The Chemist’s War

Detroit police inspecting a clandestine underground brewery during Prohibition.

The little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition with deadly consequences.

Written by Deborah Bloom for

It was Christmas Eve 1926, the streets aglitter with snow and lights, when the man afraid of Santa Claus stumbled into the emergency room at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital. He was flushed, gasping with fear: Santa Claus, he kept telling the nurses, was just behind him, wielding a baseball bat.

Before hospital staff realized how sick he was—the alcohol-induced hallucination was just a symptom—the man died. So did another holiday partygoer. And another. As dusk fell on Christmas, the hospital staff tallied up more than 60 people made desperately ill by alcohol and eight dead from it. Within the next two days, yet another 23 people died in the city from celebrating the season.

Doctors were accustomed to alcohol poisoning by then, the routine of life in the Prohibition era. The bootlegged whiskies and so-called gins often made people sick. The liquor produced in hidden stills frequently came tainted with metals and other impurities. But this outbreak was bizarrely different. The deaths, as investigators would shortly realize, came courtesy of the U.S. government.

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Beer Halls Around the World

Hawkshead Beer Hall: United Kingdom. In Staveley. The river Kent meanders through the area. There’s plenty of food from a nearby cafe’. They have their own brewery. Here are four of their beers.

They also “proudly serve” pork pies at the bar made from “happy pigs fattened on grain from our brewery.”

Delivering Beer by Horse: Wynkoop

Written by Jonathan Shikes

Beer hasn’t always been delivered by truck. In the early 1900s, it took a horse and carriage to get Denver’s suds from the brewery to the bar. Although the tradition died after prohibition, the Wynkoop Brewing Company plans to bring it back.

“I’ve got a horseman, two horses and an old-fashioned wagon – and clearance from the city,” says Wynkoop marketing man Marty Jones. “Twice a month, we’re going to pull the wagon up behind the Wynkoop and load it with kegs and cases and deliver it to our favorite downtown accounts. It’s a cool, missing slice of the beer culture.

“Part of our message to people is that they are getting beer that is is very locally made,” he adds. “So, we’ll have a smaller carbon footprint, but a larger hoofprint.”

Jones says the carriage is scheduled to make its first delivery around 5 or 6 p.m. on Friday, April 16. “Our first stop will be our sister restaurant the Wazee Supper Club and from there, we’ll head east and roll it down the Sixteenth Street Mall.”

Four Brewers: 50% of the World Beer Market

Written by Charlie Papazian

Four brewing companies control and brew half of the world’s beer. They are Belgian-based Anheuser-Busch Inbev, London-listed SABMiller (South African Breweries Miller), Dutch Heineken and Danish Carlsberg. In a report by Bloomberg last week the last two years of consolidation were summed up with the hefty sum of $75 billion worth of acquisitions. To what end?

In a featured example and with seemingly great pride, Carlsberg teamed up with Heineken in 2008 to buy and break up Scottish & Newcastle for $11.9 billion. Scottish & Newcastle formerly a major U.K. brewing company is no more, as can also be said of the English, Scottish and even Irish brewing industry. Except that the void is being trickle-filled with hundreds of microbrewery startups who are somehow appealing to local markets.

In the world of mega companies brewing megabranded beers the consolidation and acquisition game continues to play out. Anheuser-Busch Inbev and Heineken are currently in the process of gobbling up Mexico’s largest brewing companies, Modelo and FEMSA respectively.

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VWs and Beer in the Pisgahs

Reported by Ken Carman for

I tried calling them, but for some reason there’s no answer. I would have sent an E-mail, but their site said they don’t have it… but they have a web site? This party sounds grand and they did do it last year. I hope they still are doing it…

@ The Lazy J Campground
1237 Parkway Rd
Rosman, NC 28772-9630
(828) 966-3834

One of my most treasured Southern memories is taking on the Blue Ridge Parkway with a rag top 911. I’ve also spent time hanging around Brevard and got lost in the Pisgah National Forest. So when I found out about the Brew Bus and the Lazy J I cheered, until I found out they have their fest in June. I’m always on my northern tour in June and work comes first.

I even have a Transylvania paper hanging up in my house, which is the county. The Count hasn’t found what I snatched off his blood drenched doorstep; yet.
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The Good, The Bad, and the Belly: The Facts About Ancient Beer

Written by Lucie Goulet for

Earlier this month, beer-drinkers from around the world convened at Oktoberfest to celebrate their favourite bevvy. Associated with fights and bloated bellies, beer gets a pretty bad press these years. But the brew has been drunk for millennia, and it seems that the ancients had some surprisingly positive benefits for the drink.
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Brew Biz: Werts and All

Written by Ken Carman

Ken Carman is a BJCP judge, homebrewer since 1979, and club member at Escambia Bay and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.

Topic: Moose in Beer?

A fellow brewer and BJCP judge, Tom Gentry, owns a homebrew store in Goodlettsville, TN called Rebel Brewer. He is about as dedicated to the craft as one could be without wearing a backwards jacket and living in a rubber room. I know this because he hasn’t recommended using one of his kids for an adjunct yet. Unless he has a secret Ceylon brewing something in some lab somewhere right now he hasn’t told anyone about.
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Did a Thirst for Beer Spark Civilization?

Patrick McGovern in his laboratory, examining and “sniffing” out a 3,000-year-old millet wine, which was preserved inside a tightly lidded bronze vessel from an elite tomb at the Shang Dynasty capital of Anyang in China.

(Photograph courtesy of P. Kosty, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)

Written by Michael Kan for The Independent

Drunkenness, hangovers, and debauchery tend to come to mind when one thinks about alcohol and its effects. But could alcohol also have been a catalyst for human civilization?

According to archaeologist Patrick McGovern this may have been the case when early man decided to start farming. Why humans turned from hunting and gathering to agriculture could be the result of our ancestors’ simple urge for alcoholic beverages.
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