It was a dark day for brewers 100 years ago today when Prohibition took effect. During the ensuing 13-year ban on beer production during Prohibition forced America’s biggest brewers to find creative ways to remain in business.
Brewers produced soft drinks, malted milk and fruit juices but pinned their real hopes on non-intoxicating beers that were legal under Prohibition as long as they had less than 0.5% alcohol content. (Bevo, anyone? Google it.) Alas, near beers weren’t near enough for many consumers.
Anheuser-Busch sold everything from infant formula to frozen eggs to carbonated coffee and tea products called Kaffo and Buschtee. The brewer even built police vans that were used by Prohibition officers to round up moonshiners and bootleggers.
Coors shifted resources to a laboratory ceramics and pottery business. Miller survived by selling off real estate holdings. Pabst sold more than eight million pounds of a processed cheese spread called Pabst-ett that was aged in the brewery’s ice cellars. A frozen concoction helped Yuengling hang on–ice cream. Click here to read more about how America’s iconic breweries survived Prohibition.