Prohibition, 100 Years Later

On January 17, it will be 100 years since Prohibition went into effect. Because of the current political climate  around immigration, I  am posting an excerpt  from Brewing Battles that describes the treatment some German-American brewers received  during the enactment of Prohibition.

The brewing industry was overwhelmingly German; most German-Americans drank beer as did many other Americans. Although German-Americans maintained many ties to Germany, the vast majority were second or third generation Americans. The founders of most breweries had immigrated to America in the 1840s and 1850s. World War I generated a tremendous amount of public hostility against Germans and German-Americans. For brewers and their fellow ethnic citizens, the war period was a test of their dual identities.

Some of the nation’s most prominent brewers faced these issues of loyalty and cultural identification as soon as America entered the war. One of New York’s most prominent brewers was George Ehret, Sr., the nation’s largest brewer in 1877. In 1914, Ehret, an American citizen, returned to Germany to live. In 1918 his son, George Ehret, Jr., turned over the family property with a value of $40 million to the federal government. A. Mitchell Palmer, who was then the Alien Property Custodian, found Ehret, Sr. to be “of enemy character.” Ehret had not broken any laws but appeared to be friendly with and under the protection of “powerful men.” He had also given large amounts of money to the German Red Cross since 1914. Palmer stated that Ehret, who was 83, could get his property back if he returned to America. He would then lose “his enemy character.” The Ehret family’s status as influential New Yorkers and wealthy Americans apparently did not mean as much as his German affiliations.[1]

Lily Busch, widow of Adolphus Busch, suffered similar problems. The Buschs, if not the country’s wealthiest brewing family then certainly its most ostentatious, owned several estates including a castle on the Rhine in Germany. Adolphus died in 1913; estimates of the value of his wealth ranged from $30 to $60 million.[2] Both Adolphus and Lily were born in Germany; Lily had become a naturalized citizen of the United States. When World War I broke out she made her German home a war hospital and served as a nurse. The German government took her property because she was an American citizen; the United States viewed her as enemy alien since she was in Germany. When she returned to the United States in 1918 the government seized her property and placed her under a form of house arrest. She died in 1928.[3]

The prosecution, if not persecution, of these prominent brewers and their families indicated the deep unease Americans felt about the presence of Germans in their country. The rhetoric of the Prohibition movement for most of its existence had been positive, extolling the virtues that removing alcohol from society would bring. . . . The final push that brought Prohibition, the Eighteenth Amendment, and the Volstead Act into being became negative and played on people’s fears as American faced a world that was unfamiliar and rapidly changing.

Jacob Rupert, owner of the New York Yankees and Jacob Rupert Brewery with Miss Harwood, 1921. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

 

[1] “Nation Gets Ehret Property,” New York Times, May 14, 1918, 1.

[2] “Adolphus Busch Dies In Prussia” New York Times, October 11, 1913, 15.

[3]; “Mrs. Lily Busch of St. Louis Dies,” New York Times, February 26, 1928, 27.

© All Rights Reserved Amy Mittelman 2020.

September 11, 18 years later

This is a post from ten years ago. That fall we were spending a month in New York City. This fall I am at home. In the past ten years, a lot has happened to both me and the country.

What is very surprising to me is that we are still involved in both Afghanistan and Iraq. We also have a president who has no clue how to run foreign policy. I fervently hope Trump will be a one-term President and then we can try to undo all the harm he has done.

My sympathy goes out to all who suffered a loss on that terrible day. May all of their memories be for a blessing.

September 11, 8 Years Later

Today is the eighth anniversary of the terrible events of September 11 2001. This is a particularly poignant day because we are in New York. Eight years ago, I had been in New York the day before, September 10, and woke up, at home. on the morning of the 11th to hear my husband’s voice on the answering machine, ” I don’t know if you have heard what happened in New York but my parents are okay.” As everyone knows, September 11 2001 was a picture perfect New York fall day and the 10th was as well. I felt very steeped in my New York roots because I had spent the evening of the 9th reading about the  pending city elections while I waited for my friend who I was visiting to come home.

