Pub Finale to NY Beer History Walk

Although we missed Brooklyn Brewery’s ’05 Black Chocolate Stout yesterday, there was plenty of beer and ambiance to welcome weary time-travelers relaxing in the beer hall at the finale of New-York Historical Society’s exhibition Beer Here: Brewing New York’s Historya friendly (and informative) barkeep, giant pretzels, and Brooklyn’s finest.

It’s a walk through time, starting with the American Revolution era, where taverns could be found everywhere in lower Manhattan with their own unique recipes for spruce beer and table ale.

Because we take water for granted today, the show emphasizes how important it was for breweries in the City to have access to a steady supply of fresh water and features a collection of 1804 wooden water pipes installed by the Manhattan Water Company in 1799. (Spoiler alert: Aaron Burr was an investor.)

Section of Manhattan Water Company wooden water pipe, ca. 1804. Source: NYHS

Hops growing became a key crop around 1808, but it wasn’t until the Croton Aqueduct was built in 1825 at Fifth and 42nd (yes, where NYPL is today) that brewing could really take off in quantity. Wagons loaded with ice rolled in from Rockland Lane (north of Nyack).

Of course, German immigration in 1835 really blew the lid off, and by the 1890s, the City was chock-a-block (literally) with beer halls, gardens, breweries, and bottlers. And who knew that our ubiquitous beer bottle cap was born with the 1892 advent of the “crown” cap?

1950s ad shows Rheingold beer representative at work. Source: NYHS

You’ll enjoy lots of historic bottles and experimental beer containers, Miss Rheingold of 1956’s gold gown, and plenty of other colorful memorabilia to whet your thirst for real thing from Brooklyn, the Bronx, and upstate New York (in the beer hall).

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