Category Archives: International

The Prohibition Chronicles

A few weeks ago, on a Sunday afternoon, along with my wife and two friends, I attended the premier of  “Toledo: The Prohibition Chronicles”. The sixty minute documentary told the story of gangsters and bootleggers who operated in Toledo during the Prohibition era. In particular, it focused on the battle between Toledo bootlegger, Jack Kennedy and Yonnie Licavoli, head of Detroit’s Licavoli Gang, as they fought for control of Toledo’s illicit booze industry. The documentary was produced by University of Toledo alumnus, Charissa Gracyk, with help from her cousin Gillian Perdeau. The venue for the documentary’s premier was the Nelson Theater in the city’s Collingwood Arts Center.

Prohibition,  which outlawed the production, sale, and consumption of alcohol, was ushered in with the passage of the 18th Amendment. It took effect on January 17, 1920.  Prohibition lasted thirteen years. Repeal of the 18th Amendment was complete, with the ratification of the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933. Ohio, like some other states, actually went dry before Federal Prohibition took effect. Prohibition in Ohio started on May 27, 1919. Ohio voters had went to the polls on November 5, 1918 to vote on The Ohio Prohibition on Alcohol Amendment (also known as Amendment 2). Amendment 2 passed by a margin of 51.4% to 48.6%. One year earlier, on November 6, 1917, Ohioans had rejected Prohibition (Amendment 1), 53% to 47%. The Anti-Saloon League, one of the organizations favoring Prohibition, was actually founded in Oberlin, OH in 1893. In 1905, by which time it was a powerful national organization, it moved its headquarters to Westerville, OH. Indeed, if you ever find yourself in Westerville, you might consider paying a visit to the Anti-Saloon League Museum.

In an informative essay titled Raising Our Glass: Saloon Culture in Toledo, Ohio, Arnette Hawkins describes the scene in Toledo on the final Saturday evening before the start of Prohibition. Drinking saloons were filled to capacity, with the customers including many revelers from nearby Michigan, where Prohibition had already kicked-in. In the last few days before the start of Prohibition in Ohio (between May 24 and 26 to be exact), there were one hundred individuals in Toledo who were arrested for being drunk and disorderly. When the fated day arrived, and Prohibition took effect, some Toledo saloons closed their doors. A few of them hung signs in their doorways that read, among other things, “Back Soon” and “Voters didn’t think and now they can’t drink”. Others found ways to stay open, rebranding themselves as soft drinks parlors or social centers.

When Prohibition went into effect, breweries looked to alternative products and markets as a means to stay in business.  D.G. Yuengling & Son of Pottsville, PA, for example, transitioned into Yuengling Dairy Products Corporation, and produced ice-cream. Pabst Brewing of Milwaukee, WI also went into the dairy business, with cheese being their primary product. The cheese was produced on a farm in upstate Wisconsin and aged in the brewery’s ice cellars. Toledo’s Buckeye Brewery survived Prohibition by producing soft drinks such as ginger ale and root beer. A number of breweries produced malt extract during Prohibition. Obstensibly, this was for use in the baking of bread; some labels on the cans of malt extract even told how much to use in bread making. In reality, the vast majority of malt extract was probably used to produce homebrewed beer. In the city of Lima, OH enough malt extract was sold in one week to brew four hundred thousand pints (fifty thousand  gallons) of beer. Had it been used for bread, it could have produced sixteen loaves for every man, woman, and child living in Lima (clearly it was not all being used to  make bread).

Labeling tunnels beneath the old Jackson Brewery in Cincinnati, OH

By the time Prohibition started, Lager was the most popular style of beer in the United States. Producing Lager involved storing it at cool temperatures for up to several months (the name Lager comes from the German verb ‘to store’). This meant that breweries had large cellars (lagering cellars or tunnels), where they stored beer during the lagering process. As noted above, Pabst used their cellars to age cheese. Other breweries thought of innovative ways to use their cellars. Breweries in Mansfield, OH, for example, even considered using their lagering cellars for growing mushrooms or providing a haven for hay fever sufferers. A number of breweries closed during Prohibition and re-opened when alcohol production was legal again; Jackson Brewery in Cincinnati, OH was one such brewery. Yet others closed their doors, never to open again.

