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john65pennington's avatar

Did the old western saloons have draught beer?

Asked by john65pennington (29176points) September 19th, 2010

It seems that just about any old western movie i have watched, the bartenders, in the saloons, were handing out draught beer. Question: Did I imagine this or was it a fact that beer was on draught in the old western day? If so, how did this come to be and was the beer ever cold?

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8 Answers

Mamradpivo's avatar

I’m just speculating here, but I imagine that they would have pulled pints from a barrel, since most beer would be fermented in the barrel. That would also cut down on the need to make a lot of bottles, since you reuse the mug way more often.

There probably wasn’t the carbonation that we expect today though, it would have been much flatter. And almost certainly not cold. Before refrigeration though, almost nothing could be kept cold.

janbb's avatar

What else would you think it would be – six packs of Bud?

Seek's avatar

Yes, beer was stored in barrels – the same barrels it was made in, usually, and poured from a spout drilled into the side.

It was as cold as the cellar, I’d imagine, for at least a while. For people unaccustomed to refrigeration, I’m sure it was plenty cold enough.

jaytkay's avatar

Bottled beer existed but I think barrels were typical.

Seek's avatar

Indeed. Glass was still typically hand-blown at that time, and considerably more expensive.

YARNLADY's avatar

Drinking cold beer is a fairly recent development, and mostly only in the U. S.

Ron_C's avatar

That’s all they had. My grandfather would talk about “carry out” beer. You have to bring your own jars, they drew the beer into your jars and you carried them home. Of course they got warm unless you got home fast and stored them in your ice box. (The ice man came twice a week)

Strauss's avatar

Right off the top of my head, I can remember lyrics to two older songs that refer to the carry-out beer. One is “Frankie & Johnnie”. The version I learned (many years ago) has the line: “Frankie went down to the bar room, to get her a bucket of beer”.

Another song, written for the theater in the 1880’s is “Dad’s Dinner Pail.” It was a favorite of my mom, and it had the line: “Go fill it with porter, with beer or with ale;”

So it seems to me that, given the lack of modern refrigeration and transportation, the saloons of the old west (and the east, midwest, and south, for that matter) would today fall in the category of the “brewpub”.

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