Beer? At the Smithsonian Institution, it’s history

New Belgium Brewing grew out of this notebook, filled with observations by Jeff Lebesch from a 1988 trip.
(Richard W. Strauss / Smithsonian Institution)

Today the Smithsonian’s American history artifacts is joined by a refreshing newcomer: craft beer


The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, a.k.a the nation’s attic, contains thousands of artifacts that tell our nation’s story: the original star-spangled banner, ripped by shot and shell in the War of 1812; Lincoln’s stovepipe hat; the lunar module Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin rode to the Sea of Tranquility.

Today this august company is joined by a refreshing newcomer: craft beer.

An addition to the museum’s permanent food exhibit, “Brewing a Revolution” brings the story of American beer into the modern era.

“The artifacts featured in this new display convey histories of innovation, creativity and risk, as well as deep pride and pleasure in the processes of brewing and drinking beer in the United States,” said Theresa McCulla, head of the museum’s American Brewing History Initiative. “Beer is a thread that runs throughout the fabric of our nation’s history and culture.”

Among the new exhibits: a microscope used by Fritz Maytag when he owned San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing; a travel notebook kept by Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch before they founded New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colo.; and a wooden spoon used in homebrewing by Charlie Papazian, founder of the Association of Brewers.

Papazian, Maytag and Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman will be guests at the museum’s “The Last Call: Brewing History After Hours.” This Nov. 8 party will include beers from eight breweries, food and tales about brewing. Tickets, $45, await at