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Chicago Brewing 1900

Chicago Brewing 1900
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  • Chicago Brewing 1900

    Post #1 - November 30th, 2007, 6:26 pm
    Post #1 - November 30th, 2007, 6:26 pm Post #1 - November 30th, 2007, 6:26 pm
    Since there has been quite a bit of discussion lately about the status of Chicago as a beer city, I thought I might share some documentation from the glory days of Chicago's brewing industry, when Chicago's most famous brewer, Charles Wacker (as in drive), was one of the city's most prominent businessmen. It is hard to believe that, 108 years ago, there were 5000 Chicagoans working in the brewing industry producing 100 million gallons of beer each year, as well as supplying the rest of the country with malted barley, hops, bottles and brewing equipment.

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    The following is an excerpt from a book entitled
    'CHICAGO - The book of its board of trade and other public bodies'.
    It was compiled by George Englehardt and published by the CBOT in 1900 to celebrate the new century. It is now in the public domain.



    BREWING BUSINESS.

    By virtue of its position and surroundings, its population and advantages as a grain market, Chicago is a natural center of the brewing business. It has accordingly expanded fast in that line,and now ranks among the foremost cities in this industry. There are sixty breweries listed in the city directory here. Of these forty are establishments above the ordinary – that is, having 75,000 barrels annual capacity or more.
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    The annual sale of beer here is about 3,200,000 barrels, or nearly 100,000,000 gallons, the value of which at brewers’ prices is about $17,000,000. The capital invested in the breweries and malt houses of the city is about $30,000,000; about $4,000,000 of this is in malt houses, which produce perhaps $6,000,000 of product a year. The employees of the breweries and malt houses of the city – brewers, maltsters, yardmen, drivers and clerks – number over five thousand.
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    At the standard allowance, two bushels of grain and two pounds of hops to the [barrel], the brewers of this city use about 6,400,000 bushels of grain, and 6,396,500 pounds of hops. The farmer and grain dealer appear, in these figures, extensive beneficiaries of this business, and others are supported largely by it. There is the bottler and bottler’s supply man, the brewer’s supply houses, and the manufacturers of machinery and apparatus for brewers. The product of this last-named line here is $1,000,000 a year alone. There are six concerns in it, one of them quite a large one, turning out, besides refrigerating machinery, tubs and tanks, filters, mash machinery, grain driers, etc., largely for the brewers. here, but also for concerns all over the country.
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    Besides the beer produced here, all the famous brands of other cities are very largely sold, through agencies of the breweries of Milwaukee, St. Louis, etc., maintained here. A large quantity of imported beer, estimated at $1,000,000 worth, is consumed here or distributed throughout the trade field of the city.
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    Many of the breweries here, especially the newer ones, are models of modern construction. The product generally speaking is, in quality, the best. The revenue tax paid the Government by the brewers here now amounts, since the increased war tax was laid, to some $6,000,000 a year.
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  • Post #2 - December 4th, 2007, 5:27 pm
    Post #2 - December 4th, 2007, 5:27 pm Post #2 - December 4th, 2007, 5:27 pm
    Dave, thanks for this data-rich post.

    I was surprised, though perhaps I should not have been, that there were not more German names on this list of Chicago biermeisters (though I guess Brand could have changed his name from Brandt, and Wacker --Wachter, perhaps -- was a member of the Germania Club, etc.). I always thought of beer as one of the distinctive contributions of the Germanic peoples to the Midwest, and it certainly was, though it'd be hard to tell based on a superficial review of this line-up.

    Really cool pix, too. Some of these street names...Snow?
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #3 - June 16th, 2010, 12:53 pm
    Post #3 - June 16th, 2010, 12:53 pm Post #3 - June 16th, 2010, 12:53 pm
    Great Chicago brewing history lesson, well done and great photos! A late thanks!
    Picked up the older post from this >> http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=28801
  • Post #4 - June 16th, 2010, 2:26 pm
    Post #4 - June 16th, 2010, 2:26 pm Post #4 - June 16th, 2010, 2:26 pm
    Thanks for bringing this up, I've never seen it before.

    Beer: The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.

    SSDD
    He was constantly reminded of how startlingly different a place the world was when viewed from a point only three feet to the left.

    Deepdish Pizza = Casserole
  • Post #5 - June 16th, 2010, 2:34 pm
    Post #5 - June 16th, 2010, 2:34 pm Post #5 - June 16th, 2010, 2:34 pm
    Prohibition....DAMN YOU!!!!!
  • Post #6 - June 16th, 2010, 2:43 pm
    Post #6 - June 16th, 2010, 2:43 pm Post #6 - June 16th, 2010, 2:43 pm
    KSeecs: I was just thinking the exact same thing. The little town I'm from downstate had a number of breweries pre-prohibition, including one that local historians like to brag was once "bigger than Anheuser-Busch." Might-have-beens are hard to call but seems like we'd have had a more local-oriented heterogenous brewing culture if it hadn't been for prohibition.

    Oh well at least it's been on the upswing lately.
    Ronnie said I should probably tell you guys about my website so

    Hey I have a website.
    http://www.sandwichtribunal.com
  • Post #7 - June 17th, 2010, 10:26 am
    Post #7 - June 17th, 2010, 10:26 am Post #7 - June 17th, 2010, 10:26 am
    Really cool and informative, thanks for putting that post together!

    I can't adequately grasp how much those monetary figures would translate to today.
    pizza fun
  • Post #8 - June 17th, 2010, 11:36 am
    Post #8 - June 17th, 2010, 11:36 am Post #8 - June 17th, 2010, 11:36 am
    To add some perspective, Chicago had a population of 1.7 million people at the time. That means we manufactured about 60 gallons of beer each year for every man, woman and child in the city. Moreover, we consumed another $1,000,000 worth of imported beer. Using the CPI, that is about $442,000,000 in wholesale brewing and $26,000,000 worth of imported beer in 2010 dollars. That puts the capital investment in breweries and malt houses in Chicago in 1900 at $780,000,000. Using the change in wages as a multiplier, the numbers are about 5 times that amount. As a relative share of the GDP, the wholesale brewing business in Chicago in 1900 would have contributed $7.8 billion/year to the 2009 GDP.

    These numbers come from http://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/

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