District Michigan Heritage

From MBAA's two collections of district histories, the 75th Diamond Jubilee from 1962 and the 100th Golden Jubilee in 1987, I am excited to share both editions’ celebrations of District Detroit. As you can probably figure, the rich history of District Detroit is the rock-solid foundation for what has evolved into District Michigan.

The 1962 Communications Diamond Jubilee Celebration publication piece was written by then District Vice President Albert J. Braun. He was assuming the district leadership role as District President John Newell left Detroit before the expiration of his term. Vice President Braun makes a fabulous claim as he writes:

"In 1886, one year before the formulation of the Master Brewers Association of America, a group of Detroit area Master Brewers… met and formally organized.... The first official meeting of the District was held on October 3, 1886."

As you read the 1962 history, you'll see that Mr. Braun discusses the challenges of maintaining the district through the Prohibition Era. Of course, many districts suffered through Prohibition. But District Detroit went to unusual lengths to hold monthly meetings continuously until October of 1921. They were so serious that fines were levied to discourage absenteeism. The monies collected from the fines were donated to local charities, primarily the German Child Feeding Program.

The 1987 Golden Jubilee celebration district history was written by then District President Ray Klimovitz. Ray updates aspects of the 1962 history. He then addresses the severe challenges posed by the diminishing number of breweries and malt houses within the district. He points out:

"In the 101 years that District Detroit has existed, our district has gone from twenty-two breweries and four malt houses to just two breweries and one malt house."

Ray acknowledged 25 years of a drastically changing brewing industry and called for more district innovation, more interaction between MBAA districts, and additional interaction between the MBAA and the American Society of Brewing Chemists. This was fresh off the heels of the first Brewing Congress of the Americas, jointly held between MBAA and ASBC in 1984.

Of course we all know that District Michigan is a vibrant, forward-thinking success story. Today, the district is a showcase of collaboration among the growing micro brewery and craft beer segments. The late 1990s appropriately saw the name change from District Detroit to District Michigan. But 110+ years of District Detroit provided a firm foundation of heritage on which to grow and prosper.

I am happy to share both of these vignettes of rich District Michigan history with our general readership. And even though the original documents are archived, the ability to share them with our readership once again showcases the value of "digital" to all of our districts in matters of history and heritage.

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