« Guinness turns 250 Friday, Slainte goes nuts | Main | Today's column: The Station North Spring Music Festival »

April 23, 2009

Is this really the golden age of microbreweries?

beer mugsBack when I toured Clipper City Brewery, our guide said this is the golden age of microbreweries.

It made sense, because for decades, all beer drinkers had to choose from were bland domestics like Budweiser and a handful of imports. 

But I want to think back more than a few decades -- back to the time before Prohibition.

I've read that in the 1800s and early 1900s, there were a whole bunch of breweries around town churning out suds ...

Back then, beer drinkers had plenty of options to pick from, and most were brewed right here in Baltimore. Keep in mind -- this was before eating and drinking locally were the trendy thing to do.

The Depression forced most of these smaller breweries out of business. And in the 1950s and 1960s, the big chains swooped in and took over.

I have always wondered how good beer was pre-Depression. You've got to figure -- with so much competition here in Baltimore alone, a brewery must have had to make good beer if it wanted to survive.

(AP photo)

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog
Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:06 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Not quite. Maureen Ogle's book Ambitious Brew gives a good account of brewing in America. I think it is true that there were more breweries, and it is true that there was more than one style, but at the same time, the style that predominated bears close resemblance to what predominates today, and in fact Budweiser was wildly popular at that time as well.

Interesting.... I've seen some breweries putting out beer that they claim has "the original Pre-Prohibition recipe".

I always figured the beer was stronger and more flavorful back then, too.

Not sure about golden age of microbreweries, but with the global economy, general economic wellbeing of most Americans even in these hard times and steady rise of microbrewing across all 50 states, I think it might be the golden age of brewing variety and creativity.

Something of a renaissance if you will.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Please enter the letter "q" in the field below:
About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

Most Recent Comments
Recent tweets
Sign up for FREE nightlife alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Photo galleries
Stay connected