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Oct 25, 2014

Library
Authors: Will Anderson
Maine repeal

In his book, The Great State of Maine Beer Book, Will Anderson tells the story of prohibition repeal through a series of news article excerpts and a wide variety of sources such as those presented below:

Click on any image to receive a full-size verion.

These are two in a series of "If Only It Were Beer" postcards published in Great Britain, probably in the late-to-mid 1920's. Were our British cousins having fun at our expense? It's likely. They certainly did find prohibition quite amusing. As long as it didn't find its way to their shores.

By the early 1930's the American economy was in bad shape. Many people believed that beer could help. On the reverse side of this circa 1931 postcard is the message: "I favor modification of the Volstead Act, permitting the manufacture of beer...thus providing direct and indirect employment to a vast army of workers, helping the farmer and enriching the U.S. Treasury with revenue now lost, restoring public confidence and stimulating all business." Recipients were urged to mail ten or more of the cards to friends and acquaintances in order to "Spread the Doctrine of Prosperity."

Sheet music cover, 1933. When beer and wine of a modest 3.2%^ strength became legal again in the spring/summer of 1933 most of America rejoiced. Many rejoiced even more when, in December, the 18th (Prohibition) Amendment was overturned by the necessary three-quarters of the states. Hard liquor - as well as beer and wine of greater that 3.2% - then became fully legal...except, of course, where prohibited by state or local statute. Maine was in the latter category: it did not allow the sale of hard liquor and "high power" beer until November of 1934.

"Bunker Hill And Old Musty, Too." I've always thought of the model in this glorious 1898 lithograph as "The Woman in White." A.G. Van Nostrand's Bunker Hill Breweries, located in Charlestown, Massachusetts, had a history that stretched back to 1821 and that lasted until 1918. And for a hefty chunk of all those years Van Nostrand's two breweries - one for ale; one for lager - quenched many a Mainer's thirst. The favorite? Most likely it was the brewery's fabled PB ("Purest and Best") Ale. But, then again, there was Bunker Hill Lager, Boston Club Lager, and Old Musty Ale, too. The choice was yours.

Image source: Lithographed poster, 1898

The "King Of Portsmouth" If ever there had been a king of Portsmouth, New Hampshire...that king would have been Frank Jones (1832-1902). Among his achievements: two-term Portsmouth mayor; two-term New Hampshire congressman: almost New Hampshire governor (he lost by a scant 2,000 in 1880); president of the Boston and Maine Railroad, the Granite State Fire Insurance Company, several other corporations. His foremost claim to fame, though, was his brewery, "modestly" named the Frank Jones Brewing Company. He boasted that it was "The Largest Ales Brewery in the World" and he was probably about right. He was so big he even operated a branch, from 1889 to 1903, in Boston. This lithograph dates from those years. It is probably from 1900 or so. A fair percentage of Frank's output ended up in Maine, where it was distributed for many years by a man named Moses Morrill. Moses operated a depot (distribution point) on Fore Street in Portland and through it flowed, literally, untold kegs of Jones' Imperial XXX Golden Sparkling Champagne Ales, as well as Jones' pale and amber ales.

Image source: Lithographed poster, 1900

"The Amber Fluid Comes Back To Bangor With A Bang" read the suggested headline for this Wide World wire service photo. Dated July 4, 1933, it purported to show the joy in the Lumber City the day beer actually came back, July 1st. Other than including the fact that Bangor was in Maine, however, the accompanying write-up gave little worthwhile - such as the name of the gleeful establishment in which the photo was taken - information. So, 63 years and one month later, in August 1945, my wife Catherine and I drove up to Bangor and spent a very full day playing sleuth.

We researched in the Bangor Public Library, in the Bangor Historical Society, and at the Bangor Daily News, and we talked with innumerable old-timers - in retirement homes, in bars, and on the street - only to come away with nothing concrete. There was a consensus, though, and it was the photo - and it's a wonderful photo - was snapped at Ye Brass Rail. It makes sense: located at 202 Exchange Street, Ye Brass Rail was Bangor's pacesetter in terms of "Beer Is Back!" advertising that notable June/July; featured four brews on draught and five more by the bottle (at 20 cents a bottle); boasted of "the largest and finest beer cooling machine in the state;" and promised to serve one and all beer that was "Rich, Creamy and Cool."

It sounds like a good place to have been that July 1, 1933

Courtesy of the National Archives, Washington, D.C.

GREAT STATE
OF MAINE
BEER BOOK

great state of main beer book [ Order ]

EXCERPTS
- Preface
- Beer History
- Early Maine Brewers
- 1800s Ads
- 1900s Ads
- More Beer Ads
- Prohibition
- Repeal!
- Modern Maine Brewers