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All About Beer – Beer in the Shadow of War

Editor’s Note: This was my first piece for All About Beer magazine. I spent two weeks traipsing across Belgium and Northern France talking to brewers about their family history and visiting World War I sites. It was a wonderful experience to be able to learn so much about the brewing history during one of the most chaotic times in modern history. Thanks for reading!
Culture History


Looking back on The Great War’s effects on the brewing industry, a century after its end.

All About Beer Magazine – Volume 39Issue 1

May 28, 2018By 

Dog carts transporting milk in 1917. (Archived photo courtesy Stadsarchief Eeklo)

Two bullets. That’s all it took to push the world over the edge.

Two bullets fired into the side of a sedan in Sarajevo killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, pushing an already tense Europe irretrievably into war. What became known as The Great War affected millions, touching the lives of nearly every man, woman and child in Europe. It also had profound effects on a number of industries, including brewing.

Before the war, there were more than 6,000 breweries spread across Belgium and France, with the majority of the French breweries located along the northern border with Belgium and Germany. World War I profoundly changed the face of brewing in Western Europe. Germany-backed Austria-Hungary’s desire to punish the Serbs for the assassination drew Russia and France into the war to defend the Serbs. Germany’s strategy involved a lightning-quick strike through neutral Belgium into northern France to capture Paris. Unfortunately for the Germans, the French and English halted their advance and created a brutal four-year stalemate that encamped millions of soldiers from both sides directly through the heart of Belgian and French brewing country.

War destroyed breweries and tore families apart. Brewers had their personnel drafted, their equipment confiscated… (Continue Reading at All About Beer)

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