11. Providing beer for the troops became a priority during World War II
During World War I, on the eve of Prohibition, the US military and government condemned all things, German. In Cincinnati, Ohio’s, German-based communities the names of streets in German were changed to those reflecting American values. In Iowa, use of the German language in conversation was banned by gubernatorial edict. Liberty cabbage replaced sauerkraut as the name for pickled cabbage, much as freedom fries was substituted for French fries in the early 21st century. During World War II, the frenzied attack on all things German abated somewhat. Early in the war, the US government decided beer presented a major contribution to the morale of the troops overseas. The US government ordered America’s breweries to set aside 15% of their production for the use of the military for the duration of the war. Brewing was declared an essential wartime industry.
Production of beer continued, though in deference to the large temperance presence in the United States (and concerned mothers) alcohol by volume (ABV) was limited to 3.2%. American brewers began shipping their beer in twelve-ounce cans, rather than the larger bottles intended to be used to pour beer into a glass for consumption. Cans had first appeared in 1935 and proved perfectly suited to shipping beer overseas. A shortage of drinking glasses on all fronts encouraged the Americans to consume their beer directly from the can, a habit which returned with them to America and remains to this day. For the next 50 years, lighter, lower alcohol content, less flavorful beer became the standard in America, until the craft brewing frenzy emerged in the late 20th century. Beer rations and sales at post exchanges continued in all theaters during World War II, and America’s allies joined in with rations for their troops as well.