America's back-in-the-day beer landscape
As my father tells it, the US beer industry was basically a fiefdom for those intervening decades between Prohibition's blessed repeal and the industrial improvements in bottling, shipping, and mass-batch brewing that arrived post-WWII. Provincial breweries dominated their respective regions, but rarely expanded beyond the invisible boundaries of cost-effective distribution.
By the Seventies, he says, these insular realms were entrenched in crippling competition with Big Beer, and when the Nineties dawned, there were only a handful of indie brewers still successfully defending their local shelf-space from the constant threat of homogenous, homogenized brew.
What follows is a primer on 23 American beers of yesteryear: formerly glorious brews that are either dead & gone, drastically enfeebled or -- in a few improbable cases -- still thriving today. These brave brands fought the good fight, in their failures paving the way for an entire second act in local American beer-brewing. Cheers to that.