Many were small, obscure operations that lasted but a few years while others grew to be national and international behemoths. All contributed to the American brewing industry and to the rich, vibrant history of beer in St.
A history of craft beer brewing in Minnesota
Like most American cities, the origins of brewing in St. Louis were humble: a few small, two- or three-person operations producing only a few dozen or so barrels each year to be sold in local taverns and saloons. It was not until the influx of German immigrants in the s that brewing became a significant business. Among those newcomers was Adam Lemp, who introduced lager beer to St. Louis and, some contend, to the United States.
Eventually his Western Brewery would become one of the largest in the country.
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By there were forty breweries in St. Louis producing , barrels annually. Among the smaller of these was the Bavarian Brewery owned by a local soap merchant named Eberhard Anheuser. The twenty-five years following the Civil War saw a tremendous expansion of brewing in St. Louis with the city becoming the third-largest producer of beer in the country.
As the Industrial Revolution took hold in America in the late s, the brewing industry experienced rapid growth through such technological innovations as pasteurization, artificial refrigeration, refrigerated railcars, and a coordinated system of railroad distribution. These innovations permitted breweries that were local or at best regional in scope to transform themselves into national marketers. Louis breweries, led by Anheuser-Busch, were at the forefront of this transformation.
The years between and were the golden era of brewing in the United States and in St. Lemp and the American Brewing Company were national brewers. The St. Louis Brewing Association, a combine of eighteen metro breweries, was in full operation and many small local breweries thrived in a city whose population had reached , But even as St.
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Louis brewers enjoyed their greatest prosperity, disaster was about to strike them. Louis ceased. He continued to create new and better systems, including an ice machine in that could produce fifteen tons of ice a day. Trade journals enabled brewers to follow these types of developments in brewing technology. The first brewery journal in the United States was founded in by A. The importance of Germans in the United States industry is evidenced in the popularity of these journals that were published in German. But even the English language titles published some of their sections in German until early in the twentieth century.
In contrast, although German brewers were also working in Britain, the trade journals in the UK had English titles, the French journals had French titles, etc. Only in the United States were the brewery journals published in an immigrant language. Brewing laboratories and schools also spread to the United States. Perhaps the first in Europe was run by Dr. Carl Reischauer in Munich. Germans were not alone in using science to improve brewing: the Carlsberg laboratory was created in by Jacob Christian Jacobsen, the founder of Carlsberg Brewery in Denmark.
The United States was also an early adaptor of such research, led by Dr. Upon immigrating to America, he moved to Chicago where he founded the Zymotechnic Institute in A prolific researcher and author of numerous scientific papers, he also edited The Western Brewer. Similar schools followed.
In German native Dr. Robert Wahl and Danish-born Dr.
These were not true brewing schools at first, but research facilities. Brewing schools began to replace the traditional apprenticeship method of training new brewers in Germany in the s. Siebel and Wahl-Henius soon followed with combined research facilities and training schools. Additional facilities followed in Milwaukee and in New York. This cross-current of research and technological advances was no doubt aided by the transnational nature of the brewing industry.
German expertise was valued not just in the United States, but in Britain and its colonial dominions, in Mexico, and even in Japan, where German brew masters were hired by local start-up breweries. German brewing expertise also followed the German flag after , as Germany joined the other imperialist powers in establishing colonies and spheres of influence in Africa and Asia.
Other nations sometimes sent their own brewing students to Germany as well. German equipment was shipped overseas to equip breweries around the world. In an age of nationalism, where the world powers competed for influence, German brewers were proud of their influence and leadership in their chosen field. One field where their expertise could be displayed, and measured against international competition, were world fairs. The first of the great American fairs was the Centennial Fair in Philadelphia in Beers from around the United States and Europe competed for awards. The Blatz and Schlitz breweries entered their newly bottled beers, which competed against imported bottles of German lagers—German immigrants pitting their best against the products of their homeland.
Of even greater importance, the fair helped spread the taste for lager beer among the non-German-American population.
Our Work for the Craft Brewing Industry
Ironically, this was made possible in part by anti-alcohol advocates. Temperance campaigners had succeeded in banning hard liquor from the fairgrounds, but not beer and wine, and lager beer proved to be exceptionally popular in the hot, humid Philadelphia summer. Philip J. Lauber opened a German restaurant and beer garden at the fair that could seat 1, customers at a time.
German Immigrants in the United States Brewing Industry (1840-1895)
By there was at least one lager beer brewery, sometimes many more than one, in seventeen of the twenty largest cities in the United States, as well as in innumerable smaller ones. In the remaining cities, lager beer from nearby areas was available. Breweries were an important part of the labor movement of the nineteenth century.
Early breweries were small, often just the master brewer and a few workers, reflecting the traditional master-journeymen-apprentice division of labor, even if the apprenticeship system for brewing did not catch on in the United States. As the breweries grew, of course the workforces they hired did as well. Days were long; fourteen to eighteen hours a day, six days a week, plus six to eight hours on Sundays, were common. As one union publication noted:. At eight the men went to work again, in order to finish their floor and kiln work, which lasted until half-past nine or ten o'clock.
In the s and s the day often began at four in the morning, and sometimes as early as two a. Louis brewery workers got a new contract, their union succeeded in reducing their work week to twelve hours a day, six days a week. Wages for these long hours were not generous. This, supposedly, made up for the long hours, but it could also lead to alcoholism. Finally, violence in the workplace was not uncommon, as managers could strike workers as a disciplinary measure. The number of employees on average in American breweries doubled from to and then doubled again from to when the average had increased to twenty-six workers per brewery, and the majority were still from the German-American community.
These larger numbers included foremen, but not necessarily the owner except in the smallest firms. Working conditions varied, although the work was always hard, and the conditions often unpleasant. The brew kettles had to be kept hot, which could lead to stifling conditions. In ten brewery workers died of heatstroke in St.
Louis alone during the hot summer. On the other extreme, working in the cold lagering vaults and ice houses could lead to rheumatism. Workers who were too old to work elsewhere might find themselves in the bottle shop, at least after when bottling became more common. It says something about this period of industrialization, however, that conditions in other industries were often worse, and breweries rarely, if ever, lacked for workers. One benefit, at least, was that brewery workers were able to control the pace of their labor, notwithstanding the spread of mechanization, a condition that gradually disappeared in most other industrialized workplaces over the final decades of the nineteenth century.
The association created committees for each industry, including brewery workers, but the organization apparently did not last long. They organized a mutual aid society in which lasted into the twentieth century. In a general strike of construction workers demanding an eight-hour day inspired the brewery workers to demand shorter working hours and better pay. Lacking an effective organization the nascent strike failed, broken up by police. Only four of the two dozen breweries in Cincinnati agreed and workers at the others went on strike.
Unfortunately for the workers, while the smaller breweries sometimes gave in to their demands, the largest companies held firm and the strike eventually failed. The union lost many members, but they did win some of their demands, including a reduced work day. So the strike was not a total failure, especially as a similar strike in St.