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Brewers converge in Baltimore in 1878

As last Sunday was the final day of Oktoberfest in Germany, it seems only fitting that we should feature beer in today’s blog post from the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project.

The June 5, 1878, issue of Der Deutsche Correspondent contains a special supplement that I first noticed because it bears several large and intricate illustrations. The largest and central illustration features King Gambrinus—the fabled patriarch of brewing—with a stein of beer in one hand and the other outstretched, welcoming brewers from all over the country to Baltimore.

Illustration features King Gambrinus—the fabled patriarch of brewing—with a stein of beer in one hand and the other outstretched, welcoming brewers from all over the country to Baltimore. The translated caption reads: “18th National Brewers’ Congress of the United States, held in the City of Baltimore on the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th of June 1878.”

The translated caption reads: “18th National Brewers’ Congress of the United States, held in the City of Baltimore on the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th of June 1878.”

Discussion at the 18th National Brewers’ Congress of the United States revolved around the hot topics of the day, predominantly the temperance movement. Brewers attempted to avoid the persecution of teetotalers by promoting the idea that beer could be a milder, and therefore less dangerous, alternative to hard liquors. A June 6, 1878, article from the Baltimore Sun quotes President of the National Brewers Association Henry H. Reuter as saying:

“We do not differ with them [supporters of the Temperance Movement] concerning the evils of drunkenness, the mischief, the poverty and the crime thereby engendered; we differ as to the means to be employed to lessen these deplorable results of intoxication, and so reach results in which we are all interested. It is not a moral, but an intellectual difference.… Experience is the safest guide, and experience teaches us that all efforts to suppress the gratification of the human appetite for stimulants have failed.… We believe, finally, that in the popular consumption of ale and beer is found one of the best safeguards in controlling the desire for stimulants, and that they, above all others, are best adapted to satisfy the appetite for alcoholic stimulants with the least danger of abuse.”

Attendees of the conference also had the opportunity to tour several of Baltimore’s prominent breweries—including H. Strauss Bros. & Bell, J. H. Von der Horst’s, and Louis Muth’s and Rost’s—and sample their brews.

Image of John H. Van Der Horst. Brauer und Mälzer, verlängerte Belair-Avenue, Baltimore, Md.   Image of Louis Muth's Lagerbier-Brauerei, Belair-Avenue, Baltimore, Md.

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About liz_caringola

Liz Caringola is the Historic Maryland Newspapers Librarian at the University of Maryland Libraries. Prior to her current position, she managed digitization projects for the Department of Anthropology at Kenyon College and was a technician with the NARA/Ancestry digitization partnership at the National Archives in College Park, MD.

2 comments on “Brewers converge in Baltimore in 1878

  1. The 1869 Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore by E. Sachse provides a very graphic illustration of the prominence of German-owned breweries in Baltimore during this era. The vignettes of buildings around the map show at least 14 different breweries. To see this huge map in person, come to the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library at the University of Maryland. The Enoch Pratt Library has digitized the Sachse view at: http://epfl.mdch.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/mdmc/id/15/rec/1

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