It’s the middle of the nineteenth century, give or take a decade or two. You are an ambitious young man.
For the first time, brewing—historically the province of the home, the monastery or the local tavern—becomes a commercial industry.
James Watt’s steam engine and other inventions have already revolutionized the textile and ceramics industries. Industrialization has opened the door for ambitious young men like you to advance in the world without the traditional leverage of inherited wealth.
You have the skills and the opportunity to apply the mechanization that has transformed other businesses to a traditional craft. You open a brewery.
In time, powered machinery replaces the labor of men and horses. Beer can be made in larger batches. A French scientist called Pasteur unlocks the secrets to fermentation—and to consistent brewing results.
The new railroad that connects your town to other rapidly growing towns can bring raw materials to your brewery, and transport your beer to a wide area. Refrigeration extends your reach. For the first time, brewing—historically the province of the home, the monastery or the local tavern—becomes a commercial industry.
Your brewery produces more than enough beer to sell to local outlets, and you see how much more profitable it would be to own both the brewery and the outlets, themselves. By the time you retire, you are a man of property, with a large brewing facility, distribution networks, and a string of pubs and taverns. You may not have started life as a gentleman, but you probably are one now.
This story played out with variations across Europe and North America and beyond. English entrepreneurs benefited from that country’s leading role in the Industrial Revolution. Other European countries followed shortly. Many brewery “founders,” in fact, purchased going concerns, and built on established foundations. American brewers were often recent immigrants with a professional brewing background, and the evolution of their brewing companies reflected the state of modernization where they settled: the same was true in other parts of the then-developing world.
But, whether they were called Leinenkugel, Fuller, Heineken, Müller or Molson, they were members of the generation that created the modern brewing industry, and a legacy to be handed down to their sons.