While Prohibition did have a negative impact on breweries, it is worth noting that the number of breweries was already declining prior to Prohibition (see chart below). For example, between 1900 and 1916,  the number of breweries in the United States fell from 1,816 to 1,313. So while Prohibition never did the brewing industry any favors, consolidation as a result of closures, mergers, and acquisitions, was already under way.

Number of Breweries in United States, 1873-2016 (Source: Brewers Association)

It was still possible to produce beer during Prohibition, with the stipulation that its alcohol content did not exceed one half of one percent. This is what was known an ‘near beer’. (Note: Beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% is often mistakenly referred to as ‘near beer’).

One of the beneficiaries of American Prohibition were breweries in Canada, who supplied bootleggers in the United States with beer. The length of Prohibition in Canada varied by province, ranging from two years in Quebec (1919-1921) to forty-seven years in Prince Edward Island (1901-1948). Even when under their own Prohibition restrictions, Canadian breweries were not prohibited from exporting Beer to the United States. In fact, in 1924, eleven small Canadian breweries established the Bermuda Export Company, a cartel, whose express purpose was to export beer to the United States. Such was the importance of the American market to Canadian breweries that, during the first five years of U.S. Prohibition, eighty percent of the Beer produced in Canada was exported to the United States.

Prohibition in Canadian Provinces (Source: Eberts 2007)

In 1930, under pressure from the United States, Canada made it illegal for their breweries to export beer to the United States. Bootleggers circumvented this restriction by indicating on customs forms that the beer was bound other markets such as Cuba or Mexico. In reality the bootleggers’ boats would offload their cargo in Detroit, and be back in Canada an hour later. Customs officials, probably bribed, turned a blind eye. Four trips between Canada and ‘Cuba’ in a day meant that these boats were dubbed the “fastest boats on water”.

Not surprisingly, there are a number of modern day craft breweries whose names are inspired by Prohibition. These include Southern Prohibition Brewing (Hattiesburg, MS), Speakeasy Ales and Lagers (San Francisco, CA), Bootlegger’s Brewery (Fullerton, CA), and 21st Amendment Brewery (San Francisco, CA). And, of course, there are dozens of beers connected to the Prohibition era by virtue of their names. Examples include Boscos Prohibition Pilsener (Boscos Brewing Company, Memphis, TN), 18th Amendment Imperial IPA (Bootleggers’s Brewery, Fullerton, CA) and Suspension Pre-Prohibition Cream Ale (Brew Keepers, Wheeling, WV).

The United States and Canada are not the only countries to experiment with a prohibition on alcohol. At different points in their history, other countries, including Finland, and Iceland have banned alcohol. There are a number of countries today where alcohol is not permitted. These are mainly Muslim countries and include Afghanistan, Iran, and Kuwait.

Further Reading:

Stack, Martin H. No date. A concise history of America’s brewing industry. Available here.


2017 – The Year in Review

This is the time of year when many people reflect about the year that is coming to an end. So as I was thinking about a topic for my final blog entry of 2017, I thought I’d compile an inventory of the breweries I visited during the last twelve months.

During 2017, I visited forty-six breweries. That’s an average of a different brewery every 7.9 days. Twenty-two were in Ohio, a further twelve  were inside the United States (but outside Ohio), and twelve were outside of the United States. Outside of Ohio, I visited breweries in Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, and Texas, while outside of the United States I visited breweries in Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Of the forty-six breweries, I had visited five before this year (indicated in italics in the list below). So forty-one of the breweries were first-time visits. The year also included a visit to one non-craft brewery – Carlsberg, in Copenhagen, Denmark. I also paid my first visit to a former craft brewery (10 Barrel Brewpub in Denver, CO), that is now owned by AB InBev. Here is a list of breweries visited:

Ohio Breweries (22)

