A Q/A with Sharon Smith, Curator of Civic and Personal Identity, Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center. She’ll be speaking tomorrow at The Royale, during our Feast Day activities. Some tips as to what to expect.
Discuss, if you would, the initial work surrounding “Kettle to Keg.” For example, what are the components needed to research that moment in our history?
I did a lot of background research on the many breweries that existed in St. Louis from the earliest in 1810 until the beginning of Prohibition for the exhibit “Kettle to Keg.” We purposely stopped prior to Prohibition because we thought that was possibly another exhibit altogether. In order to research the many 19th century breweries in St. Louis I needed to look through the city directories for where they were located, check archival materials for any information about their history as well as other books written generally on the topic of brewing.
Of all the beer companies that existed here, there are some that still have some “name-brand” value around St. Louis. Are there any interesting, smaller breweries or lines or product that have caught your attention?
I am somewhat curious about the new generations of the old family name breweries, such as Lemp and Busch reinventing their brands.
To what degree did Prohibition forever impact the brewing industry here?
Prohibition was one major factor impacting brewing in St. Louis. Prior to Prohibition, and at the brewing heyday in St. Louis, there were over 30 breweries competing in the city. By the time of Prohibition only a few still existed, due in part to some consolidation of companies and some just not continuing to compete with the bigger ones. St. Louis headed into Prohbition with Lemp and AB still going, but AB was the main one standing when Prohibition ended. The breweries that survived where those that could find ways to sell “legitimate” products or at least disguise products they sold to look legitimate. AB was especially good at this.
To your mind, what are some necessary ingredients to any feast? Food, drink, good company and…?
When I think feast I think lots of people and lots of stories and reminiscing along with the food and drink. The atmosphere is usually happy and party-like.
How will your lecture be built and when will it occur?
My lecture will mostly look at the many 19th century breweries that exploded in the city and how many of them were of a German nature introducing that new lager brand of beer. I understand from Steven that it will occur around 2:30 on Saturday and there will be time for a Q & A, although I suspect many that attend the Feast will know as much or more than I.