1899 - Consolidation Dominates the Beer Industry
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.
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Improvements in transportation made shipping over distances more practical, enabling large, distant breweries to compete with small, local operations.
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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, MD