Consumer Products

The Beer Capital Of The World Keeps Shrinking

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Several pieces of research claim that they have identified the world’s, or America’s, beer capital. Some are based on the number of breweries. Others are based on beer consumption per capita. Still others are based on where the world’s largest breweries are located. For decades, one city has held the title of “Beer Capital of the World,” whether that is supported by statistics today or not. That city is Milwaukee. Every state has a great local beer.

Milwaukee likely got the title because it was home at one point or another to the headquarters of Miller, Schlitz, Pabst, and Blatz. Schlitz was founded in the city in 1849. Miller began its brewing operation in Milwaukee in 1855.

Frederick Pabst, Joseph Schlitz, Jacob Best, and Valentin Blatz are buried in one of Milwaukee’s cemeteries, dead for over a century. The headquarters are also gone, and the brands, if they survive, are owned by larger firms, including MillerCoors, based in Chicago. (There is even a theory that Milwaukee got the name because it was close to beer-consuming Chicago.)

Milwaukee has fallen on hard times. It had a population of 741,324 in 1950. That has fallen to 563,305. For the period, several nearby suburbs grew.

Milwaukee proper has several demographic signs of decline. The median home value is about $136,000, according to the Census. Nationwide, the figure is closer to $400,000. The median household income is approximately $45,000. The national figure is close to $70,000. The poverty rate is 24%, about twice the national figure.

Milwaukee was a manufacturing city driven by beer production, much like Detroit, Cleveland, and Toledo, although these made cars and car parts. Nevertheless, the progression of their central cities has been about the same.

Is Milwaukee the Beer Capital of the World.? Perhaps so, but it is based on memory more than reality.

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