No small beer: brewing success at Expo 1889 Paris

No small beer: brewing success at Expo 1889 Paris

Expo 1889 in Paris is most famous today for the Eiffel Tower, but it was equally a major gathering of inventors, producers and artists from across the globe. While earlier Expos had mostly focused on manufactured products and machinery, by 1889 there was increased interest in other sectors, notably food and beverages, including beer.

At Paris’ first Expo in 1855, samples of beer were presented, but exhibitors did not take part in competitions. The widened scope of Expo 1867 allowed brewers to increase their presence, with 40 exhibitors showcasing their selection of beers. By the time of Expo 1878, this participation doubled, featuring mostly French and Belgian beer producers as well as a growing contingent from the United States.

In 1889, the growing popularity of beer and the industrialisation of brewing technology was reflected in the sizeable delegation of brewers at Expo 1889. A total of 240 exhibitors from 26 countries showcased their products, with 146 of these coming from France and Belgium. Visitors had the chance to taste a selection of beers from these two countries, making their stand on the Champ de Mars a very popular exhibits at the Expo.

Among exhibitors from other countries, the jury took a liking for a particular Dutch brewery - Heineken’s Bierbrouwerij-Maatschappij - awarding it the Expo’s Grand Prix. Members of the jury were particularly impressed by the use of a newly developed pure yeast used to brew the beer. This early success continues to be celebrated by Heineken today, which is demonstrated in this advertising campaign focusing on the Dutch success at Expo 1889, released this week:


With reference to Thomas Edison’s lightbulbs, the British steam locomotive and Austrian musicians, the clip offers a glimpse on the experience a visitor may have had at Expo 1889 in Paris.

It would only be fair to add that six other Grand Prix were awarded to beers in different categories, including one that went to Carl Jacobsen of Danish brewer Ny Carlsberg.

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