In praise of beer inclusiveness…

Here’s a “ridiculous amount of other stuff” post (see tag line above).

(Note/warning:  I occasionally post on other loves (non-rail), as inspired, on beer, food, music, history, National Parks and Forests, sports, fishing, architecture, books, etc.)


When it comes to beer, I am inclusive.  I have friends who will only drink particular microbrews.  They wouldn’t be caught dead drinking a Coors or PBR in public.

4 R

This post is to extol American beer in all forms–macrobrews and microbrews.  What could be more American than drinking American beer?  America has so many great brews now, that I never buy foreign beer any longer.  No need.


But I also don’t shy away from mass produced American beer.  Somehow, it seems wholesome to sometimes buy beer made in American factories/breweries that employ hundreds of people and small microbreweries.  If macrobrews were good enough for our fathers (and mothers), why not for us as well?


These pictures reinforce that for me.  What’s wrong with a simpler time when we all didn’t feel the need to have 3000 sq. foot homes, home theaters and BMWs?  If I want an ice cold PBR, Coors, Schlitz or Miller, I am going to have one.  To hell with what others think.  I won’t be intimidated or shamed from having a good macrobrew sometimes.  Don’t folks in these pictures look pretty classy?


I even wish I could add an ice cold Falstaff to that list above!  I miss drinking Falstaff as a very young man.  It was one of my dad’s beers.  Maybe one day…Pabst is thinking about re-launching Falstaff.  Be great if it tasted like the Falstaff I knew in the late 1970s (I was really too young to drink).  It was a bit distinctive.


When you look at these old advertisements, it just seems right to have a good, regular beer sometimes.  I don’t want all our big breweries to go away.  I get a kick out of driving by them and smelling that distinctive smell.

To all my railfan readers, I also enjoy seeing a string or two of covered hoppers bringing in ingredients.  Up until a decade ago or so, most beer was hauled by boxcar.  Much is still hauled by rail, but often containerized (not quite the same as driving by a distributor and seeing a few boxcars being unloaded.).


Ingredients (barley) from the Northwest coming into the Shiner Brewery in 2011 in Shiner Texas.  “Nothing’s finer than an ice cold Shiner!” –©C Hunt photo


Oh well, what do I know?  I still mow my own yard, love to watch football and baseball, barbeque on the weekends with wood and charcoal, think Rockford Files was a great show, and think factories should stay in America (not intended as a political statement at all, just a fact).  I guess I’m old fashioned.

Again, I still enjoy a great IPA from time to time and have written a couple of posts about one of my favorite IPAs–Ballantines.  I just discovered a great one a few weeks ago in Washington State–Backwood Brewing’s Logyard IPA.  Sadly, I can’t get it where I live.


I’m getting thirsty.  I think I may have an ice cold Schlitz in the fridge.

Here’s to a few good American macrobrews!





Hernandez Distributing and developing a sense of place, part I


The psychology of model railroading is fascinating.  Why do we do it?  I could give you many answers, but one that comes to mind right now, is the ability to create a model that was/is special to us.  A place that we control.  A place where if we like a particular scene or place, we won’t let it change.  We don’t have to let a 300 units subdivision or big box store scar our layouts.  We can keep it just like we want it.  We can create what some people call a sense of place.  One of my favorite books on this is Home From Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler.  It should be required reading for anyone who builds things on our nation’s landscape.



Home From Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler. After reading this, you will never see where you live the same way.

I find myself through Hernandez Distributing and my other efforts at buildings and scenery trying to create a mosaic of special places from my memory.  Living in Roswell, NM a number of years, I had to pleasure of keeping tabs on and photographing rail action at three different beer distributors in a town of 50,000 in an otherwise fairly remote corner of New Mexico.  Through Hernandez Distributing I sought to capture the essence of the Budweiser, Coors and Miller distributors.  It really resonated with me the thought of beer coming all the way from St. Louis, Golden and Milwaukee across the wide open spaces to these three nondescript buildings in a small to medium sized town in a sparsely populated region.


Miller Distributor in Roswell, NM in 1992–©photo by C. E. Hunt

I travelled to work a special way to let me keep tabs on the Miller and Bud distributors.  Every few days new loads would appear.  The Bud distributor was more active, especially around the holidays, sometimes receiving 4 boxcars at a time!  Here’s a SL-SF boxcar spotted at the Bud distributor in 1994.


