The Schlafly Beer Employee Blog

June 1, 2011

Top Fermentation - June 2011


The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer President Tom Schlafly

“So, where did you go to high school?”  There’s no other linguistic trait that defines St. Louisans as much as our propensity to ask this question. The second part of the inquiry, which invariably follows, is:  “So, when did you graduate?”  Despite the increasing frequency of senior moments, I can still answer this second question with unfailing precision: June 6, 1966, or 6/6/66.
Alert readers (ARs) who are well-versed in numerology and scriptural exegesis will most certainly be familiar with The Book of Revelation, chapter 13, verse 17: “Whoever is intelligent can figure out the meaning of the number of the beast, because the number stands for the name of someone.  Its number is 666.”  In other words, I graduated from high school on a date with great biblical significance. No wonder I have no trouble remembering it.  I also have vivid memories for other reasons of the dance following our graduation, at which the legendary blues musician Oliver Sain performed.
Twenty-five years later, in June of 1991, I went to my high school reunion and talked about what I had been doing since graduation (practicing law) and what I planned to do (start a brewery).  The universal reaction among my classmates and their spouses was that I had truly lost my mind.  Little did they or I realize at the time that the brewery would actually open for business by the end of the year and within 20 years would be the largest American-owned brewery in St. Louis.

Most likely to start a brewery?

As a result of starting a brewery, I can now claim to be an alumnus of another high school in addition to the one from which I received a diploma on 6/6/66.  For this particular honor I need to thank an AR named Paul Casey, who really did attend McBride High School, which was named for my great grandfather William Cullen McBride. Paul, whom I met at The Tap Room and who was then the President of the McBride Alumni Association,  used his influence to award me status as an honorary alumnus upon payment of ten dollars in annual dues.  Ever since I have basked in the prestige of a school at which I never actually took a class. I have also been privileged to meet some distinguished quasi-fellow alumni, such as the late AR Henry Herbst, a pre-eminent historian of brewing in St. Louis.  In that vein, I would like to extend belated thanks to two other ARs from McBride, Wayne Hopkins and John Coughlin, who have helped keep me aware of coverage of Schlafly Beer in The Washington Post.
More recently, The Washington Post published an obituary for my cousin Hubert “Hub” Schlafly, who died on April 20.  (Thanks to an AR named Chuck Winks for forwarding it to me.)  Hub, who graduated from St. Louis U High in 1937, achieved international acclaim for inventing the TelePrompTer.  Just as thousands of men are indebted to McBride High School for giving them a fine education, thousands of entertainers and politicians are indebted to Hub Schlafly for making their careers possible, including the current occupant of The White House.
Because McBride High School closed in 1971, I’m one of the youngest members of its alumni association.  By contrast, I’m one of the oldest alumni of St. Louis Priory School, from which I actually received a diploma 45 years ago.  When I started in 7th grade at Priory in 1960, the oldest alumni were freshmen in college.  Dwight D. Eisenhower was the President of the United States and Yuri Gagarin had not yet become the first human being to travel into outer space.
The school had been founded five years earlier by Benedictine monks from Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire, England. When they came to America, all three monks were subjects of Elizabeth II, the Queen of Great Britain, Ireland, and numerous British Dominions, as well as being the titular head of the Church of England.  Fifty-six years later, Elizabeth is still on the throne, albeit reigning over a greatly diminished empire.  Having been born on April 21, 1926, she recently turned 85, but won’t officially celebrate her birthday until June 11.
In deferring the celebration of her birthday, Elizabeth is maintaining a tradition that dates back to 1748.  Given the inclement nature of British weather, it was decided long ago to celebrate the Sovereign’s birthday in June, notwithstanding his or her actual date of birth.  The public celebration is held in connection with Trooping the Colour, an outdoor ceremony far better suited to June than to most of the rest of the year in England. Although I’ve never witnessed Trooping the Colour, I’m sure it’s a spectacular display of pomp and circumstance.  That said, I’m afraid it might be seriously deficient in one respect.  I don’t know whether beer will be served.
My concern arises from published reports that beer was not served at the recent wedding reception for Prince William and Kate Middleton. Why not?  Allegedly because beer was not deemed an appropriate beverage to be served in the presence of the Queen.  I am not making this up. Champagne, which is indigenous to England’s perennial enemy on the other side of the English Channel, was perfectly suitable.  But beer, for which Britain is world-renowned and which contributes hundreds of millions of pounds annually to Her Majesty’s Royal Treasury, was unacceptable. It’s amazing that someone who never went to high school thinks she’s too good to be in the presence of us beer drinkers, not even our counterparts across the pond whose taxes are paying for her royal lifestyle.