The New-York Historical Society opens "Beer Here: Brewing New York’s History"

Learn about the history of brewing and New York beer in this exhibit at the New-York Historical Society.

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  • Photograph: Courtesy New-York Historical Society

    George Ehret's Hell Gate Brewery from "Beer Here: Brewing New York's History" at the New-York Historical Society

  • Photograph: Courtesy New-York Historical Society

    Crown Cork & Seal manual bottle capper from "Beer Here: Brewing New York's History" at the New-York Historical Society

  • Photograph: Courtesy New-York Historical Society

    Andrew Fisher Bunner, Cutting Ice, Rockland Lake, N.Y. from "Beer Here: Brewing New York's History" at the New-York Historical Society

Photograph: Courtesy New-York Historical Society

George Ehret's Hell Gate Brewery from "Beer Here: Brewing New York's History" at the New-York Historical Society


Through Sept 2, 2012 • 170 Central Park West between 76th and 77th Sts (212-873-3400, nyhistory.org). Tue–Thu, Sat 10am–6pm; Fri 10am–8pm; Sun 11am–5pm. $5–$15.

New York City’s recent rise to prominence as a craft-brewing hub—with companies like Sixpoint and the Brooklyn Brewery gaining national attention and distribution—is nothing new. This exhibit at the New-York Historical Society examines the area’s rich history of beer-making, beginning in the 17th century and ending with the post-Prohibition rise of local companies such as Rheingold, which was originally located in Bushwick.

RECOMMENDED: Full summer museum exhibit guide

Highlights

George Ehret’s Hell Gate Brewery calendar

Produced sometime between 1877 and 1894, this calendar depicts George Ehret’s massive Hell Gate Brewery in Yorkville, named for a nearby East River inlet where many ships sank. Hell Gate opened in 1866 and became the largest breweries in the country just ten years later. However, Prohibition severely affected its production, and in 1935, the company was bought by the Jacob Ruppert Brewery, also located on the Upper East Side. (Its fate was no better: Ruppert  closed in 1966.)

Crown Cork & Seal manual bottle capper

The crimped-edge cap is an essential element of the beer bottle (there are even organizations dedicated to collecting the metal toppers), but that wasn’t always the case. Before the 19th century, bottles were sealed with “blob tops,” with which a stopper made of glass, ceramic or cork was held in place by wire. But this method wasn’t exactly sanitary. In 1892, Baltimore inventor William Painter created the precursor to the modern cap: a cork disc attached to a piece of tin, whose edges were then crimped over the bottle top. This artifact is one of the first manual capping machines produced by Crown Cork & Seal, the company Painter started to capitalize on his invention.

Andrew Fisher Bunner, Cutting Ice, Rockland Lake, N.Y.

Before modern refrigeration, brewers used massive chunks of frozen water to keep their lagers cool. This painting by artist Andrew Fisher Bunner depicts ice-harvesting on Rockland Lake, which, thanks to its location just 15 miles northwest of Manhattan, became one of the largest suppliers to New York’s brewers. In addition to the portrait, you’ll  see tools used during the harvesting process, such as tongs, an ice pike and a hand plow, hanging on a wall next to the painting.


Also check out

Enter from the institution’s Central Park West entrance, and be sure to look up: Among the elements added to the revamped lobby during last year’s renovations was a section of the ceiling from Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, which closed in 2005. (You can also see more of Haring’s work in “The Pop Shop,” a rotating exhibit devoted to the New York artist.)


Go here afterward

Plan a trip to coincide with one of the special weekly tastings that the museum will host throughout the show’s run: Representatives from New York breweries such as Genesee, Harlem Brewing Company and Bronx Brewery will discuss their operations and offer pours of their most popular quaffs. Upcoming events include visits from Blue Point Brewing Company (Sat 30 at 2, 4pm; $20–$35) and Empire Brewing Company (Wed 4 at 2, 4pm; $20–$35).


Users say

1 comments
Ray Hauser
Ray Hauser

I have a manual Crown Cork & Seal bottling machine, foot operated for separate injection of syrup, then carbonated water and cap. It has shelves to left and right for empty bottles on the left, filled bottles on the right. Is this comparable to what you have in your museum? It was operated by my grandfather and brothers in Litchfield, Illinois. It does not have a model number or serial number. Ray Hauser Boulder CO