Minnesota Rocks Beer in February (of 1968)

For approximately the period of 1960-1970, an ad feature ran in Minnesota newspapers entitled “Your Minnesota Hostess”. It took the form of a sunny column, one that typified the down-home and sold the virtues of Minnesota beer.

The pitch was in generic form as the column’s sponsor was the Minnesota Brewers Association. I found quite a few sample columns, some in a Jewish-oriented, American publication preserved at the National Library of Israel’s Historical Jewish Press.

Others may be found in the Fulton History archive to which I have frequently referred as well. Many Fulton examples were published in the interestingly named Thief River Falls Times. It continues today in weekly (Saturday) form under another name.

I’ve browsed perhaps two dozen of the columns. While the style is hackneyed-utilitarian, that was the idea, and evidently it enjoyed a long run. I counted between ten and 7 breweries listed, depending on the period, but it may have varied further.*

The complement of early 1968 is stated in a column dated February 23, 1968 in the Minneapolis-based The American Jewish World:



Note the blasé “up at Montreal”, well yes up and some 1,200 miles to the east. But that’s okay, we’re used to this (recent events at border points are proving an exception).

Now, these 20 columns together contain many interesting tidbits and observations, surprisingly international in scope. I’d think the Minnesota brewers, through their travels at conventions or via intelligence from industry sources, filled in Hil who generated a column.

In the column above we see reference to beer-laced dishes served at Montreal’s Expo ’67 international fair. I referred to these dishes in an earlier blog post. Hil states a spate of English-style pubs opened in Montreal – I mentioned these as well, plus the Irish-themed Hunter’s Horn, on Peel Street downtown.

Then, she switches to England itself, but instead of positing originals of the genre, she announces Brits are into German Beer Halls. I recall this, not from visiting then – even I was kind of young – but from vaguely recalled stories of rock stars swanning around London swilling lager in these places.

Keith Moon and Viv Stanshall come to mind. Why do I remember this? I remember lots of things.

We learn too that the world’s first surviving heart-transplant patient, Dr. Philip Blaiberg in South Africa, was given a dose of beer to help with his recovery. This is another late survival of the 19th notion that beer served a useful purpose as “stimulant” or even therapy.

It is hard to understand now the sensation the operation caused at the time, and the fame that attended the surgeon Dr. Christiaan Barnard.

The piece ends with a suggestion to hold, in this same month of February, an “Americana Party”. As serving suggestion, Hil states to dip small frankfurters, raw cauliflower, shrimp, and cubed meat in a beer-enriched processed cheese sauce. Very pre-1970s, suburban style.

The beer was simply “…goblets, steins, or Pilsener glasses of cold beer…” – in February. At the time icy temperature for beer was de rigueur, except probably in nascent “hippie” homebrewing circles, and some immigrant ones.

Readers could write in to obtain a booklet of recipes published by the Minnesota Brewers Association. Hil regularly drew on it for the column. As her columns show, many recipes incorporated beer, naturally.

Industry facts and figures were included sometimes, as seen above for the economic importance of Minnesota barley farming and the non-beer products utilizing barley malt.

*Perhaps some Minnesota breweries had not joined the Association.








2 thoughts on “Minnesota Rocks Beer in February (of 1968)”

  1. I’d love to see a historian’s deep dig into the collision in the 19th and 20th Centuries between temperance types and others with the belief in beer and alcohol as health enhancers.

    I’m curious to what extent brewers were deliberately advertising milk and oatmeal stouts specifically as nutritious and good for invalids in order to counteract the drumbeat of Kellogg types.

    • I think you are right for the second point. The timing seems too coincidental otherwise.

      For the first point, the tension you adverted to surely manifested in the Volstead compromise of the right of physicians to prescribe spiritus frumenti – often whiskey – to patients. It was a concession not accorded easily I understand. A last gasp of the medical alcohol argument although traces subsisted into the 1960s as seen above.

      By the way, the Thief River journal mentioned, in about 1970, contained a letter from a reader complaining of too many advertisements for alcohol, she noted Canadian whisky in particular! She said earlier the paper had the odd Minnesota Hostess feature, but this was going too far. 🙂


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