Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"beer here: brewing new york's history" exhibit at the new york historical society

yesterday, albeit it took a me a few weeks, i finally had a chance to visit the "beer here: brewing new york's history" exhibit at the new york historical society. while some of the material was interesting, it wasn't really worth the wait. that's not meant to be harsh, because since the exhibit is display at the historical society - there's an entire building's worth of history to view. i wouldn't make a special trip just to see it.  instead, include it a plan to visit the museum itself.  ironically, the magnificent paintings of "making american taste: narrative art for a new democracy" on exhibit upstairs in dexter hall was far more filling ;O

perhaps "beer here" was over hyped? it started off with hops and water - the basic building blocks of beer. while the artifacts (including what appeared to be a hollowed out log that served as a water pipe) didn't do much for me, i really enjoyed the maps and paintings - especially "cutting ice, rockland lake, ny" which today probably doesn't see much ice harvesting. there were also a couple of fantastic posters, including the huge and imposing "building" of the hell gate brewery!

there was also a bit on the temperance movement and its absurd pinnacle - prohibition.  another fun bit was the roughly 11 minute long film (complete with its own kiddie bench for viewing) on the re-opening of the genesee brewery in rochester, after having been shuttered during the 13 long years of prohibition.  but to end the exhibit with the actual "coronation" gown of the the rheingold girl?  really?

but my biggest grip, if you will, was the utter lack of material on the current craft beer movement - that has single-handedly revived the beer industry in new york (as well as the rest of the country).  to cover the history from birth to its drawn-out death in the 1970's - and leave out its stunning revival is puzzling - to put it mildly.  and yet, the products of the craft beer revolution are on tap in the "beer hall" that serves as the final room of the exhibit.  go figure?

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