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.
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.