HOW STEEL TANKS REPLACED BARRELS FOR BEER. Martin Johnson describes how after Prohibition “the American brewery industry dramatically consolidated, and growing companies seeking larger-capacity storage with greater sterility turned to massive stainless steel tanks.” The steel tanks went along with shorter aging times. Johnson writes: “Many large-production commercial beers typically age for one month; some lagers take up to four, experts say.” Barrel aging can take up to three years.
In the 1970’s I read an article in Fortune Magazine which claimed that Schlitz, which as I recall was then the number 2 brewer in sales, had found a way to cut costs dramatically by aging their beer for a smaller number of days. The article argued that the lower costs would enable Schlitz to dominate the industry. Instead Schlitz soon disappeared.