The Schlafly Beer Employee Blog

September 1, 2017

Top Fermentation - September 2017

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The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer Co-Founder Tom Schlafly

Because this is the back-to-school edition of my column, I have a sports trivia question that might challenge even the most alert among the alert readers (ARs) of this column.  What was the first team from the United States to win the Stanley Cup?  Hint: This team won Lord Stanley’s trophy by defeating the defending champion Montreal Canadiens  in 1917. Second hint:  This team was not one of the so-called “original six” teams in the NHL.  Third hint:  This team never played in the NHL.  Say what?

One of the many benefits of my role at the brewery is being able to hang around the bars at The Schlafly Tap Room and Schlafly Bottleworks and engage in learned discussions with ARs and others on a wide variety of topics.  One particularly erudite AR is a gentleman named Bob Tiemann, whom I  met more than ten years before the brewery opened, when we were teammates on a softball team called Pink Flamingos. Seriously.  I soon discovered that Bob was a walking encyclopedia of baseball history, particularly with respect to the St. Louis Cardinals.  Fortunately for those who were not on the Pink Flamingos, Bob has compiled much of his wisdom in a book titled Immortal Moments in Cardinals History, which I highly recommend.

The opening chapter is titled “Von Der Ahe Brings Pro Baseball Back To St. Louis.”  It tells the story of Chris Von Der Ahe, who owned a beer garden near Sportsman’s Park, where the St. Louis Browns (now the Cardinals) played their home games.  Von Der Ahe bought the team in 1882 and lured fans with low admission prices, Sunday games and (perhaps most important) beer.  Ten years later Von Der Ahe moved his team to the National League, making the deal contingent on the league’s allowing the Browns to continue selling beer and playing games on Sunday.

By 1920 the team had assumed the name Cardinals.  In July of that year they moved to a new ballpark at the corner of Grand and Dodier in north St. Louis, bringing the name Sportsman’s Park with them. (It was in this stadium that I saw my first major league baseball game in the 1950s, by which time the name had been changed to Busch Stadium.) What is not mentioned in Bob’s otherwise scholarly book is that the move to the new ballpark occurred less than six months after Prohibition had become the law of the land in the United States.  I don’t doubt that fans drank beer at Sportsman’s Park in the 1920s, but I’m guessing it wasn’t sold as openly as it had been in the Von Der Ahe era.

On July 30, 1933 a Cardinal pitcher named Dizzy Dean—aka Jerome Herman Dean, aka Jay Hanna Dean—set a major league record for strikeouts.  Dizzy, who would lead the major leagues in strikeouts in each of his first four seasons, 1932 to 1935, struck out 17 Cubs in front of a crowd of 29,500 at Sportsman’s Park.  Bob neglects to note that 1933 was the year the country was freed from the scourge of Prohibition.  Although wine and spirits would not become legal until December of that year, beer was legalized on April 7th, just in time for baseball season.  I’m sure that baseball fans in stadiums across America were grateful to be finally able to quench their thirst with legal beer after a 13-year drought. 

Mark McGwire joined the Cardinals 20 years ago, on September 16th, 1997. That night, in his first game as a Redbird, McGwire hit the longest home run in the history of the second Busch Stadium—517 feet into the façade of the upper deck above the scoreboard.  Earlier in the season something equally earth-shattering had occurred. For the first time ever Schlafly Beer was sold in Busch Stadium. Anheuser-Busch had sold the team after 1995 season and the new owners recognized the benefits of serving beer from a local microbrewery.  As a season ticket-holder I was and still am very grateful.

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By 2011 the Cardinals had moved to yet another ballpark called Busch Stadium and Schlafly Beer was available in multiple locations.  I was fortunate to be at the famous game 6 of the 2011 World Series when David Freese hit a two-run triple to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th inning; and  later hit a walk-off home run to win the game in the bottom of the 10th.  Game 7 of the 2011 World Series was on my birthday, October 28th.  I remember relishing the moment, sipping a Schlafly Pale Ale and watching the Cardinals win the World Series ON MY BIRTHDAY.  I had now seen the Cardinals win the 7th game of the World Series in three different Busch Stadiums: in 1964 against the Yankees, in 1982 against the Brewers, and now against the Rangers.

As this column goes to press, no one can be sure how the 2017 season will turn out for the Cardinals.  One thing, however, is certain.  The fan experience at Busch Stadium has been considerably enhanced by the availability  of Schlafly in cans. The year 2017 also marks another important milestone in the history of the brewery.  We have recently assigned our distribution rights to Summit Distributing, which shares our commitment to meeting the needs of Schlafly fans in the St. Louis area.  As some ARs probably know, Summit is owned by another AR named Tom Stillman, the principal owner of the St. Louis Blues.  Suffice it to say that Tom knows a whole lot more about hockey than I ever will. But, as smart as he is, even he didn’t know that the Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917 or that they played in Pacific Coast Hockey Association.

 

Tom Schlafly
Chairman