  • Bad Tom Smith Brewing, Cincinnati, OH
  • Black Cloister Brewing Company, Toledo, OH
  • Black Frog Brewery, Holland, OH
  • Bowling Green Beer Works, Bowling Green, OH
  • Catawba Island Brewing Company, Port Clinton, OH
  • Double Wing Brewing Company, Madison, OH
  • Earnest Brew Works, Toledo, OH
  • Figleaf Brewing Company, Middletown, OH
  • Forest City Brewery, Cleveland, OH
  • GOTL Brewing Company, Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH
  • Granite City Brewery, Maumee, OH
  • Listermann Brewing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • MadTree Brewing, Cincinnati, OH
  • Market Garden Brewery, Cleveland, OH
  • Maumee Bay Brewing Company, Toledo, OH
  • Moerlein Lager House, Cincinnati, OH
  • Nano Brew, Cleveland, OH
  • Rhinegeist Brewery, CincinnatI, OH
  • Rivertown Brewery, Monroe, OH
  • Streetside Brewery, Cincinnati, OH
  • Taft’s Ale House, Cincinnati, OH
  • Upside Brewing, Sylvania, OH
  • Woodburn Brewery, Cincinnati, OH

US Non-Ohio Breweries (12)

  • 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Denver, CO
  • Blue Heron Brewing Company, Espanola, NM
  • Chili Line Brewery, Santa Fe, NM
  • Denton County Brewing Company, Denton, TX
  • Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver, CO
  • Hofbrauhaus, Covington, KY
  • Jagged Mountain Brewery, Denver, CO
  • Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company, Denver, CO
  • Ratio Beerworks, Denver, CO
  • Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe, NM
  • Snowbelt Brewing Company, Gaylord, MI
  • Woods Boss Brewing Company, Denver, CO

Non-US Breweries (12)

  • A-Frame Brewing, Squamish, Canada
  • Backcountry Brewing, Squamish, Canada
  • Brouwerij Martinus, Groningen, Netherlands
  • Brouwerij de Prael, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Carlsberg, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • De Bekeerde Suster, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Howe Sound Brewing Company, Squamish, Canada
  • Mikkeller Baghaven, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Norrebro Bryghus, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Steamworks Brewing Company, Vancouver, Canada
  • Strathcona Beer Company, Vancouver, Canada
  • Warpigs, Copenhagen, Denmark

I look forward to 2018. I am not sure how many breweries I will visit in the coming year. Within the United States, I already have plans to visit Austin, TX, Cincinnati, OH, Denton, TX, Portland, OR, and San Antonio, TX. Outside of the US, trips are already planned to Canada, India, Italy (two trips), Ireland, Portugal, and Qatar. A visit to Austria is also a possibility. I am sure the list of my travel destinations will grow. I hope these travels take me to lots of new breweries. Hopefully, there will also be some new breweries to visit closer to home, including Toledo’s new Patron Saints Brewery, which should be open soon.

So I decided to finish the year with one photograph of each of the breweries I visited during 2017. I hope you enjoy them.


MadTree Brewing, Cincinnati, OH
Norrebro Bryghus, Copenhagen, Denmark
Great Divide Brewing Company, Denver, CO
Bowling Green Beer Works, Bowling Green, OH
Black Cloister Brewing Company, Toledo, OH
Howe Sound Brewing Company, Squamish, Canada
Woodburn Brewery, Cincinnati, OH
Brouwerij Martinus, Groningen, Netherlands
Our Mutual Friend Brewing, Denver, CO
Earnest Brew Works, Toledo, OH
10 Barrel Brewing Company, Denver, CO
Nano Brew, Cleveland, OH
Double Wing Brewing Company, Madison, OH
Streetside Brewery, Cincinnati, OH
Carlsberg, Copenhagen, Denmark
Steamworks Brewing Company, Vancouver, Canada
Rhinegeist Brewery, Cincinnati, OH
Black Frog Brewery, Holland, OH
Woods Boss Brewing Company, Denver, CO
Snowbelt Brewing Company, Gaylord, MI
Brouwerij De Prael, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Mikkeller Baghaven, Copenhagen, Denmark
Chili Line Brewing Company, Santa Fe, NM
Backcountry Brewing, Squamish, Canada
De Bekeerde Suster, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Catawba Island Brewing Company, Port Clinton, OH
Moerlein Lager House, Cincinnati, OH
Warpigs, Copenhagen, Denmark
Market Garden Brewery, Cleveland, OH
Jagged Mountain Brewery, Denver, CO
FigLeaf Brewing Company, Middletown, OH
A-Frame Brewing Company, Squamish, Canada
Taft’s Ale House, Cincinnati, OH
Forest City Brewery, Cleveland, OH
Denton County Brewing Company, Denton, TX
Rivertown Brewery, Monroe, OH
Maumee Bay Brewing Company, Toledo, OH
Upside Brewing, Sylvania, OH
Hofbrauhause, Covington, KY
Ratio Beerworks, Denver, CO
Granite City Brewery, Maumee, OH
GOTL Brewing Company, Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH
Blue Heron Brewing Company, Espanola, NM
Listermann Brewing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio
Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe, NM
Strathcona Beer Company. Vancouver, Canada
Bad Tom Smith Brewing, Cincinnati, OH

