Historical treasure: Brasserie Terre Haute | Valley life
Nestled in the fertile plains of the Midwest, the queen city of Wabash has long been the optimal environment for the production and distribution of alcoholic beverages. Surrounding our city on all sides are vast tracts of prime agricultural land. Producing grains that have fed our people, our livestock, and our eternal thirst for brewed beverages.
This, together with our many distribution routes, namely the river, the railways and the national road, have long made this place an ideal location for the brewing and distribution of beer. This is precisely why the Terre Haute Brewing Company sponsored a small publication in 1935 entitled “The Brewing and Distribution of Beer”, just after Prohibition ended.
This week’s historical treasure, an educational brochure, is presented with a traditional epic from Finland that celebrates beer as one of the most versatile beverages imaginable. It claims it “mends broken hearts, renews youthful vitality, and accentuates the extremes of wisdom and folly when imbibed”. Across time and culture, it is always comforting to find common ground.
The brochure goes on to detail the entire beer brewing process, from selecting the perfect beans to aging the finished product and even the proper glassware in which to serve the beer. The centerfold of the brochure provides an illustrated view of what the brewery once looked like as well as an inspiring story of Terre Haute Brewing Company’s return when Prohibition ended in 1933.
On this page, the brochure gives its most resounding endorsement of the brewery’s flagship brew: Champagne Velvet. “Beer with a Million Dollar Flavor” was his fame after brewery owner Oscar Baur asked for a million dollar police to underwrite for the secret recipe. After hours of relentless research, I can confidently say that I know the secret ingredient. However, it would be inappropriate to disclose it. After all, it’s a secret.
When reading documents almost 100 years old, one can often come across questionable information. Among the most interesting and outdated statements in the brochure was the “Beer for Health” section. Yes, that’s right, beer as medicine. In it, the pamphlet claims that the beer was “prescribed as an appetite stimulant, especially for nursing mothers.” While I can personally vouch for the original claim that it is an appetite stimulant, I encourage readers to do their own maternal health research.
Obviously the purpose of this document was to further convince Hoosiers and Americans that Prohibition was harmful to most communities. The production and distribution of beer created many jobs, and prohibition only enriched and strengthened criminal organizations. If you want to learn more about the history of Terre Haute Brewing Company and the impacts of Prohibition on the haughty economy, there is an excellent display of artifacts and information on display at the Vigo County History Center.