Today, September 11, 2009, is not a beautiful day. The weather is  very bad, with high winds and heavy downpours. Because of these bad conditions, we have been unable to attend any commemorative event. Many of them were outdoors.

Despite that, since 2001, I have felt that this day should not be like every other day.  Apparently President  Obama and Congress agree with me. In March the federal government designated September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.  I really hope that this takes root and becomes how  people commemorate September 11th in future years.

My thoughts are with all the people who suffered a loss on that fateful day and it is my sincerest wish that nothing like that will ever happen to any person or country again.

2/3 of the Year Gone

I wrote the following last week but then I completely forgot to actually publish. This debacle accurately proves that it has become very hard for me to maintain a once a week schedule for posting. The result is that you get two posts this week. Here is this one today and there will be another one tomorrow, as scheduled.

It is September so I thought this would be a good time to look back and see, if, so far, I have been meeting my goals for the year. As I have said many times, this year it has been hard for me to post every day. When I came back from my twenty-three day break, (I know you all missed me) I came up with ideas for the first six weeks back. That has been a big help. The strategy of pre-planning so you don’t have to spend time thinking of what topic to write about, is a good one that I will try to use more in the future.

Tweeting, as always, has been easier. Politics gives me most of my material as well as tweeting picture of my travels. Of course, I still can’t tweet my URL. I have given up trying to get it fixed. Recently Jack Dorsey’s Twitter account was hacked. At least he felt some pain also.

My actual writing is going the least well. I haven’t really worked on my book since June. I got stuck in what is probably a diversion from the main project and then life intervened. I am hoping that I will get back to my writing next week. I will keep you up-to-date on my progress.

Hickenlooper

John Hickenlooper, erstwhile presidential candidate, is also a former craft brewer and former Governor of Colorado. He has an online only ad that highlights his career as a brewer. In 1988, he co-founded  Wynkoop Brewery.

The ad is full of brewing references; comparing the country’s polarization to debates in the brewing community over “hazy IPA and pastry stout.” You can read more about the ad here.

In 1988, Hickenlooper and three other men including brew-master Russell Schehrer started a brewpub with pool tables in Denver.  The brewery did produce beer for retail but stopped that in 2016.  Hickenlooper divested his holding when he ran for governor in 2010.

Wynkoop and Breckenridge Brewery merged in 2011,  forming Breckenridge-Wynkoop. The company sold Breckenridge Brewery to In Bev Anheuser-Busch in 2015. Colorado has over 400 breweries and is fourth in  in the country for number of breweries.

Although Hickenlooper has been successful  as a brewer, businessman and Governor, his presidential campaign has not gained much traction.  The New York  Times has an  article, “The Extraordinary Humbling of John Hickenlooper ,” which details his lackluster performance. I would be very surprised if he was on the debate stage in September.

As you may have noticed, I failed to post a blog last week. We had been traveling and my life has been really hectic; dealing with various personal issues. I am posting today because I will be out of town on Wednesday. I will also be unable to post the following two Wednesdays. I hope to and have every  expectation  of resuming my regularly scheduled postings on Aug. 21. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

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.

Stop The Bans

Yesterday I attended a  Stop the Bans rally in Northampton. Similar demonstrations  were held all over the country in response to the draconian anti-abortion laws that Alabama and other states have passed. It is very depressing to me that  reproductive rights are so threatened in 2019 when I can remember marching for the right to have an abortion in New York City in  the late 1960’s.  Abortion became legal in New York State in 1970.

Abortion was not legal in Massachusetts until Roe v. Wade in 1973. Massachusetts was also one of the last states to legalize birth control. However, last year, Gov. Baker, a Republican signed  the Nasty Women Act which repealed several old laws regarding abortion and birth control.  Nasty stands for Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women; legislators felt  the bill was necessary in the wake of Brett Kavanaugh ‘s appointment to the Supreme Court.

