Monday, April 8, 2013

Oshkosh: The Beer Soaked City

Sorting though some old brewery numbers the other day, I hit upon a little nugget that jumped out at me. In 1913, Oshkosh’s three breweries produced just over 50,000 barrels of beer. Nearly all of that beer was consumed locally. At the time, Oshkosh’s population was hovering around 33,000 people. Break down the numbers and you find that beer consumption here had hit the astronomical rate of more than 46 gallons of beer a year for every man, woman and child living in Oshkosh. Compare that to the national rate of beer consumption at the time, which was about 20 gallons of beer per year, and you’ll get a good idea of just how beer soaked Oshkosh was 100 years ago. Actually, the Oshkosh consumption level of 46 gallons a year may be on the conservative side. This doesn’t include any of the beer that was flowing in from Milwaukee and beyond. There was plenty of that beer being swallowed in Oshkosh, as well.

How do we compare to our well-watered predecessors? We don’t quite stack up. Accurately gaging current per-capita beer consumption in Oshkosh is tricky, but it’s a safe bet to say we’re in the 38-40 gallon range. Yearly beer consumption in Wisconsin is now at just over 36 gallons per person. Considering that the number of liquor licenses held in Oshkosh is at the high end of the scale, consumption in Oshkosh is almost certainly a couple clicks above the state level. Yet another reason why we ought to be fertile ground for another brewery of some sort.

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