Yuengling and Budweiser – Surviving Prohibition

Prohibition hit breweries hard in when the legislation passed in 1919. Ever wonder what breweries did to survive? Here’s some innovative ways that breweries stood strong and made it out alive.

Yuengling’s owner, Frank Yuengling, didn’t believe that Prohibition would last. So, in order to stay in business he produced 3 “near-beers.” Yuengling Special CapAlthough packaged like traditional beer bottles, they were actually energy drinks. (Who knew Red Bull had such a patriarchal predecessor?) Their names? Yuengling Special, Yuengling Por-Tor and Yuengling Juvo. The Special and the Por-Tor were made to resemble the taste of real beers – non alcoholic, of course – while Juvo was a new brew pitched as a breakfast drink.

Prohibition PosterAnheuser-Busch dealt with Prohibition differently. Instead of creating new concoctions, they stuck with more traditional means of revenue; they sold the ingredients that they had used to produce beer prior to prohibition. Beer was illegal, but the ingredients (yeast, hops, etc. in their virgin state) were not, and underground home brewers and speak easies were in need of these essentials. The major seller was their 5-pound brick of brewer’s yeast, which was enough to produce one large batch of beer. By continuing to provide ingredients they were able to keep their network and contacts alive and active, so that when Prohibition failed they were quickly back in business.

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