Maufactured by more than 1,500 breweries, ranking the United States first in the world, beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the U. S. There are many people who enjoy making beer in their homes. Drinking in the Netherlands and England was dominated by beer rather than wine. Ales dominated the U. S. breweries in the mid 19th century.
Steam beer, or “California common beer” as it was called, was the first of the styles of beer to originate in the U. S., during the 19th century in San Francisco. Steam beer developed out of the West Coast was brewed without being refrigerated. Out of necessity and targeted at the blue collar workers, it was a cheapest way of brewing beer.
There were 1,400 breweries before Prohibition. Prohibition cause all the breweries in U. S. to close and end “legal” production. Larger beer manufacturers were able to stay open during that time, but instead of making beer, they were required by law to make “near beer,” “malt syrup,” soft drinks such as colas and root beer, and other non-alcoholic beverages. There were several acts that were created during Prohibition era. The Volstead Act was created prohibiting liquor that was considered intoxicating. That act was later followed by the Cullen-Harrison Act in April, 1933. This act stated that any beer with a strength of 3.2% alcohol was not considered intoxicating, and therefore, allowed for consumption.
In December, 1933, the 21st Amendment of the Constitution lifted Prohibition, but federal, state, and local authorities had heavy laws on the production of alcohol. Before the beer industry was able to re-establish itself in U. S., World War II began, which led to the rationing of the grain supply and hindered the success of the smaller breweries. Larger corporations like Anheuser-Busch and Coors Brewing Company dominated the market for as long as fifty years after Prohibition ended. These companies followed the pilsner-style format rather than having a partcular taste, using ingredients that like corn and rice that cost less. The beer industry became more about quantity, not quality. Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and Coors take up approximately 80% of beer sold in 2003, while domestic brews are just a small percentage of beer sold in the U. S.
Though many of the beers were manufactured in the U. S., many of the breweries followed close to European way of brewing beer. One of the more popular styles of beer is the pale lagers. These beers are gold in color and are bitter to the taste. Any of the beers from Germany would fall under this category. Malt liquors are another style of beer produced in the U. S. These beers have a high alcohol content in which sugar, corn, and other ingredients are added to strengthen the alcohol content. Colt 45, Old English, and other that are more commonly known as “forties” because of the size of the bottle that the beer was bottled in, forty ounce.
Beer in the social context is widespread. There are a variety of events and traditions where beer is involved like cards, darts, beer festivals, or “barhopping.” There are also games that are played in which beer is involved. Among the popular games are “beer pong” and “quarters.”
Many breweries in the U. S. have incorporated fruit, spice, and even chocolate into their beers. Beer has definitely evolved.