What is Beertown?

What is Beertown?

We have loads of info about our upcoming production of Beertown by dog & pony dc, but what is Beertown, the place? Let Beertown director and dog & pony dc Ensemble Director, Rachel Grossman, tell you the tale…

Beertown: A Brief History

Memories from Beertowns past... Photo credit C. Stanley Photography
Memories from Beertowns past… Photo credit C. Stanley Photography

A Refreshing Beginning

In early 1864, a young Welshman named Rhys Bramblethorpe and his associate, New Yorker Aloysius P. Thompson, left their posts at McSorely’s Ale House in New York City in search of the perfect place to start a brewery of their own. The story goes that they headed into the frontier in search of the purest natural spring water with which to craft their brew. While we recognize today that it is unlikely that two men from an urban setting would have been able to set off without a trained guide on this nation-wide taste test without acquiring diphtheria, in each legend there is a grain of truth. However it came to pass, by August of that year, Bramblethorpe and Thompson found themselves in Thakiwaki Territory, home to some of the finest natural springs in America. A location for B&T Brewery had been identified, and thus Beertown was born. As the Civil War came to a close, soldiers looking for a new life began pouring into the burgeoning industrial village. The pure spring water and the good business sense of the founders ensured that Beertown beer was a household name by the mid-1870s. Though the brewery closed in 1996, the innovative spirit that has fueled Beertown for nearly 150 years remains alive today.

The Story Behind Beertown’s Quinquennial

Photo credit C. Stanley Photography
Photo credit C. Stanley Photography

Beertown’s Time Capsule was originally part of the opening celebration of Beertown’s newly built City Hall in 1896, to be unearthed 100 years later. Included was Aloysius P.  Thompson’s revolver, which he claimed he brought with him from New York. By 1904, it was suspected that the late Richard Thompson (Aloysius’ son) used the gun in the 1896 murder of Rhys Bramblethorpe’s chambermaid. The Time Capsule was unearthed and the gun fingerprinted in 1905; that same morning, Aloysius drowned himself in the Thakawaki River and fingerprinting confirmed Richard’s guilt. Aloysius’ suicide note replaced the gun in the capsule, which was then re-interred, as a reminder that history should occasionally be reexamined in order to better understand the truth. With the flood of 1907, the time capsule was again unearthed and repaired for water damage. Beertonians agreed the capsule’s contents should be re-examined every five years, in order to preserve the most accurate and complete spirit of Beertown. 1916 marked the first official Quinquennial celebration; 2016 marks the twentieth.

Wait: is Beertown a real place? Can I go visit?

Beertown is not a real town. When dog & pony dc created the town and its history, the ensemble plotted out pivotal moments in American history over the past 150 years and then developed the back-story of this small town and its inhabitants. The Thakawaki are a real native indigenous tribe; Kawani of the Thakawaki is not. Events like New Beers Day are 100% real; though they seem made up. And, of course, McSorley’s Ale House is a New York institution, but two brewers named Bramblethorpe and Thompson never existed.

However you can visit Beertown and create it right here in Cincinnati with dog & pony dc and Know Theatre March 2 -19. Beertown–creating community and revising its history, nightly.