Beer in Pennsylvania1682
Beer was there at the start of Pennsylvania.
William Penn was a beer guy. He appreciated a good beer and he understood the role beer could play in making friends. Image from Library of Congress, American Memories site.1682
William Penn Negotiating a Treaty1682
This painting by Benjamin West depicts William Penn negotiating a treaty with the Lenape Turtle Clan for the land that would become Pennsylvania. Penn began his successful diplomatic efforts with the local Native Americans by gifting them with a barrel of beer.
The original oil painting is in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia.
PA’s First Brewer Granted Land1683
Penn granted land to Pennsylvania’s first brewer, William Frampton, who erected a brewery in Philadelphia on Front Street between Walnut and Spruce at the Dock Street Creek.
Philadelphia circa 1683. Retrieved from https://www.mixedgenes.eu
Penn had his own brewery built on his estate in Pennsbury in 1684.
Retrieved from https://tehistory.org/1683
Mary Lisle, the first known “brewster” in America, takes over her late father’s Edinburgh Brewhouse in Philadelphia, which she operates until 1751.
From a mural commemorating female brewery workers in the Yuengling brewery, Pottsville, PA.
Today, the Pink Boots Society focuses on furthering education, building community, and breaking down barriers for females in the brewing industry. It currently has about 1900 members.
Philadelphia was the epicenter of beer in the colonial period and in the early United States, with 100+ breweries; nearly twice as many as New York, the city with the next highest number.
Photo retrieved from http://colonialphiladelphia.blogs.wm.edu/1734
The American colonists would have considered Ft. Pitt the edge of the world in 1765. You can imagine the soldiers pleading with their officers, “If you are going to keep us in this Godforsaken place, you at least have to provide us with beer.” The Army obliged, making Ft. Pitt the first brewery west of the Alleghenies.
The image above depicts the planning of an attack on Fort Pitt as part of Pontiac’s War, an unsuccessful effort by Native Americans to remove the British “Fort Pitt Under Siege” by Robert Griffing. Original is in Lord Nelson’s Gallery, Gettysburg, PA.1765
Robert Hare Jr. Introduces Philadelphia and America to Porter Beer
The beer was a favorite of the founding fathers. George Washington wrote,
“I beg you will send me a gross of Mr. Hairs (sic) best bottled Porter. If the price is not much enhanced by the copious droughts you took of it at the late procession.”
Painting by Gilbert Stuart; photograph by Gavin, Ashworth. Retrieved from https://www.mountvernon.org/
John Adams effused,
“I drink no Cyder, but feast upon Phyladelphia Beer, and Porter. A Gentleman, one Mr. Hare, has lately set up in this City a Manufactory of Porter, as good as any that comes from London. I pray We may introduce it into the Massachusetts. It agrees with me, infinitely better than Punch, Wine, or Cyder, or any other Spirituous Liquor.”
Written to his wife Abigail Adams on September 29, 1774
Painting by John Trumbull (detail), 1793. Exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/1774
Pittsburgh’s First Commercial Brewery1795
George Shiras establishes Pittsburgh’s first commercial brewery, which he later sold to James O’Hara, a prominent businessman in Pittsburgh who also founded Pittsburgh Glassworks, a salt business, and a sawmill. He became president of the Bank of Pennsylvania.
Retrieved from https://www.urbanartantiques.com/2009/furnishing-the-frontier/. Artist unknown.1795
132 Breweries in the Country1810
1810 U.S. Brewery Tally:
132 Breweries in the Country
Pennsylvania had the most, with 48
New York was #2, with 42
There was 1 brewery for every 17,000 people in the country. Today we have about 1 for every 47,000 people.1810
Commercial Breweries in Pittsburgh1817
By 1817 there were at least 4 commercial breweries in Pittsburgh, a town of around 7000 people.
From the Debold American Gallery, Bloomfield, New Jersey. Artist unknown1817
D.G. Yuengling and Sons1829
David G. Yuengling founds the Eagle Brewery in the burgeoning coal mining town of Pottsville, PA. Later renamed D.G. Yuengling and Sons, it has remained a family-owned and managed enterprise into the sixth generation and is the oldest brewery in America.
