It’s the People! How Brewing History (Re)Formed Olympia-Tumwater and Chicago

Submitted by City of Tumwater

The Chicago Brewseum, a nonprofit museum project exploring the historical and cultural significance of beer, is partnering with the Olympia Tumwater Foundation and the City of Tumwater to discuss the impact of local breweries on community growth, to take place at the Schmidt House on September 6, 2019. This panel discussion will reflect on the contributions that historic breweries like Leopold Schmidt’s famous Olympia Brewing Company, as well as counterparts in Chicago, have made to the development and identity of their home cities. “These were not just businesses,” says Brian Alberts of the Chicago Brewseum, “they played a civic role as well. Local breweries often get tangled up in political and social concerns like community identity, immigration, and the meaning of citizenship.”

Olympia Beer its the water
Photo courtesy: City of Tumwater

This panel will reveal just how interconnected American brewing can be historically and today. German heritage connected early Washington brewers like the Schmidt family to immigrant

brewers in Chicago and beyond. Likewise, modern craft brewing has not only created thousands of locally-minded breweries but also a sense of shared identity that spans the nation. This discussion will place the past and the present in conversation so that the longstanding influence of breweries on local community life can be better understood.

In honor of this event, Olympia’s own Well 80 Brewhouse will generously provide Leopold’s No. 1 Lager, a historic lager that recreates Leopold Schmidt’s original 1896 recipe. Proceeds from beer sales will benefit the Olympia Tumwater Foundation and the Chicago Brewseum.

This event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited, so online registration is strongly recommended. Moderated by Karen Johnson, curator at the Olympia Tumwater Foundation, the panel will consist of:

  • Liz Garibay, historian and Executive Director of the Chicago Brewseum
  • Brian Alberts, historian and Program Director at the Chicago Brewseum
  • Megan Ockerman, researcher and Editor at PBS Engineering and Environmental, Inc.
  • Tiah Edmunson-Morton, curator of the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archive at Oregon State University
  • John Doan, City Administrator for the City of Tumwater

Full details and registration can be found here. Additional images available upon request. Contact Brian Alberts at bmalberts@gmail.com for more information. This event is part of a series hosted by the Chicago Brewseum and its partners, taking place throughout the greater Seattle area on September 4-8, 2019.

About the Chicago Brewseum: The Chicago Brewseum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to show how beer, past and present, is a dynamic cultural force with the power to foster community create change. The Chicago Brewseum explores the local, national, and global histories behind beer and offers that knowledge to communities around Chicago and beyond. The organization recently debuted its first major exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago, with a goal to open an independent museum by 2021. Help build the Chicago Brewseum by clicking the ‘donate’ button on our website and making a tax-deductible contribution.

About the Olympia Tumwater Foundation: The Olympia Tumwater Foundation is a charitable organization that traces its roots to the Schmidt family of Tumwater and the famous Olympia Brewing Company. The Foundation was created in 1950 by Peter G. Schmidt, Sr., long-time president of the Olympia brewery and oldest son of brewery founder Leopold Schmidt. The Foundation currently owns and manages the Schmidt family home (including the archives of the family and the brewery) and the Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls. The Foundation also awards college scholarships to Thurston County seniors.

About the City of Tumwater: The oldest non-native settlement on Puget Sound, Tumwater is known for its many natural resources, rivers, prairies, forests, and beaches. First incorporated in November 1869, the City applied a pioneering spirit to grow into a vital and diverse community with thriving neighborhoods, commerce, government, and manufacturing. Tumwater is famously known as home to the former Olympia Brewery, founded by the Schmidt family in 1896. Today, the red brick of Olympia’s Old Brewhouse Tower symbolizes the crucial role the Schmidt family and the brewery played in the history of our community.

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