When I incorporated The Saint Louis Brewery, Inc. in 1989, Dan Kopman and I didn’t give much thought to what name to give our beer. Our main focus was on getting the business up and running. As we got closer to actually brewing and selling beer (as opposed to things like site selection, licensing, equipment purchase etc.) we knew we had to pick a name. We considered all kinds of options, some more fanciful than others, before settling on Schlafly. Because most established breweries at the time had Germanic surnames, it sent the message that we were an enduring brand. It also underscored my personal commitment to stand behind our product.
For the first 21 years, we were in business this strategy was uncontroversial and worked fine. Then, in 2012, Phyllis Schlafly and some of her sons blindsided us with a frivolous legal challenge based on several preposterous claims, including one that the name Schlafly referred to “uniquely and unmistakably” to her. Seven years later (and three years after Phyllis’s death) this matter is finally behind us. Along the way, it cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of wasted man-hours and woman-hours.
The 28 years since our official opening on December 26, 1991, have been eventful for the world and the nation. Consider for a moment that there have been two impeachment efforts against incumbent U. S. Presidents in that time. To put this statistic in perspective, that is the same number of impeachment proceedings that had occurred in more than two centuries from the beginning of our republic to the opening of The Tap Room.
Against this backdrop, it might be worth recalling what some of the candidates in the 2020 presidential election were doing while we were opening our brewery in 1991.
In October of 1991, Joe Biden was the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was considering the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the United States Supreme Court. Biden was accused at the time of having mistreated Professor Anita Hill when she testified against Thomas. Although Biden voted against Thomas in committee and on the Senate floor; and although he has since apologized to Hill for the way she was treated, there are many, including Professor Hill, who have still not forgiven him.
In 1991 Bernie Sanders was in the first year of his first term as a Congressman from Vermont, having been elected as a socialist in the prior November. During this first year, he co-founded The Congressional Progressive Caucus along with Ron Dellums, Lane Evans, Thomas Andrews, Peter DeFazio, and Maxine Waters.
In 1991 Elizabeth Warren was a law professor at The University of Pennsylvania and a registered Republican. On September 13 of that year, she gave a speech to The Federalist Society, an organization she denounced 27 years later, in October 2018, as “a radical, right-wing group.” I do not know whether she received an honorarium for her 1991 speech or—if she did—whether she ever returned it.
When The Schlafly Tap Room opened in December 1991, Pete Buttigieg was in fourth grade at The Stanley Clark School in South Bend, Indiana.
In July of 1991, People Magazine reported that Donald Trump had dumped his longtime girlfriend Marla Maples and taken up with an Italian model named Carla Bruni. The source for the story was someone who said his name was John Miller and claimed to be a publicist for Trump. It was later revealed that “Miller” was actually Trump pretending to be his own publicist. Maples and Trump were subsequently married in 1993 and divorced six years later, in 1999. Bruni denied ever having had a relationship with Trump and in 2008 married President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.
Also during the 28-year existence to date of Schlafly Beer, professional teams from St. Louis have won four championships in three different sports: one Super Bowl, two World Series and one Stanley Cup. As most alert readers (ARs) have read repeatedly in this column and elsewhere, the most recent of these was the 2019 Stanley Cup.
As an aside, it’s worth noting that the average age of players in the NHL today is 27.3 years. Most of the players on the Blues are actually younger than Schlafly Beer, one exception being Vladimir Tarasenko, who was born on December 13, 1991, 13 days before we opened. If his mother had been in St. Louis at the time, one of her first post-pregnancy drinks could have been a Schlafly.
While St. Louis is extremely unlikely to be home to another Super Bowl champion, an MLS soccer championship is an attainable goal for The Lou. As most ARs now know, the new MLS soccer team is expected to start playing here in 2022, directly across Olive Street from The Schlafly Tap Room. While the site of the new stadium has been announced, the name of the team has not. Many options have been proposed from traditional (F.C., United and City) to less traditional. I could be happy with St. Louis City (to emphasize the urban home of the team) or St. Louis United (to underscore regional unity). I could also support such names as Owls (symbolizing the knowledge-based economy that is the future of St. Louis) or Hellbenders (salamanders native to Missouri with a cool name). Whatever name is chosen, my fervent hope is that it’s not challenged by someone whose delusional ego leads her to claim that it refers to “uniquely and unmistakably” to her.
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery