A Glimpse Into The Past

Because wordpress is stupid I recomend you click the title to view the actual post. For some reason wordpress won’t let me define the table to fit within the perameters of the main page.


Sorry there hasn’t been any updates for awhile. Between work, meetings, and a viral infection I’ve been battling posting here has been an arduous task. So please forgive both the lack of updates, and the fact that this one is another post on history.

While I was attempting to recover I decided to do some more reading in “Fermented Alcoholic Beverages, Malt Liquors, Wine, And Cider”. This book was written by an assistant chemist named C.A. Crampton in 1887. The book covers some brewing basics, but mostly covers what the writer calls adulterations. The book is dry reading, but interestingly it includes consumption figures on alcoholic beverages. Here are some of the numbers that Crampton gives. All numbers are in US gallons

Year Gallons of Beer Produced Gallons of Beer Imported Total Wine and Spirit Consumption Beer Consumption per Capita Wine/Spirit Consumption per Capita
1840 23,162,571 148,272 23,310,843 71,244,817 1.36 4.17
1850 36,361,708 201,301 36,503,009 94,712,353 1.58 4.08
1860 100,225,879 1,120,790 101,346,699 202,374,461 3.22 6.43
1870 203,743,401 1,012,755 204,756,156 296,876,931 5.3 7.69

For the sake of saving hours of data entry I thought this 30 year span would fit my purposes today. Back in September I postulated that lager beer saved brewing. I’m not the first to toss this theory out. In fact prior to the last 40 or so years it was generally accepted that lager beers made brewing the profitable business it is today. Granted back in September I said finding data on consumption and production prior to 1810 couldn’t be done. Turns out I just couldn’t find it because no one really publishes those numbers. Well that and the national numbers weren’t really kept track of until 1810.

Looking at the numbers on the chart though it’s easy to see why people attribute lager to the rise in beer consumption. The 1850’s saw the first massive immigration from Europe. Nearly 1 million German immigrants fleeing impending economic issues came here, often arriving with money, and were able to start businesses in their new communities. This also gave them purchasing power. Many of Americas German breweries were founded during this time frame too. Throughout the 1840’s it wasn’t uncommon for immigrant breweries to fail after short periods. Some managed to last, but the numbers weren’t high. When the mass waves of immigration hit Americas shores though the ones that had survived could not pump out enough beer for the masses. Breweries like Stroh and Best’s were founded by immigrants who saw opportunity and Americas beer revolution began.

2 Responses to “A Glimpse Into The Past”

  1. Capital Taps says:

    Here’s a piece on the Chicago Lager Beer Riots, protesting anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, anti-liquor tendencies and the “know-nothing” party. Germans and Irish generally violated two of the three – as immigrants and beer drinkers, and sometimes Catholic, they protested a hike in the liquor license fee that aimed to close saloons.

    More humorously, here’s a proposed beer package design (at least I don’t think it actually went into production) that honors the Germans and the riots.

  2. Jared says:

    The picture at the top ironicly is a political cartoon from the “know-nothing” party about the 1856 election accusing the Germans and Irish of stealing the election.

    Funny how in the past when they didn’t like what the government was doing they just assembled an armed mob. Maybe we could take a page from their books next time they try to raise the beer tax 🙂 Would at least be ammussing.

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