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

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.


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.



“Locally Buzzed” Showing at Original Gravity

Original Gravity will be having a special showing of “Locally Buzzed” on Saturday the 4. It is a documentary about 8 people that travel to 50 Michigan breweries in 8 days. I can’t imagine pulling this off. Sarah and I took a similar trip a few years ago and if it wasn’t for the great people at Schmohz brewery I wouldn’t have made it through day 7. And that was a little less than thirty breweries.

Here are the details…

OG Beer and Movie Night September 4 @ 8:30pm
“Locally Buzzed”
Kick back and enjoy a pint of your favorite OG beer and enjoy this NEW local documentary about the Great Beer State fo Michigan!!

77 Years Ago Today

If you woke up on May 11, 77 years ago you were about to enjoy your first legal beer in about 15 years. I know if I woke up that morning and had the ability to enjoy a beer without having to worry about doing something illegal I would be pretty excited.

The newspapers were full of stories and I am going to share more of them with you.  The common thread to these articles  is the legal wranglings of the new law.

A reminder to all that Original Gravity will be hosting a special party tonight to celebrate this anniversary. Below are the details…

Michigan Beer Toast & Small Batch Release – 6pm
Michigan ratified the 21st Amendment on April 10, 1933 but still remained a dry state for another month. That is until May 11, 1933 at 6pm when beer went on sale for the first time in about 15 years.

Come celebrate MI beer at OG on Tuesday May 11th with the release of our next Small batch of beer…Hard Ginger Ale! An unhopped brew made with fresh ginger root.

Als0, wear a t-shirt from any MI brewery and recieve $1 off of your pints from 6pm-close! Cheers to MI beer!!!

Here are a few articles that ran on May 11, 1933…

No Beer for Zeeland

Zeeland-Today may mark the return of beer to Michigan, but for Zeeland it’s just May 11. the city council by a vote of 4 to 2, voted against issuing any beer license retailers.

Friends of beer considered resorting to a mandamus action on the grounds that there were no “reasonable grounds,” cited in the attorney general’s ruling for refusing to license retailers.

Wants It Full Strength

Lansing– Govenor Comstock believes the state liquor control commission should insist that beer sold in Michigan must contain the full legal alcoholic content to 3.2 percent.
The Govenor said he sampled some of the new beverages in Washington, “I believe both federal and state governments should insist upon the full 3.2 percent” he said.

To Close Blind Pigs

Detroit- John P. Smith, superintendant of police today issued orders to all precinct inspectors to “close and keep closed” every blind pig in Detroit, effective 6 p.m. today, when the new 3.2. beer legally goes on sale.

At the same time Superintendant Smith ordered for strcit supervision of all legal retail beer-selling establishments.

“Now that people have legal beer, I believe they will be willing to help us handle the blind pig situation” he said.

Rules to be Followed

Lansing- Michigan is warned to watch its manner of celebrating the return of legal beer tonight. here are some of the regulations set forth by the stat liquor control comission.

Beer must be sold to a customer while seated at a table. There must be no free beer with food, no bar, no curb service, no free lunch, and no gambling, drunkeness, or idling on the premises.

Beer cannot be sold for consumption between 2 and 7 o’clock in the morning. Customers, however, may order their supply before 2 and continue to imbibe during the hours of prohibition.

Delivery packages must bear the state tax stamps before turned over to retailers. Wholesalers and breweries are not permitted to make deliveries to homes.

Labels must show the alcohol content.

No drinking will be allowed on the highways.

No beer can be sold to persons under 18 years of age.

Encore Article: Advice from Julius Stroh

I’m rerunning an article from last year that was about Julius Stroh and the return of legal beer. I have also included a Stroh’s ad that was running in the local paper in early May of 1933.

Julius Stroh was seventy-seven in 1933 and had been in charge of Stroh’s since 1908. In his time as president, he and his head brewer, Otto Rosenbusch, started  heating the beer in copper kettles with direct fire. A process Otto witnessed at the Municipal Brewery of Pilsen in Bohemia (Urquell). They also built a new brew house that was completed in 1914.

 More importantly, Julius Stroh bought the company time so it would survive prohibition. They got by making pop, malt syrup and, more famously, ice cream. The malt syrup was sold for confectionery purposes but everyone knew it was for homebrewing. The ice cream was very successful and can still be bought today. Although, it is no longer made in Michigan. The most important prohibition product they made and sold was near beer.  It was  called “Temperance Beer”  and it was poor quality .5% beer. The label had the words “serve ice cold” on it which helped mask the taste. One of the big breweries still advertises this today (I don’t want to mention the name of the brewery but Rocky Mountain spring water is involved). Stroh’s had been the only brewery in Detroit that secured a license to sell near beer. Due to the process of  making near beer he had a cellar full of beer waiting for dealcoholization. Because of this, Stroh’s was the only brewery that had beer already in stock when the Volstead Act was amended. This gave them a huge head start on the competition . Stroh’s supplied  Detroit and surrounding areas with its first legal beer in 15 years.