Budweiser Distributor in Roswell, NM 1994–©photo by C. E. Hunt

A couple of days later a UP load came in…


Budweiser Distributor in Roswell, NM 1994–©photo by C. E. Hunt

One of my favorite memories, which I have written a post on before, was the time an NP boxcar same to the Bud distributor…


Budweiser Distributor in Roswell, NM 1992–©photo by C. E. Hunt

That felt like a little bit of a time warp in 1992–22 years after the NP ceased to exist.

OK, so tying this back to Hernandez Distributing and my Rails West layout–

I sought to create a background structure that would capture the essence of the three distributors, permit a dock to make spotting cars easier and had a great, old school 1981 feel to it.  Maybe, it was a building that had been converted from some thing else.

Wanting to kitbash, I researched until I found the right building as a starting point, much like I had done with Western Warehousing.  I settled on another Walthers kit–Grocery Distributor.


I need two of them for my project because I wanted a long dock.

Here are some construction photos…


Merging two of the dock sides I created a long unloading facility, large enough to accommodate two beer cars.


I then cut the loading dock to fit the revised structure.


Loading dock in place.


Once I got the shell like I wanted, doors and windows were next.


I painted the back of the window glazing with a heavy wash of grimy black and applied a few great 1981-era beer signs–some of I my favorite iconic brands from the 20th Century.


Now it is time to weather.  That will be covered in part II.

A cool business to model from the early 1990s


Roswell 1992 sharp

Maloof distributor in Roswell NM in 1992 –©photo by C. E. Hunt

This is largely a freshened up post from February of 2014.  My pictures are much better now that I have purchased a competent scanner.


As I wrote in 2014–

South of town sat this lonely white structure. The green Burlington Northern box cars spotted there were almost as large as the structure. This venue connected Roswell with Golden, Colorado about two or three times a month or so. It was always nice to see a new car spotted there as I drove south out of Roswell on Hwy 287. 

This another cool thing about modelling the early 1980s, single (or two) car shippers were still very common which is ideal for modellers and a great deal of beer was hauled by boxcars.  Though a lot of beer is still shipped by rail, including intermodal, most beer was hauled by boxcar up until probably the middle to late 1990s.


Roswell 1992 Coors

Front of Maloof Distributor, 1992–©photo by C. E. Hunt (Anybody know what kind of car the yellow one is?  AMC?)

Beer cars are great to model.



Scene from the Rails West layout.  A lot of beer was brought into the Roswell, NM Miller Distributor in SL-SF boxcars like this one in the early 1990s.  See this post. The trailing ATSF boxcar was a frequent visitor to the Roswell Budweiser distributor.




In another scene from the Rails West layout, this filthy WP beer car has just been collected from the distributor.



A load of beer being spotted on B. Smith’s LCR RR which is set in 1990.


photo 4 (10)

A string of beer cars on the Rails West layout before backdating the layout to 1982.  No more “plain jane” ATSF beer cars sadly.  They were very common at the Bud distributor in Roswell throughout the early 1990s.


If you’re not thirsty yet, check out one of my all time favorite Rails West posts here on the Golden Age of beer advertisements.  Here’s a sample of what you’ll see..






The Return of an American Original — A Short Movie on the “Father Beer of American IPAs”

On February 15, 2015, I wrote a post on one of my favorite beers–Ballantine IPA.  To see the post, click here.

For those of you new to the blog, I occasional post blogs on non-rail subjects.  It explains why my subtitle reads–


This is part of the “other stuff.”


Ballantine IPA should be called the “Father of the American IPA.”  It was first brewed in 1878.  It was likely the first American IPA produced in any quantities.  Before there was Sierra Nevada, before there was Lagunitas, before there was Dominion’s Double D (some of my favorites), there was Ballantine’s IPA!


Sadly, it began to disappear in the 1960s, but not before it left its mark.  The good news is that Pabst has brought it back. Pabst did it the right way and have restored an outstanding product to the American beer market!  See the reviews on Beer Advocate here.

The Movie (really a long advertisement but still very good)

Click here to see a nice 9:35 minute video on the story of Ballantine.  It interviews the Brewmaster, Greg Duehs, who re-created the recipe and a lovable “old-timer” who remembers Ballantine well.  It is worth a watch.  Just one warning — You might get mighty thirsty for a Ballantine IPA.


The Return of an American Original (Taking a short break from the rails)


In 1840, Peter Ballantine, a Scottish immigrant, opened a brewery in Newark, NJ and incorporated it as the Patterson and Ballantine Brewing Company.  His three sons joined the operation, and it is renamed P. Ballantine and Sons, a name it held until the brewery closed in 1972.  In 1878, an IPA is added to the company’s line of products.  It is groundbreaking in the US as it was brewed according to the traditional “Burton” method dating back to the English IPAs of the early 1800s.  It featured a very pale malt, high hopping rates and an extended period of aging in wood casks.


