Chicago beer consumption: Raise a glass toasting National Beer Day April 7th

By Caryl Clem:

Reflecting on American traditions, my mind travels back to stories of Johnny Appleseed and George Washington cutting down a cherry tree as told in the McGuffey Readers.  To my surprise, I just read that George Washington created his own beer recipe and owned the largest producing brewery. Since George was a military buff, he must have taken seriously Napoleon’s quote about beer, “On victory you deserve beer, and on defeat you need one.”Several founding fathers were beer fans, the beer industry outpaced whiskey consumption during colonial times.

During the 1800’s beer production was in full swing, a beer culture was thriving. Harvard had its own brewery run by undergraduates.  In 1873, statistics prove the growth in beer production; over 4,000 breweries are in operation.  Beer giants, Anheuser Busch, Pabst Brewing Company and (Fred) Miller Brewing Company were the favorites. German flavored lagers outsold British recipe ales.

After the Chicago fire, Fred Miller sent 25 beer filled trains daily to quench Chicago beer drinkers thirst.  He opened a Chicago Branch Brewery in 1875 which sold more than his home base Milwaukee location.  By 2000, Anheuser-Busch and Miller’s with Colorado based Coors ranking third. Coors is the only major brewery to be family owned and controlled sticking to their recipe demanding Colorado spring water.  Until 1981, it was not legal to sell Coors past the Mississippi. In 2008, the second place and third place production breweries merge to reduce costs creating MillerCoors beers.

The Prohibition Days introduced near beer substitutes and underground moonshine bootlegging leaving beer drinkers wanting more flavor. In 1933, passes Cullen-Harrison Act on April 7 reestablishing the 3.2 % alcohol by weight limit as legal. Beer is served mostly on tap. By 1877, American breweries were employing the “steaming process” that allows beer in a bottle to retain clarity. Bottled beer was more expensive and considered a luxury. In 1935, American Can Company starts canning beer and by 1969 it is outselling bottled beer. In 1975, Jimmy Carter legalizes brewing beer at home inspiring DYI drinkers to create their own versions.

Beer consumption in Chicago is thriving. One. seven breweries per 100,000 people  are competing for your empty glass. Chicago has the largest variety of beer tasting possibilities than anywhere in the U.S. The Chicago Tribune supplies a link to discover all the available locations. Not only can a click reveal where to go in Chicago, there is a Chicago beer festival event calendar.

For all of you beer enthusiasts, Chicago is full of opportunities. As my favorite beer quote states, “A fine beer can be judged by a sip but it’s better to be thoroughly sure”, Czech proverb.

3 thoughts on “Chicago beer consumption: Raise a glass toasting National Beer Day April 7th”

  1. The Coors family lives here in our town. My wife taught piano to the kids of one of the sons for a couple years. Our kids went to the same school for awhile before our kids attended a different charter school. The Coors brewery is not too far from here. Pretty area up there in Golden right next to the School of Mines. Chicago was always a big city for liquor. Old Al Capone and his men would hide in the woods of St. Charles by the Fox River during the prohibition days. There is an old restaurant you might know of called “The Hideaway” down there. That neighborhood was just across the river from ours when I lived in St. Charles in the 90s. Cool history in Chi-town and the surrounding towns. God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From what I understand, it closed, was bought out but not re-opened because the family that bought it was denied a liquor license…that was last summer. My daughter and I love going to St Charles and Batavia for antiques.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s too bad. Hopefully it will re-open. I remember that being a pretty good restaurant. Our parents took us there. Yes, St. Charles and Batavia have real nice shopping–Geneva too. My Mom and sister loved it. My Mom and Dad live about 3 hours south, but my Mom still goes to St. Charles sometimes for shopping and even dental work. My friends and I loved canoeing and playing ice hockey on the Fox River. It was always fun taking the Metra into Chicago too…and seeing the top of Mr. T’s house from the train. 🙂 Always love walking down the stairs in the station where they filmed “The Untouchables.” Great scene when he saves the baby rolling down the stairs and he gets the mobster too. So much history out there! God bless!


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