People in the United States drink a lot of alcohol. Total annual sales of these beverages top about $220 billion. The state of Delaware has a long history with booze. Unless you live in the Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia area, also referred to as the Delmarva area, you may not know much about Delaware. It was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. It has quite a history with beer as well. For example, Delaware craft beer is very popular all over the east coast. Here are some tidbits about beer, and other alcohol, in the First State:
There was a strong push to ban booze in Delaware before prohibition. The Anti-Saloon League was started in the late 1800s. It was a national organization whose mission was to ban all bars. In Delaware, they released a song entitled, “No Saloon in Delaware” early in the 20th century. The popular tune featured the chorus, “Oh, our Delaware! Our beloved Delaware! Here’s the loyal son that pledges No Saloon in Delaware!”
The first Delaware craft beer was brewed by Swedish settlers who arrived on the scene in the late 17th century. One cause of illness in Europe at the time was contaminated water. When the Swedish voyagers got to the new world, they survived by brewing beer and baking bread. They believed that drinking beer and not water would keep everyone healthy.
Beer was banned in the Blue Hen State (Delaware) in 1955. This happened right after the Diamond State Brewery was closed. That changed on June 1, 1995. That was the date the Rockford Brewing Company was opened. That was not to be the last Delaware craft beer brewery to open that June. Soon after, Calagione’s Dogfish followed suit and the state formally revoked the ban.
Growlers got their start in the state. When they first hit the scene, they were tin pails. After they were released, people would use them to carry their Delaware craft beer to their homes, barbecues, and picnics. Children were given five cents to bring them to saloons to have them filled up.
Delaware makes all breweries have to sell their product to distributors rather than the public. Right after the end prohibition, the state was concerned that Delaware craft beer breweries would grow too large and too fast resulting in them becoming more powerful than the state government wanted. Before the start of prohibition, that is exactly what happened and three local beer breweries controlled everything about beer making in the state.
Oktoberfest in Delaware was started by John Fehrenbach of Germany. He started one of the biggest breweries in the area and started the Delaware Saengerbund singing society. This is where the annual German beer festival is held.
The Miller Brewing Company was almost founded in Delaware. In 1970, the brewing company bought some land on Delaware State Road 72. The plan was scrapped when Phillip Morris bought the company soon after.
Women were the main makers of Delaware craft beer in the late 17th century and early 18th century. During this time, beer was brewed not in large companies but in taverns and homes all over the state. This was because men saw this as women’s work. It was not until much later when men stepped in and took over the industry.
Beer cans may have been released for the first time in Newark, New Jersey by the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company. This revolutionized the business when the cans came out in 1935. Their can operations moved to Delaware in 1944, when the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company bought the Delmarva Brewing Company in Wilmington.
Delware is a great state with wonderful beaches and resorts. It was also represented in the Senate by former Vice President Joe Biden. The history goes beyond its place as one of the original 13 American colonies and the first to ratify the constitution. Its history with Delaware craft beer is just another of its wonderful American story.