Left, the thriving Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Right, a quarter mile away, the empty Lemp Brewery
Over the weekend, my wife and I took a trip to St Louis. We haven't been there since our one year anniversary, when we stayed at nice AirBNB in Benton Park, across the street from Hemingway's, a wine bar. Since our anniversary is in November, we didn't do a lot of exploring in the actual Benton Park neighborhood, other than a trip to Mudhouse Coffee.
June is a better month for exploring new places, so we wandered around Benton Park. We discovered little signs detailing the history of the neighborhood, and followed them around, leading us to the old Lemp Brewery.
Haven't heard of Lemp Brewery? If you haven't, it's okay. Lemp Brewery was built on top of system of caves to serve as natural refrigeration for the beer being brewed above ground. In the mid 1910's, Lemp Brewery owned the lion's share of the St Louis beer market and had a 14 acre plant.
A quarter mile down the street is the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. It's huge. Probably bigger then Lemp now. Both started in the 1800's, both thrived for decades, employing hundreds of people each. And then the government stepped in with Prohibition.
Both breweries were hit hard. Anheuser-Busch diversified as much as they could, making everything from truck parts to ice cream to bakers yeast that they only stopped selling in the 90's. This allowed them to survive Prohibition and start making beer again with it's repeal.
Lemp was not so lucky. Their attempts to diversify failed, and the factory sold for cents on the dollar to International Shoe Company, who had need for all the space. An entire company had to close it's doors and it's employees lose their jobs because the government decided to tell people what was and wasn't good for them.
And this didn't just affect breweries. Before Prohibition, Central Missouri was a thriving wine region, just becoming globally recognized for it's wine. Dozens of wineries, crops, and jobs were destroyed, and the argument can be made that region still hasn't recovered from the economic devastation. The wine industry certainly hasn't. Can you imagine Central Missouri being what Napa Valley is now?
These kind of stories of government over-reach, and this is a very limited, albeit local, sample size, are exactly how the government, and the two party system, turned me into a Libertarian. Government has no business legislating morality. When they try, it has disastrous, divisive, long term consequences. And that's not something I can ever support.