Detroit Imbibers Warned

One of the things I have learned about Michigan Prohibition was that the start of it was barely covered by Monroe’s paper. It’s covered in our history but not as a current event? Seems peculiar to me but that sort of thing happens a lot. I found only one article that immediately preceded the dry days of prohibition.

I love the writing style of this article. Here is the first paragraph…

“While they are fairly good natured and not inclined to be mean about it Monroe county officials sent word to the thirsty of Detroit that they had better have their gas tanks overflowing than themselves after Tuesday night when the Booze King abdicates in Michigan.”

There is a lot of denial here. I guess Monroe would never buy alcohol in Toledo and bring it back here. I’ve been doing that since I was 19(yes, the drinking age for beer in Ohio was 19 when I was that age). They did anticipate alcohol coming in from the newly paved strip that connected Monroe and Toledo but could never foresee the river of intoxicants that lead to Dixie Hwy being dubbed “Avenue de Booze”.  Yes it flowed to the “City on a Still”(Detroit) but still made plenty of stops on the way.

The rest of the article is about a crackdown on reckless driving that once again is blamed on Detroiters.  It also explains that signs will be going up on Tuesday night, “when old John Barleycorn is to be led to the stone wall and asked if he has any statement to make”. Once again, I love how they wrote things back then. And remember as City officials say…

“…that if they get gay down that neck of the woods something will happen that may disturb their peace of mind.”

Anniversary de Booze

Anniversary de Booze

May 1, 2018

Dinner @ 6pm, Presentation @ 6:30pm

McGeady’s Town Pub

Join us May 1 for the 100th anniversary of the start of prohibition. Michigan went dry before Ohio. Alcohol from Toledo poured into Monroe giving Dixie Hwy the nickname “Avenue de Booze”.
In honor of this historic night, McGeady’s Town Pub will feature two guest speakers: Gerald Wykes; Local historian, freelance writer and illustrator, teller of tales – most of which are true. He will cover local prohibition history. Also joining us will be Stephen Johnson, author of “The Detroit Beer Book” and owner of Motor City Brew Tours. He will share stories of Detroit’s dry days. Learn more about the Detroit Beer Book at:

Toledo’s Maumee Bay Brewing Company will cross the border to take over the taps. Plus, McGeady’s will have a special menu. Food and drinks start at 6pm with the presentation beginning at 6:30.

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
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
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.

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.

Ken Burns’ Prohibition

A TV event that I have been eagerly awating since I heard of it last year starts the first of their three part series this Sunday October 2, 2011 at 8pm. It is a story of a driven minority sucessfully pushing their morality onto the majority. It’s Ken Burns’ Prohibition and I have been anticipating this for almost a year. Southeast Michigan was a hot spot for rum-running so the subject should be of interest to anyone in this area no matter one’s thoughts on drinking.

The seed for the series was planted when Ken Burns bumped into Daniel Okrent while he was doing research for his book Last Call so the series is based on much of the book. If the series is as good as his book this will be a great watch. The book is both informative and entertaining. It delves into the story of people coming together for a single purpose political action that has become the blue print of these groups ever since. It covers everything from the pre-Civil War beginnings of the Temperance movement that slowly built itself into a huge movement gathering strange bed fellows such as suffragettes, industrialist, religious groups and the Klu Klux Klan to the actual prohibition; the half-hearted attempt at enforcement, the loop holes and the end of the era with the passing of the 21st Amendment.

I hope this documentary is as good as Okrent’s book. One thing I can say is that the story of prohibition in America is an extremely interesting one and all the reviews that I have read say that he did capture that. There is even a Civil War style letter that is written to Julius Stroh. Below is a copy…


The thirteenth of May 1932

My Dearst  Stroh’s Bohemian Beer,

On this the eve of our march that I must feel will return you to my hand I feel the pangs in my soul due to this long fifeteen year seperation. Whilst the mere thought of a unsuccessful campaign tomorrow saddens my heart. And if I not return I will take with me the memory of your fire roasting flavor into the next life for my love for you is deathless.

But do not shed a tear for I have come to the conclusion that victory will soon by in hand but only our persistence will ensure the conquiring of oppression. When one resides in a world where beer is worth nothing and nothing is worth everything there is one perceptible course of procedure which is to fight.

With deepest regard,

Roscoe Kibbee

A Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to Monroe County

It can be tough to live in a small town that seemingly doesn’t care for craft beer as a whole. At least as a resident you know where to go for good beer but what is a visitor to do? There are a lot of good sites that will help you find where to go but I have found that my hometown Monroe is not always covered well. This is where our new sidebar comes in. I am hoping it will help people find their way to the bars and restaurants that care about supporting local breweries.

I have been wracking my brain on how to promote bars and restaurants that support local beer since we started this blog years ago. I was stuck on the angle of blasting places that don’t support local beer by name but I have decided to go positive by giving credit to places that get it. Ranting about someone’s beer selection doesn’t help anyone.

Here is the list of bars/restaurants that serve Michigan beer as of this post. If you know of any I missed please let me know.

Oh and yes there are people who visit Monroe. We have the River Raisin National Battlefield Park which is nearing it’s bicentennial and we are the home of General George Armstrong Custer. We even had President Clinton pass the baton to Al Gore here to kick-off the Gore campaign. So if you want to lose in a monumental way this is a great place to visit or make your home.


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!/pages/Erie-Bread-Company/100332150027172

Michigan First to Pass the 21st Amendment on April 10, 1933

<div class=\"postavatar\">Michigan First to Pass the 21st Amendment on April 10, 1933</div>

This Sunday, April 10, is the anniversary of Michigan ratifying the 21st amendment. It was the first state to do so. To commemorate this I thought I would run an encore post from 2008. Is it still an encore post if the only one calling for it is the writer of the post? Probably not but here it is anyway.

The big topic of conversation in 1933 was beer. The papers were full of daily updates of when we would be allowed to legally imbibe. Articles ran helping people brush up on the terminology of beer and even propaganda that sided with the “wets”. Some states were able to drink 3.2 beer on April 7th but Michigan had to wait until May 11th. However, Michigan did lead the way by being the first state in the Union to pass the 21st Amendment- by a vote of 99 to 1 with the lone vote being from the now great beer city of Hastings, MI. The lone dry delegate, Eugene Davenport, did get a dinner in his honor from the rest of the delegates for his “dry” vote. Maybe it was to honor his steadfastness in sticking to his guns on the issue. Or maybe they just felt sorry for the guy. In any case, thank goodness attitudes have changed in Hastings or their would be no Walldorff Brewpub and Bistro.

The story goes back to February of 1933 when the U.S. Congress introduced the 21st Amendment which repealed the 18th Amendment. The vote would be taken by having a special convention (the first of its kind) in each state. The citizens would elect predetermined “wet” or “dry” candidates that would only be discussing the matter of repealing the 18th Amendment. The amendment would have to pass by a three-fourths majority of the states in the Union. That meant that 36 states to would have to give their approval in order for the 18th Amendment to be repealed. That number was reached on December 5,1933.

For Michigan, the vote was a forgone conclusion. The citizens had already repealed the state constitutional provision in November. They also overwhelmingly voted for the wet candidates on the April 3, 1933 special election. All that was left was the official vote. Monroe’s representative was Rev. Henry F. R. Frincke, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church. When the time came to serve the citizens of Monroe he voted “wet”. Thank you Henry, job well done.

The images shown here were taken from various issues of the Monroe Evening News from March through May of 1933. The first image is of an article explaining all the terms that are associated with beer. The second is a graph of where the money will go for each beer you drink.