Repeal Day, Monroe and Prohibition

A state convention gathered in Utah on this date in 1933 to ratify the 21st Amendment. A three quarter majority was needed to make it official and Utah became the 36th state to do so. Making December 5 the official day the 21st Amendment was ratified. Now this date will be known as Repeal Day.
Of course history is more complicated than that and I plan on covering some of those stories in the next few months. During my research I discovered a great blog post by Kathy Warnes. It is about Monroe during the beginning of prohibition. I will share the first paragraph then link it below. It’s fun and informative.

Rumrunner Muskrat La Framboise preferred to move his bootleg whiskey stored in jute bags tied together at the tops like ears in his boat equipped with a stopper resembling a bathtub plug. He rowed along the Detroit River Highway from Ecorse to its mouth near Monroe taking orders and delivering his liquid refreshment. When a government agent or policeman spotted him and gave chase, he pulled the plug and the boat would sink. After the drama of the chase and capture died down, he’d return to his boat and dive for his liquor, or if he had a large shipment, he would bring a few friends along to help. Muskrat became as skilled as a loon diving for fish at this method of River recycling.

Bootlegging Down The Avenue de Booze

Beer Won’t Make You Bilious

I was doing some research today and found this Green Seal beer ad from 1915. It was brewed by the Buckeye Beer Company out of Toledo, Oh.
I love the health benefits that Green Seal claimed. It’s really hard to read some of the print but I did see that “good beer makes good blood”. It was probably true that beer was healthier than milk and water. I feel they implied that a government official bestowed a green seal of approval to their beer. I picture C. Everett Koop.

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Lake Erie Metropark and Beer History

Take it from someone who has been married for over ten years. Nothing will make your wife happier this Valentine’s Day than to take her to a beer event on love’s biggest day. It sounds like I’m joking but I have taken Sarah to this event before and we loved it.
What is it? Actually, it’s two events presented by Lake Erie Metropark. On Saturday, they are talking history, beer history, from the first fermentation to the craft beer boom. Sunday, the subject is rum-running which we have attending. It was informative and fun. If you love history, beer or beer history I recommend going.
Here are the details…

History of Hooch
Marshlands Museum & Nature Center
Sat 02/14/2015 2pm
Lake Erie Metropark
Description
From its ancient beginnings to the modern craft beer era, people have been brewing beer for thousands of years. Join an interpreter for a historic journey of all things beer, including a brief home-brewing show-and-tell. Sorry folks -no samples will be provided! Please preregister.

Rum-Running Stories
Marshlands Museum & Nature Center
Sun 02/15/2015 2pm
Lake Erie Metropark
Description
The Detroit River was a pretty busy place during Prohibition. With tremendous amounts of illegal liquor entering the United States from Canada during the 1920’s and early 1930’s, stories abound. Join some young “old timers” as you travel back to the era of blind pigs, rum-running, and panther sweat. Participants are urged to tell a few stories of their own! Please preregister.

Here is the event page to per register. http://www.metroparks.com/Lake-Erie-Metropark/Events

The Remains of a Brewery?

Wahl Brewery stood on the banks of the River Raisin in Monroe, MI for about 50 years. Most of the pictures I have found in the public record are drawings. Two of these drawings contradict the location and layout of the brewery.
I’ve walked around the site where the brewery stood and it hit me what a strange piece of property it is. There is a big wall that runs along side the river, steps that walk down to a lower level of the site and an old foundation that separates the lower land from upper. I plan on looking into it more when there isn’t a foot and a half of snow on the ground. But for now I am sharing these pictures with you.

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This is the wall that could be the foundation of the brewery. If this is the case then the first of two brewery pictures must be the more accurate one.

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Buy Beer Memorabilia in Monroe?!

Today is Small Business Saturday and it’s time to seriously think about Christmas shopping. Believe it or not there are ways to support a business here in Monroe and get the beer lover in your life a piece of history.
Monroe Currency and Coin is one of the newer stores to downtown Monroe, Michigan, it opened in 2012. My initial thought was I have a child in day care I don’t have money to spend on currency that I don’t intend to spend so what does this store have for me? I was so wrong.
I met Joe Peruski, the owner of Monroe Currency and Coin, by pure coincidence. And we started to talk about local brewing history. I used something his Grandfather wrote as a reference when writing about Wahl Brewery. It turns out he sells antique beer memorabilia including some stuff from Monroe. But don’t just pop in without talking to Joe. He is knowledgable about local history and the really good stuff is in the back room.
So if you are looking for unique gifts Monroe Currency and Coin is a great place to find it. It’s located at 125 E Front in Monroe, Mi.

