Friday, March 22, 2013

Oshkosh Needs More Breweries... and More Bock Beer!

Monday, the Brewer’s Association released their beer data for 2012. If you like good beer, the digits are full of nothing but good news. The number of breweries is up, production is up, craft-beer consumption is up and it’s looking more and more like we’ve finally turned the corner on pale-lager’s absolute dominance of our collective palate.

What grabbed my attention, though, was the increase in the number of active breweries. In the past year, the American brewery count has jumped from 2,033 to 2,403. You have to go back to the years clustered around 1880 to find a time when there were so many American breweries. I think that’s good news for us here in Oshkosh.

In 1880 there were six active breweries in Oshkosh (see map below). And in 1880, those six Oshkosh breweries were serving a population of less than 16,000 people. Now we have more than 66,000 people living in Oshkosh. What does all this mean? Well, if you take into account our consumption patterns, the beer-drinking tradition, the vibrant homebrew scene and the overall trend; I think it’s almost inevitable that Oshkosh will add another brewery/brewpub in the not-too-distant future. I hear chatter about it all the time. Someone is going to break through. We’re ripe for it.

OK, so long as I’m spewing, there’s this: Where are all the Bock beers? It’s March, we ought to have Bock beer running out our ears. Instead, the only decent Traditional Bock you can pick up in six packs is New Glarus Cabin Fever. And don’t tell me that faux Bock from Shiner or that box of Bock-ish stuff from Huber count. They don’t. This is Wisconsin, dammit. It’s March, we require Bock Beer!

Click the blue balloons on the the interactive map below for names, locations and dates of operation of the Oshkosh breweries active in 1880.

View 1880 Oshkosh Breweries in a larger map

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