If you walked into a typical Washington, DC bar in 1973 or 1974 . . .

Discussion in 'US - South' started by NeidhartVonReuenthal, Nov 13, 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. NeidhartVonReuenthal

    NeidhartVonReuenthal Initiate (0) Oct 2, 2012 Virginia

    what would normally be on tap? Just Bud and Miller? I know Christian Heurich Brewing closed sometime in the sixties. Were there Natty Boh taps down here?

    How much would a pint cost normally, and how much at happy hour?

    (I just like living in the past sometimes).
    jayluf likes this.
  2. southdenverhoo

    southdenverhoo Devotee (423) Aug 13, 2004 Colorado

    I remember a lot of Bud and Schlitz bottles and 12 ounce Pilsener glasses, actually. Not many pints, not that much draft. I was in Charlottesville, worked in a bar where the Nighthawks would play a 4 night run once a month. Or Danny Gatton & the Fat Boys, NRBQ, bands like that. Delbert McClinton...We'd trek up to Washington for shows and their bars were a lot like ours, only hipper, edgier, more city. But the same beers, same bands.

    I remember serving a lot of pitchers of Bud and Miller, and Schlitz was still a thing. PBR more blue collar beer. But draft wasn't a thing to savor, more like a cheaper quaff served by the pitcher, pitcher after pitcher to tables of partiers. Because you got 5 glasses of beer out of a 60 oz pitcher, but it cost a little less than 4 single drafts, and even a single draft was a little cheaper than the same beer in a 12 oz bottle.

    High rollers and sophisticates who'd been to Europe drank Heinekin and Becks, and guys in tweed jackets with patches on the elbows drank Guinness. it was a rare, specialty beer bar or Irish themed pub (when they werent ubiquitous) that served Guinness btw, like The Dubliner, which I think was open by 1973 or 1974, still there on F St last time I was in that part of town, a couple years ago. Maybe Clyde's had Guinness, back in the 70s, I can't remember. If I were there I would have been drinking a Jameson rocks, probably, unless it was breakfast when it would have been bloodies chased with Heinie, I am embarrassed to admit.

    I don't remember a lot of Natty Boh in Charlottesville except among lacrosse players from Baltimore, at fraternities like the St. Elmo house. I sort of recall it being served at RFK before the Senators moved to Texas, but I may be mixing up trips to RFK with trips to Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, which we did sometimes.

    Oh, and Ballantine Ale, because Dr. Gonzo ordered one that one time in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The book. But you definitely couldn't find that everywhere.

    I turned 21 in November 1974 so maybe a 30-something may have had a different set of experiences.
  3. david18

    david18 Initiate (0) Sep 18, 2005 New York

    When did Brickskeller arrive on the scene there. I drank there in the early 80's and they already had a list of 100s of beers.
  4. bluehende

    bluehende Poo-Bah (2,440) Dec 10, 2010 Delaware

    Some of our bars had a Tuborg (sp) tap. That was about it other than schlitz and bud. Our local happy hours were 25 cents a beer (12 oz mug) I think this was half normal price. Many local pizza places had dollar pitcher nights. The good old days.
    NeidhartVonReuenthal likes this.
  5. jayluf

    jayluf Initiate (0) Mar 26, 2014 District of Columbia

    Don't mean to hijack - but anyone remember some of the old brewpubs in DC? There were a few around during the 90s. Before my time but love hearing stories from then.
  6. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (7,953) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    I liked John Harvards when it was around... good atmosphere too
  7. cj8311

    cj8311 Aspirant (256) Nov 12, 2008 Maryland

    i know it was there at least in the late 60s becuase i heard stories from my dad.
  8. NeidhartVonReuenthal

    NeidhartVonReuenthal Initiate (0) Oct 2, 2012 Virginia

    25 cents, wow.

    I had forgotten about Schlitz; southdenverhoo's post reminded me of that brewery essentially committing suicide in the late seventies by cutting quality so quickly and so drastically in an attempt to save money that everyone just stopped buying it, an account I read in van Munching's _Beer Blast_ some years ago.

    Interesting to note that it seems to have been nearly impossible before the eighties to get a beer that wasn't a cookie-cutter lager, except for Guinness.
  9. jayluf

    jayluf Initiate (0) Mar 26, 2014 District of Columbia

    The number of breweries in the US bottomed out around 1980. Something like 70. Total.
  10. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,314) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Heurich closed in 1956, but nearby Baltimore still had a number of breweries - Carling, National and Schaefer (all multi-million barrel companies) had branch breweries there and probably all shipped beer into DC. I imagine C. Schmidt's & Sons of Phila. (another Top 20 brewer) also did.

    US draft beer at the time typically was not served by the pint. Sham pilsner, pilsner glasses of 6-8 oz., mugs of 10-12 oz. were typical in most regions and most bars. Breweries considered 8 oz. the standard "glass of beer".

    Yeah, early 70's, 25¢ a glass was pretty typical. I remember going to a nearby local dive bar with $2* (thanks to unemployment insurance!) and that bought me 4 glasses of Schaefer (a real nice beer on tap), 6 games of pinball (@3 games for a quarter) and, being the big tipper I am, a 25% tip (25¢) and I still left with a quarter in my pocket!

    * Of course, $2 was also the hourly rate of pay I made as a nightwatchman when I was going to college around the same time period...