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National Beer Day For Some

I originally ran this article in 2008. That was way back before I had kids and had the time to goHew Hew to the library. Since it is National Beer Day I am sharing it again.

I came across this cool article in the April 7th 1933 Monroe Evening News.  The story is aboutwhen certain states amended the Volstead Act. Remember this list is as of April 7th, 1933.

3.2 beer went on sale on April 7th, 1933 in: District of Columbia, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware (in Wilmington only), Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Dates have been set for the sale in the following seven states: Louisiana, April 13; Maine, June 10; North Carolina, May 1; North Dakota, July 1; Vermont, May 1; West Virginia, June 8; Wyoming, May 18.

Legislative or other action still pending in these 15 states: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and South Carolina.

Beer legislation has failed in these three states: Arkansas, Georgia, and Idaho.

No action taken in these 4 states: Kansas, Mississippi, Utah, and Virginia.

Sale subject to referendum in 1934 for this state: South Dakota.

Prohibition Weekend at Lake Erie Metro Park

Sarah and I went to the Rum Running Stories program a few years back and had a great time. Please check out one of these events if you have time this weekend.

Here are the details…

The Prohibition Weekend: The History of Hooch program will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday Feb. 8 at Lake Erie Metropark, 32481 W. Jefferson Ave., Brownstown Township.

“Join an interpreter for a historic journey of all things beer,” the announcement said.

The cost is $3 a person, vehicle entry permit also required.

The Prohibition Weekend: Rum Running Stories program will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday Feb. 9 at Lake Erie Metropark, 32481 W. Jefferson Ave., Brownstown Township.

The stories will feature some of the tales during the 1920s and 1930s in the Detroit River region.

The cost is $3 a person, vehicle permit fees also apply.

Advance registration is reguired at (734) 379-5020.

May 11, 1933

I’m reposting my article from a few years ago in commemoration of the amended Volstead Act on this day at 6pm.

It’s Thursday, May 11th 1933 at 6pm. What would you as a beer drinker be doing? Most likely waiting in line to buy your first legal beer in Michigan for 15 years. Since the beer law was signed on April 7th, the state was preparing for this moment. Trucks and trains full of beer had been delivered to warehouses around the state for the sale of 3.2 beer. Yes, in spite of Michigan being the first state to repeal the 18th amendment on April 10, 1933. You could not sell beer until May 11th. Detroit got its first taste of legal beer on May 10th. One hundred and fifty barrels went on sale that night at a special charity ball by the American Legion. Now, it was the rest of the state’s turn.

Tax on the sale of beer was not the only way the government made money. License fees also brought in revenue to the state. While beer sat in warehouses, license seeking business owners like bar owners, retailers, restaurants hotels and clubs lined up at government bureaus hoping to get one before the flag dropped on selling of beer. In Escanaba the licenses were actually flown in by airplane to insure that beer could be sold on May 11th.

Most Detroit breweries would not have their beer ready till late June or early July. One exception was Stroh’s. They were prepared for selling their beer. They had 15 to 20 thousand cases ready to compete against the out-of-state breweries. In spite of breweries from other states and Canada pouring in shortages were expected.

Why did it take so long after the U.S. government amended the Volstead Act to make 3.2 beer legal? Obviously, Michigan wanted alcohol to be legal. The state was the first to repeal the 18th amendment on April 10th. It was basic government bickering over how to legislate beer. They didn’t want the problems that they had before prohibition. Also, the business had been ran by the mob for the last 15 years and they needed that to be addressed. Unfortunately, what they created was a lot of bureaucracy that is still handcuffing breweries in this state today.

Here is just a sample of the new laws enacted. Beer must be sold to a customer seated at a table. There is no free beer with food, no curb service, no free lunch and no gambling, drunkenness or idling on the premises. All packages must have the state tax stamp put on before it is turned over to retailers. No sales between the hours of 2am and 7am. No wholesaler or brewery can make deliveries to homes. The last law mentioned still hurts MI’s brewing and wine industry today. One thing of interest was that the drinking age was 18.

The May 12, 1933 Monroe Evening News reported that sales were disappointing here in Monroe. I blame Ohio. They had legal 3.2 beer on April 7th. In Detroit though the party was big. Woodward Avenue was the scene of a party that was compared to an holiday parade. Fortunately, there were only 15 arrests.