Happy New Year Everyone!






Au Canada

I just returned from a week long trip to Canada. The main purpose of my visit was the attend the 64th North American Meetings of the Regional Science Association International (RSAI), which this year were held in Vancouver, BC. As Executive Director of the North American Regional Science Council (NARSC), the five days in Vancouver were very busy for me. Between numerous business meetings, research meetings, receptions, lunches, and dinners, I did not have many free moments. I did manage, however, to visit a couple of craft breweries in Vancouver – Steamworks Brewpub in the city’s historic Gastown neighborhood and Strathcona Beer Company in the city’s Downtown Eastside – a neighborhood notorious, according to Wikipedia, for “its levels of drug use, poverty, mental illness, sex work, homelessness, and crime.” One of my local friends agreed with this assessment of the neighborhood, so we did take a cab, rather than walk, to the brewery.

Beautiful Squamish, British Columbia

After the conference, rather than returning straight home, I headed north to the town of Squamish, for a few days. Squamish is about an hour drive from downtown Vancouver. My friend and colleague Gordon Mulligan lives in Squamish . I have known Gordon since 1986, when I was in the doctoral program at Arizona State University in Tempe. Gordon was a faculty member in the Department of Geography and Regional Development at the University of Arizona (U of A)  in Tucson. Once a year, Geographers from across Arizona came together to update each other on what was going on in their respective departments, as well to as to have some fun. Gordon and I hit it off pretty much immediately. We were both economic geographers and both enjoyed drinking beer. It may not seem much upon which to form a lifelong friendship, but here we are twenty-nine years later, still hanging out together. Gordon retired from the U of A in 2006. He then moved back to Squamish. I say “moved back” because he grew up in and around Squamish during the 1950s.

Early 20th centrury hop farm barn (Photo credit: Squamish Public Library)

British Columbia has an interesting brewing history; a history that includes the growing of hops. The first hops were grown in the province in the 1860s. At that time, BC brewers imported their hops from the United States. Two Victoria brewers, Arthur Bunster and Alfred Elliot, decided they would like to use some locally-grown hops. So they started to offer local farmers generous prizes if they were able to grow crops on a commercial scale. Hop production started in the Squamish Valley in 1890. It quickly grew to become one of the area’s major industries.  At its peak, there were ten hop farms in the region with The Squamish Valley Hop Company being the most prominent. Chinese and First Nation laborers provided the workforce for these late-nineteenth century hop farms, The hops were used by local breweries, while also being exported to the United States and the United Kingdom. By 1912, hop production in the Squamish Valley had ceased. The recession of 1910-12 and the start of World War I, combined to put an end to the area’s hop industry.

