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How Breweries Survived During Prohibition

When Prohibition ended in 1933, only a handful of breweries in the United States were still operating. Nick Green of MentalFloss.com explains how these breweries survived a 13-year period during which their main line of business was illegal.

To begin with, brewery owners knew well in advance that Prohibition was coming, and thus had time to think of alternatives. The most common was “near beer,” which the Volstead Act defined as having less than 0.5 percent alcohol. Brewers had experience with low-alcohol beer, thanks to a World War I emergency measure that outlawed beer with an alcohol content higher than 2.75 percent.

Breweries got into numerous other lines of business. Ice cream was one. Anheuser-Busch owned a fleet of refrigerated trucks, and put them to work carrying a different product. Adolph Coors mass-produced ceramic tubes and rods for the military, along with lines of dinnerware. Many of the big breweries sold malt extract “as a cooking product” which was in fact used for homebrewing, then prohibited by the Volstead Act. Other breweries converted their equipment to dye-making: the transition was easy, and a shortage of imports created a postwar “dye famine.”

A Brewery Run by Those Who Served

In 2005, Miguel Delgado, a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, was seriously wounded by a roadside bomb in while serving in Iraq. The injury forced him out of the Corps and into a situation many veterans face: medical problems and underemployment.

Fortunately, Delgado was hired by a new Chicago microbrewery, the Veteran Beer Company, as a brand ambassador. The brewery’s policy is to hire as many veterans as possible and provide them with both employment and camaraderie with others who had served.

The Veteran Beer Company was founded by Paul Jenkins, a retired Navy fighter pilot who also suffers from a disability. Disturbed by high rates of unemployment among veterans, he set out to do something about it–namely, start a brewery. Jenkins assembled a team starting with Eric Rine, a retired Marine Corps officer, as brewmaster.

The brewery’s Veteran Amber Lager and the Blonde Bomber American Blonde Ale are available in the Chicago area and Indiana. Rine has ambitious plans for the future: from his Chicagoland base, he plans to “advance and hold territory.” And hire more veterans as the brewery grows.

The Friday Mash (Triskaidekaphobia Edition)

Today is Friday the 13th, which is bad news for the 20 million Americans who suffer from triskaidekaphobia. Some are so terrified of today that they won’t even get out of bed. But the truly intrepid will celebrate by attending Friday the Firkenteenth, a cask ale festival that takes place at Philadelphia’s Grey Lodge Pub every Friday the 13th.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Toledo, where Tony Packo’s, the hot dog joint made famous by M*A*S*H’s Corporal Klinger, is celebrating its 80th anniversary with a special, locally-brewed ale.

Two economists theorize that beer was the key to The Netherlands’ independence. Seventeenth-century Dutchmen drank lots beer, and the government gradually hiked taxes on it to finance their decades-long revolt against Spanish rule.

Budweiser has run afoul of British regulators, who turned thumbs-down on an ad in which a football coach promised success with women to men who drank Bud.

Add Lagunitas Brewery to the list of western craft breweries planning to open a second plant. It will be located in Chicago, where founder and owner Tony Magee is from.

San Francisco’s iconic Hamms Brewery sign was demolished long ago, but local artist Dan McHale has brought it back to life with a series of paintings, “36 Views of the Hamm’s Brewery.”

Could beer be “brain food”? Scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that after drinking two pints, men performed better on brain-teasers than those had nothing to drink.

Finally, Governor Phil Bryant has signed a bill raising Mississippi’s ABV cap to approximately 10.1% ABV. Mississippians can now enjoy 70 percent of the world’s top 100 beers.

He’s Back!

Greetings everyone, from the world headquarters of the Beer Festival Calendar! We hope you had a merry Christmas and that your favorite football team won–or, at least, your despised arch-rival lost.

Early this morning, the lion limo brought Ludwig back home, where he immediately went found the warmest place in the house–underneath the Christmas tree, of course–and went to sleep. If you have cats, you can understand.

Before nodding off, Ludwig asked us to announce that the 2012 festival calendar has indeed gone live, and that he’s accepting accolades festival submissions.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Is it Time for a Beer?

Find out for yourself with the Internet era’s answer to the Magic 8-Ball.

Pilsner’s Criminal Element

We’re all familiar with the story of pilsner, but Jay Brooks adds a detail you might not have known. The style might have been made possible by a yeast rustler.

