During the war, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ordered that 15% of all U.S. beer production be allocated for the war effort. As a result of this, many families — particularly near rural areas like Chestertown, Maryland — made their own beer using stills in their basements. Allen Capel’s family was one such family, and he details an interesting story about his family’s beer collection.
Was there a black market in Chestertown?
I’m sure there was. Probably the biggest black market would be for booze. Yeah, well everybody had a still. And there was no shortage of liquor and beer. I do remember two beer labels — Arrow Beer and Gunther. That was the only two. Then there was what we call One Eye National Bohemian, and we had that. And they all come in bottles in those days. But everybody made their own. We were sitting in the house one evening, and they put the beer down in the cellar to ripen, I guess. They used bottle corks. They didn’t use caps; they didn’t have cappers. They capped it with cork. We were sitting there eating dinner, and all of a sudden we hear this, “Plink, plunk, plunk, plink, plink.” The damn beer—it was a hot day and the beer started fermenting, and they was shooting them corks out. So, everybody ran down to the basement and they was drinking beer as fast as they could.