Tennessee Brewery Past and Present

brew•er•y [broouh-ree, broo r-ee]
noun, plural brew•er•ies.
a building or establishment for brewing beer or other malt liquors, 
especially the building where the brewing is done.
Brewhouse (late 14c.) was the more common word through 18c.

Undoubtedly, the most historically famous brewery in Memphis is the Tennessee Brewery. Though it is no longer in operation, the building still stands on Tennessee street with a future still uncertain.

The building was erected in 1890 and, at one point, supported more than 1,500 workers. Before prohibition shut down operations, the brewery had become the largest brewery in the south by 1903.

Prohibition did not end the life of this company forever. When prohibition ended, the plant was reopened and returned to producing their delectable beers. Most well known and the leading beer sold in Memphis was Goldcrest. This was a beer whose named changed to “Goldcrest 51” in 1938 to honor more than 51 years in business.

Inside of Tennessee Brewery. Photograph by Alan Spearman/The Commercial Appeal
Inside of Tennessee Brewery. Photograph by Alan Spearman/The Commercial Appeal

While the building has remained vacant for so many years and we do not know the future of this absolutely stunning historical building, we can thank the people responsible for initiating “Tennessee Brewery Untapped“. Beginning on April 24 and ending June 1, every Thursday through Sunday the Brewery’s doors are open for all to enjoy fantastic food and beverage by local food trucks, fun activities, and a beautiful place to meet and greet fellow Memphians.

We see this as a fantastic opportunity to have the people of Memphis see the beauty and potential of this building. It is a way of building an inspiration and community of people who want to see the landmark remain alive.

View Abandoned Memphis: Tennessee Brewery, a great collection of images of this brewery from the Commercial Appeal, including the photograph above.

To view and learn more of this six-week project, check out this superb video put together by the “choose901” team.


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By Rebecca Phillips

I am a female born in the United States though I generally fear the border patrol. Buy me an ice cream cone and maybe I'll paint you something.

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