On Okinawa, we were issued (as I remember) 4-6 bottles of beer a week—some weeks—which ration dwindled down to a can of tomato juice on at least one occasion after the war had ended. However, the only brand I remember is khaki colored cans of Duquesne (Pittsburgh), which was also issued to us in Japan. All of this beer was low alcohol “3.2” beer (4% ABV) only.
In Japan (1945-6), I sampled my first “foreign” beer: liter bottles of Japanese Asahi, which cost ten yen ($1) and arrived with the company of a young lady and her ten dance tickets. But for a short time, there was also a cask conditioned malt extract beer from the British Brewery ship HMS Menestheus on duty with the British navy, brewed for the British services; in this case for their Marines at our base in Yokosuka near Tokyo (AAB 21:4, Sept 2000).
Back home in the late summer of 1946, I was still not 21, so I drank Washington-brewed Olympia at the VFW club in Everett, where I was a member. Of course, there was also my stepfather’s free homebrew, which my friends and I imbibed. It cost him 2 cents a quart in those days.
After 1947, when I turned 21, we also had a choice of Seattle-brewed Rainier, Heidelberg (Tacoma), and Lucky Lager, (Vancouver, WA). National brands were more expensive so we seldom consumed such. These beers were all pretty much similar, so brand loyalty was rarely considered.
In 1948 I matriculated at Springfield College in Massachusetts to became acquainted with Ballantines Lager and their wonderful Bock beer, produced, we were told, by cleaning those dirty beer vats in the spring. I stayed there only one school year, opting to return to Seattle’s University of Washington in the fall of 1949. Pabst Blue Ribbon and Schlitz also crossed my path during those years.
Somewhere during that time period, I tasted my first Rainier Ale, the only beer available one night at a dance hall on Seattle’s notorious First Avenue. They sold it at a reduced rate, because it was the “3.2” version of that beer’s regular 7.5% offering. I didn’t know then, that Rainier Ale was what brewers called a “bastard ale” (i.e., lager, normally fermented cold, but here fermented warmer at ale temperatures and finally aged cold). I marveled at the strange taste of this thing called “ale”. For the most part you could only buy the full strength version (as a “malt liquor”) at a Washington State Liquor store for a higher price.