To consider the fascinating yet largely anonymous legacy of beer brewing in New York City, the New-York Historical Society presents Beer Here: Brewing New York’s History. This exhibit surveys the social, economic, political, and technological history of the production and consumption of beer, ale, and porter in the city from the seventeenth century to the present.
In the past three decades, New York City has become an important center of craft and home beer brewing. While this phenomenon began only after President Jimmy Carter signed into law an act that legalized home-brewing, the growth of New York’s present beer industry also marks the resurgence of a long-standing tradition known to few outside the world of beer aficionados. Beer has been brewed in New York City and State since the days of its earliest European settlement, when it was a vital source of nourishment and tax revenues. Brewing continued locally and statewide throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and for much of the nineteenth century New York State was home to one of the country’s largest brewing industries. Early nineteenth-century development of New York State’s hop farming industry was vital to this growth, and from the 1840s through the 1880s the state was the largest producer of hops in the United States.
Exhibit sections explore such topics as: the nutritional properties of colonial beer and early New York brewers in the age of revolution; infrastructure innovations and the importance of access to clean water; large-scale brewing in nineteenth-century New York and the influence of immigration; the influence of temperance and impact of prohibition; bottling, canning, refrigeration and other technological advances; and the state of the city’s breweries in the age of mass production. Featured artifacts and documents include: a 1779 account book from a New York City brewer who sold beer and ale to both the British and patriot sides; sections of early nineteenth-century wooden pipes from one of the city’s first water systems; a bronze medal that commemorates an 1855 New York State temperance law; beer trays from a variety of late nineteenth-century brewers; sign from the campaign to repeal prohibition; and a selection of advertisements from Piels, Rheingold and Schaefer, beloved hometown brewers. The exhibit concludes with a beer hall that features a selection of favorite New York City and State artisanal beers.
Beer Here: Brewing New York's History is proudly sponsored by Crown Holdings, Inc. Additional support is provided by Brooklyn Brewery and Heartland Brewery.
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