Photo retrieved from: https://www.yuengling.com/our-brewery/1829
In the mid-19th century, German immigrants were fleeing turmoil in Europe. At one point, 33% of Pennsylvania’s population came from Germany. Of the thousands of German immigrants who came to Pennsylvania, many brought family beer recipes with them and established breweries here. Ultimately, the anti-immigrant sentiment would be a significant factor in beer’s inclusion in Prohibition.
From 200 years of brewing in Allegheny County, by Richard Ober and Robert Musson
Beer historian Rich Wagner makes the case that John Wagner brought the first lager yeast to Philadelphia in 1840 and was the first in the U.S. to brew lager beer. By the mid-19th century, English ales were giving way to German lagers.
Historical marker at 455 St. John St., Philadelphia, PA1840
Boniface Wimmer founded the first Benedictine monastery in the United States at St. Vincent Parish in Latrobe. Consistent with German and Benedictine tradition, Wimmer looked to include a brewery as part of the operations. The bishop for the region objected to the brewery and demanded that it be “closed down.” Wimmer appealed to the Pope and won his case, saying:
“The Benedictines in North America surely have the same rights as others, wherever they are living, to drink beer.”
—Boniface Wimmer, St. Vincent College, Archabbey, and brewery founder.
St. Benedict is known as the father of Western monasticism. He established the Benedictine monasteries and composed a set of rules defining monastery operations. These rules required the monasteries to be self-sufficient—to meet their own needs. Subsequently, many Benedictine monasteries brewed beer to meet their nutritional needs, as well as the need for a safe substance to drink when much of the water was contaminated. Their industry and efficiency eventually led to excess production, which was to be sold to the community.
Benedict can also be considered the father of all Abbey brewing.
Retrieved from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/1856
St. Vincent Brewery1856
The St. Vincent brewery remained controversial. There were vituperative attacks in local and national newspapers. Anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant biases meshed with the temperance movement. The brewery was burnt down on January 13, 1926, when a mysterious fire destroyed the brewery after locals objected to monks from Germany “corrupting” the townspeople by selling them the surplus beer that the monks made.
St. Vincent Brewery, before and after the fire. From Trouble Brewing at St. Vincent, by Lauren Lamendola, 2010
The Golden Age of Pennsylvania Breweries1865-1895
There were thousands of small and regional breweries in the U.S. through the second half of the 19th century and Pennsylvania continued to lead the nation.
Tour the private, 8,000 square foot Breweriana collection of Chip Echnoz. Conducted by Chuck Puckett, Curator.1865-1895
15+ Breweries in Brewerytown Section of Philadelphia1866
Philadelphia remains a hub of brewing in America, with the Brewerytown area alone being home to 15 or more breweries.
“I defy anyone to find a neighborhood more loaded with breweries, at any time, anywhere!”
—Rich Wagner, Beer Historian
Bergdoll, Bergner & Engel, and Poth Breweries.
From Repository Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum, and Library Original Collection.
Philadelphia remains a hub of brewing in America, with the Brewerytown area alone being home to 15 or more breweries. “I defy anyone to find a neighborhood more loaded with…1866
Peter Straub came to America in 1869 from Felldorf, Wuerttemburg, Germany. He worked at the Eberhardt and Ober Brewing Company (where Penn Brewery is now located), among others, before setting in St. Mary’s where he began working at his father-in-law’s brewery in 1872. By 1878, he was the owner.
Straub is the third oldest family-owned brewery in the United States and is considered one of the four “Legacy” breweries in America. It is still owned and operated by the original founding family, now in its seventh generation.
Straub is known for its ‘Eternal Tap,’ where adult visitors can partake in free samples of Straub beer.
From Straub Brewery (2005), by John E. Schlimm II.1872
Consolidation Dominates the Beer Industry1899
From a peak of over 4000 breweries in the U.S. in 1873, less than half that number would exist by the start of the 20th century.
For over a hundred years, breweries transitioned from being small, local, and family operated, to large, national beer factories.
