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Butler Independent
Brewing Co.

Stylized Butler Brewing Company Mural

In the late 1800s, beer brewing emerged as a significant industry in the United States. One contributing factor was a spike in immigration from countries where beer consumption was more common than in the States. Increased demand came at the same time mass production, pasteurization, railroad expansion, and refrigeration became available.

Taken together, these factors resulted in exponential growth for the brewing industry.

America’s rapidly expanding railroad system enabled the large breweries to distribute their product to far-flung markets. That, combined with the Temperance Movement’s campaign to convince people to forego hard spirits for beer, pushed demand even higher. Many Americans did switch from whiskey to beer, but also increased their consumption: between 1865 and 1900 per capita beer consumption rose from 3.4 to 16 gallons per person! 

The Butler Independent Brewing Company was a branch of the Pittsburgh Independent Brewing Company that opened in Butler in 1902. The Company was located on West Wayne Street near the railroad, and deliveries were made by horse drawn wagon. 

Large-scale beer manufacturers tried various strategies to survive Prohibition (1920-1933). They made “near beer” (one half of one percent alcohol), or malt syrups with which people could “bake cookies” at home. Breweries also applied for federal licenses that allowed them to brew high-alcohol beer for “medicinal purposes.”


Mural Details


Aaron Taylor


Debra Brown


101 S Main St, Butler, PA

Throughout the 1920s, the big breweries also invested in modern bottling equipment and fleets of delivery trucks to package and distribute near beer, root beer, ginger ale, and other soft drinks. While those products were not as popular as beer, breweries gained valuable experience in bottling and distribution. Selling Prohibition-era beverages in bottles—rather than beer in kegs or barrels—meant the brewing industry was ready to shift right into beer bottle distribution after Prohibition ended.

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