Beer Production after Prohibition: Setting the Stage for the Rise of the Mega-breweries

May 1, 2011

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Michael Agnew

The 1930s set the stage for the rise of the Midwestern mega-breweries that ultimately came to dominate the American brewing landscape. Prohibition had dealt the industry a serious blow that many smaller, local breweries didn’t survive. Reduced demand put additional pressure on those that did. Only breweries that could afford to adopt new cost-cutting technologies to achieve economies of scale would survive.

Certified Cicerone Michael Agnew is the lead educator and owner of A Perfect Pint. He conducts beer tastings for private parties and corporate events. His beer musings can be read in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, on his own Perfect Pint Blog and the Serious Eats foodie blog, and in respected national beer magazines. He is currently working on a travel guide to breweries of the Upper Midwest.

This event was recorded as part of the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance Fourth Annual Symposium “Midwest Eats! Foodways of the Great Depression,” which focuses on the Great Depression’s impact on our culinary traditions.  Other events from this symposium recorded by Chicago Amplified—listed in the order they were presented—are as follows:

Midwest Eats!  Foodways of the Great Depression
Nightclubs and Bread Lines: Depression Era Foodways On Film
Templeton Rye of Iowa: Its History During and Just After the Prohibition
This Land is Whose land?
John Drury, Ace Chicago Restaurant Reporter of the 1930s
Community Canning in the Depression: A Case Study
Co-Eds at the Co-op: Student Depression-Era Foodways at Old Normal
Greater Midwest Foodways Heirloom Recipe Competition
No Longer does the Holiday Table Groan Under the Weight of Food
Steaks and Shakes and the Great Depression
Beer Production after Prohibition: Setting the Stage for the Rise of the Mega-breweries
The American (Bad) Dream: Soup Kitchens and European Immigrants in Chicago in the 1930s
Chicago’s Maxwell Street

Recorded Saturday, April 30, 2011 at Kendall College.