“When it comes to drinking, it seems, no state keeps pace with Wisconsin” (Johnson). Drinking has become part of the culture of Wisconsin residents. As an example of how drinking alcohol has become part of Wisconsin residents’ culture, a minor child who is accompanied by a parent or guardian can drink an alcoholic beverage at a bar or restaurant. Since I am from Illinois where serving minors is not allowed under any circumstances, this Wisconsin law seems odd to me. In the 1800’s, it was common for every Wisconsin town to have a brewery; Milwaukee was no exception. Because of the many breweries that were once located in Milwaukee, it earned the nickname, Brew City; additionally, this city earned the reputation of being the brew capital of the world. Milwaukee is a city nestled on the southwestern shore of beautiful Lake Michigan. Milwaukee boasts: a diverse population contributing to its rich heritage of Germans and history of breweries, a vibrant art and cultural community in the Third Ward, and many higher educational institutions such as UWM, Milwaukee School of Engineering and Marquette University. Since MillerCoors Brewery- a major, national brewery- is located so close to the school I attend, my curiosity was peaked. I wanted to learn how the MillerCoors Brewery and its beer physically, socially and environmentally affect Milwaukee and its residents.
Beer is known to have become popular because of the Germans. Although the Germans are not owed all the credit for making beer famous globally, John Gurda states that it was the Germans who introduced the product to America in the decade after 1845 when many Germans migrated to the Milwaukee area. Milwaukee became home to breweries such as Pabst, Schlitz, and Miller. Today, it seems the most important German immigrant was Frederick J. Miller. He founded one of the last operating breweries in the city of Milwaukee. Miller’s talent for brewing beer began at birth. In the German tradition, it was said that roles were assigned at birth: the oldest son inherited the family business, the second son learned a trade, and the youngest son immigrated to America (Gurda 3-4). This is important because it foreshadows that Miller was destined to do great things. Miller, the youngest son of his family, learned a trade beginning at the age of fifteen and later moved to America. Knowing that he had an early interest and exposure to his brewing profession supports the foresight that he would do great things. Because his brewery is the last of the original breweries in Milwaukee, this provides proof of his great accomplishments.
Before examining the physical, social, and environmental effects MillerCoors brewery has had on the city, I questioned what MillerCoors contributed to the total production of beer in Milwaukee. In 1879, there were 226 breweries in the state of Wisconsin. During that year, 585,068 barrels were sold (Salem 190). Of that amount, 16,293 barrels were Miller’s product (Salem 264). I did further investigation to find that of the number of barrels produced by breweries in Milwaukee in 1879, MillerCoors only produced four percent. Since MillerCoors is currently such a prominent and successful brewery, I anticipated the percentage would have been larger and was surprised by what I found. This surprise led me to question what factor impacted Miller’s insignificant contribution in the number of barrels produced in 1879. At the time, brewers such as Best, Schlitz, Blatz, and Falk had been producing beer in Milwaukee for many years; thus, these breweries had already established relations with Milwaukee’s beer-drinking citizens. This established relationship between brewer and consumer contributed to the already-existing brewers’ majority hold on Milwaukee’s barrel production. This relationship impacted Miller’s less than significant four percent of barrel production. Miller Brewery produced 300 barrels of beer in its first year of