In 1949 LIFE staff photographer Frank Scherschel undertook a photo essay on beer drinkers. The essay never ran in the magazine, and without any accompanying story, it is difficult to say why he, ah, poured himself so eagerly into this topic.
Scherschel’s essay, capturing beer drinkers in largely festive settings, mostly feels like a celebration. He appears to have done most or all of his shooting in and around Milwaukee, the beer capital of America. He took many shots in what appears to have been a joyous company picnic for auto manufacturing employees, complete with dancing and live music and beer being quaffed from large metal containers. Other images in Scherschel’s essay include a bride and groom mid-toast, a Miller High life vendor at a baseball game (likely the minor league team which called itself the Milwaukee Brewers, which played before the big-league team arrived in town). Scherschel’s most meta image is of beer company employees enjoying a beer break.
Scherschel also naturally ventured into a bar. In shooting the patrons there, he captured moments both communal and solitary. We don’t know who these people are and can only guess at their situations. But the bar Scherschel visited is a place where Homer Simpson would fit right in.