The Most Important Milestones in the History of Beer

A long, storied past pushed brewers out of Prohibition's shadow and into the limelight of reinvention.

In the middle to late 1800s, immigrants from Northern and Western Europe came to America, escaping famine and looking for opportunities. Many demanded a style of beer more suited to what was found back home. For some, that meant lager. Until then, beer in America typically meant a British-style ale, brewed locally and made with top-fermenting yeast. Lager benefited from better cooling and sanitation methods that were available. As a result, brewers could increase output to satisfy the demand. Per capita consumption of beer went from fewer than 4 gallons in 1865 to almost 20 gallons in 1915, a 500 percent increase in 50 years. Here are some of the most important dates in the history of beer. (These are the best craft beers from each of the 50 states.)

1754  – George Washington enters a beer recipe into his notebook.

1819 – Francis Perot uses the first steam engine in his Philadelphia brewery.

Library of Congress/Reminisce, Merydolla/ Shutterstock /Reminisce

1826 – The American Society for the Promotion of Temperance forms in Boston. In three years, its membership reaches more than 100,000.

1829 – David G. Yuengling opens a brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, that remains America’s oldest still in operation.

1844 – Jacob Best starts a brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, later known as Pabst Brewing Co.

(Good news beer lovers! Science just proved that beer actually does lift your spirits.)

1846 – Maine becomes the first state to pass a prohibition law.

1849 – August Krug forms a brewery in Milwaukee that becomes Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co.

Milwaukee Public Library/Reminisce, Milwaukee Public Library/Reminisce, Merydolla/ Shutterstock /Reminisce

1850 – Bernhard Stroh established Lion’s Head Brewery in Detroit, Michigan, later renamed The Stroh Brewery Co.

1852 – George Schneider launches a brewery in St. Louis, Missouri, that later becomes industry giant Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Courtesy of the MillerCoors Milwaukee Archives/Reminisce, Merydolla/ Shutterstock /Reminisce

1854 – Frederick Miller purchases the Plank-Road Brewery near Milwaukee, later renamed Miller Brewing Co.

1858 – Gottlieb Heileman and John Gund launch City Brewery, later called G. Heileman Brewing Co., in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Anheuser-Busch/Reminisce, Merydolla/ Shutterstock /Reminisce

1873 – Adolph Coors and Denver confectioner Jacob Schueler convert an abandoned tannery in Golden, Colorado, into Golden Brewery, today the largest single-site brewery in the world.

1873 – Adolphus Busch, partner in Anheuser-Busch Brewing, begins pasteurizing his beer.

1919 – After 36 states ratify the resolution, the secretary of state proclaims the 18th Amendment part of the Constitution, effective January 16, 1920.

1932 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt wins the presidency over incumbent Herbert Hoover on a platform that includes repealing the ban.

1933 – Congress proposes the 21st Amendment to repeal Prohibition. Utah provides the final vote to institute the change.

1935 – American Can Co. and G. Krueger Brewing Co. introduce canned beer.

Courtesy of the MillerCoors Milwaukee Archives/Reminisce, Merydolla/ Shutterstock /Reminisce

1959 – Coors Brewing Co. introduces aluminum cans.

1962 – Pittsburg Brewery Co. introduces pull tabs on cans of its Iron City beer.

1967 – Meister Brau in Chicago, Illinois, introduces light beer made from a recipe devised by biochemist-turned-brewer Joseph L. Owades.

sodesignby/ Shutterstock /Reminisce, Merydolla/ Shutterstock /Reminisce

1977 – Jack McAuliffe starts New Albion Brewing Co. in Sonoma, California, the first modern craft brewery.

1982 – Bert Grant opens Grant’s Brewery Pub in Yakima, Washington. It’s the first since Prohibition to sell food along with beer brewed on the premises.

Popular Videos

Originally Published in Reminisce