Hamm’s: The Man Refreshing

You know, Hamm’s may not be the best beer in the world…no that’s a lie. Hamm’s is one the greatest beers ever served and produced in the land of the free. But that’s not why I drink Hamm’s. Sure, I love the watered down flavor, subtle sweetness, corny-ness, and pinch of salt that’s thrown into each batch, but I drink Hamm’s because of the man who created it. Theodore J. Hamm.

A brief history of Hamm’s, Theodore came to this country in 1865, at the age of 22. The United States had just survived the Civil War and was in a time of healing. It needed a beverage to soothe its wounds. Enter Hamm: The Man Refreshing.

Establishing his brewery along a creek in Swede Hollow, a Swedish settlement based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Mr. Hamm had some stiff competition. Three other breweries existed along that creek, but ever the competitor, Mr. Hamm said he’d see those breweries fall like the Walls of Jericho within 2 years. Two years later they did.

Within 2 years, Hamm’s Beer was established as the premier beer of Minnesota. Within 5 years, it was considered the premier beer of the country. Hamm’s became a beer juggernaut, and because of that Mr. Hamm paid his workers handsomely. 1 dollar an hour he’d pay, which you have to remember is an 1800’s dollar, meaning it’s worth then is the equivalent to 11 dollars today. Mr. Hamm was a good man.

A trailblazer before Portland, Mr. Hamm was also one of the first big business men to abolish child labor in his place of work. Doing this in 1877, Theodore stopped the practice decades before any other American businesses considered the idea. To replace the children, Theodore hired little people. As a sign of affection, he’d take them bowling ever Friday night.

A product that came with his bold decision was “Hamm’s Elementary”, a school he established the same year he freed the children from the workforce. When a Minneapolis Times reporter asked Theodore Hamm why he opened the school, he responded by saying, “A child’s mind is similar to a Hamm’s beer. It needs time to age and ferment before it can be shipped off into the working world as cool, crisp, refreshing adult.”

(Fun fact: Hamm’s Elementary has remained in the top ten of Minnesota Public Schools since it’s inception in 1877.)

From 1877 onwards, Hamm’s continued to be a beer powerhouse. Supplying the country with the beer refreshing, times were good. They were splendid. They were America: The Country Refreshing.

But then 1920 came, and along with it Prohibition. In case you are ignorant to Prohibition, it was an act that banned all alcohol production and consumption in the United States of America (Land of the Free) from 1920 t0 1933.

All breweries shut down immediately upon Prohibitions enactment January 1st, 1920, but there was one brewery, hailing from the Land Of Sky Blue Waters, that refused to go down, if only for a day.

When the police of St. Paul came knocking on the doors of the Hamm’s brewery they were greeted by an elderly Theodore Hamms. When police sergeant Robert Dewmen ordered Mr. Hamm to shut down his brewery effectively immediately Theodore J. Hamm, at age 77, told the sergeant, “I’d rather fuck my dead mother than shut this brewery down.” Upon this remark, Robert Dewmen and his men left. Mr. Hamm’s won that day. But it would be his last victory.

Theodore J. Hamm died later that day. His last words were that Prohibition would fail and that he needed his son, George Hamm, to run the brewery once the American people came to his senses. George did as he told, and the Hamm’s brewery re-opened its doors on January 1st, 1933. Since then, Hamm’s has remained a fixture in the lives of good people who drink good beer.

From the Land of Sky Blue Waters, Hamm’s has made its way into my bloodstream for over a year now. But I don’t drink it for the taste, or to get fucked up.


I drink Hamm’s for the man who created it, for the man who abolished child labor decades before the rest, who opened one of the finest public schools in the great state of Minnesota, and who stood up for something he believed in against the powers that be. I drink Hamm’s because I strive to be the man, to be the best I can, to be Hamm’s: The Man Refreshing.


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