The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer Co-Founder Tom Schlafly
On July 1, 1991 President George H. W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to fill a vacant seat on the United States Supreme Court. Sixteen days later, on July 17th, The Saint Louis Brewery, Inc. purchased a building at 2100 Locust Street at the western edge of Downtown St. Louis. The building had been vacant for decades and had survived a lot, most dramatically a firestorm in 1976 that had completely destroyed eleven nearby buildings. This firestorm had created its own wind system that bent the streams of water from the firehoses and blew the helmets off the heads of firefighters. The damage was so extensive that in 1981 the neighborhood was used as the setting for Escape from New York, a post-apocalyptic film directed by John Carpenter. Presumably there was nothing in the South Bronx that looked as bombed-out as the intersection of 21st and Locust.
In October of 1991 we were hard at work renovating our building. As alert readers (ARs) of a certain age will recall, the eyes of the rest of the country were focused on Washington, DC, where Anita Hill was testifying in opposition to Thomas’s nomination. The nation was stunned by Professor Hill’s allegations of coprolalia on the part of Thomas. Americans reacted with outrage and/or disbelief to her accounts of his joking about pornography, bestiality and an infamous Coke can. On October 15th the U. S. Senate voted 52 to 48 to confirm Justice Thomas. Two months later, on December 26th, The Schlafly Tap Room officially opened for business.
In 1993 I spent considerable time trying to convince the Missouri General Assembly to amend the state’s microbrewery law, to allow us to sell beer beyond The Tap Room and raise the statutory limit on our production. Despite some behind-the-scenes maneuvering by a corporation that is no longer American-owned, the law was in fact amended. We were granted permission to sell beer to other retail licensees, but our production was still capped at a level that would inhibit our ability to grow the business. In August of that year we began selling Schlafly to other bars and restaurants. That same summer flooding on the Missouri and Mississippi reached record levels, potentially threatening the water supply we needed to brew beer and the City needed for everyday life.
In 1995 Ulrike and I were married on September 2nd and had our wedding reception at The Tap Room. The following day the St. Louis Rams played their first regular season game. The Rams won their first four games that year but finished the season with a losing record. On December 23rd Anheuser-Busch announced that it had agreed to sell the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 1997 I went back to the Missouri General Assembly in an attempt to raise the 1993 statutory limit on our production. I ended up solving the problem, not by changing the law, but instead by getting a “22 percent license,” which allowed wineries to hold retail liquor licenses with no limit on their production. Another brewery, now controlled by a Brazilian hedge fund, subsequently applied for and received this same license in order to operate its Biergarten. This was also the first year Schlafly was sold in Busch Stadium. Our beer was available at one location behind the center field bleachers, a long walk from my seats behind home plate.
In 2003 Schlafly Bottleworks opened in Maplewood on April 7th, the 70th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition with respect to beer. Later that year the Rams had their last winning season in St. Louis.
On October 28, 2008 I celebrated my 60th birthday in China, where old age is revered. Two weeks later, there was a second celebration at The Tap Room on the same day Anheuser-Busch announced that it had been sold to InBev, effectively giving up its American citizenship. Schlafly was now the largest American-owned brewery in St. Louis. This was obviously a bigger birthday surprise than I could possibly have imagined.
In 2012, in order to assure continuity of the business, I sold part of my interest in the brewery to a group of local investors. I promptly invested some of the proceeds from this sale in The St. Louis Blues.
In 2016 Schlafly Beer is celebrating its 25th anniversary, as has been well publicized. The Rams are more than halfway into their first season in Los Angeles since 1994. Although a winning season is still a mathematical possibility as this column goes to press, I’m prepared to go on record by saying it’s not going to happen. It’s also conceivably possible that the Electoral College will elect Hillary Clinton as president on December 19th, but, once again, I’m willing to go on record and say that probably won’t happen.
As most ARs will likely agree, bitter acrimony over the vote in the Electoral College, which is normally an arcane footnote in a presidential election, would be par for the course in 2016. Consider the following highlights (or lowlights) of the recent campaign.
- Several women from Bill Clinton’s past came forward to accuse him of rape and accuse Hillary Clinton of discrediting them.
- A videotape of a 2005 conversation between Donald Trump and Billy Bush was leaked. Trump categorized his extremely lewd comments captured on the tape as mere locker room talk. Some women claimed they were accurate descriptions of what he had actually done.
- Then there was the incident that Hillary Clinton said had decided the election in Trump’s favor. The FBI disclosed that emails to and from her had been found on a laptop Anthony Weiner had used to send lewd messages and graphic photos of himself to a 15-year-old girl.
The Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill hearings of 1991 seem almost G-rated and family-friendly by comparison.