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October 27th is National American Beer Day, THE day to appreciate beer made right here in the good ol' US of A. And while now is a wonderful time to be a beer drinker in America thanks to the craft beer boom, our history as a beer making and drinking country is old and complex.

Did you know for example that Americans - Native Americans - were making beer here long before Europeans arrived? And did you know that just a few decades ago all US beer was made by just 83 breweries?

 

It's a great history. We've come a long way from our founding to where we are now. So crack open a cold one, sit back and read a brief timeline of the history of American Beer. (much thanks to the beerhistory.com for a lot of research that we added to).

 

1200s Pueblo Indians in the American Southwest brewing corn-based ale.
1593
Columbus records and entry saying the “Indians” he met were drinking a beer-like drink made from corn.
1587 Virginia colonists brew corn-based ale.
1607 First shipment of beer arrives in the Virginia colony from England.
1609 American "Help Wanted" advertisements appear in London seeking brewers for the Virginia Colony.
1612 Dutch explorers Adrian Block & Hans Christiansen establish the first known brewery in the New World on the southern tip of New Amsterdam (Manhattan).
1620 Pilgrims arrive in Plymouth in the Colony of Massachusetts aboard the Mayflower. They were originally supposed to settle just north of what is now New York City, but because beer was in short supply they were forced to stop at the first land available.
1621 Samoset walks into the Pilgrim’s camp, says hello and asks for beer.
1637 First brewery in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1639 Brewery built in Providence, Rhode Island.
1670 First license to brew beer in New Hampshire.
1683
First brewery in Pennsylvania colonies.
1683 First brewery in Philadelphia.
1738 First brewery in Georgia.
1765
The British Army builds the first brewery west of the Allegheny Mountains at Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh, PA).
1765 First brewery outside the 13 colonies in what is now Illinois.
1775
Congress gives ration of one quart of Spruce Beer or Cider to each soldier per day during Revolutionary War.
1789 George Washington presents his "buy American" policy indicating he will only drink porter made in America.
1789 Massachusetts passes an Act encouraging the manufacture and consumption of beer and ale.
1810 132 operating breweries produce 185,000 barrels of beer. Population of the country is 7 million.
1810
First brewery in St. Louis, Missouri.
1819 A steam engine built by Thomas Holloway is installed in the brewery of Frances Perot in Philadelphia. This is the first engine to be used in beer production in America.
1819 First brewery in Rochester, New York.
1829 David G. Yuengling opens a brewery in the Pennsylvania coal town of Pottsville. Still owned and operated by the Yuengling family.
1830 First brewery in Buffalo, New York.
1833 First commercial brewery in Chicago.
1837
First brewery in Indiana.
1840 Lager beer is introduced into the US through Philadelphia by brewer John Wagner. 
1844 Jacob Best starts a brewery in Milwaukee which later becomes the Pabst Brewing Co.
1849 August Krug starts a brewery in Milwaukee that becomes the Schlitz Brewery.
1849  California's first brewery opens in San Francisco.
1850 Iowa's first brewery established.
1850  431 breweries in the country produce 750,000 barrels of beer (31 gallons per barrel). The population is 23 million.
1852 George Schneider starts a brewery in St. Louis, Missouri that becomes Anheuser-Busch.
1852  Henry Saxer starts City Brewery in Portland, Oregon Territory later owned by Henry Weinhard.
1855 First brewery founded in Texas.
1859
First brewery in Colorado.
1860 1269 breweries produce over one million barrels of beer for a population of 31 million. New York and Pennsylvania account for 85% of the production.
1862 Idaho's first brewery. 
1862 First tax on a barrel of beer. Internal Revenue Act taxes beer at the rate of one dollar per barrel to help finance the government during the Civil War. 
1863  First brewery in Montana Territory.
1866  First brewery in the Arizona Territory in Tucson. 
1867  3700 breweries in operation in America producing 6 million barrels of beer. 
1869  Best Brewing Co. enters Milwaukee with the purchase of Charles T. Melms' Brewery. Later become Pabst. 
1884  Lone Star Brewing Co. established in San Antonio, Texas by Adolphus Busch and Otto Koehler.
1892 Crown cap invented by William Painter allowing beer bottles to be sealed cheaply and easily.
1898 Beer barrel tax raised to $2.00 during Spanish American War. Beer sales decline.
1898 First brewery in Hawaii. 
1910  Number of breweries overall drops to around 1500.
1919 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified on January 16 calling for national prohibition to take effect one year from the date of ratification.
1921 300 million gallons of "near beer" produced.
1929 It is estimated that 22 million barrels (31 gallons per barrel) of illegal beer is brewed annually. That is nearly the same amount of legal beer sold in 1919.
1932 Day long beer parade is organized in New York City by the city’s mayor. An estimated crowd of 100,000 turn out.
1933 On April 7, 1933 the legalization of beer takes effect via the 21st Amendment repealing the 18th.
1933 31 brewers back in operation by June.
1934 756 brewers back in operation.
1935 Canned beer introduced by American Can Company and Krueger Brewing Co. of Newark, New Jersey on June 24.
1935
 Schlitz introduces cone top can produced by Continental Can Company.
1940 Beer production at level of pre prohibition years with half the number of breweries in operation as in 1910.
1940 Barrel tax raised from $5.00 to $6.00.
1941 All brewers' associations united under the United States Brewers' Association.
1943 Brewers are required to allocate 15% of their production for military use.
1944 Barrel tax raised to $8.00.
1950 407 breweries in operation.
1951 Barrel tax raised to $9.00
1954 First l6oz can introduced by Schlitz.
1959 Aluminum can introduced by Coors of Golden, Colorado.
1961 230 breweries in operation. Only 140 are independently run.
1962 Tab top can introduced by Pittsburgh Brewing Company.
1965 "Ring Pull" can introduced.
1969 Canned beer outsells bottled beer for the first time.
1969 Fritz Maytag takes ownership of the Anchor Brewing Co. in San Francisco, CA.
1971  Philip Morris Co. acquires Miller Brewing Co. 
1977  The New Albion Brewery is opened, known as America's first "Micro Brewery", or "Craft Brewery". 
1978  Jimmy Carter signs HR 1337 making home brewing legal. 
1982  Yakima Brewing and Malting Co., Inc., is allowed to sell its beer at its own bar on premises and the Brew Pub is born.
1983  In January, 51 brewing concerns are operating a total of 80 breweries. 
1983  The top six breweries (Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Heileman, Stroh, Coors, and Pabst) control 92% of U. S. beer production. 
1984 44 Brewing concerns are operating a total of 83 breweries. 
1990 The Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, CA becomes the first start up micro brewery to break out of that classification (considered 25,000 bbl or less) by producing 31,000 bbls. of beer.
1991 Congress raises beer tax from $9.00 to $18.00, a study found this cost 60,000 jobs. 
1994  It becomes legal to put the alcohol content of beer on containers. 
1995 Approximately 500 breweries are operating in the United States, and they are estimated to increase at a ratio of 3 or 4 per week.
2000 The US passes 1500 breweries for the first time since 1910. 
2014  The US currently has estimated 3000 breweries in operation. 

 

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