FOOD: Transforming the American Table

Change is Brewing

By the 1960s, some Americans were tired of the narrow range of beer styles produced by big breweries. Inspired by European brewing manuals and beers they encountered abroad, homebrewers began to tinker in their kitchens and basements, seeking to make more flavorful beers themselves. Even though brewing beer at home remained illegal following Prohibition’s repeal, homebrewers embraced a do-it-yourself approach in line with other countercultural trends of the day. In the 1970s, the influence of a few important figures converged. Their work in the home kitchen, classroom, and brewery would change the course of beer production and consumption in the United States.

The Homebrewer

Relax. Don't Worry. Have a homebrew.

—Charlie Papazian

Charlie Papazian brewing, around 1983

Charlie Papazian brewing, around 1983

Courtesy of Charlie Papazian

Charlie Papazian was a student at the University of Virginia when in 1970 he tasted a beer made by a local homebrewer. That first sip was a revelation to him, and he began to experiment with brewing his own beer. After graduation, Papazian moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he taught brewing classes, wrote books, and founded the American Homebrewers Association, the journal Zymurgy, and the Great American Beer Festival.

Charlie Papazian used basic equipment to homebrew. He wrote his first recipe for homebrewed beer while a student at the University of Virginia.

Ginger ale bottle, 1970

Ginger ale bottle, 1970

Gift of Charlie Papazian

Spoon, 1974

Gifts of Charlie Papazian

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Homebrew recipe, 1971

Gift of Charlie Papazian

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Homebrew recipe, 1971

Gift of Charlie Papazian

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Papazian self-published this first edition of Joy of Brewing, his brewing manual, in 1976. When the federal government legalized homebrewing in 1978, Papazian founded the American Homebrewers Association to serve as a forum for education and communication among homebrewers across the country.

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Coaster, around 1983–1986

Gift of John McCulla

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Charlie Papazian brewing in Boulder, Colorado, 1983

Charlie Papazian brewing in Boulder, Colorado, 1983

Courtesy of Charlie Papazian

The Professor

[M]y business is to teach the bedrock, to teach what every brewer must know in spades.

­­—Michael Lewis

Biochemist Michael Lewis, an expert on the properties of yeast in brewing, arrived at the University of California at Davis in 1962. The university’s center for the study of winemaking was world-renowned, but its brewing science program was just beginning. Lewis built Davis’s program into a premier center for the study of brewing and became the nation’s first professor of brewing science. Generations of brewers passed through his classroom.

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Michael Lewis and his students visiting New Albion Brewing Company in Sonoma, California, around 1976

Michael Lewis and his students visiting New Albion Brewing Company in Sonoma, California, around 1976

Courtesy of Doug Muhleman

Michael Lewis, around 1962–1964

Michael Lewis, around 1962–1964

Courtesy of Brewing History Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Brewing textbook, 2002

Brewing textbook, 2002

Gift of Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Davis, co-authored this influential brewing textbook. He used this copy of his book while teaching brewing science in his classroom and lab.

The Alchemist

I walked into the brewery and . . . I was home. . . . It’s a wonderworld of basic science.

—Fritz Maytag

Fritz Maytag grew up in Iowa, where his father ran the Maytag Washing Machine Company, and he moved to California for college. Restless and yearning for new direction, he jumped at the chance to purchase San Francisco’s struggling Steam Beer Brewing Company (now Anchor Brewing Company) in 1965. With his entrepreneurial roots and zeal for science, he revitalized the brewery, perfecting its “steam beer” recipe and adopting European styles like porter and barleywine. As a self-taught brewer running a small-scale brewery, Maytag inspired many who dreamed of opening their own breweries.

Fritz Maytag brewing at Anchor, around 1966

Fritz Maytag brewing at Anchor, around 1966

Courtesy of Anchor Brewing Company

Microscope, 1938

Gift of Fritz Maytag

Fritz Maytag received this microscope from his father when he was a teenager. With it, Maytag discovered a passion for what he called “alchemy,” and eventually, brewing beer. Maytag used this microscope to understand and correct inconsistencies in the beer at Anchor Brewing Company.

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Brewing textbook, 1957

Gift of Fritz Maytag

Fritz Maytag collected textbooks to learn techniques of brewing and sanitation. He remembered falling asleep with this book on his lap in his early years at Anchor, exhausted after long days in the brewery.

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Fritz Maytag, around 1984

Fritz Maytag, around 1984

Courtesy of Anchor Brewing Company

Photograph of printer’s press sheet of the first modern printing of Anchor Steam Beer labels, 1968

Photograph of printer’s press sheet of the first modern printing of Anchor Steam Beer labels, 1968

Gift of Fritz Maytag

In 1968, Anchor Brewing Company printed these labels as it prepared to bottle its Anchor Steam Beer, a modern take on an iconic San Francisco style.

Coveralls, around 2005

Gift of Fritz Maytag

Brewers at Anchor Brewing Company don these white coveralls when they brew. Wearing this distinctive outfit is a point of pride for employees of this historic business in downtown San Francisco.

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