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Before Its Craft Beer Boom, Denton Had A Vibrant, Underground Hooch Scene
Postcard of Denton Square

When you think of Denton, you may think of its universities, its art and music scene or its breweries. Back before any of the bustling bars peddled craft beers, Dentonites were producing and selling illegal liquor.

Shaun Treat is a former assistant professor at the University of North Texas, and he writes for He has given several lectures on the a history of hooch, including one to KERA's Justin Martin.

Interview Highlights: Shaun Treat ...

... on the history of prohibition in Denton: "In frontier areas, heck, even in the cities here in Texas during settlement, you had a lot of individuals thrown together and some of them were teetotalers, you know, good baptists, good religious people. But you also had bootleggers, you had people that made liquor, and I mean there is a long history of it and so it's always been kind of a source of contention."

.. on how involved Denton was in illicit liquor: "When you take into account that we have a lot of immigrants from like Germany and places like that where you have a history of families brewing liquor, it totally makes sense that of course these family recipes would be passed down. In Aubrey specifically, they said that at night you could look down across the Texas prairie and instead of flickering fireflies, you could see more bootleg liquor fires going than stars."

... on what Denton was like during it's so-called "booze boom": "Whenever the city of Denton was established — it's kind of amazing because now you go there and of course we have craft beer houses on every corner — but there were actually more saloons than there were any other type of business combined. So, during this boom time...there was a woman, her nickname was Miss Angeline, was running a saloon, and she was upset with what she thought was the Yankee conspiracy to drive out liquor in Texas, and so during one of the dry periods she was actually forbidden from selling any liquor. So what she did was she actually sold a peanut for 10 cents and what that 10-cent peanut you got a free shot of whiskey."

Learn More

Treat's article on the "Denton County's Hooch Renaissance" on

Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.