Howe Sound Brewing Company, one of three craft breweries in Squamish
Gordon and I got an impromptu tour of A-Frame Brewing Company

Today, however, the hops industry is making a comeback in Squamish. In 2013, Mike Holmes founded the Squamish Valley Hop Company. In 2016, Holmes harvested Squamish’s first hops in more than one hundred years. As in the United States, where hop production is experiencing a resurgence in a number of states, craft breweries are driving the demand for locally-grown hops. In addition to a nascent hop industry, Squamish is home to three craft breweries – A-Frame Brewing Company, Backcountry Brewing, and Howe Sound Brewing Company. Gordon and I visited all three when I was there. Squamish has a population of ~19,000, so three craft breweries is quite an impressive number. Squamish is a growing community and it anticipates more growth in the future. Its relatively affordable housing is increasingly popular with Vancouverites, who are willing to make the daily commute. Squamish is also experiencing a tourist boom, with mountain biking, hiking, skiing, and snowmobiling all popular activities. All of this bodes well for current and future breweries in the town. At the same time, there are those in Canada who are asking whether the craft beer bubble is about to burst.

The growing popularity of craft beer in Squamish, not surprisingly, mirrors what is happening elsewhere in both British Columbia and Canada. In 2016, there were 775 breweries in Canada, an increase from the 2015 total of 644. Close to half (49%) of the breweries in British Columbia are under three years old. Two of Squamish’s three breweries, A-Frame and Backcountry, were established in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Of course, large multinational brewers dominate the Canadian beer market.  Molson Coors Brewing Company have a 31.7% share, while AB InBev’s share of the market stands at 26.8%. There is a definite shift towards craft beer, however.  By 2014, for example, craft beer had captured eighteen percent of the British Columbia beer market.

It was a great two days in Squamish – spending time with an old friend and exploring Squamish’s craft breweries. As I noted in a previous blog entry, craft breweries are becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Despite this ubiquity, no two are the same. They are all so very different. Each one has its own unique space, ambience, and brews. As I have said so often before, it is a great time to be a beer drinker.

The Brotherhood of Beer

As a beer drinker I have always been impressed by the friendliness of everyone associated with the craft brewing industry. I have interviewed, formally and informally, a number of brewers over the years and have found them to be always willing to share their views on the industry in general and their brewery in particular. My own Continue reading The Brotherhood of Beer

Craft Beer in Italy

I was in Italy a few weeks ago. As with many of my trips these days, I went there to talk about beer. My first talk was to doctoral students in the Urban Studies and Regional Science program at the Gran Sasso Science Institute in L’Aquila. The seminar I taught provided a broad overview of the growth of craft beer in the United States, Continue reading Craft Beer in Italy

Seeking Local Beer

I have just returned from twelve days in the Netherlands. While there, I spent time in three different places – Amsterdam, Groningen, and Dalfsen. In many respects these three places could not be more different. Amsterdam is the country’s vibrant and bustling capital
city (although not the seat of the Dutch government interestingly), Continue reading Seeking Local Beer

Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen

This is my third entry about my recent trip to Copenhagen, Denmark. You can read my other two entries here and here. I was there to attend, Beeronomics 2017, the biennial conference of the
Beeronomics Society. Continue reading Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen

Il Locale

I was in Copenhagen, Denmark a few weeks ago. I was there attending the fifth biennial conference of the Beeronomics Society. It was my first visit to Copenhagen; my first visit to Denmark, in fact. So I was keen to explore the Danish beer scene. I was there for six days and did indeed get to visit a couple of Danish craft breweries while there, as well as sample a good number of Danish craft beers. What I did not anticipate, however, was drinking a goodly amount of Italian Continue reading Il Locale

Beeronomics 2017

One of the benefits of attending Beeronomics 2017 was I got to interact with people like Martin Stack.

Last week I was in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was there to attend the fifth biennial conference of the Beeronomics Society. Yes, you read that correctly, Beeronomics – a conference that brings together scholars from around the world who are doing research on some aspect of the beer industry. The first conference of the Society was held in Leuven, Belgium in 2009. This was followed by conferences in Freising, Germany (2011), York, England (2013), and Seattle, USA (2015). I attended the conferences that were held in York and Seattle. As a beer researcher I have found the conferences to be Continue reading Beeronomics 2017

Prof Beer

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from John Paul Breslin. John Paul is a reporter with the Sunday Post, a Scottish newspaper. John Paul had come across my beer blog, saw that I was originally from Scotland, and was interested in writing an article about my research Continue reading Prof Beer