I’ll start by saying my knowledge of the Old West – as in, cowboy era – comes almost completely from novels and movies and tv shows, so this question may just reflect the biases and distortions of the media:
Where the heck did they get all that beer?
It seems like every town had a saloon where everyone (well, males, I guess, and except for the preacher, maybe) gathered regularly to swill beer. These are towns that were, apparently, supplied by wagons hauling goods for long distances. Beer would seem to be a lousy product to haul around – it weighs way too much for its price.
The other possibility is that they hauled in the grain & hops and manufactured the beer locally. Which is fine, beer isn’t hard to make, but I have NEVER seen or heard a reference to a brewer or brewery in a Western novel/show/movie. They show the town livery, and blacksmith, and church, and general merchandise. Sometimes you learn of seamstresses, barbers, and, yes, the ubiquitous saloons.
So which is it:
a) They didn’t, in fact, have all that many saloons around.
b) They did haul in the beer; yes, it was hard work, but some things are worth doing.
c) They in fact brewed locally, and references to them were omitted for reasons related to censorship/family values.