Lily Milk – Four Peaks History
Picture this: You own one of the most sophisticated dairy processing operations in the Southwest. Farmers from the surrounding area are relying on you to purchase their milk, your workers need that milk to earn a paycheck and the community wants your products. Sounds like you’re at the center of the action and you can pretty much print money, right? Not exactly. There’s a little snag we haven’t told you about: Your products all have to be kept cold and refrigeration is decades away from being widespread. What do you do? Simple: Make a form of milk that can be stored for months, even years, and create a familiar brand in the process.
The Pacific Creamery Company, which owned and operated our building between 1907 and 1924, made a brand of evaporated milk called Lily Milk. The makers would remove about 60 percent of the water content and then heat-sterilize it while it was canned. This process led to a slight caramel color in the milk, but Lily Milk was famed – or at least advertised – as being white, just like regular milk.
It sounds complex, but this product was essential to Arizona pioneers. In 1915, our humble creamery produced 60 percent of all milk consumed in the newly formed state! It’s nearly impossible to say how much of that was Lily Milk, but considering the residential refrigerator had not yet been fully developed, we’re guessing it was a healthy amount. But the reach of Lily Milk wasn’t limited to Arizona’s borders. The Pacific Creamery Company shipped its products to several states and Mexico. By 1917, it was also shipping to a war-torn Europe. Lily Milk – produced in Tempe from Arizona cows – was being sent to American troops fighting the Germans during World War I.
As far as we can tell, Lily Milk faded into a distant memory after our creamery was sold to the Borden Milk Company in 1927. But we’re changing that. How? The only way we know how: brewing a beer!
We’ll be releasing a cream ale – our version of Lily Milk – in the near future. Keep an eye out for it at the pub. (Lily Milk Cream Ale will be served at our Historical Beer Dinner – visit www.FourPeaksGrub.com to purchase your tickets.)