Gold rush! From the mid 19th century into the early 20th century rugged, weathered prospectors wandered the western wilderness in search of gold. They endured countless hardships and privations, and seldom profited from their suffering. But often their discoveries sparked a cry of gold rush that spread around the world.

In an instant a remote desert wilderness valley or forested canyon would be transformed into a boom town. Many were rough and tumble tent camps. Others such as Rhyolite in Nevada became modern bustling cities with modern amenities in the proverbial blink of an eye.

The history of beer and other surprising luxuries in California and Arizona gold rush towns is as rich and frothy as the head on a pint of Scorpion Amber beer at Mudshark Brewery and Public House in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

The prospectors, investors, gamblers, store owners, and laboraros that flocked to these outposts of civilization in the wilderness brought with them a thirst for the finer things in life. From Oatman, Arizona to Bodie, California, amidst the dusty streets, the braying donkeys, the din of steam powered ore crushers and cursing teamsters, there emerged an often unexpected scene of luxury.

In California, San Francisco became a hub of opulence almost overnight. Saloons and gambling dens lined the streets, but it was the beer that truly flowed like gold. Breweries popped up with dizzying speed. And as brewers were arriving from the four courners of the earth, the variety of beers offered were often quality brews With money flowing like water in some camps, some saloons even sold imported beers from as far away as Europe.

In the Arizona Territory the story was similar to what was happening in California. Towns like Tombstone and Prescott, Yuma and Hardyville on the Colorado River saw their fair share of wealth. With it came the creature comforts.

In many towns opera houses, fine dining establishments, and breweries, became staples of these communities. The beer was a symbol of civilization amidst the wild frontier. A cold glass of beer after a long day in the scorching heat, or working in the dust deep underground, was more than just refreshment.

But beer wasn’t the only luxury. The more properous towns, especially those along the railroad or that had access to ports on the Colorado River, were flush with fine goods that seemed out of place in such a rugged landscape. Silk dresses and fine suits could be seen brushing against the rough cut wooden facades of buildings. Gourmet foods, spices, and even exotic fruits often made their way into these remote areas, all thanks to the wealth generated by the gold rush.

It’s fascinating to think about how these rough-and-tumble towns had such an appetite for luxury. It goes to show that no matter where you are, the desire for a bit of indulgence is universal. So next time you crack open a cold one at Mudshark Brewery and Public House, take a moment to toast to those gold rush towns that proved even the wildest parts of the West had a taste for the finer things in life.