Friday, December 10, 2010

When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer

Former Tavern-Chicago, IL, originally uploaded by William 74.

A tied house is-or was-a pub or tavern that is contractually obligated to sell beer from a certain brewery. Often this was done for economic reasons-in Chicago tied houses rose in number when license fees were raised so high that bar owners turned to breweries for financial help. Breweries would supply everything needed to run a saloon, and in return they'd only serve that company's beer. Tied houses in the United States were mostly legislated out of existence following Prohibition, when a three tiered system of alcohol distribution was instituted-manufacturers could only sell to distributors, who could only sell to retailers, none of whom could have an interest in the other.

In Chicago, the biggest builder of tied houses was Schlitz of Milwaukee. Designed by the architectural firm of Frohmann & Jebsen, Schlitz houses were usually done in a revival style, with cupolas over the front corner and intricate brickwork. Quite a few of them survive today, including such famous ones as Southport Lanes and Schuba's in Lincoln Park. This one's less famous, and is up on Broadway and Winona in the Uptown neighborhood. One of the larger Schlitz houses, it's still in pretty good shape, with it's Schlitz crest still hanging, the back beer garden still in existence, and a non-working "restaurant" neon sign over the front door. It's not longer a restaurant or tavern, though, and serves as a community center for the neighborhood.

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