So this May 11th at 6pm raise a glass to legal beer in Michigan. It was beginning of a Michigan’s great brewing industry. A brewing industry that is respected and apprecaited all over the world. Oh… and when you do toast, please don’t use 3.2 beer. Toast with one of the finest beer’s Michigan has to offer.

June 2 Marks The Anniversary of the Roeder Brewery Fire

 June 2nd 1909 at around 9:30pm the last brewery in Monroe burnt down to the ground. This Thursday is the 102nd anniversary of that fire. Below I have the article from the June 3, 1909 Record-Commercial (word for word) plus my original post on Roeder Brewery.

Record Commercial, Thursday June 3, 1909

Heavy Loss Roeder’s Brewery Burns

Wednesday evening, shortly after nine o clock, Jacob Roeder’s brewery was totally destroyed by fire, only the stone walls of the main building remained standing Thursday morning. The heavens were illuminated and many in the city were of the opinion that some farmer’s farm near Monroe had been struck by lightning since quite a storm was raging at the same time and it appeared as if the heart of the storm was south of the cite. The fire was discovered at about half past nine at the west end of the main building near the engine room and in a few minutes had made great headway in the main building, and for a few minutes it seemed as if the brewery, storage cellars and Mr. Roeder’s home were doomed to be consumed .

A fire alarm was sent to the city and the fire department called out and told that the fire was outside the city and in the absence of the chief, George Renner, foreman of the Germania Hose Company was called up and he called out his boys and the run was made to the scene. It was known that the hydrants were few and scattering at this point and the engine was taken out and in a few minutes three streams were playing on the fire. It was apparent that the main building was doomed and the men put their efforts to saving the home and other buildings, which was successful and the fire confined to the main building. The wind was blowing from the north and this assisted materially in saving the other buildings. The cause of the fire is a mystery as one of the Roeder family was in the main building a very minutes before the fire was noticed and MR. Roeder is of the opinion that it was struck by lightning.

The plant consisted of a stone building facing north with wooden buildings covered with sheet iron on each side and in one of these was the artificial ice plant installed a few years ago at the cost of about five thousand dollars, this is in ruins and a total loss.

The storage cellars where the manufactured beer is kept were saved with their contents, also the office with the valuable papers and revenue stamps were not touched. The firemen and neighbors did heroic work to save the other buildings and Mr. Roeder is very grateful for all services rendered him at the time.

The loss will be between thirty and thirty-five thousand dollars with but a few thousand insurance. Mr Roeder expects to rebuild the plant. 

Monroe’s Last Brewery?

On a stormy Wednesday evening, June 2 of 1909, the last brewery left in the city of Roeder Brewery LocationMonroe was completely destroyed by fire. The Jacob Roeder Brewery had stood on the corner of Navarre and what was then called La Plaisance Bay Turnpike since 1874 (near where the VFW sits today and – sadly – equidistant from Rob’s and my house). Next to Wahl Brewing Co., it was Monroe’s longest running and most successful brewery. There is even a road named Roeder in Monroe fairly close to the brewery’s location. I could find no information on whether the road was named after the brewer but I like to think it was.

The Jacob Roeder Brewery story starts in 1853 when Jacob Roeder immigrated to the U.S. and landed in New York. He had apprenticed as a cooper and brewer back in Germany. He moved to Monroe and settled in the 1st district around 4th and Union Streets. Back then this was considered the German part of town. He first worked as a cooper, possibly making barrels for the other breweries in town. In 1874 Jacob Roeder opened his own brewery. Its original name  was J. Roeder and Bro. Brewery. In 1877 the named was changed from that to Jacob Roeder Brewery.

The brewery was a stone building facing north. It had two wooden structures on both sides of the plant, one being a artificial ice-house that was installed in 1904 at the cost of $5000. Before that was built the brewery would get its ice directly out of Plum Creek. It may have been a small brewery but it was still able to produce around 1,500 bbls a year – all for local consumption. Not bad considering that the county only had 32 thousand citizens and Wahl was selling 10 thousand bbls already.

When Wahl Brewery burnt down in 1905 it left a beer void in the city. Unfortunately Roeder AdRoeder’s was too small of a brewery to supply the demand so in came the competition. Out of town breweries such as Stroh’s, Buckeye, Springbrook, Goebel and Koppitz-Melzers all started advertising and distributing in Monroe. The success of Wahl had blocked these breweries from getting a strong foot-hold. But with Wahl gone the breweries knew that the beer market in Monroe could be theirs. Roeder started to advertise its beer as being “made in Monroe for Monroe People.” They were able to maintain their sales but never grew over 1,500 bbls in a year.