Ballantine Brewery, Newark, NJ

After the ridiculous period we know as prohibition was over, the brewery is purchased by the Badenhausen brothers and they brought in a new Scottish brewmaster, Archiblad MacKechnie.  The pre-prohibition tradition continued in the production of Ballantine as an American original.

Ballantine sales grew and it became the sponsoring beer of the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees.



2007-02-14-larsen-medFor a time in the 1950s, it was America’s third largest brewery. Many iconic Americans pitched its products.


Ernest Hemingway advertisement


John Steinbeck advertisement.


Yogi Berra advertisement

Sadly, Ballantine entered the wilderness in the 1960s as other breweries started to capture its market share.  Clever advertising began to trump quality.  Eventually, the brewery was closed (It should have been a national day of mourning really!) and the brands are sold to Falstaff.  Its production was moved to Rhode Island and the recipe was screwed up and outsourced to contract brewers.  An outstanding American beer, Ballantine’s IPA was dead.


1960’s beer tray

But the story doesn’t end here.  It gets happier.

In 1985, Falstaff merges with Pabst.  Thus beginning a long tortured path back to production and its former greatness.  Thank goodness for Pabst brew master, Greg Deuhs.  Knowing a national treasure had been lost, he began experimenting with recreating the Ballantine’s IPA in his home in Milwaukee.


Greg Duehs

The original recipe had been lost during all the mergers, etc., but Greg worked hard to recreate the magical brew.  He interviewed people and pieced together the remaining information to guide the re-creation of Ballantine IPA.  I am happy to say, the new Ballantine IPA is now available on the East Coast.  It is an outstanding brew.  It is currently brewed in Cold Spring, Minnesota.  Click here and here for more on the “re-creation” story.  It is pretty fascinating.

This being a “rail-centric” blog site, I wish I could report that railroads were employed to help make or distribute this fine product.  There is a rail line near the brewery, but I cannot see anything that indicates the line is used by the brewery.  Perhaps a load makes it into a container hauled by rail from time to time.

Today, there are many great IPAs prodcued in America.  This site has discussed a number of them.  However, this IPA was being produced for about a century before today’s IPA craze.  There is something about today’s Ballantine IPA that is distinctive even now.  Some say it is the hop oil.  Whatever it is, if you can find it, try it!  Let’s not lose it this time.

Click here for reviews from


I love seeing this part of our heritage come back!  Thank you Pabst and Greg Deuhs for making it happen.

A rail-friendly brewery that produces some fine beers

I have written a number of posts concerning the nexus of beer and railroads.  See this post (first of a four part series among others beer-related posts on the blog).  This post is about another brewery that makes good use of rail transport in the production and shipping of its product–Sierra Nevada brewing Company in Chico, CA.

Sierra Nevada’s private rail spur in Chico, CA allows malt to be delivered by train to their dock only two miles away from the brewery. Sierra Nevada ships approximately 70% of its finished product to the East coast via rail which is 50% cleaner than over-the-road truck travel.

Overview of brewery in Chico and rail-served malt unloading facility (lower green dot).

Overview of brewery in Chico and rail-served malt unloading facility (lower green dot).

Close-up of malt unloading facility.

Close-up of malt unloading facility.

Here’s to Sierra Nevada Brewing for producing a fine product and using environmentally friendly rail transport!


Golden Age of Beer

You may have noticed that I write about beer from time to time.  I am not an alcoholic and certainly don’t condone excessive consumption, but I do enjoy a cold brew or two.  I am particularly interested in the interface between the rail industry and beer production as some of my earlier posts explored–see here for just one of them.

Coors Brewery in Golden Colorado.

Coors Brewery in Golden Colorado.

There has been a close relationship between the two industries.  At one time, a large percentage of beer was shipped by rail.  While rail is used less for delivery throughout the nation, the raw materials are often brought in by rail to the larger breweries and some medium sized breweries as well.

Miller Brewery in Irwindale, California.

Miller Brewery in Irwindale, California.

Covered hoppers bringing in ingrediants at the Shiner brewery in Shiner, TX in 2011.  --photo by C Hunt

Covered hoppers bringing in ingredients at the Shiner brewery in Shiner, TX in 2011. –photo by C Hunt

I am making this rail link only to give me an excuse to write about what I really want to share, advertisements from the golden age of brewing in the United States.  The brewing companies really knew how to make great ads that were often fun, sometimes used subtle sex-appeal or resonated with the desire of men to be outdoors (or at least see themselves that way).

