I enjoyed your Sept. 2008 issue on saloons. Was the beer served cold?

Bob Powell

Phoenix, Arizona

The shelf life of beer is short, and the cost of transporting it was prohibitive. This led to the building of local breweries. Volumes of beer sold at about 10 cents a glass, but in warmer climes, the beer was never ice cold, usually served at 55 to 65 degrees. Though the beer had a head, it wasn’t sudsy as it is today. Patrons had to knock back the beer in a hurry before it got too warm or flat.

In cold places like Colorado, locals cut ice from frozen rivers in the winter and stored it underground during the summer to keep the brew cool. Ice plants in Western towns began cropping up as early as the 1870s.

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