First Advisor

Catherine McNeur

Date of Publication

Spring 7-3-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Beer industry -- United States -- History -- 19th century, Beer industry -- United States -- History -- 20th century



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 117 pages)


For decades prior to National Prohibition, the "liquor question" received attention from various temperance, prohibition, and liquor interest groups. Between 1880 and 1920, these groups gained public interest in their own way. The liquor interests defended their industries against politicians, religious leaders, and social reformers, but ultimately failed. While current historical scholarship links the different liquor industries together, the beer industry constantly worked to distinguish itself from other alcoholic beverages.

To counter threats from anti-alcohol groups, beer industry advocates presented their drink as a wholesome, pure, socially and culturally rich, and economically significant beverage that stood apart from other alcoholic beverages, especially distilled spirits. Alongside these responses, breweries industrialized, reflecting scientific and technological innovations that allowed for modern production, storage, and distribution methods.

Despite popularity and economic successes, the beer industry could not survive the anti-saloon campaigns, the changing nature of the American economy and taxation, political ambitions of the anti-liquor interests, and the influence of the First World War, which brought with it anti-German sentiments. This thesis will uncover the story of the American beer industry's attempt to adjust to several threats facing it and how beer was ultimately condemned to the same fate as wine and spirits when National Prohibition went into effect.


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