Wednesday, January 17, 2007

History of Brewing in Utah

Breweries in Utah are no new phenomenon, book shows
Pat Bagley
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:12/31/2006 01:21:37 AM MST

If you didn't celebrate New Year's Eve last night, you might be one of
those interested in Del Vance's new book. /Beer in the Beehive: A
History of Brewing/ /in Utah/ looks at one of the world's oldest
industries and its place here.
    Here is some trivia I gleaned from browsing that you can share
tonight with fellow celebrators should the party drag.
    * By 1850, several breweries were established in the Salt Lake
Valley, presumably by Mormon pioneers. Vance has documentation that one
of these early settlers, John Reese, was even granted a license to brew
beer from beets.
    * Orrin Porter Rockwell, the notorious gunslinger and enforcer,
built a roadhouse brewery in Bluffdale called the Hot Springs Brewery
Hotel. He had gained some practical experience years before in Nauvoo
when he set up a bar in Joseph Smith's Nauvoo House.
    * The first major Utah brewery was built in 1864 by a German
immigrant, Henry Wagener. Called the California Brewery, it was located
at the mouth of Emigration Canyon within a stone's throw of the This Is
the Place monument.
    * In the 1800s, ZCMI sold beer, wine and liquor in its downtown
    * Mark Twain was familiar with a distilled spirit called Valley Tan.
He said it was "a kind of whiskey, or first cousin to it; it is of
Mormon invention and manufactured only in Utah. Tradition says it is
made of imported fire and brimstone."
    * Temperance advocate Carrie Nation visited Salt Lake City in 1903
with a bag of her trademark axes. The axes had been engraved and were
sold as souvenirs. Nation wanted to address LDS General Conference and
enlist the Mormons to her cause. An easy sell if there ever was one.
    * But President Joseph F. Smith didn't want her to speak. Not to be
deterred by a mere prophet of the Almighty, the 6-foot Nation bullied
her way into the Tabernacle and even forced her way to the podium. She
then insulted just about everyone in the country.
    * Strict adherence to the Word of Wisdom, and even what it meant,
was in flux before the 1920s. In 1900, LDS Church President Lorenzo Snow
saw the central message of the Word of Wisdom as a prohibition on the
eating of meat since animals have souls. Many of his fellow general
authorities argued that beer shouldn't be counted as being covered by
the Word of Wisdom.
    * The Word of Wisdom was enshrined as church law soon after the
adoption of Prohibition in the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution
in 1919.
    * In 1909 Republicans overwhelmingly controlled the Legislature.
Then as now, they were mostly Mormon and pro-business. Events showed
that Republican officials were suffering crises of conscience between
their business and religious sensibilities. The /Deseret News/ accused
Republican legislators of dragging their feet on the endorsement of
prohibition. Things got embarrassing when it was revealed that the
brewers had been funneling money to the Republicans with the implicit
understanding that they torpedo legislation dealing with prohibition.
    Prohibition was struck from the Constitution on Dec. 5, 1933, when
Utah became the 36th state to vote for repeal.
    Here's another bit of trivia that is not in /Beer in the Beehive/,
but deserves mention because it is guaranteed to thrill your party
guests. Years ago I toured the special collections of BYU's Harold B.
Lee Library. The curator at the time, Chad Flake, asked with a sly smile
if I wanted to see the oldest item they owned. He opened a small box
with a piece of stone resting in it about the size of my palm. It was a
Sumerian cuneiform tablet covered with imprints made with a sharpened
stick when it was still a wet piece of clay several thousand years ago.
    "Want to know what it says?" Flake asked. Sure, I was curious.
    "It's a bill of sale for beer."

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