On the eve of legal beer back in 1933, Julius Stroh ran articles about imbibing correctly and in moderation.  I am only speculating, but I imagine he wrote these articles for a few reasons: One, it was good publicity. Two, low quality beer is all  people had been drinking for the last 15 years and the citizens needed to be educated on properly drinking  good beer. Three, it may have been driven by the fear of the future of his business. 3.2 beer was legal in less than half of the states in America, and prohibition was still the law of the land. As of May 11th 1933 (the day the article was printed) only 3 states had voted in the 21st amendment. News of debauchery, alcohol poisonings and deaths might make citizens think twice that ”the noble experiment” (prohibition) needed to end.

The article below is from the May 11, 1933 Monroe Evening News. The rest of the story was supplied by Peter H. Blum and his book “Brewed in Detroit”

Here is the art of drinking beer as revealed by Julius Stroh, brewer, who believes that beer drinking is an art and not a vulgar means of filling your stomach.

“Be temperate in your consumption. Whether it’s beer, buttermilk, soda water or pop too much of it might lead to regrets.”

“Never gulp your beer, because it is bad manners. It should be sipped slowly and leisurely. loss of the carbonic gases and flattening of the head will not affect the flavor.”

“Serve beer in a thin crystal- clear goblet. If you wish to admire its color. Otherwise a heavy mug will do.”

“The container should never be used for milk or beverages containing butterfat or grease. Grease prevents the beverage from coming to a proper head. All glasses should be cleaned with a scrubbing brush or salt.”

“Beer should never be served at a temperature above 50 degrees and below 45 degrees.”

“The size of the collar has nothing to do with the taste. High collars make the glass more inviting in appearance, though not popular with the majority of consumers.”

May 11, 1933 Newspaper Articles

The funnest thing about researching the end of prohibition is something that you are passionate about is covered much like the oil spell is today. May 11, 1933 is a great example of this, a little less than half of the first page was dedicated completely to beer. And why not? That was the day that brought back  beer. Granted, it was only 3.2 beer. But after 15 years of prohibition, you have to start somewhere. It was the prominent story of the story of the day. The other pages of the paper also had a few small items thrown in too. Like this one.

Beer War Brings Price to 3 Cents

Chicago May 11 – In one district of Chicago beer may be had for three cents a stein.

A price selling war brought the new low price.

I imagine the above beer was Old Style. Back in the day, I used to buy and bring that back by the 30 packs. It cost only $12 for thirty beers!

There are also more involved articles which I plan to share with you over the next few days. The article below is from the AP and ran in the May 11, 1933 Monroe Evening News.

Michigan To End Long Dry Regime At 6 O’clock Today

Detroit Celebrates At Legion Festival

Hall Is Crowded as Thousands Get Pre-Taste of 3.2 Legal Beverage

Lansing May 11 – On a foaming tide of beer, “bone dry” prohibition rode out of existence in Michigan today.

At 6 0’clock tonight bung starters from one end of the state to the other will play taps over a 15- year drought. Licenses to dispense 3.2 alcohol beverages were rushed from the headquarters of the state liquor control commission vendors throughout the state. The only dark spot on the beer cheery horizon was a shortage of tax stamps. The commission insisted they be attached to all packages of beer and wine. They were available only in Lansing and Detroit and many vendors had been unable to secure a supply. A consignment was to be sent to Escanaba, to serve upper peninsula distributors, via airplanes. Despite the insistence of the commission that the revenue stamps be secured, there was evidence beer will flow in almost every community- stamps or no stamps.

Celebrations Planned

Hotels, restaurants and designated merchants had large supplies of the beverage on hand. It was shipped in from other states in freight cars, trucks and by airplane. In many cities gala celebrations were scheduled to usher in the mild mannered Bachus. Rules and regulations adopted by the commission were designed to temper the joviality.

The commission office was busy throughout the night, sending telegrams, granting licenses to those who might not receive their mail on time. William G. Lewis, secretary of the commission, said the licenses were being mailed at a rate of 100 an hour, but the telegrams were used to guard against delay.

While its managing directors were handling details of retail organization, the commission yesterday completed its list of regulations, and heard applications of additional breweries. Temporary permits were issued to the Kolb Brewing Co, Bay City; Upper Michigan Brewing, Iron Mountain; Muskegon Brewing Company, Muskegon; Marx Brewing company, Wyandotte.

The commission temporarily placed responsibility for the cancellation of retail stamps to the retailers. It urged strict cooperation in this move.

Legion Party Jammed

Detroit May 11– Beer of the legal variety goes on sale generally in Michigan at 6p.m. today but it will be an old story to some 30,000 Detroiters who were in at a “preview” last night.

The beer made it’s debut at a “victory” celebration in Convention Hall, with the Wayne county American Legion as host from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. eager and hilarious crowds surged about the huge building to welcome the beverage.

