holiday, was about celebrating Hanukkah and it was the best of the three. Rebecca and Chris are coworkers who must produce a holiday party for their company. How well the party does will help determine which one of them gets a promotion. Because the eight days they have to prepare coincides with Hanukah, the two wind up celebrating together.

Rebecca celebrates with her family and Chris appreciates their warmth and sense of social obligation. The Hoffman’s only exchange gifts one night and the other nights are dedicated to charity and volunteering. Chris is open to learning about Hanukkah; in the course of the movie the blessing for lighting the candle is recited three time.

The movie stresses that people celebrate in different ways. This is at least a tacit acknowledgement that the fantasy Christmases of Hallmark movies is not for every one. Although Double Holiday did, to some extent, equate Hanukkah and Christmas, it was respectful of Jewish traditions. The plot did not involve Rebecca coming to love Christmas, rather Chris came to a better understanding of Hanukkah.

The other two movies, Lifetime’s Mistletoe and Menorahs and Hallmark’s, Holiday Date are both Christmas movies that include a Jewish person.  Holiday Date was the worst. It has a convoluted, unrealistic plot and verged on being condescending and patronizing about Hanukkah.

The best thing about watching these three movies was that I heard “Hanukkah Oh Hanukah” sung multiple times and heard the candlelight blessings several times as well. Double Holiday had the extra bonus that no Christmas music was played.

***********Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!***********

***********Happy Hanukkah! Happy New Year!**********

 

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.

New Jersey Brewing

New Jersey is tied with Kentucky as the states which have experienced the greatest growth in the craft brewing industry. You can read the article about this here.  What follows are a few excerpts from Brewing Battles about three prominent New Jersey brewers.

Gottfired Krueger Brewing Company

Beginning in 1935, brewers produced canned beer.[1] The American Can Company had developed a viable beer can prior to Repeal. The company lined the can with enamel, thus earning the designation “keg-lined.” In 1933, the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company of Newark, New Jersey engaged American Can to produce cans. The can company produced a trial run of two thousand Krueger Special Beer cans which contained 3.2 percent beer, the alcoholic content allowed by the modification of the Volstead Act. The test market approved of the taste of beer in cans, and Krueger went on to produce a line of canned beer which the company put on sale in Richmond, Virginia on January 24, 1935.[2]

The Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company dated from 1852. Its original name was Braun & Laible. By 1865 the name had changed to Hill & Krueger; Gottfried Krueger took over in 1875. In 1889, the brewery became part of the U.S. Brewing Company, Ltd of New York, a British brewing syndicate. After Repeal, Krueger reopened. A regional brewery, despite its’ brief moment of fame for canned beer, Krueger’s closed in 1960. Narragansett purchased the brand; when Falstaff purchased Narragansett, Krueger became one of its products.[3]

Krueger can. Photo courtesy of Brewery Collectibles Club of America.

 

Feigenspan Brewing Company of Newark

During the early years of Prohibition, Christian Feigenspan headed the Brewers Association Feigenspan was the head of a Newark, New Jersey brewery bearing his name. Prior to Prohibition the company had gained control of the Dobler Brewing Company, Albany, New York and a New Haven brewery, the Yale Brewery. The company resumed brewing following Repeal. Ballantine bought the firm in 1944; Dobler beer was produced into the 1960s. .[4]

Peter Ballantine & Sons

One of the country’s most long lived ale brewers also had its origins in the antebellum period. Peter Ballantine, an immigrant from Scotland founded Ballantine Ale in Newark, New Jersey in 1833. By 1877, it was the nation’s fourth largest brewer and the only one that brewed ale exclusively.[5]

Prohibition had led to the closing of many breweries; during Repeal, the industry experienced growth and decline simultaneously. Some established brewers started up again, new breweries formed, and others attempted to reopen but failed. P. Ballantine and Son, New Jersey’s largest brewer in 1914 and one of the nation’s few English ale brewers, faced this fate. Although the company had planned to open following Repeal, the stockholders ultimately decide to sell their interests. Carl and Otto Badehausen bought the company and retained the name. Ballantine continued as a successful post-Prohibition brewery until the 1960s. Falstaff purchased the brand names in 1972.[6]

Falstaff Brewing was seventh in 1950. In 1972, Falstaff purchased Ballantine which also gave the company the brands of the Christian Feigenspan brewery of Newark, New Jersey. The main brand was Munich. Feigenspan headed the USBA during Repeal. In 1975, Paul Kalmanovitz, head of General Brewing (S & P Corp) gained the controlling interest in Falstaff Beer. Falstaff Beer continued as a corporate entity with its own breweries until 1990 when the last brewery in Ft. Wayne closed. It is now an apartment complex. By that time S & P also owned Pabst. Small amounts of Falstaff beer were available for sale until 2000. The shield trademark was over one hundred years old.[7]

 

Falstaff Brewing Corporation, Logo from 1933–1940. Photo courtesy of Pabst Brewing Company.

 

 

[1] Stanley Baron, Brewed In America: A History of Beer and Ale in the United States (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1962) 323.

[2] Downard, Dictionary 64; “Beer Can History: The World’s First Beer Can,” Brewery Collectibles Club of America, www.bcca.com (accessed  July 17, 2007).

[3] Downard, Dictionary, 105.

[4] Downard, Dictionary, 74.

[5] “Ballantine Ale,” Falstaff Brewing Corporation, http://www.falstaffbrewing.com/index.htm (accessed January 13, 2006).

[6] Modern Brewery, July 1933, 73; Downard, Dictionary, 15.

[7] “The History of Falstaff Brewing,” www.falstaffbrewing.com (accessed January 24, 2007).

 

 

 

 

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In the News

Here is a look at some articles about beer and distilled spirits that I have read recently.

George Lenker, the Beer Nut, writes about a new craft beer bar opening in Northampton. It is in my neck of the woods so I will definitely try it and let you know what I think.

Mankato, Minnesota was the home town of Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the Betsy-Tacy Books. I loved the books when I was growing up and last year I re-read them all. This article is about a brewery in Mankato. I hope to visit Mankato some day and see Lovelace’s house.  Now I will also plan on visiting the brewery.

The final article looks at craft beer and distilled spirits across the country. The author picks a local beverage for each state. The pick for Massachusetts is Mystic Brewery’s Table Beer which is a saison . Some of the other choices sound really good. I will keep them in mind when I am traveling.

 

Beer Distribution

The Craft Brewers Guild, a major beer distributor, has appealed a fine it received from the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission. The Guild, based in Everett, MA, is one of nineteen craft beer distributors that Sheehan Family Companies owns. Sheehan also has an importing division, St. Killian, which sells Carlsberg and other foreign beers.

Sheehan Family Companies began in 1898 as a pushcart grocery run by Luigi Cortelli, an immigrant from Italy. In 1934, after Repeal, and now in a physical store, Luigi and his son Domero, entered into a distribution agreement with Anheuser-Busch. In 1956, Gerald Sheehan, Domero’s son-in-law started as a route salesman and eventually became company president. His son, Tim, is currently CEO. The Craft Beer Guild MA became part of the company in 2002.

In 2016 the Guild paid a $2.6 million fine to the ABCC to prevent a ninety-day suspension from going into effect. The Commission charged the Guild with undertaking a pay to play scheme that included false invoices and money laundering.  The Guild denies it did anything wrong and is pursuing its appeal at the State Supreme court level.

To read more about this case click here and here.

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.

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