Below is a collection of some of my favorites.  (If your thinking this isn’t very rail oriented, remember my tag line, “AND A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF OTHER STUFF.”)

What a manly ambiance PBR evoked!

What a manly ambiance PBR evoked with this one!

Old school, but nice!

Old school, but nice!

That's an attractive bunch of folks.  Drinking Ballantine apparently enhances your looks.

That’s an attractive bunch of folks. Drinking Ballantine apparently enhances your looks.

More manliness.  Makes me want to grab a Hamm's and warm up at the fire too.

More manliness. Makes me want to grab a Hamm’s and warm up at the fire too.  I can almost smell the fish on the fire!

The National Beer of Baltimore!  Ninety percent of Natty Bo's sales are in the Balitimore area even today.

The National Beer of Baltimore! Ninety percent of Natty Bo’s sales are in the Baltimore area even today.

Notice the high heels.  Subtle, but very effective.

Notice the heels. Subtle, but effective.

Here's a Texas beauty wanting to hand you an ice cold Shiner.  As they say, "Nothing is finer than an ice cold Shiner!"

Here’s a Texas beauty wanting to hand you an ice cold Shiner. As they say, “Nothing is finer than an ice cold Shiner!”

If only you drank Genny's beer, you'd have a sweetheart waiting to give you a beer.

If only you drank Genny’s beer, you’d have a sweetheart waiting to give you one.

Great ads…I may just have to go find a cold one myself.

Layout progress report #3

The track crew has been busy! (Well, kind of busy)

The ATSF has now come to the north end of Roswell.


Track looking north towards Portales. The main line north is to the left.  The spur to the Budweiser distributor goes to the right.


Aerial of area modelled above. Structure is Budweiser distributor.  Track at top heads north towards Portales.


Boxcars waiting to be unloaded at distributor.

Photo above shows box cars along what will be the Budweiser spur.  Given the unusual shape of the distributor, it will be a challenge to model.  Only a portion will be modelled given the limited space.


Close up of BN and ATSF “beer caddies.”


Boxcars parked at distributor in 1993. –C Hunt photo


Front of Budweiser distributor, 1993. Rail spur (not visible) is on right side of building. Note trailer with old Budweiser logo to the left. –C. Hunt photo

Well, at least the track crew is making some progress.  The next area to be worked on will be the middle of town near the old depot including the spur to the bakery and team track where flour, lumber, plastic pellets and more come in.

For more on beer shipments in to Roswell in the 1990s, see–How about a cold one? (February 15, 2014), A Dinosaur comes to Roswell (February 20, 2014) and Beer is proof that God loves us…(Series beginning April 27, 2014)

BN 734087 Casper WY June 5 1999 Dave Krumenacker Photo

“Beer Caddie” visiting Casper Wyoming in 1990s, BN 734087 — Dave Krumenacker Photo

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” — Benjamin Franklin, Part II

We will now focus on the “beer caddies” used to get the beer from the brewery to the distributor, especially in the 1990s.

A long time ago, brewers shipped beer in cars that advertised their product.


Per the Colorado Railroad Museum, for several years beginning in 1934 Adolph Coors Company had a fleet of 30 of these cars to transport its product in the Rocky Mountain area.

This advertising practice continued through the 1960s.


Hamm’s Beer boxcar from the 1960s.

More recently, beer is shipped in cars lettered for railroads or private leasing companies.


Coors Brewery in Golden, CO, shows 8 railroad boxcars simultaneously being loaded with beer for distribution. These 8 boxcars alone carry the same amount of beer as 32 semi tractor-trailers.

The above cars waiting to be loaded at Coors Brewery are lettered for BNSF and predecessor road, ATSF.  Below is a closer photo of such cars.


ATSF 625385 in Denver CO on Aug 7 2013 — Photo by Paul Rice

Now for some 1990s beer cars that could appear on my ATSF in Roswell in the 90s.


Western Pacific 67030 in Elmira NY on Aug 21, 1989 –Photo by Greg Dickinson


WP 67021 in Iler OH on Oct 28 2006–Photo by Joe Rogers


Three loads of beers being delivered to the Roswell Budweiser distributor in the early 1990s. Many of the Western Pacific cars were painted into this livery after the Union Pacific bought the Western Pacific in 1983. The cars trailing the WP box car were lettered for the Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific. ©C Hunt photo

ATSF 621056 in Bethlehem PA, October 12, 2007 -photo by Richard Leonhardt

ATSF 621056 in Bethlehem PA, October 12, 2007–Photo by Richard Leonhardt.  Many ATSF cars similar to this one delivered beer to the Budweiser Distributor in Roswell in the early 1990s, often in cuts of  3 or 4 cars.

