I’ve been trying to research the United States Brewers Foundation for something I’ve been working on, but haven’t been able to find out very much. I believe they were formed on October 14, 1944 through a merger between the original United States Brewers Association (USBA), which was formed in 1862 (sort of, that’s was when the first meeting took place, at least), and the upstart United Brewers Industrial Foundation (UBIF), then only seven years old. The newly combined trade group was called the United States Brewers Foundation (USBF). What happened to them after that I can’t say. I’m sure somebody knows. The Encyclopedia of Beer (Rhodes, Christine, ed. The Encyclopedia of Beer. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1995) claims the USBA is “now defunct” but also details how getting some legislation passed in October 1976 was its “crowning achievement.” By that I infer that they believe they were still a going concern at least as late as 1976, but that after that they “unofficially” merged with the Brewers Association of America (BAA), which was formed in 1941.
Even the Wikipedia entry for the USBA is contradictory. The first sentence claims the USBA existed from 1862 to 1986. But in the last paragraph, the 1944 merger is also recounted. I know the BAA “officially” merged with the Association of Brewers to create the present-day Brewers Association around four years ago. But if the USBA merged with the UBIF in 1944 to create the USBF, how was it possible they were still around in 1976 or 1986? Something is wrong there, I just don’t know which account is right.
Anyway, that’s almost pointless — except in the hopes that someone can set the record straight and has some authority to back it up — what’s important here is that I also stumbled on a great little propaganda film promoting the brewing industry produced by the USBF in the 1950s. It’s called As We Like It, and runs just over ten minutes. Parts of it are unintentionally funny, in the way all documentary films were during this time period. But perhaps more interesting is that some of the arguments they make about the positive aspects of the brewing industry are ones we’re still having to make today, which is a little sad. But since the New Drys keep ignoring them, we have to keep reminding them. That’s the nature of their propaganda, to simply not address uncomfortable or inconvenient truths. Here is, or rather was, ours. Enjoy!
For extra credit, guess how many times the words “clean” and “friendly” are used, including variants. Those seem to be the big selling points, that the beer industry is “clean” and “friendly.”
Deirdre Reid says
“Gracious living” – that may become my motto. I thought it was interesting how he kept referring to “beer and ale” — that seems to still confuse a lot of people. It also seemed as if one of the target audiences might have been tavern owners as there was so much emphasis on “good tavern operations” but I realize that it’s all part of the effort to paint the entire industry from seed to glass in a clean light so as to fight the “dry” propaganda. Fascinating peek back into time. Thanks for unearthing it.
Both of the old-line brewers organizations went through a number of mergers/splits and name changes and were often called descriptively “the big brewers organization” and the “the small brewers group” (altho’ membership was seldom that clearcut, as is the case even today).
The current “Beer Institute” (formed in 1986) considers the US Brewer’s Association and Brewer’s Foundation it’s “predecessors”, and still publishes the Brewers Almanac in the same form as those two earlier groups once did. http://www.beerinstitute.org/index.asp
The “small brewers” organization (which, as the BAA, merged into the AHA’s craft brewers group to form the current Brewers Association, as you note), I seem to recall evolved out of the Associated Producers of Cereal Beverages, a small mid-Western group that is best remembered for opposing the USBA over supporting the “3.2 abw” limit before full Repeal- they wanted 2.75 abw.
Older editions of the Brewers Almanac have some history of the organization(s) and Stanley Baron’s “Brewed in America” has quite a bit on the post-Repeal organizations, IIRC.
Maureen Ogle says
Jay, this may help:’
The UBIF was a consequence of the Great Depression. Congress imposed wage/price controls on every industry, but in exchange for agreeing to them, each industry was allowed to self-govern its adherence to the rules.
So the UBIF was the brewers’ wing established to cooperate w/these federally imposed guidelines and, in this case, to also promote the brewers as good guys who played by the rules.
It was always part of the USBA; think of it as an autonomous but related sub-committee.
Eventually the committee outlived its usefulness, and was folded back into the USBA.
For a few years the USBF title was used, but it didn’t mean much and the USBA has indeed existed since 1862 (now it’s the called the Beer Institute).
The BAA was a completely separate group, born in the early 1940s to protect small brewers from the few giants. It survived until it merged with the AOB in 2005.
If you can get access to Modern Brewery Age or Modern Brewery from the 1930s and 1940s (UC-Davis likely has a complete run), you can track these groups’ histories. There is some info in the NY Times, but not enough to allow you to piece together the whole story. (Which is why I relied on MBA and MB.)
Hope this helps!
Well that may explain why Wikipedia claims the USBA existed until 1986, but the Beer Institute (BI), in their “About Us” section, never claims that they’ve been around any longer than since 1986, and I’d think if they could claim a lineage back to 1862 (making them the country’s 2nd oldest trade organization) that they would do so. So did the USBA just sort of peter out, as fewer and fewer breweries were around to fund it? Did they go out with a whimper instead of a bang? Then the BI started and took over some of the same functions the USBA and USBF had performed, such as the almanac and positive spin?
Baron mentions the merger of the USBA and USBF, but just barely (pgs. 335-6). Happily, a little later (I missed this before) – at pg. 347 – he states that in 1961 the USBF voted to revert to its original name, the USBA. So that appears to solve the USBF mystery, now something more definitive on the USBA’s demise would be helpful, though not strictly necessary for my purposes, it was the USBF I was most interested in. Thanks Jess and Maureen, for your help.
Maureen Ogle says
Jay, the current Beer Institute is a reflection of profound changes in the beer industry.
The old USBA was the “main” brewing trade organzation, and the old BAA represented the “small” brewers (not the craft brewers, but the non-giants of yesteryear).
But by the early 1980s, there weren’t many “large” brewers left, certainly not enough to sustain the USBA. There were 3, 4 huge brewers — and then everyone else.
So the current BI has as members not just the three remaining big brewers, but also wholesalers/distributors, can manufacturers, beer magazines, and craft brewers.
In short, it’s a lobbying group for its members, all of whom are, in some way, connected to and dependent on the brewing industry.
The earlier USBA incarnation, in contrast, was brewers only.
Make sense? As a side note, in the wake of repeal there was a major conflict between and among beermakers, mostly divided along regional lines (midwestern brewers v. east coast ones.)
Jake Ruppert was more-or-less leader of one faction (the old USBA) and the folks at Pabst and A-B were leaders of the renegades. In c. 1939, the two groups decided to stop fighting and rejoin as a single group, the USBA.
Yeah, that makes sense. I understood the difference between the USBA and the BAA, but was fuzzier on how the USBF fit in.
What a brilliant little video.
It’s inspired me to enjoy some clean and friendly beer and/or ale tonight. Gracious living!
Whatt a HOOT! ha ah!
bonus how many time were “good” and “average” said
man this is great!
Gracious Living indeed!