Saturday, April 16, 2011

The German Triangle and U.S. Beer History

The German Triangle, between the cities of Milwaukee, St. Louis and Cincinnati, was the destination of a large percentage of German immigrants in the middle and late 19th century.  When they came, they brought with them their love for beer, especially lager beer. 
Map of German Population in 1900

 So it is not an accident that two of the three cities would become home to the largest breweries in the United States.  All three have a rich brewing history.  Besides being the home of Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis was also home to William J. Lemp Brewery, which brewed Falstaff.  At one time, there were 40 breweries in St. Louis.  Also, Belleville, Illinois, outside of St. Louis was home to Stag Brewery.

Milwaukee was home to Miller, Schlitz, Pabst and Blatz.  At one time they were four of the largest ten breweries in the world.  Over the years, more than 40 breweries operated in Milwaukee. 

Cincinnati was home to Christian Moerlein, Hudepohl, Red Top, Schoenling, Burger and Wiedemann, among dozens of breweries over the years. In 1860, Cincinnati had 36 breweries.Cincinnati also had a prodigious saloon culture:
Taverns-Bars-Saloons-Beer Gardens-Cafes, call them what you will Cincinnati and beer were synonymous with each other in the 1800's and early 1900's. In 1840 Cincinnati had 8 breweries to satisfy a population of 46,000 people. By 1860 there were 36 breweries for 200,000 people. Beer production in 1870 was 354,000 barrels. Ten years later it rose to 656,000 barrels and in another ten years it had soared to 1,115,000 barrels. This equates to a staggering total of  35,700,000 gallons of beer of which a little less than 1/2 was exported. The rest was consumed locally. The per capita consumption of beer nationally in 1893 was 16 gallons. In Cincinnati an incredible 40 Gallons for every man woman and child was consumed. In 1887 there were an amazing 1,837 saloons for a population of 225,000. In 1890 it dropped to only 1,810 for a population of 297,000. This meant since only adult males used saloons there were, in 1890, ONE SALOON FOR EVERY 37 MEN. In 1890 there were 34 saloons on Court St., 41 on Liberty St., 55 on both Walnut and Main Sts. Central Ave. had 100 saloons, but the all time high was Vine St. with 136. On Fifth St. between Main & Sycamore Sts. (1 block) 20 saloons flourished. A corner location was preferred because it gave the bar the most exposure to potential costumers, and if it were illegally selling beer on Sunday, it was easier to spot the police.
  Carrie Nation arrived in Cincinnati in 1901 with her famous hatchet to wage battle with demon alcohol. Most tavern owners knowing Carrie's propensity for taking her ax to glass windows, ordered new glass ahead of her visit. Carrie was asked later why she had not broken any windows was heard to say: "My goodness, child, if I had undertaken to break all the windows of all the saloons on your Vine Street I would have dropped from exhaustion before I had gone a block". Before leaving the Atlantic Garden, a woman lush laid her head on Carrie's shoulder and cried. She then left promising  the temperance leader she would mend her ways and lead a better life. Ten minutes later Carrie noticed that her earrings were missing. Carrie forgave the woman for lifting them.
Unfortunately, today Anheuser-Busch is merged with InBev. Miller is owned by SAB. Hudepohl, Schoenling, Burger and Christian Moerlein are trying to carve out a regional niche, and Pabst, Schlitz and Blatz are shadows of their former glory in a combined Pabst Brewing Company amongst a large number of formerly well-known brands, including Falstaff and Stag.

No comments:

Post a Comment