The brewing industry was quick to adopt mechanization and other new technology. For example, bottling lines predated Henry Ford’s use of assembly lines.
Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
Improvements in transportation made shipping over distances more practical, enabling large, distant breweries to compete with small, local operations.
Retrieved from https://www.ttnews.com/
Resulting economies of scale made it hard for small, local breweries to be competitive.
Pittsburgh Exemplified the National Consolidation Trend
Struggling to compete with large breweries 21 local breweries join to form Pittsburgh Brewing Company in 1899. Ultimately, all that would remain was Iron City Brewery.
From Brewing in Greater Pittsburgh (2012). Robert A. Musson, MD1899
Independent Brewing Company1905
Fifteen of the remaining breweries in town merge to form the Independent Brewing Company, of which Duquesne was the largest and longest-lasting component.
Stock certificate for the Independent Brewing Company. Reproduced from the Senator John Heinz History Center archives.
Duquesne was close to bankruptcy during Prohibition but thrived afterward and became one of the ten largest breweries in the nation up until WWII.
From 100 years of Brewing.1905
Prohibition begins with the ratification of the 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on January 16, 1919, effective January 16, 1920.
Retrieved from the National Archives: https://www.docsteach.org/
Pennsylvania did not take Prohibition lying down.
“What right does a Prohibitionist in Kansas or Alabama or Maine to command a steelworker in my district who faces 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit heat at the furnace door that he may not have his beer when his heat is ended?”
— Congressman Andrew Barchfield of Pittsburgh
Quoted in Prohibition Pittsburgh, by Richard Gazarik, p. 12.
A Treasury official observed,
“We’ve got Prohibition in Pittsburgh only on paper.”
Thirty railcars containing beer arrived in Pittsburgh weekly.
Pittsburgh was seen as the:
“Great Wet Way”
“Drinkingest town in the west”
Quoted in Prohibition Pittsburgh, by Richard Gazarik, p. 60.
Carrie Nation was a leader in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. She stood six feet tall and weighed 180 pounds. Her method for dissuading people from drinking was “hatchetations,” using her hatchet to smash up bars. Carrie made multiple trips to Pittsburgh. She told a reporter that Pittsburgh was
“the worst place I’d ever seen… All the young men in this city are going to hell. The young women, too…”
Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/
Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/1919
Retrieved from the National Archives:
Prohibition ends and Pennsylvania celebrates!
Once the brewing industry began to recover from Prohibition, Pennsylvania again had more breweries than any other state in the Country–112. Duquesne Brewery in Pittsburgh was the largest in the State, and C. Schmidt’s in Philadelphia was second.1933
The 3-Tiered System1933
In the aftermath of Prohibition and the resumption of legal brewing, the government had to consider appropriate regulation of the beer industry. Some of the larger breweries had amassed capital and were poised to dominate all aspects of the industry. There was concern regarding monopolistic practices, specifically, that the large breweries would attempt to take over all components of the beer trade, from making it to selling it. If, for example, a large brewery bought up all the bars in an area, they could force the bars to only sell that brewery’s beer. In an effort to forestall such practices, Pennsylvania and most other states adopted a 3-tier system, under which those who made the beer could not be the ones to distribute the beer or sell it at the retail level. The 3-tier system did not delay the growing dominance of the big breweries and the restrictions would become problematic decades later when craft brewers looked to establish brewpubs, which implicitly involve both making and selling beer directly to consumers.
Photo credit: https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/
Pennsylvania Beer and Breweries in WWII1941
Breweries across the U.S. and in Pennsylvania support the war effort at home and abroad.
In the era of WWI, brewers had often been viewed with suspicion because of their German heritage. Prior to the start of WWII, patriotism and national defense became frequent topics in beer advertisements. This time around, the brewers wanted to be perceived as “All American” and they pitched beer as being vital to American morale.
From the collection of Charles Puckett
The U.S. Brewers Association created a Defense Liaison Committee to promote Defense Bonds and eventually purchase over $40 million in War bonds.
