In annals of St. Louis beer history, two brewing families’ names have become legends both for brewing and their individual family histories. I’m of course talking about Busch’s and the Lemp’s. Both families trace their roots to Germany, and each arrived in St. Louis in the 19th century. Their legendary breweries were actually neighbors in South St. Louis, where Anheuser Busch still operates, and Lemp’s Brewery is still visible.
The Lemp’s are also well known as perhaps St. Louis’ most haunted family. Legend holds that the Lemp Mansion is haunted to this very day. The first “incident” occurred when Frederick Lemp, heir apparent to the brewery presidency, died under mysterious circumstances in 1901. Three years later, William J. Lemp shot himself in the head in a bedroom at the family mansion, apparently still grieving the loss of his son.
Continuing what seemed to be a family tradition, Elsa Lemp, considered the wealthiest heiress in St. Louis, committed suicide in 1920.
After presiding over the sale of the brewery, William Lemp, Jr. shot himself in the same building where his father had died 18 years earlier. William’s brother, Charles continued to reside at the house after his brother’s suicide but led a reclusive existence. He also died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and his body was discovered by his brother, Edwin. In 1970, Edwin Lemp died of natural causes at the age of ninety. Today, the family’s home has been turned into a restaurant and bed and breakfast called Lemp Mansion Restaurant & Inn (3322 DeMenil Place; (314) 664-8024) and is available for tours.
But what about the beer?
Lemp beer has been brewed by many breweries over the years, with some margin of success. And now new efforts are underway, and this time they have some pretty damn good beer makers taking the lead.
“We were lucky enough to meet with John DeBellis last year and start brewing Lemp beers again on a very small scale to keep the name alive with something tangible,” said Josh Miller, Head Brewer at Good News Brewing Company, located in O’Fallon, Missouri. (330 Sonderen St, O’Fallon, MO 63366)
Over the decades, many of the recipes have been lost or changed, and it’s been so long since active distribution that not a lot of people know what the original Lemp Pale Lager tastes like. So Good News Brewing is trying to help resurrect the brand and that exact lager, but with a modern twist, a new recipe and hope to receive feedback from the public about how to proceed in the future.
“We will take into account all of your input and suggestions when creating Batch No. 2 in the future,” said Miller. “Due to the popularity last year at the Lemp Jurassic Dark release, Pale Lager it will be a keep the glass event. They will become instant collector’s items again!”
To create the new recipe, Miller started this process by creating an ultra-simple Munich Helles lager. “I am always open to interpretation but with this style, the brewing process outshines the ingredients,” said Miller. “This is one of my favorite styles of beer to brew. As a younger brewer, I love the history of beer and I find it fascinating to try and recreate an older brand of beer, especially one that was held in such high regard in St. Louis.
- Visual: Pale straw with a white foam head
- Aroma: Biscuit/bread
- Flavor: Cracker breadiness with underlying hop bitterness
- Mouthfeel: Effervescent carbonation
- Body: Light body
- Yeast: saflager W-34/70
- Hops: EKG
- Malt: 92% German Pilsner 8% Munich
Availability: Draft only
Glassware: Will be serving in Arc Evolution Pilsner glasses, but any strait sided glassware will do nicely.