The story begins in Plzen, where the townspeople hired an architect named Martin Stelzer to build a brewery. Stelzer offered the job of brewmaster to Josef Groll. Groll was aware that Bavarian scientists were experimenting with different strains of yeast. For obvious reasons, the Bavarians didn’t want to share their secret. Nevertheless, their yeast found its way to Groll’s brewery; and, according to legend, a Bavarian monk smuggled it out of the country and gave it to Groll.

The legend has never been confirmed, but the yeast was a vital ingredient in making the clear, bright gold-colored beverage that made its spectacular debut in Plzen’s St. Martin’s Market on October 5, 1842.

“May I See Some ID?”

It’s Saturday, which is occasionally video night here at Ludwig Roars. Tonight, courtesy of Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin, we bring you a gem from the 1970s. It’s a check-ID training film for convenience store operators.

Those “of a certain age” will remember draft cards, the original VW Beetle, beehive hairdos, long sideburns, and 18 being the legal age for buying beer in many states. For extra entertainment, look for the clever product placement for Falstaff beer.

The Friday Mash (Float Like a Butterfly Edition)

On this day in 1964, 22-year-old boxer Cassius Clay scored a victory by TKO over heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. Clay, who later that year changed his name to Muhammad Ali, became one of the greatest legends in the history of sports–and one of the few to be recognized the world over.

Being a devout Muslim, Ali abstains from alcohol. However, Ludwig has granted you permission to toast “The Greatest” with a brew.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Boulder, Colorado, where the local school district offers a course in beer appreciation. It’s led by a veteran of Colorado’s craft beer industry.

Spring training is around the corner, and writer Charlie Vascellaro tells you where to find good beer near Cactus League ballparks. He also explains why baseball is responsible for Bell’s beer’s availabIlity in the Grand Canyon State.

The Harp, a pub located in Covent Garden, London, was named CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year.

Lights, camera, action! Draft magazine chooses ten actors who could play leading brewers.

Green beer? Not the kind served on St. Patrick’s Day, but the kind made in eco-friendly breweries in Calgary, Alberta.

Now that craft beer is making inroads in Ireland, can proper beer festivals be far behind? The Dublin-based Beer Nut reports on the inaugural Winter & Cask Ale Festival, held earlier this month in Cork.

Finally, if you’re going to Mardi Gras, Jeremy Labadie of BestOfNewOrleans.com has a long list of establishments that serve good beer in the Crescent City.

Get Ready for the GBBF

The 2010 Great British Beer Festival will take place August 3-7 at Earls Court in London.

To whet your appetite for this year’s fest, Welsh blogger “Arfur” has posted a photo album (203 images in all) of last year’s GBBF.

The Friday Mash (Payday Edition)

The 27th Amendment bars Congress from giving itself a mid-term pay raise. It was added to the Constitution after Michigan became the 38th state to give it the thumbs-up on this day in 1992.

If today is your payday, we hope you’re celebrating it with friends…and a pint of good beer.

And now…the Mash!

Barm, who blogs at I Might Have a Beer, broadened his knowledge of Real Ale by volunteering at a CAMRA beer festival.

Bad enough that rainy weather brings out mosquitoes. Now we learn that the little pests are attracted to the skin of beer drinkers.

From the Department of Minimalist Art: The 100th entry in the Brookston Beer Bulletin’s beer advertisement series is Budweiser Budvar’s classic “barley, hops, water, yeast” ads. Worth a look.

In case you missed it, Tuesday was Star Wars Day. To celebrate, Stephen Rich at Definitive Ale matched Star Wars characters with beer. It goes without saying that Darth Vader’s beverage was Three Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout.

The Stone Brewing Company took another step toward building a brewery in Europe. It issued what brewery officials calls the most arrogant RFP ever.

Crime might not pay, but sometimes it entertains. Noah Davis of Draft magazine has compiled a series of stories about beer criminals. Even for criminals, these guys are incredibly stupid.

Think your local beer laws are crazy? Try running a brewery in Pakistan. Rawalpindi’s Murree Brewery has managed to survive in this tough environment for 150 years.

Finally, tomorrow is National Homebrew Day. The American Homebrewers Association is celebrating with its annual Big Brew event.

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