Breweries of Dayton - A toast to brewers from the Gem City: 1810-1961
Chapter Two: Breweries Lose the Battle of Prohibition - Part Two

How Beer Was Made

 

On June 21, 1908 the Dayton Journal ran an article on how beer was made.  This was done to assure the public that beer contained no poisons nor come into contact with human hands, so that there was no chance of contamination.

 

The Brewing of Beer

 

            No city of the same size in the United States can boast of larger breweries than the Gem City and no city, regardless of its size or facilities, can rival the brew of the local plants.  Nine breweries, all equipped with the most modem machinery for the manufacture of the highest grade beer and ale, are located in the city and add materially to the standing of Dayton in the industrial world.  More than 200,000 barrels are made annually and to the workmen employed in the different departments $300,000 is paid each year in wages.

            The breweries are home factories and the beers and ales sold almost entirely to the people of Dayton and the surrounding towns.  Although a large profit is made in a year by the brewers, the people are benefited to a considerable extent by having the breweries located in the city.  They not only get their money's worth when purchasing any of the products of the breweries, but the expense of maintaining the plants means much to the business portion of the city.  More than $500,000 worth of material is purchased yearly for use in the nine breweries and $325,000 is paid out to the allied trades.  The real value of this is not to be realized without careful thought.

            Although the quantity supplied the various saloons is large, the quality is in every respect the best and is not slighted in any way in order to increase the output.

While beer is in universal use, the process of making it is not known.  A general idea is held by all, but the details are most interesting.

            The malt used is of the choicest quality, made from the reputable and world- famous Wisconsin barley.  The malting system is of the slow process.  Before the malt is used in beer, particular pains in dusting and separating all foreign matter are given it, so that nothing but the malt in pure form is used.  After grinding comes the process known as mashing.  This consists of the ground grain being placed into the mash tub for a specified time. where it absorbs the moisture of filtered and sterilized water.  Then what is known as quick malt, a product of rolled and steamed white corn, is added in proportion to the amount of the brew.  The contents of the mash undergo the process of mashing under a pressure of steam and hot water of a certain degree being added gradually until 58 R. is reached, this temperature being held from 15 to 20 minutes until the process of conversion has taken place.  Then with steam the heat pressure is raised to 60 R. at which point of temperature it is held for an hour, when the fluid or "wort" is drained into the brew kettle.

            The brew kettle, 300 barrels capacity, is in itself a work of art, being made of one-half inch hammered copper.  When in the brew kettle the malt extract is boiled down to the weight of 14 percent, during which process the most choice Bohemian “imported” hops are added in proportion to the brew.

            Taking the brew from the brew kettle it is pumped to what is known as the hop jack, a large tank with a perforated bottom, made of copper.

            From this point the wort, or brew, is drained, and then passed over the cooler, the cooler consisting of a series of cold water and refrigerated pipes, the temperature being brought down to 5 R.

            From this point the wort, or brew, drains to the fermenting cellar, where it enters large fermenting tubs, when yeast, in proportion of about a pound to the barrel, is added.

            The malt sugar in the wort is fermented through its contact with the yeast, thus producing alcohol and carbonic gas: this process requiring a period of from 14 to 16 days, and the temperature being held at 9 R.

            After fermentation the fluid, which is now known as beer, is put to a temperature of near freezing in order to settle the yeast, and then being drawn off, the beer enters the storage or aging tanks, where it lies for four months, perfectly quiet, no vibration of any sort being permitted.  During this course it clarifies.

            From this point it is drawn into what is known as chip casks, where the process of shipping, which lasts about four weeks, removes from the beer all matters, such as small particles of yeast, thus clarifying again.  It is put through a course of three filtrations, so that it is absolutely brilliant and is then carried to the bottling department, where the temperature is near freezing.

            During the entire course of mashing, brewing, yeasting, fermenting, chipping, etc., human hands do not touch or come in contact with beer.  Modem machinery and appliances being such that when set into motion by a system of electrical transmission it does away entirely of being handled by hand.

            No floors, walls, ceilings or appliances of whatsoever character could possibly be cleaner, this being under the supervision of a most careful and thoroughly trained brewmaster, who combines the art of brewing with that of the science of chemistry, which is one of the essential features necessary in this particular art.  His education and training in this particular art is not confined to the training alone of this country.  He is of German extraction, and combined with his knowledge of brewing in this country, he has through several educational trips through foreign lands, acquired the knowledge of how beer is made in foreign countries.

 

 

Prohibition Takes Effect

 

            In spite of the passing of many liquor laws by elected officials afraid of losing their jobs, the brewers seemed to be winning the battle.  Then, in 1914, the temperance movement gained an advantage.  With the start of World War I came a need to conserve grain.  Congress passed a bill calling for the complete stop of the production of distilled spirits as of September 5, 1917.  President Woodrow Wilson was given discretion to limit or prohibit the manufacturing of beer.  On December 11, 1917 he ordered that food materials allowed for the making of beer be reduced by thirty percent and lowered the legal alcohol content of beer to less than 3% weight.

            On January 16, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified and nine months later the Volstead Act was passed, which provided means of enforcing the amendment.

            Prohibition, called the "Noble Experiment", had begun.  The amendment was to go into effect one year after ratification.  Dayton was a dry city as of January 16, 1920.

            The brewers, seeing that they had lost, began to sell off their properties.  The Dayton Breweries, a conglomeration of seven local breweries, had sold all but two of their plants by November 5, 1919.  An article in the Journal Herald tells of the selling of the Schantz and Schwind plant.

 

            “The Telling-Belle Vernon company, headquarters Cleveland, one of the largest manufacturers of ice cream and producers of dairy products in the country, yesterday concluded a deal whereby it will acquire the Schantz and Schwind brewery at the foot of Perry Street, of the Dayton Breweries Company.

            “The Dayton Breweries company, through the latest deal, is about two-thirds liquidated, having disposed of five of its seven plants.  The remaining plants are the Stickle bottling plant at Brown and Warren streets. and the Schantz-Thomas plant at First and Beckel streets.  The Stickle plant may be sold shortly, in which the breweries company will erect a bottling plant in connection with the Schantz- Thomas plant.”

 

The law was to stay on the books for several years.  With the coming of speakeasies (illegal saloons), smuggling and bootleggers, also came the gangsters, a criminal element that made money from a law that was hard to enforce and, many claimed, caused more harm than good.

            In Philip McKee's book, Big Town, he writes that in 1920, the start of prohibition, there were 681 arrests for drunkenness in Dayton.  This had risen to 2,486 people by 1929, making it the second largest year for arrests of that sort in Dayton's history.  By 1930 there were 750 speakeasies and 150 private stills, with an output of 4,500 gallons of corn whiskey each week.

           

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