Early History of Beer in St. Louis
Beer- making had been an important part of the St. Louis business industry since the mid-1800s. The city became an early leader due to its access to plentiful, clean water and caves which kept beer cool in the days before refrigeration and pasteurization. Before 1840 beer-making was largely a cottage industry featuring English-style ports and ales. With only a handful of true breweries Including Wainwright’s Fulton Brewery and the Finney brother’s City Brewery.
In 1838 Adam Lemp, an immigrant from a German brewing family, brought lager-style beer to St. Louis. The exploding population, largely German, created a ready market and by 1845 Lemp had expanded to several buildings. In the next 10 years, he was joined by new brewers including Stifel, Uhrig, Feuerbacher, and Griesedieck. In 1850 there were an estimated 17 breweries in the city and by 1860 more than 40 with Lemp being the largest.
Adolphus Busch became the first American brewer to use pasteurization in 1870’s. This extended beer’s shelf life and thereby opening a nation market. The introduction of refrigerated rail cars further benefited large, better capitalized brewers like Busch and Lemp. In the 1880s and 1890s, they gained the lion’s share of the market, while small and mid-sized brewers closed or consolidated. By 1900 St. Louis was a leader in US beer production and Anheuser Busch, narrowly trailing Pabst, was the nations’ second largest brewer.
Between 1840 and 1900, St. Louis’ population increased from 36,000 to almost 600,000, and its beer production from 3,000 barrels to almost 2,000,000. Events of the next century – prohibition, two world wars, continued industrialization, and globalization – would bring more turbulence and change. Through it all, beer would remain ever important and popular in St. Louis.
Brewers at Bellefontaine
The final resting places of many of the early beer barons such as Uhrig, Lemp, Wainwright, Anheuser, Busch, and Griesedieck can be found at Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum. Their monuments speak to family fortunes won and lost. Their stories become intertwined as breweries merged, burned, closed, and re-opened.
Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum is honored to share these stories and many more at our Fifth Annual Beer Barons Tour. Join us October 8 and 9 as we celebrate St. Louis’ beer brewing industry both past and present. Enjoy a bus tour through beautiful Bellefontaine Cemetery as Master Guides recall the histories of these celebrated entrepreneurs. Samples from local brewers and restaurants will also be available during the event.
2016 Beer Barons Tour
Save the Date: October 8 and 9
Time: 3pm to 6pm
Tickets on sale to the public: August 15th
Two Ticket levels available:
$35 Taster’s ticket–tasting glass, free food and beer samples, 20-minute trolley tour
$60 Baron’s tickets–tasting glass, free food and beer samples, 35-minute bus and walking tour, select parking, early tour option (limited availability), pint glass, t-shirt
Special thank you to our media partners:
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