From the collection of Robert A. Musson, M.D.
Steps beer consumers could take on the home front were noted…
From the collection of Robert A. Musson, M.D.
From the collection of Charles Puckett
…and brewers made sure the public knew they were providing beer for the troops.
From the collection of Charles Puckett
The brewers had to overcome many challenges to produce and deliver the beer, including shortages of ingredients and transportation limitations. Many resorted to horse-drawn wagons when gasoline and tires could not be procured.
From the collection of Robert A. Musson, M.D.
Beer was sent to the troops in non-reflective, “camo” cans to avoid any chance that snipers would pick up glare from a can.
From the collection of Robert A. Musson, M.D.
The Meaning of Beer
Beer represented a taste of home for soldiers at war. It elicited thoughts of normality and connection to family and friends.
Many troops in training or in war theaters corresponded regularly with friends and neighbors by sending letters to the social clubs they had frequented back home.
Mary’s Tea Room in Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood and the McKees Rocks Maennerchor were two such social clubs. Beer was a frequent topic in the letters sent back from the soldiers.
“The thing I miss most is a bottle of Iron City Lager Beer. The beer we have here is very light and doesn’t taste a bit like the beer at home.”
- PFC Warren Ringer of Pittsburgh, PA, Henley Field, TX, March 29, 1943
“Am now a corporal in the U.S. Air Corps, but I’d trade it all for a case of good old Duquesne. The beer here, & in St. Louis, six miles away, tastes like dishwater.”
- Corporal William Lawton of Pittsburgh, PA, Jefferson Barracks, MO, February 12, 1942
Letters from the Duquesne Maennerchor Club and Mary’s Tea Room collections of The Senator John Heinz History Center1941
The National Union of United Brewery Workmen1946
The National Union of United Brewery Workmen was founded in 1886, making it one of the first industrial unions in the U.S.
Retrieved from https://8e5199b8-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com/
The AFL and CIO were still separate organizations in 1946 and each vied for control of the brewers’ union in Pittsburgh.
The members voted in favor of the CIO but the AFL resisted and organized an embargo on CIO beer throughout Pennsylvania, with plans to stop all trucking and rail shipments. At least 23 bombings over a four-month period were attributed to the conflict, which became known as the “Pittsburgh Beer War.”
Retrieved from https://www.google.com/1946
First strike of breweries in the Pittsburgh region occurs1952
All 2,100 of the Pittsburgh area brewery workers went on strike. National breweries took the opportunity to move into the market.
Subsequent strikes in 1955 and 1972 further eroded patronage of regional breweries in favor of national brands. All three of the remaining Pittsburgh breweries, Fort Pitt, Iron City, and Duquesne, were hurt by the strike. Fort Pitt may have been the most damaged and ceased brewing after 1957.
Union negotiated free “beer breaks” continued for brewery workers into the 1980s.
Retrieved from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Archives:
Retrieved from the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO website: http://www.paaflcio.org/?tag=beer
All 2,100 of the Pittsburgh area brewery workers went on strike. National breweries took the opportunity to move into the market. Subsequent strikes in 1955 and 1972 further eroded patronage…1952
Ermal Fraze was the inventor of the “pull-tab” can, which eliminated the need to bring a can opener along on picnics. The invention was promulgated by Alcoa and the Pittsburgh Brewing Company.1962
C. Schmidt Brewing1972
Most Duquesne brands were sold to C. Schmidt Brewing of Philadelphia and all brewing of Duquesne beers in Pittsburgh ended shortly thereafter. All production of the Duquesne brand ended in 1986. About 20 years later, Mt. Lebanon attorney Mark Dudash acquired the rights to the brand name and brewing commenced under contract with the City Brewery facility in Latrobe, PA, former home of Rolling Rock Beer.
Used with the permission of Mark and Maria Dudash1972
Craft Beer in the Modern Era1986
Tom Pastorius whetted his taste for German-style beer while serving as an Army Lieutenant in Germany. He set out to replicate the beer he enjoyed and offer it in his home state of Pennsylvania.
