The Keg (Eastern Coast Breweriana Association) Winter 1998


by Rich Wagner

We are all familiar with gold medal flour, blue ribbon beer, and other award-boasting products. Today we even have blue ribbon banks and schools! But it's been a long time since Pabst won that ribbon, or Stegmaier brought home any gold medals. Historically, beer competitions were first held in Europe, then in America. And ever since the first medal was handed out for the first "best" brew, beer labels have proudly displayed honors won in Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Paris, Philadelphia, Chicago and other cities, some for a hundred years or more! Yet today, foreigners tend to imply that American beer shouldn't even really be classified as beer. My comeback to such criticism is that they haven't tried any of the vast array of specialty products brewed in America today. In the last decade we have witnessed steady growth in the number of beer advertisements touting a new generation of medals garnered at the GABF, World Beer Cup and other competitions, where American "micro," "macro" and "mega" beers compete side by side in best-of-style catagories.

The following article by a reporter for the Western Brewer describes one American's reaction to European beers while visiting the International Exhibition in Paris in 1878. This is followed by an article listing the prizes won in the American division. As is my custom, I have identified the winners with their American Breweries II numbers, providing collectors and researchers easy access to the history of each firm.

 Beer on the Boulevards (from the International Exposition, Paris).

Hotel de L'Athenee, Rue Scribe, Paris, July 1st, 1878.

Sweltering under a tropical sun, Paris broils and seethes like Seipp's (IL 45) great brew kettle, and the countless throngs of diversified humanity are daily and nightly reduced to almost liquid consistency in their efforts to see the sights. Beer alone seems to cool and quiet all classes- not our good and wholesome lager, with its amber translucent glow and its creamy froth- but the insipid French beers, the "Salvator," made by Grueber, of Strasburg, sweet and sickening, or the pale and colicy brewing of the Italian Chiavenna. Belgian beers are here and ale from Norway: Austrian brews and Holland "stews," if we may thus characterize the thick and ropey manufacture of the Dutch, who live away down where father Rhine loses himself in the sands and never deigns to wed the sea. And believe me, O! incredulous reader, that these are drawn half the time from casks perfect strangers to ice for a whole day, and you will get a fair idea of what it is to be beer-tasting on the Boulevards and at the great palaces of the Exposition in the Champs de Mars. How glorious it would be, I thought to-day, while sipping a glass of French beer at the Restaurant Francias in the Trocadero, to have a "schooner" of good lager beer, drawn cool and foaming like the sea from the ice-box of one of Chicago's many saloons. I am sure I would sit here and drink it like a king, in conscious pride that I was regaling myself upon the best drink in the world. I would even envy the genial Katzenmeyer when he goes to the post Keller, in Gotham, and with many congenial spirits around the old barrel in the corner there, drinks beer to the health of all the world. But I am proud in having a few bottles of Capt. Pabst's January brew packed down in the bottom of my larder at my hotel, and to-night, when all are dreaming but the consierge, I will enjoy the flavor of good Milwaukee beer, drank under the shadow of the Grand Opera.

 The American Beer Exhibit 

The American beer exhibit attracts great attention, and it is really creditable to our nation and the trade generally, although it is to be regretted that a larger number of brewers did not send over samples. The arrangement is fine, the Anheuser Company of St. Louis having probably the most elaborate fitted up display, as Mr. Adolphus Busch has been over personally to look after the arrangement, and has exercised his taste to good advantage. Reuter & Alley of Boston, exhibit elegant samples of ale from their Highland Spring Brewery; W.J. Lemp of St. Louis, has goon to great pains with his samples, and his well known "Western Brewery" is well represented, as is also the Jos. Uhrig Brewing Co. of St. Louis. Bergner & Engel and Wm. Massey of Philadelphia have attractive displays, as have also the Henry Clausen & Son of New York, and the Ph. Best Brewing Co. of Milwaukee, Mr. Emil Schandein of this company having personally looked after the exhibit and its arrangement. We regret that none of our Chicago brewers sent samples of their beer, for Chicago is seldom lacking in asserting herself everywhere; but this shortcoming is accounted for by the well known fact that Chicago consumes much more beer than is manufactured there, and hence local brewers are not seeking for other markets. I have made but a hurried and casual run through the American section, and consequently cannot enter into details in this letter, but promise you a full description for next issue...

Prizes at Paris (October, 1878)

The excitement attendant upon the awarding of prizes at Paris has ended and the following is a list of Awards in the American Dept., as it stands to date, although later reports may, and probably will, modify it somewhat.

Grand Prize, - (PA 375) Bergner & Engel, Philadelphia, Pa., lager beer (5.65% vol., 5.05% hop and malt extract).

Gold Medal, -(MO 165) E. Anheuser & Co., St. Louis, Mo., lager beer; (WI 286) Philip Best B.C., Milwaukee, Wis., lager beer; (NY 639) Geo. Bechtel, Staten Island, N.Y., lager beer.

Silver Medal, - (NY 369) Henry Clausen & Son, New York, lager beer; (NJ 86) Feigenspan & Co., Newark, N.J., lager beer; (NY 430) J. & L.F. Kuntz, New York, lager beer; (MO 140.1) W.J. Lemp, St. Louis, Mo., lager beer.

Bronze Medal, - (PA 398) Wm. Massey & Co., Philadelphia, Pa. ales; (MA 35) Reuter & Alley, Boston, Mass., ales; (MO 187) Joseph Uhrig B.C., St. Louis, Mo., lager beer.