E.C.B.A. the KEG Fall 2009

The National Brewery Museum in Potosi

By Rich Wagner

I can’t think of a greater accomplishment than taking an abandoned old brewery and fixing it up and turning it back into a new brewery, unless of course you also filled it with exhibits of breweriana! And that is exactly what the ABA Museum Foundation and the National Brewery Museum together have accomplished. In the summer of 2008, ABA members were on hand to participate in a “Grand Opening Celebration” as part of their convention.

That year I traveled out to Potosi and set up a display of my embossed Philadelphia brewery bottles in time for the event. Having just experienced the “Beer and Pretzels Berks County Style” exhibit in Reading, I was overwhelmed at what I found in the old brewery-turned museum. So much so that this past summer I returned to replace my Philadelphia exhibit with a display of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania embossed brewery bottles.

When I arrived, one of the movers and shakers of this outstanding establishment, Tye Schwab, explained that two-thirds of the exhibits on display had not been there the previous summer! This is certainly a testament to the enthusiasm and commitment of ABA members to make the National Brewery Museum a vibrant and dynamic entity.

In addition to my Pittsburgh bottles, I installed an exhibit entitled “The Chronology of Technology of Philadelphia’s Brewing Industry” which chronicles three centuries of advances in “the art and mystery of brewing” in one of the nation’s oldest and largest cities. The exhibit was created by Art in the Age Gallery for Philly Beer Week 2009 and consists of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” They took the images I provided them, made them into beer labels, and affixed the labels to nearly one hundred beer bottles to illustrate the theme. I also gave a PowerPoint presentation to accompany the exhibit as part of the ABA Convention activities.

But the highlight for me was installing an exhibit entitled “Charlie Lieberman, A Lifetime of Achievement in the Brewing Industry” to honor a recently departed friend. Charlie left this earthly plane just shy of his 100th birthday after spending a lifetime as a brewery worker, executive and advocate. His daughter generously provided me with memorabilia from his career for the exhibit.

There’s plenty to see and experience at the museum, none the least of which is the “Good Old Potosi Beer!” If you’ve never been to the National Brewery Museum, you should definitely consider making the trip. In fact, why not take some of your breweriana along and set up an exhibit? The venue is insured and very professionally administered. Contact the ABA to find out how you can be a part of it.