Several of the speakers at yesterday’s rally spoke about pending legislation in Massachusetts, the Roe Act.  This legislation would remove the requirement of parental consent for  an abortion for people under the age of 18.  The Roe Act also provides health care coverage for abortions for people who don’t have Mass Health.

Current Massachusetts law does not provide abortion coverage after 24 weeks. The Roe Act would extend that time period in cases of fatal fetal anomalies. Other provisions of the bill include ending the currently required 24-hour waiting period, and codifying the principles of reproductive freedom into state law. You can get more information about the Roe Act 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.

Primary Day

As I have said before, I have been working hard on trying to turn the House Democratic. I work at the Take Back the House (TBTH) office in Northampton, 18 Center Street. We are focusing on two races, NY 19 and NH 2.

I also worked for Jo Comerford , for Senator under the General Court. The incumbent,  Stan Rosenberg, resigned after the deadline to get on the ballot had passed. Jo’s campaign was a write-in. Write-in campaigns are extremely difficult because you have to spend a lot of time educating voters on how to effectively write in someone.  You also have to motivate the voters to take the extra time a write-in requires. The district has twenty-four communities which makes this process daunting. The person on the ballot definitely has an advantage.

Jo did a tremendous job campaigning and building a grassroots movement. Her years as an organizer first for American Friends Service Committee and then Move-On really paid off.  Jo won 54% to 41% with a 3,3373 vote difference. I am proud I helped and excited that Jo Comerford will be my State Senator.

 

Second time around

Looking over my last few posts I thought I would revisit some of the topics. In Summer I outlined what I was doing during this season. The Take Back the House (TBTH) opening was a huge success. You can see a video about it here. I am still working there and I feel, now more than ever, it is critical to turn the house Democratic.

Skating Camp, which I talked about in Summer and Off to Camp, was terrific. There were only nine of us and the coaches and assistant coaches were so helpful and supportive. It really improved my skating, making me more adventuresome and less fearful. I plan to start some off ice work which should further strengthen my skating.

I am still having trouble sleeping. At least once a week I have a bout of insomnia. My latest thought is to try hypnosis to change my sleeping habits. If anybody has tried that, please me know.

It has been two weeks and I  have watched two  Youtube videos that were on Feedly. I am also reducing my watching of Reality TV since it feels very connected to the rise of Donald Trump, something I fervently wish had never happened. I do not want to be complicit with his fascism in any way,

Several of the posts reference how hard it has been to do weekly posts. That remains true. I put all of the potential changes to my website which I discussed in Half Year Update out of my mind but  it is probably time to start thinking about them again.

Finally in the last month my most viewed post was the one on Methylated Spirits which I wrote five years ago. It had 229 views in 30 days. I average about 20 reads a day. The day I post is not always the day with the most readership which is a bit of a puzzle to me. I am  still thinking about ways to increase readership. If you have any ideas, let me know.

If these more personal posts are not your taste, let me know that as well.

 

Roundup

These are some articles about liquor and the liquor industry that have come to my attention that may be of interest to my readers.

Five Things that No One Wants to Say About Italian Craft Beer by Evan Rail in VinePair. I didn’t even know there was craft beer in Italy.

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone is boycotting Boston Beer, makers of Sam Adams because the founder, Jim Koch attended a dinner with President Trump  and praised Trump’s tax law which contained a big tax break for brewers. Of course, Trump is a teetotaler so, like everything else, he probably knows nothing about beer. I think I will probably stop drinking Sam Adams now. Let me know if you agree. You can read the article here.

Jim Koch and other craft brewers are happy about the new tax law but Anheuser Busch is in their rear mirror. The global company has bought 10 different craft breweries since 2011 and now is the country’s largest craft brewer. Most consumers of course don’t know that Goose Island and other crafts beers are actually owned by Anheuser-Busch.

I started wondering about  the wine industry in Massachusetts and discovered that there is a trade association, Massachusetts Farm Wineries and Growers Association which has over 20 wineries as members.  Organized in 2007, their biggest success has been the passage of legislation which allows the sale of wine at farmers markets.