Language of the First MBAA Convention

One of my enduring interests has been a fascination with the expansive vocabularies of the U.S. founding fathers. To this day, I marvel at their eloquent and quotable manner of speaking and writing. These men were not only some of history's greatest statesmen, but also some of its greatest thinkers, educated in the 18th century Enlightenment tradition.

Have you ever pondered the rhetorical legacy provided to us by the writings of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution? Or the widely circulated revolutionary pamphlets such as Common Sense, written by Thomas Paine, or The Federalist Papers jointly written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay (under the pen name of "Publius").

And... have you ever considered the stark contrast between the dialogue standard for that day and the language we witnessed on the 2016 debate stage, or the all too frequent 140 character Tweets now commonly used by our elected leaders?

It is with this "truth-in-packaging" background interest that I sought to revisit some "language details" from our first MBAA convention. I wanted to share a bit of the upscale oratory from our very own Founding Father Brewmasters!

My primary source to achieve this is a translation, German into English, of a detailed description of our first convention that was written by none other than Anton Schwarz in Der Amerikanische Bierbrauer (The American Brewer). It can be found in our Master Brewers Technical Quarterly Vol. 32. pp 115-117, 1995. On the next page are some images from that original Der Amerikanische Bierbrauer publication. I found it in the Anheuser-Busch archives when I was in St. Louis doing research. I wrote about that heritage marvel in the April 2016 Communicator. The images show the bound, leather cover of Der Amerikanische Bierbrauer from 1887, the title page of the issue describing our 1887 convention, and the first page of the article.

For our younger members who might not know, Anton Schwarz was a 19th century brewing rock star. He was an Austrian-born brewer and chemist who emigrated to the United States in 1868, settling in New York City. He got a job with Der Amerikanische Bierbrauer, became its editor, and ultimately bought the publication. He was much revered for turning The American Brewer into a serious scientific publication, improving brewing processes, and founding the Brewers’ Academy of the United States in New York City. His sculpted bust still hovers over the students studying at the Siebel Institute in Chicago. 

Translation of title of image in center: “First National Convention of the United States Brewmaster Association.
Special Report of American Brewer, Chicago, 22 March 1887.” ​
​An English masthead from The American Brewer

Our Founding Father Brewmasters spoke and wrote in an upbeat and beautiful language befitting men who were clearly multi-talented, often equally skilled in their pursuits of science, mechanics, business, politics, social skills, and communication.

Consider Anton Schwarz's first reporting paragraph:

"The United States Brewmaster's Association has embarked upon its glorious path; it is a fait accompli. A new association has been founded which will make the aims of the brewing industry its own.
As a delegate to the first convention, and completely without regard to my own specialty, I have accomplished the duties of a conscientious reporter and herewith send you an all inclusive account of which AMERICAN BREWER may well be proud."

Consider the welcoming by W. Seib, the president of the Chicago Brewer’s Association:

"In the capacity of president of one of the brewer's associations, it is my honorable task to extend to you, dear Sirs, the welcome greeting. Although I know full well that I am no orator by profession, I will nevertheless try to discharge myself of this honorable task as well as my poor powers allow."

Mr. L. C. Huck, after being chosen president of the banquet, offered the following comments:

"The honorable task of president of today's banquet has been bestowed upon me. In expressing to the banquet committee my sincere gratitude, I beg those present to make my task an easy one through their fresh humor, and especially a fine thirst."

Mr. Huck then offered the following prayer:

"In this country, it is usual to open festive meetings with a prayer. We to [sic], from the brewing trade, are good Christians, the well-being of whose neighbors is always in our hearts. So we wish to call with all our strength:
Dear God, Thou hast not only created water for the good use of men, but also other beverages, especially beer to brew, for which we owe Thy heavenly bounty much gratitude. Bestow Your Blessing upon our work, that it may not fail, that it may succeed, and that we may out of harmful greed save neither on hops nor malt, that it may not be said of us
They brewed their beer from fruit and corn
From which may save us God in His anger.
Let us hold on to the reputation which the brewer's guild has had for centuries, of which the poet says--
To our old, dark ancestry
Only beer of grain was known
And only in the hands of Germans
Began beer to brewed by artist's hand
May God save us from the Singer's curse--'Who falsifies beer and baptizes wine, deserves to drink them himself'"

Wow! God created water for the good use of men, especially to brew beer! Saving on hops or malt was harmful greed! And brewing beer from fruit or corn, well, was sinful! After reading that prayer, I had no doubts whatsoever of the sheer and absolute sanctity, and the preordained blessedness, of my chosen brewing profession!

I can think of no better way to celebrate our 130th anniversary, than to provide some precise detailed examples of the language, hence the minds, of a few of our Founding Father Brewmasters. Their chosen words bring them into focus in a most unique way, shedding light on their mission of our association’s creation.

And as sheer coincidence, along with our 130th anniversary, last month's heritage Communicator piece was my 50th. It's hard to believe, but as your Heritage Chair, it represents an enjoyable, personal milestone, nevertheless!

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