Indiana Beer History. Strange, Analytic, and sometimes Dastardly.

We recently came across three items you might be interested in.

1) There was a brewery as part of the Rappite colony in New Harmony in the 1820s. A really strange brewery.

0908-DogOnTreadmill"In their numerous industries, the ingenious Harmonists availed themselves of various sources of power. Most singular and spectacular - indeed, almost unique in that region in their day - were the steam engine that operated their cotton mill and, later, their threshing machine. . . From our modern point of view, more unusual than either of these sources of power was a large dog that walked a treadwheel on a platform twelve feet above the floor of the brewery, pumping water for the brew. Big as this dog was, he must have been spelled by another like him from time to time, for the Harmonist brewery produced five hundred gallons a day.- "The Angel and the Serpent" by William E. Wilson - IU Press, 1984.

2) From the Monthly Bulletin of the Indiana State Board of Health, April 1906. comes a serious look at:


While certain classes of beverages, notably those containing greater or less quantities of alcohoI, are consumed throughout the year, during the hot summer months the people demand a light, refreshing, attractive beverage that is not consumed at other seasons. In the summer months, too, the consumption of malt liquors is largely increased.

In order to determine the purity of these summer drinks we have collected and analyzed many samples of the products sold on the Indianapolis market.


The production of malt liquors in this country as an industry is second only in importance to the production of breadstuffs. Their consumption is steadily on the increase, as is also the amount consumed in proportion to other kinds of alcoholic beverages.

At the present time beer is prepared largely from malted grain, usually barley, although other substances, such as coin, rice, and glucose, frequently enter into its composition. Properly defined, beer is a beverage produced by alcoholic fermentation from a hopped infusion, either of malted cereals, preferably malted barley exclusively, or with the addition of unmalted or prepared cereals. Besides the malt and sugars which enter into the composition of beer. and which, in the form of infusions, are converted by yeast into alcohol, hops are also employed to give a palatable bitter to the product. Besides the malt or some fermentable sugar and the hops no other constituent should be present. The chemical composition of the finished product is, however, very complex, the principal constituents being alcohol, various sugars and carbohydrates, nitrogenous matter, carbonic, acetic, succinic, lactic, malic and tannic acids, bitter and resinous extractive matter from the hops, glycerine and various mineral constituents, consisting mainly of phosphates of the alkalies and alkali earths.

The analyses made at this laboratory comprise 27 samples, this number being about all of the different brands and varieties of beer obtainable in Indianapolis. The analyses were made principally for the purpose of determining the extent and nature of their adulteration or the use of antiseptic and preservative agents. As a basis for determining adulteration, however, it is necessary to know the chemical composition of the sample, and for that reason a complete analyses of all the beers has been made. Results of the analyses show very little adulteration either in imported or domestic beers. Several of the samples examined, namely, Nos. 4349, 4355. 4357. 4358 and 4359, contain sulphurous acid or sulphites: none contained benzoic or salicylic acids, and but one sample, which was a "Weiss beer, contained saccharin, An examination of the tabulated results shows that none of the beers departed widely in composition from the normal product. The imported beers have a high alcohol and extract content, and were brewed from a much heavier wort than were the domestic beers. From a chemical standpoint the domestic beers were very uniform in composition, there being no great difference in either the alcohol or extract content.

The plum to the real beer geeks is the table that attached to the report. It shows Specific Gravity, ABV, dextrins, acids, ash, and other interesting lab results for 27 beers including 12 from Indiana and 4 from Europe. Best printed for easiest reading. The original at the Indiana Memory Collection includes similar data for ginger ales, carbonated soft drinks, and orange ciders.

3) This is from an editorial written by James Frank Hanly, Governor of Indiana from 1905 - 1909, which appeared in the National Enquirer (Indianapolis). Not only does he blame the brewers for running the government, he thinks they should all be shot, at least figuratively.

0909-JFHanley"When the writer of this editorial was a candidate for the nomination for Governor of the State of Indiana it was not the distilling interests of the State, but the brewers, that sought to wring from him a promise that in consideration for his nomination he should, if elected, permit no temperance legislation during his term. It was the brewing interests of Indiana, not the distillers, that sought on the eve of election, after his nomination in spite of their opposition, to extort a like promise as the price of his election.

"It was the president of the Indiana Brewers' Association, and not a representative of the distillery interests of the State, that walked into the Governor's office in Indianapolis, and with the arrogance of a Hun announced that he had come to say to the Governor that a township and ward remonstrance law which the governor had recommended to the General Assembly for enactment could not be passed by the legislature.

"In all the history of the political and civil life of the American people there has been no combination or organization of power so brutal, so domineering, so corrupt, or so dead to every sense of civic interest or concern as the brewers of America. They have been and are the chief criminals, and no camouflage to which they may resort will save them. The people will see beneath the false pretense the bare, naked facts. The legislatures of the States will be organized into firing squads, and the beer trade will be compelled to meet its fate."

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