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Throwback Thursday: End of beer making closes four Winona plants

November 22, 2018

One hundred years ago, Prohibition was on the horizon. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution banning “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” within the United States had been passed by the Congress and was within weeks of ratification. Winona and the entire nation would be officially “dry” until the 21st Amendment brought repeal and legal beer in 1933.

Three Winona breweries and one malting plant will close at midnight tonight, when President Wilson’s war order stopping the manufacture of beer, its substitutes and by-products goes into effect. It is estimated that 50 men will be made available for other work and property valued at about $500,000 will stop the familiar manufacture. There are approximately 20,000 barrels of beer on hand in Winona today, brewers state.

“We will stop brewing today and as soon as our present stock of beer is disposed of we will close the brewery and our other buildings unless they are rented in the meantime,” said John Dietze, president of the Park Brewing Co., today. The brewery official further stated that the property and machinery at the Park brewery are worth approximately $250,000 and that from present indications the building will be empty as soon, as the machinery is disposed of. Mr. Dietze further stated that the brewing company maintains 17 other buildings in the city and 12 buildings outside the city. He declared that the “For Rent” sign will grace them as soon as the present supply of beer becomes exhausted. He stated that the buildings represent an investment of $80,000 besides the $250,000 investment in the brewery proper.

Park Co. has 6,000 barrels

When questioned as to the present supply of beer, Mr. Dietze stated that his company has approximately 6,000 barrels on hand. He said he was unable to make any prediction as to how long it would last as that will depend largely upon the demand. Mr. Dietze further added that the prices of beer will probably rise with the decreasing supply. He said that it was the natural tendency to increase prices when the supply diminished and that a proposed tax of $3 a barrel would add to increasing prices.

Eight skilled laborers in the brewing department of the Park brewery are reported released as a result of the order. Four of them were laid off last week and four more will leave the plant today.

Bub Co. well stocked

“We have approximately 8,200 barrels of beer on hand, said an official of the Peter Bub Brewing Co. today when he stated that the company will cease brewing at midnight. Ten employees of this brewery” will be affected by the closing of the brewery.

It is not known what the future of the Bub brewery building will be. Officials declared today that it had not been rented and that the most important item of business before them now was to dispose of the large quantity of beer on hand. The brewery will remain open until the beer is disposed of.

The Winona Malting Co. ceased operations two months ago. Officials of the company declined to be interviewed today as to the future of the malting plant

Berrum buys machinery

The machinery in the William Schellhas brewery at Sugar Loaf is being dismantled. M. C. Berrum of the Electrical Construction Co. has contracted for the electrical equipment, in the building and has a force of men removing it today.

It is not believed that the closing of the breweries will work much hardship on the employees. All have known for months that the breweries will close tonight and most of them have procured other positions. With the exception of a few employees who will be retained to close the business of the plants, all will be paid off and discharged today.

Bone dry rule July 1

Although there are no distilleries located here, plants of the kind were closed early last summer and after tonight, only light wines may be manufactured in the United States. Importation of liquor was also cut off by the president’s order. Sale of intoxicating liquor will be permitted, however, until July 1, 1919, when the country will become bone dry. Local brewers believe that the supply of beer will be exhausted before that time. Supplies of beer and liquor now held by the breweries and in bonded warehouses are said to be adequate for normal consumption of the next few months.

Many saloonmen retire

Closing of the breweries will have no immediate effect on the saloons in Winona. Many proprietors, however, are retiring from business at the expiration of their licenses. It is believed that only one-third of the Winona saloons will be operating by next June when the country goes bone dry.

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