The Beertender: Henry Herbst and St. Louis History

St. Louis lost one of its beer legends this month: Henry Herbst was St. Louis' preeminent beer historian and collector, an invaluable repository of our proud past. If you've ever been to the Missouri History Museum or waited for a table at the Schlafly Bottleworks, you've enjoyed pieces from Henry's collection. As I wasn't fortunate enough to have met Mr. Herbst, I will let others eulogize the man. What I do know is what the man's work has meant to my city.

Matthew Black, Wikimedia Commons
In the decades following Prohibition, St. Louis lost all of its breweries save one. Their ghosts remain, of course. I walk around the empty Griesedieck Brothers brewery site near Gravois and I-55 and envision the short block abuzz with trucks and brewery workers. I visit the Falstaff site north of downtown, repurposed as apartments, thinking of the children of brewers walking down the street to St. Stanislaus. Every day that I drive down the Parkway past Grand, past the building festooned with the words Bottling Plant, I try to imagine Midtown smelling as good as Soulard.

Luckily, after reflecting on what we've lost, I can comfort myself with the thought of our current bounty. A score of breweries and brewpubs now dot the area, from downtown out to wine country. The men and women who have brought us these new businesses, who have reclaimed our identity as a brewing city, were inspired by those who looked back and told stories of how it used to be. In part, that's what the craft beer -- and the broader Slow Food -- movement is about: rediscovering what was lost in our rush to homogenize.

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I know your article about Henry Herbst is from 2009 but I thought I'd post a comment as I have just finished viewing a items that are being auctioned off in the next week or two in St.Louis that includes hundreds of items from the collection of Mr. Herbst. Everything from pre-prohibition beer bottles to old brewers tools to pretty much everything else related to the history of American breweries. Can check out these pieces of history and bid on as well at -

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