Lemp Brewery

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Lemp Brewery
IndustryAlcoholic beverage
SuccessorFalstaff Brewing Corporation[1]
FoundedSt. Louis, Missouri (1840 (1840))[2]
FounderAdam Lemp[2]

The Lemp Brewery was a beer brewing company established in 1840 in St. Louis, Missouri that was acquired by the Griesedieck Beverage Company in 1920, which subsequently became the Falstaff Brewing Corporation.[2][1] The brewery complex property consists of 27 buildings on a 13.7-acre (0.055 km2) site in the Marine Villa neighborhood. St. Louisian Steve DeBellis has been the owner of the Lemp Brewing Company trademark since 1988.

Company history[edit]

Johann Adam Lemp was born in 1798 in Eschwege, Germany, and two years after his arrival in the United States in 1836, he moved to St. Louis.[3] He sought to make his fortune by becoming a grocer; however he abandoned this dream when he realized his grocery store was more popular for its lager beer than for its groceries.[4] In 1840, Adam Lemp closed his grocery and opened a brewery and saloon, then known as the Western Brewery.[2] During the 1840s, Lemp moved the brewery to a larger complex in south St. Louis and began training his son, William J. Lemp, to take over the operations.[5] The elder Lemp died in 1862, with his estate being valued at $20,000.[4]

William J. Lemp then took over the brewery and purchased the property that would become the Lemp Brewery complex in 1864.[6] This property at 3500 Lemp Avenue, still stands in St. Louis today.[7][8]

After the implementation of Prohibition in the United States in 1919, the Lemp Brewery was unable to continue its beer brewing operations, and its near beer product (known as Cerva) was not profitable. In 1920, the Lemp Brewery's factory complex and brands were sold to other beer brewing companies.

Brewery complex[edit]

The brewery is built upon a complex of natural caves which were once used for the lagering of beer by early German brewers. Caves are naturally cool, which was especially attractive to brewers before the advent of refrigeration.[9] Several breweries were built atop these natural caves, which were altered to suit their purposes. Stone arches and brick ceilings prevented water seepage and uneven cave floors were paved with brick. In addition to being used for the storage and lagering of beer, such naturally cool places were sometimes employed as beer gardens, places for entertainment.

The Lemp Brewery consists of 27 buildings on a 13.7-acre (55,000 m2) pie-shaped site bounded by Cherokee Street on the north, Lemp Avenue on the west, and South Broadway on the southeast. The first brewhouse was constructed in 1865.[10] When it was constructed by the Lemp Family, the Lemp Mansion, included a tunnel through the natural cave system leading to the Lemp Brewery. The Lemp Family would use this tunnel to go to work.[8]

The Lemp Brewery Complex was purchased by International Shoe Company in 1922 and they occupied the complex until approximately 1980. Although most of the buildings originally constructed by the Lemp Brewing Company remain on the property, International Shoe Company had demolished a few buildings and constructed a new building in the southern corner of the property in approximately 1950.

The Lemp Brewery Complex currently consists of 27 buildings that have been semi-occupied by various tenants for light industrial, commercial, and warehousing uses, office space, and artist studios since approximately 1980. The extensive basements under the buildings were also used for several seasons during the 1990s as a Halloween haunted house and were rented out for rave parties. The main building is now abandoned.


In 1939 the struggling Central Brewing Company of East St. Louis Illinois renamed itself as the Wm. J. Lemp Brewing Company. For 6 years they existed as the Lemp Brewery before changing their name again, to the EMS Brewing Co., in 1945. The brewery would soon close as a branch of Falstaff in 1949.[11] In 1987 St. Louis beer historian Steven J. DeBellis put Lemp beer back on the market as an American adjunct lager. The Lemp Brewing Co. currently contract brews Lemp beer through the Stevens Point Brewery in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Walker (1988), p. 85.
  2. ^ a b c d Walker (1988), p. 2
  3. ^ Walker (1988), pp. 1-2.
  4. ^ a b Shepley, Carol. "The Lemp Family of St. Louis". Voices: Online Magazine of the Missouri History Museum. Missouri History Museum. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
  5. ^ Walker (1988), p. 6.
  6. ^ Walker (1988), p. 8.
  7. ^ Google Map Link to Lemp Brewery Complex at 3500 Lemp Ave St Louis, MO 63118
  8. ^ a b Lemp Mansion Archived 2006-10-29 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Milestones of Missouri's HiddenHallows Archived 2006-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ [Inactive Building Permits, St. Louis City Record Retention Section, City Hall Room 1, 1200 Market, St. Louis, MO]
  11. ^ http://www.taverntrove.com/breweries/Lemp-Brewing-Company-East-Saint-Louis-2003.asp[permanent dead link]

External Links (further reading)[edit]

Coordinates: 38°35′28″N 90°13′3″W / 38.59111°N 90.21750°W / 38.59111; -90.21750