Tennessee Brewery

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Tennessee Brewery
Tennessee Brewery
Tennessee Brewery is located in Tennessee
Tennessee Brewery
Location Memphis, Tennessee
Coordinates 35°8′2.07″N 90°3′45.67″W / 35.1339083°N 90.0626861°W / 35.1339083; -90.0626861Coordinates: 35°8′2.07″N 90°3′45.67″W / 35.1339083°N 90.0626861°W / 35.1339083; -90.0626861
Built 1890
Architect E. Jungenfel & Co.
Architectural style Romanesque
NRHP Reference # 80004482
Added to NRHP November 25, 1980
Tennessee brewery in 1895
Early Tennessee Brewery Postcard

The Tennessee Brewery building stands at the intersection of Butler and Tennessee streets in Memphis, Tennessee.[1] It is directly on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. The building once housed the Tennessee Brewing Company, a leader in early brewery production.


The brewery was originally organized in 1877 by G.H. Herbers as "The Memphis Brewing Company". In 1885, it was bought by J. W. Schorr, Casper Koehler, and associates, and soon became one of the largest breweries of the era.[2]

The first beer marketed from the brewery was a Pilsener. Like many other brands of the time, the beers were not usually named. Instead, the type or style of the beer was used as the name, along with the name of the brewery. They also produced several other beer styles. An ad from 1890 lists their styles as Pilsener, Export, Budweiser, Tennessee Pale, and Bavarian. Later, two new brands called Columbian Extra Pale and Erlanger were also produced, before prohibition shut down operations.[2]

At one point, more than 1500 workers worked at the brewery. By 1903, production was up to 250,000 barrels per year making it the largest brewery in the south. Prohibition shut down operations, however after prohibition ended, the plant was reopened by J. W.'s son, John Schorr. Very rapidly, they got back up to production speed, and the best known and leading beer sold in Memphis for many years was "Goldcrest". After 1938 the beer was named "Goldcrest 51", to honor more than 51 years in the brewing business.[3]

Goldcrest 51 was a bottled beer until 1947, when they started using cans. As a somewhat local beer, the brewery actually used returned bottles up until they ceased all operations, in 1954.

The building that remains today was erected in 1890 and is basically unchanged from that time (other than renovations performed to keep the building intact for possible further development in the future).[4] The bottling plant was an add-on to the building much later, in 1938. Plans have been made in the past to turn the building into condominiums or shopping space,[5] however none of these have occurred.

Current status[edit]

The Tennessee Brewery is currently owned by The Tennessee Brewery LLC, and sits atop the river bluff near the South Main Arts District. The 65,720 square feet (6,106 m2) property was appraised in 2005 at $248600. Brewery Tennessee LLC transferred the property for $350000 to The Tennessee Brewery LLC in 1999. It was transferred to Brewery Tennessee LLC in 1995 from Marvin Ratner.[6] As of March 2014 there are plans to create a "popup" beer garden at the Brewery, as a proof-of-concept that the building can be revitalized.


  1. ^ Tennessee Brewery The Commercial Appeal
  2. ^ a b Flemmons, Kenn (2003). Finest Beer you ever Tasted. Goldcrest Holdings. p. 116. ISBN 0-615-12432-1. 
  3. ^ Museum of Beverage Containers and Advertising - Breweries of Tennessee
  4. ^ Wilkins, Andrew (2001-04-19). "That's Sprawl, Folks - Memphis' "growth" is coming from poor land management, not a population increase.". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  5. ^ Phillips, Bianca (2003-04-25). "Free Art Tomorrow - Group hopes to revive the historic Tennessee Brewery downtown.". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  6. ^ Meek, Andy (2005-08-23). "Underutilized Downtown Properties Await Development". Memphis Daily News. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 

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