1830 - 1840
Missouri’s thriving beer industry can trace its roots to Adam Lemp, a German immigrant who introduced the lager style to St. Louis in the late 1830s. After a stint in Cincinnati, Lemp moved to St. Louis, where he opened a grocery store to sell his homebrewed beer alongside other goods. Realizing a greater demand for his lager, he traded his work as a grocer for work as a brewery owner when he founded Western Brewery in 1840. Lemp’s legacy continued with his son William who grew the brewery into the largest beer producer in St. Louis from 1870 until prohibition. The financial impact of banning alcohol brought the Lemp legacy to an end, and the once 7 million dollar brewery sold for just under $600,000 in 1922. In the decades after the ban was lifted, Missouri brewers like Anheuser-Busch, Schlafly, and Boulevard Brewing Company would revive the industry which now contributes $10.2 Billion to Missouri’s economy each year.
This corking machine hearkens back to Lemp’s start in the beer industry when he and his workers corked bottles one by one. They would sit on the bench facing the upright board and place an open bottle in the round iron plate. Then using the machine’s lever and foot pedal, they would drive a cork into the bottle’s neck. Lemp replaced this corking machine with more advanced technology as his small operation grew into a successful brewery. This corking machine is a reminder of the Lemp family legacy and the modest beginnings of Missouri’s lucrative beer industry.
Description of the corking machine is courtesy of Missouri Historical Society.
Date: 1830 - 1840
Subject: Beer Industry; German Americans
Contributing Institution: Missouri Historical Society
Accession Number: 1953.120.1
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Region: St. Louis Metro