    Well, "everybody stopped buying it" is a bit of an exaggeration - they did lose over 40% of their sales from their peak year of 1976 (24m bbl) down to 14.3m bbl. in 1981, the year before they were sold to Stroh. But 14 million barrels of beer is still pretty impressive (not many US brewers ever broke the 10 million barrel mark).

    Interestingly (and not wholly unrelated), Miller's sales went from 18m bbl. to over 40m bbl. in that same 6 year period - the largest increase in barrelage in US brewing history.

    Oh, let's see - just on the domestic side, in the 70s there were still numerous seasonal bock beers, dark (lager) beers (many draught-only), porters and ales. Of the latter two styles, off-hand I can think of (and remember drinking multiple bottles of) Ballantine XXX Ale, Ballantine Brewers Gold Ale, Ballantine India Pale Ale, McSorley’s Cream Ale, Lord Chesterfield Ale, Black Horse Ale (Trenton and Koch), Rainier Ale, Pickwick Ale, Croft Ale, Genesee 12 Horse Ale, Schaefer Cream Ale, Schoenling Cream Ale (Little King’s), Carling Red Cap Ale, Pabst’s Old Tankard Ale, Liebotschaner Cream Ale, Kodiak Cream Ale, Tiger Head Ale, Neuweiler Ale, Anchor Steam Beer, Haffenreffer Private Stock Malt Liquor, Mickey’s Malt Liquor, Yuengling Porter, Ballantine Porter (also marketed as Krueger Old Surrey Porter), Narragansett Porter, Stegmaier Porter…

    It was actually worse than that - the actual number of brewing companies bottomed out in 1979 with only 43- and that includes the first "craft/micro", New Albion, the very short-lived California Steam Beer Co., and a sake brewer, Numano. So, only 40 pre-craft era, old line breweries. The 70/80 figure for the low point which is often cited is actual "breweries" - companies like Anhesuer Busch, Schlitz, Miller, Heileman, Pabst and Falstaff all ran multiple breweries around the country, which upped the total.
    #10 jesskidden, Nov 16, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2014
    JackHorzempa, ripps1, ShanePB and 2 others like this.
  11. southdenverhoo

    southdenverhoo Devotee (423) Aug 13, 2004 Colorado

    By 1975 while I was working in the live band bar I mentioned, the price of Bud longnecks went from $.85 to $.90. I remember this clearly because what that meant for me was that what had been a $.15 tip out of a dollar bill became a $.10 tip.

    I'll never forget when Danny Gatton & the Fat Boys came down from DC, we drew an older and more affluent crowd that favored Heinekin, which we sold for $1.10, and that usually meant a $.90 tip out of two ones the customer handed me. The first time somebody handed me two bucks for a buck ten beer and said, "keep the change!", was the day I became an over-tipper for life.

    Jess Kidden's post made me recall that maybe those pilsener glasses were in fact 10 oz rather than 12; in any event a draft Bud was $.65 when the bottle was $.85, and I guess went up to $.70 when the bottles went to $.90. But nobody ordered a single out on "the floor"; it was all pitchers at $3.50, $2.75 during happy hour.

    We also sold 6 packs to go at closing time--back when a sixer of Bud was $1.39 in the grocery store, our owner charged full on-premise price, i.e. $5.40, for 6 longnecks to go. Plus 12 cents for the bottle deposit. He said,"Hey, where else they gonna go? They're lucky I don't mark it UP at 1:45 AM."

    I am not disagreeing w/ Jess, but my recollection was 50 cents even in a funky workingman's bar, by 1975. Quarter drafts, in my memory (and I should know better than to state a contrary position here, JK's knowledge is encyclopedic) were a special promo/happy hour thing, by 1975 (I stress "by 1975", certainly could have been less in 1970), because I turned 21 in November of 1974 so that's when I first started hitting bars with a vengeance and the memories are accordingly strong (drinking age went to 18 in VA on January 1, 1975, a little less than 2 months after I turned 21, that always pissed me off, and still does, that I lost those three years of bar drinking!)
  12. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,319) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    I'm a little younger (yet still old for this site), and frequently made trips with friends to G-town in late 80's/early 90's. No idea about beer offerings. Went to the Bayou down by the river under the bridge. Saw a lot of metal bands play down there. Most were lousy. :-)
  13. monty_capuletti

    monty_capuletti Initiate (0) Oct 25, 2013 Virginia

    On a side note (this thread is great BTW) can someone explain to me how DC Brau is billed as DC's first brewery yet when I was in high school/early college, I distinctly remember drinking Foggy Bottom Brewing Co. beers, which if I am not mistaken, had a DC address for the brewery? Perhaps I am not recalling correctly though. Is that place still around? Also, per DC Brau's website, they are DC's first hometown brewery since 1956.
  14. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,314) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Foggy Bottom (originally called Olde Heurich Brewing Co. and owned by a descendant of the original Christian Heurich) was an early, post-Boston Beer Co., contract-brewer - brewing first at Pittsburgh (BBC's original contractor, and even used BBC's consultant, Joseph Owades) and later at F. X. Matt. They never opened a brewery in DC.
  15. mugs1789

    mugs1789 Initiate (81) Dec 6, 2005 Maryland

    Ah, Foggy Bottom. I really enjoyed that beer when most beer menus were limited to the Big 3, SABL, SNPA, and Foggy Bottom. They missed the craft boom by just a few years....

    btw, this is a great thread.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.