Report on Brewing of the War Trade Board Committee




The War Trade Board reports that curtailment of brewing rather than absolute prohibition would be a more appropriate course of action.


Hoover-Wilson Correspondence, Hoover Institution, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, California


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum





Your Committee herewith makes a brief separate report on the brewing industry, which it has considered among the possible non-war industries for which complete prohibition has been proposed.

Although the savings in fuel and transportation, in foodstuffs and man power, which such a prohibition would effect, are greater than for most of the other industries studied, and although in many States of the Union prohibition is already in operation, nevertheless the general conclusion reached is similar to that in the main report. The policy of curtailment, rather than complete prohibition, is recommended as appropriate for administrative action.

The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce estimtaes that on the basis of the 1914 census, the direct fuel consumption of this industry was 3,320,000 tons, or six-tenths of one per cent of the total annual coal supply. By voluntary agreement with the Food Administration a curtailment of 30% in production of beer, ale, and porter has been promised, and at a recent conference the Fuel Administrator has arranged for such further reduction as would result from a cut of 50% in the coal supplied to the industry. When this becomes effective, the fuel and cereal consumption will be heavily decreased, the former to 1,662,161 tons and the latter to 35,274,000 bushels. The carloads, which will be moved by the railroads, both for food grains and coal, and also for the finished product, are estimated at 215,984 per annum.

The Committee believes that this industry should be classed as a non-war industry, but, while fully recognizing the savings which might be made by complete suppression of the industry by administrative order, holds that this measure is not to be recommended for the following reasons:

First: as set forth in the main report, the gain from prohibition is more than offset by the losses and irritation caused by summary action, and,

Second: the social habits and political prejudices associated with this trade are still so deep-rooted, though steadily weakening, that entire prohibition should be the result of deliberate legislation rather than of an administrative decree which might savor too much of arbitrary power. A considerable curtailment, obviously in the interest of conservation, has already been accepted by agreement with the industry. Your Committee recommends that the total output of the brewing industry (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) be reduced to 50% of the amount produced during the corresponding months of the year 19017. At a later date, with the progress of the war and with public approval, a further curtailment may be made.

Respectfully submitted,

Original Format




War Trade Board Committee, “Report on Brewing of the War Trade Board Committee,” 1918 June 24, WWP19452, Hoover Institute at Stanford University Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.