Pastorius introduced “Pennsylvania Pilsner” at the City Tavern in Philadelphia on June 23, 1986.
“Pennsylvania Pilsner” was initially contract brewed through the Iron City plant, but Iron City would not allow him to sell it in Western PA.
Instead, he launched the beer in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, which his 7x great-grandfather, Franz Daniel Pastorius, helped found in 1683.
Pastorius switched to Jones Brewery in 1988 and sold “Penn Pilsner” throughout Pennsylvania.
From the collection of Penn Brewery
Rosemarie Certo and Jeffrey Ware introduce Pennsylvania to Dock Street beer later in 1986. Originally the beer was brewed under contract with F.X. Matt Brewing Co. in Utica, New York before the opening of Dock Street Brewery in 1990.
[Left] Photo retrieved from https://www.universitycity.org/20thanniversary/11 [Right] Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia.
Retrieved from https://www.visitphilly.com/1986
C. Schmidt’s was once the largest brewer in Pennsylvania. When it closed in 1987, it marked the first time in over 300 years that there was no brewery operating in Philadelphia.
Retrieved from https://brookstonbeerbulletin.com/
Retrieved from https://www.schmidtsofphilly.com/
Adamstown’s Stoudt Brewing Co. begins operations in 1987; founded by Carol Stoudt, the first female brewmaster since prohibition.1987
After lobbying successfully to change the law, Pastorius opened the first “tied house” (brewery and pub under one roof) in PA since prohibition.
Initially called “Allegheny Brewery & Pub,” the name was later changed to “Penn Brewery.”
Retrieved from https://www.visitpittsburgh.com/1989
Pennsylvania’s Earliest Craft Breweries1990s
Craft beer slowly started to gain traction in the 1990s but by the turn of the century, there were still just 22 craft breweries in PA.
Order of Origin for PA Craft Breweries*
Order Year Brewery 1 1829 Yuengling 2 1872 Straub 3 1905 Lion 4 1987 Stoudt’s 5 1989 Penn 6 1990 Dock Street 7 1994 Yards 8 1994 Erie 9 1995 Lancaster 10 1995 Sly Fox 11 1995 Weyerbacher 12 1995 Barley Creek 13 1996 Church Brew Works 14 1996 Bullfrog 15 1996 Iron Hill 16 1996 Victory 17 1996 Selin’s Grove 18 1996 Manayunk Brewing 19 1997 Tröegs 20 1997 Appalachian 21 1998 Bethlehem Brew Works 22 1999 Golden Avalanche*Active breweries licensed before the start of the 21st century.“Craft Breweries” as defined by the Brewers Association.1990s
Pennsylvania Beer in the 21st Century2000s
The number of brewery licenses in Pennsylvania has increased by more than eight-fold since the start of the 21st century.
The numbers show active Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) licenses, which is not the same as the number of breweries actually open and selling beer. Some breweries may be licensed but not yet operating, some have more than one license (e.g., brewery and brewpub), and some previously had multiple licenses but now just have one due to changes in the law.
As noted elsewhere in this exhibit, our figure for the number of breweries currently operating in Pennsylvania is 441.21st Century
The annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF), sponsored by the Brewers Association, is the preeminent beer festival in the country. In 2018, more than 8000 beers were submitted for medal competition across 100 different beer styles. The number of medals awarded to Pennsylvania breweries over the years is a tribute to the quality of beer being produced in the Commonwealth.
Below are the medal winners. Click on the links below to see more information: Medal Year, Medal Awarded, Category, Brewery, and Location.
Which of the following beers are made in PA?
To open and view the PA Breweries Map Key, click the toggle above the map.
Additional Resources & Acknowledgments
Videos: Argentine Productions and Paul Young
Audio: Paul Young
Research and Content Development: Joe McAllister & Paul Young
Creative Consultant/Producer: Tim Steinouer, Design Island
Social Media: Debbie Stueber & Calen Alexandra Cygan
Brewery Outreach: Mike Orellano
Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the Pennsylvania Malt and Brewed Beverages Industry Promotion Board for supporting this project. Drink Pennsylvania beer!