A recapitulation today showed that approximately 300 half barrels and 500 cases of beer were consumed. It would have been more but not nearly everyone who wanted to sample the beer could crowd into the building where 1000 tables were set up for the drinkers.

Party Starts Late

A veritable flood of dimes poured in as the beer flowed out of spigots and bottlenecks but as for the amount of money taken in, the best estimate of the legionnaires was that it was more than they have seen in many a day. The proceeds are dedicated to charity.

After waiting 15 years for beer to come back, there was a 6 minute delay in quaffing the first tumbler. The program called for Colonel Frederick M. Alger, a leader in the anti-prohibition fight, to drink the first glass to be poured by Julius Strohs. But Colonel Alger was four minutes late and it was six minutes after six before the formalities were out of the way.

But once it started there wasn’t any halt until closing time. 

An estimated five thousand persons were in the hall when the waiters, in Legion regalia started their marathon.

A Good Natured Crowd

But by nine o’clock the crowd within the hall had more than doubled. When it seemed that not another could push his way inside police closed the door on an estimated 3000 to 6000 people outside. Impatient against the delay, this crowd surged against police lines, shoving those in the front ranks through the glass in the front doors. No injuries were reported and police said the beer seekers were good natured through it all.

Rum-Running Stories

I thought this event about rum-running along the Detroit river may interest some of you. I know that we plan on being there. I don’t think they will have my type of refreshments though.

Here are the event details…

“Rum-Running Stories,”will be held on Sunday, Febuary 21 at 2 p.m. at the Marshlands Museum and Nature Center of Lake Erie Metropark in Brownstown. Relive the days of the Prohibition Era by hearing some of the stories from tht time. Discover how the Detroit River was a hot-bed of rum-running activity in the 1920s-30s. Refreshments will be served after the program. Fee: $2 per person. Pre-registration required. For additional information/registration please call – 734-379-5020 0r 800-477-3189.

Ashley’s – Who’s Your Bastard Night/Founders vs. Stone

I received the flyer below about this Founders vs. Stone event happening at both Ashley’s Locations (Ann Arbor and Westland).

The Deets:

Tuesday Jan 26th Who’s Your Bastard Night/Founders vs. Stone

Join us for this epic battle and be sure to place your vote for the best Bastard in the business.

An event so BIG, we got both Ashley’s locations involved.

Founders Beers
Dirty Bastard
Backwoods Bastard
Flappy Sappy Bastard
(plus 8 other drafts and a firkin of Red’s Rye)

Stone Beers
Double Bastard
Arrogant Bastard
Oaked Arrogant Bastard
(plus 7 other Stone drafts and 3 bottles)

Fortunately, Michelle got an e-mail from Gary, at Rave, with more details about the Westland event. They seem to be burying the lead. They are going to have the Ken Schmidt / Maui / Stone Kona Coffee Macadamia Coconut Porter! This beer is very rare in Michigan.

Here is the info from Gary’s e-mail:

Tuesday Jan 26th 7-? Who’s Your Bastard Night/Founders vs. Stone

Draft Hand of Doom: Imperial IPA aged in Oak/Whiskey Barrels 10.4%
Draft Double Trouble: Double IPA 9.4%
Draft Dirty Bastard: Scottish Syle Ale 8.3%
Bottle Red’s Rye
Bottle Centenial IPA

Draft Vertical Epic 09/09/09: Belgian style porter with spices 8.5%
Draft Sublimely Self Righteous: Black IPA 8.7%
Draft Double Bastard: American strong ale IBU 100+ 10%
Draft Oaked Arrogant Bastard: Oaked American strong ale 7.2%
Bottle (Stone Collaboration) Kona Coffee, Macadamia Coconut Porter 8.5%
Bottle (Stone Collaboration) Juxtaposition Black Pilsner 10%

Note that both Ashley’s Locations do seem to be having an event but they seem to be a bit different in beer selection and start times. The first beer list seems to apply just to AA and has a start time of 5 PM. The second list seems to be just for Westland and starts at 7 PM.

It makes sense that the AA location would have more draft selections. I imagine the AA event will have all, or most, of the selections as Westland, but I’m grateful to have the extra detail from Gary about the Westland event (which is where I’ll likely be).

The flyer (seems to be mostly for AA):


Updated: HOIST ONE FOR HAITI — Arcadia Ales To Donate Saturday Tap Sales To Relief Efforts

In an effort to raise much needed dollars for the earthquake victims in Haiti, Arcadia Ales in Battle Creek will donate every dollar from on-site tap sales on Saturday, January 16 to relief efforts.

Proceeds to Benefit:
**Doctors Without Border
**Catholic Relief Services
**American Red Cross

Arcadia Ales
103 W. Michigan Avenue
Battle Creek, Michigan

SATURDAY HOURS: Noon to 11pm

Wowser, I knew they were awesome, but every dollar?


Doctors Without Border | Catholic Relief Services | American Red Cross


Arcadia Ales
103 W. Michigan Avenue
Battle Creek, Michigan

I think Arcadia deserves all the thanks. What a great thing to do.