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#CrestonBuzz Vol.7 What Does the Fox Say: About Fox DeLuxe

By now a lot of you have heard of our house IPA, Fox Deluxe. Most of you have enjoyed many a pint in our beautiful taproom. But like most of our beers, the name of it has a lot of cultural and historical significance to the Creston neighborhood and the craft beer mecca that was and still is Grand Rapids, MI. Fox DeLuxe is no exception. This bright, citrusy IPA’s namesake comes from a Midwestern family of brothers known as The Fox Brothers, who made their path into the craft beer scene through some of the most trying times for brewers and beer drinkers alike in the mid 1900s.

Prohibition almost ruined everything, didn’t it?

External view of Fox DeLuxe Brewing Company

After huge success in Chicago, Peter Fox Brewing Company sought to grow their brand and increase their production to satisfy the demand of thirsty workers. Buying up other breweries, like Kiley Brewing Company, in their original hometown of Marion, Indiana, Peter Fox Brewing Company was soon becoming a beer juggernaut of the Midwest in the 1940s. Because of this success, Peter Fox continued buying up properties that his beloved his Fox DeLuxe beer, among others, could be brewed, packaged and sold. Among those places was the former Hoffman Brothers Brewery on Monroe Street, and another well-equipped brewery space that became known as Fox DeLuxe Brewing from 1941-1951.

Most of the Fox DeLuxe materials can still be found and purchased online. The Fox DeLuxe 32-IT quart cone canned by the Continental Can Company goes for nearly $2,000.00 online…whew! Sounds steep, but look at this beaut:

Original Fox DeLuxe Beer Can

It has been documented that during its 11 year reign, Fox DeLuxe Brewing Company helped boost the Peter Fox coalition to combined total barrelage of one million! With beers like Alpine Pilsner and Patrick Henry Extra Smooth Premium, the Fox Brewing stronghold was ranked thirteenth of 25 leading breweries in the nation, beating none other than Miller Brewing Company, in 1944. Fox DeLuxe Brewing Company closed it’s doors in 1951, but it’s place in craft beer history remains as one of the most successful.

It seems as though things have come full circle for Peter Fox’s beer legacy through the help of Creston Brewery. We love the rich and interesting history of craft beer and love to incorporate that in each and every pint you have. And in the words, of Peter Fox, “Don’t say Fox…Say Fox DEEELuxe!”

#CrestonBuzz Vol.6 Living in America: About Breweries in America Circa Long Time Ago

Have you ever wondered exactly when breweries started becoming a ‘thing’?

We have!

And during our quest for the truth, we found out that breweries were kind of a big deal way before Beer City, USA came into the picture…Thirteen Colonies kind of way back. The very first brewery in America was Block & Christiansen, established in 1612 on the southern tip of Manhattan Island. In 1637, the remaining 12 colonies saw their first breweries starting to open, beginning with Massachusetts.

Fast forward a couple centuries…

 

Headline from Ohio Newspaper, The American Issue 1919.

By 1810, America had 132 operating breweries for a population of 7 million people. Now that doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but in those times, drinking was associated with criminals and less savory characters. By 1829, the American Temperance Society already had 100,000 members, but within 4 more years they had a membership of over a million people supporting total abstinence. Many Americans were very adamant about outlawing beer and booze altogether, proclaiming to stay absolutely bone dry. Super boring right? Beginning in 1840 and for the next 80 years, two opposite and competing trends were evident in America. More breweries were popping up annually, especially in large metropolitan areas. While on the other end, more and more states began to enact individual prohibition laws.

 

Disarray and general unrest in Germany in 1848 started an enormous migration to America. Among the immigrants were very experienced German brewers, naturally. Lucky for American brewers and drinkers alike, they gladly bestowed some of their beer knowledge. Not coincidentally, of the seven breweries operating in the early days of Grand Rapids, all were vested by German immigrants producing traditional German lagers. This migration of skilled brewers continued to boost the craft beer economy as well as the nation’s frugality.

 

In 1861, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service was created and soon saw the value in placing taxes on beer production. A tax on every last barrel of beer helped finance the Civil War and other military needs. Because of the emergence of more and more breweries, the economy was wealthy enough to perpetuate the growth of the craft beer industry and the military. An all-time record number of 4,131 breweries were operating in the United States in 1873, producing nine million barrels of beer. (2017 is on pace to break that long-standing record of beer slingin’). It wasn’t until 1876, that Louis Pasteur, French chemist and microbiologist, studied beer and finally explained yeast and all of it’s lovely, fresh-to-funky strains to the beer world.

Taxes and prohibition laws by individual states, improved distribution methods and mergers/closures of breweries resulted in a massive decline to 1500 breweries in the U.S. in 1910.

Lady Sailors Marching for an End to Prohibition

By 1912, nine states were dry due to prohibition. Four years later, the number of dry states rose to 23. When national prohibition went into effect in 1920, breweries increased production of “near-beer”, which is essentially beer with an extremely low ABV, to 300 million gallons. Neither near-beer nor prohibition were very well accepted during this time. Eventually lawlessness, crime, corruption, and entitled crankiness led to the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. #Winning.

Within a year of the prohibition repeal, 756 brewers were back in operation. At the height of World War II, fifteen percent of the production at American breweries had to be allocated for military use. For several years after the war, brewery closures and many mergers again reduced the number of active breweries in the United States. Eleven years later, the number of U.S. breweries dropped to 230, but only 140 of those were being independently run. In 1978, there were only 89 breweries operating in

Historic GRBC Bottling Depot.

America and controlling most of the beer market, nearly all of them were mega commercial brewers that we know all too well: Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Adolph Coors, Stroh’s, and G. Heilman.

Among those 89 breweries, was New Albion Brewing Company in Sonoma, CA which opened it’s doors and hearts in 1977. New Albion produced its own ale and became the first modern micro/craft brewery, thus dawning a new age of breweries in America. The trend that would soon sweep the nation started very slowly, however. The first brew pubs didn’t begin selling their own beer and food until 1982 in Yakima, WA. In 1983, only 80 breweries existed in America, and the top six mega-brewers controlled 92% of all U.S. beer production. It doesn’t seem like very long ago when folks couldn’t walk into their local pub and get snacks paired with their favorite sudsy beverage. Because it wasn’t. The craft beer industry has made and continues to make remarkable strides in culture, appeal, and education.

 

The residual effects of a long winded fight to preserve an American’s right to wholeheartedly enjoy their beer still ripple throughout the country, with more and more breweries opening every year.

 

So, what’s next for the American beer market? Time will only tell, but something tells me prohibition and near-beer won’t be making a comeback any time soon.

 

Thanks to http://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/101/history_american_beer/ for their incredibly comprehensive history of American beer, only small parts of which could be included above.

(c) Copyright, Creston Brewery, 2016