what pushed the brewing industry into the national industry
spotlight was the development of refrigeration in the late
19th century. Before refrigeration, brewers scheduled the
various heating and cooling phases of the brewing process
by the seasonal outdoor temperatures. During winter, breweries
cut ice from ponds, lakes and rivers and stored it in underground
cellars for use in brewing and storing the barrels of beer.
But with refrigeration beer now could be made year round.
And more importantly, beer could be shipped greater distances
without the fear of spoiling. Rail networks already crisscrossed
the country. With the help of refrigerated rail cars, called
"reefers", larger breweries from Milwaukee, Chicago and St.
Louis could now send their beer to communities along the rail
lines. Agents in each town would arrange for the beer to be
delivered to each tavern. If the amount of local business
justified the expense, a brewery would build a local beer
depot would have an ice house, warehouse, offices and stables
for the delivery wagons. If local business continued to grow,
the brewery would build a bottling operation, and then perhaps
a brewing branch.
production techniques meant better quality and increased production
of beer. That's the good news. Sadly, this also meant a decrease
in breweries who couldn't keep up the cost of production.
So even though beer sales increased from 13 million barrels
in 1880 to 59.5 million in 1910, the number of breweries had
decreased from 1800 to 1500. The large, highly-mechanized
firms such as Anheuser-Busch, Blatz, Lemp, Pabst and Schlitz
began to invade local markets and emerge as the brands people