Seventy-Five Years Ago: Roll Out the Barrel! Um, Okay -- But Which Kind?

Counting Down to April 7, the Anniversary of the Return of Legal Beer

No matter how good the news, we humans will find some way to squabble over the details. Milwaukee beermakers, labor unions, and the Wisconsin state legislature spent the last few days before Legal Beer arguing over the legality of metal kegs.

On March 31, one house of the legislature adopted a bill that banned the use of metal kegs. Brewers protested, explaining that the ban would force them to cancel contracts with the Wisconsin companies already hired to fabricate the metal containers.

Worse yet, said Fred Pabst, Jr., of Pabst Brewing Company, the lumber for old-style wooden barrels would have to be imported from "Arkansas and some of the other dry states" -- meaning states that had long supported Prohibition. Pshaw, said members of organized labor, which supported the ban on metal kegs. We want to drink beer "out of wooden barrels, as in the olden days."

This tempest in a teapot -- er, barrel -- raged on for a few more days. But the story had a happy ending: on April 5, the legislature passed a new bill that allowed brewers to use the metal containers. Beer might be back, but the "olden days" were gone for good.


Sources: Milwaukee Sentinel, April 4, 1933, p. 1; and April 6, 1933, pp. 1 and 17.