For more Roswell action, also see my February 15, 2014 post entitled, “How about a Cold One?”

For a modern illustration of beer traffic on rails, enjoy this video on a BNSF beer train near Golden, CO November 16, 2012.


Hope you enjoyed this series.  Brewers and railroads have had an important relationship for a long time.  Think about that the next time you “pop a top.”

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” — Benjamin Franklin, Part I

Per some, what Franklin actually wrote was–

“Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”  

I like that one too.  Kind of the same message either way.

Per the Beer Institute, there are a lot of folks out there trying to give us more “proof.”  There are almost 3,000 brewers in the United States.  About 200 million barrels of the stuff was produced last year or about 19 gallons per American.  That’s a lot of beer.  When consumed correctly, that’s a good thing–it makes a lot of jobs (including rail-related jobs) and brings us pleasure.  Also per the beer Institute, all 50 states produce it.


Beer production in the US

This two part series will discuss—

1.    rail involvement in the production of beer, and

2.    how beer is (and was) shipped, particularly in the 1990s, the era of my layout—ATSF in Roswell in 90s.

As legends go, Colorado miners would throw parties in the 1800s called “banquets” stocked with Coors. Accordingly, banquet beer became part of Coors’ name.

A great deal of beer used to be shipped by rail.  Coors, one of my favorite quaffing beers, still ships some beer by rail.  (See my post of February 9, 2014 concerning the Coors distributor in Roswell.)  I like the thought of drinking “rail-hauled” beer.  I also enjoy non-rail hauled beer, but there’s something special about knowing my beer traversed America rolling through wheatfields and sunsets (not too many sunsets though).  I know…that’s weird–sorry.

(Think that’s weird?  I also like manual push reel mowers. Great States makes some good ones–click here to check mine out.  I love the cut of a reel–versus rotary–and the fact no gas is needed!  Where did that come from?  Don’t know…OK, back to beer and a slightly less weird discussion.)

From a rail standpoint, brewers pretty much fall into three categories—

1)    receive raw materials by rail, ship out by rail (box car, tank car or container)

2)    receive raw materials by rail

3)    make limited use of rail or uses transload facilities (offsite)

I cited Coors as a representative of the first category.  Corona also ships by rail in box cars and containers (often hauled on trains).  Many brewers fall into the second category—two of my personal favorites are Shiner in Texas and Yeungling in Pennsylvania.  The last category is probably the majority since many breweries are too small to take advantages of the lower costs involved in rail shipments.  They may still use rail indirectly in that their raw materials may have been transloaded from rail cars before delivery to the brewery.

Category I–

Up until the late 1990s or so, a great deal of finished beer was shipped by rail.  A craze for “fresh” beer led to a drop off in beer shipments.  Shaving a few days off delivery time was deemed worth the trouble of consuming more fuel (trucks) and hiring drivers.  (It seemed like a gimmick to me although freshness is important for some beer varieties.)

In the early 1990s, Roswell had three distributors, all of which received beer by rail. (See post of February 15, 2014.)


Roswell Budweiser distributor, 1993. Note Northern Pacific box car. I did a post on it February 20, 2014.


Load of Miller beer at the Roswell distributor in the early 1990s.

Beer still moves by rail, but less in box cars and more in containers.  Corona ships beer into the US by both box car and container. Many other foreign brewers ship by rail via containers.    Instead of the traditional box car delivered to siding at the beer distributor, nowadays, beer (and many other products) is often handled through a transload facility.


Siding at a Grand Logistics Corporation facility.


Corona Beer off the rails and ready to be loaded on trucks for final distribution.


Category II

Many brewers take advantage of rail to bring in materials.


Ingredients (barley) from the Northwest coming into the Shiner Brewery in 2011 in Shiner Texas. ©C Hunt photo


Yuengling brewery in Pottsville, PA. Note green dots which show covered hoppers bringing in ingredients, 2014.


Category III–

Many brewers receive ingredients by truck that have been transloaded by rail.

Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, CA on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad provides a great example.




Barley being transloaded by auger from covered hopper to truck for delivery to the Lagunitas Brewing Company in February 2014.

A great video is posted here.  It shows the barley being unloaded, gates on the hopper being opened, car being moved manually and auger being positioned.

Hope you enjoyed this post on the involvement of railroads in the production of beer.  Part II will focus on the “beer caddies” used to get the beer from the brewery to the distributor, especially in the 1990s.