1941 - Pennsylvania Beer and Breweries in WWII

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.

 Iron City WWII bonds
From the collection of Robert A. Musson, M.D.

Steps beer consumers could take on the home front were noted…

Fortpitt quart
From the collection of Robert A. Musson, M.D.

Step on it. Brewers Association 16Dec1942 recycle Chuck

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.

wagon delivery fortpitt79

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.

 Duquesne screw top can fort pitt camo

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 Center