The biggest problem facing Roeder was the ASL(anti-saloon league). The ASL was out to close saloons with the eventual goal of prohibition. The idea came from Howard Hyde Pierce. He thought it would be better for prohibitionists to push for wet/dry votes in individual towns and precincts.  He was then hired by the newly formed Ohio Anti-Saloon League. The OASL’s tactics of going through the churches and a concentrated attack on one goal was a huge success in Ohio. The rest of the country took notice and the national Anti-Saloon League was formed. The number of both saloons and breweries was diminishing rapidly as 1910 neared. By 1910 half of the counties in Michigan were dry and Monroe actually had a wet/dry vote prior to the fire that destroyed Roeder’s. The good news  is that we voted wet. The bad news  is that our own hometown brewery wouldn’t be around much longer.

The fire started at the west end of the building. It was a stormy night and it is believed Roeder After the Firethat lightening struck the building shortly after 9 o’ clock. the fire spread quickly through the brewery. By the time the Germania Hose Company (the fire department at the time) got to the scene, the main building of the brewery was too far gone to save so they concentrated on the other buildings. The brewery and the artificial ice-house were gone but they were able to save the cellars (along with the stock at the time) and the office. Damage was figured to be between $30 thousand to $35 thousand.

Jacob and his son Herman who also worked at the brewery decided not to rebuild and both went to work as agents for Strohs in Monroe. It was probably a good decision to not rebuild since Michigan went dry on May 1st 1918. The years following the fire saw the battle for the right to drink being won by the prohibitionist. Big business interested in having a sober work force helped financially back the prohibition movement. The ASL used propaganda and scare tactics to help sway people over. Crooked owners who ran saloons that were connected to prostitution and con games made it easy for the ASL to create a case against them. Breweries didn’t help the cause either. Since the initial battle ground was basically for cities and counties, the bigger breweries didn’t realize the battle they were in until it was Strohs Adtoo late. It took 25 years but the ASL had slowly gained enough dry states to push for national prohibition. Anti-German sentiment because of WWI helped put the final nail in the breweries’ coffins. On September 6th 1918  Woodrow Wilson announced that in order to preserve the supply of grain and fuel for the war effort, breweries would close at midnight on December 1st. The war ended on November 11th of that year but still the breweries shut down. On January 16, 1919 Nebraska voted dry giving the required 36 states to pass prohibition as an amendment. The Volstead Act was passed on October 28th 1919 and the 18th amendment went into affect on January 16th 1920. The

Original Gravity to Host Michigan Beer Toast

Title: Michigan Beer Toast
Location: Original Gravity in Milan
Start Time: 6pm
Date: May 11, 2011

Just so I don’t bury the lead in this story, Original Gravity will be releasing a Bourbon Barrel Bellywasher on May 11 at 6pm. This beer is their 2009 Bellywasher Scotch Ale that has been aged for 15 months in a bourbon barrel. Why is Brad releasing this special beer on that particular night? Because that night is the Michigan Beer Toast.

What is the Michigan Beer Toast? Michigan was the first state to ratify the 21st Amendment on April 10, 1933 which would lead to the eventual end of prohibition.  Yet, it was going to take 35 more states to ratify the amendment and no one was really sure how long that process would take. America was thirsty and Washington realized that it was much easier to amend  The Volstead Act by changing the allowed percentage of alcohol from .5 to 3.2 by weight. It was still up to each state to pass similar legislation to sell legal 3.2 beer. Michigan did just that and designated  May 11, 1933 at 6pm as the exact time when legal beer could be purchased again.

This toast celebrates the men and women who worked to reclaim our right to drink beer and the breweries that make Michigan the great beer state.

Plus every Wednesday night is the Original Gravity Farmer’s Market. Shop while you toast. Below are the details…

Wednesdays – Original Gravity Farmer’s Market!!
Fresh beer, fresh vegetables and more!
Zilke Vegetable Farms will be at OG starting on 4/6/11. The market will be held on Wednesdays thru the growing season from 5-7pm. The early harvest includes lettuces, greens, cabbage, etc…Other items include herbs and incredible hand-made soaps from Garden Girl Soaps.
Also, fresh baked beer bread using OG beers from Erie Bread Company will available by the loaf
www.zilkevegetablefarm.com
www.gardengirlsoaps.com
www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Erie-Bread-Company/100332150027172