25 Years Ago Evansville Razed the Old Sterling Brewery
Evansville's history in the beer industry is certainly a fascinating one.
Sterling Brewery in Evansville
If you drive down the Lloyd Expressway and over Fulton Avenue, on the north side of the Lloyd sat a vacant lot for many years. That lot is now Sterling Square and was once where Sterling Brewery sat. The brewery survived through prohibition, but unfortunately, Sterling Brewery closed in 1997 and that piece of Evansville history was razed in December of 1998. I was only a kid in the 90s, but I remember seeing the old Sterling Brewery building sitting there, and I remember seeing it after it had been razed in 1998. Until very recently, I had no idea how far back Evansville's history with that brewery went, and it's absolutely fascinating (and kind of sad).
At one point a copper brew kettle that once played a part in brewing Sterling Beer was placed on display in the vacant lot before it was developed (does anyone know what happened to this giant kettle?).
A Long History of Brewing in Evansville
According to Historic Evansville, back in 1863, a brewery was built in the area that would later be home to Sterling Brewers Inc. So brewing beer and this specific area of town have a long history together. In 1893 the Evansville Brewing Association was formed, however, 25 years later, prohibition hit the Evansville area as Indiana went dry in 1918. During this time the company renamed itself to Sterling Products Co. and the company survived prohibition by making products that didn't contain alcohol.
Like many others during Prohibition, the company renamed itself Sterling Products Co. They made soft drinks, near beer, and malt extract (which was used by illicit homebrewers). It became Sterling Brewers Inc after Prohibition was over in 1933.
When prohibition ended the company was renamed Sterling Brewers Inc. and they worked to get back to brewing beer as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the brewery declared bankruptcy in October of 1997, and the building that once housed the Sterling Brewery was razed in December 1998. Historic Evansville has a much more in-depth history of Sterling Brewery in Evansville, you can read the full fascinating history, here.
The End of an Era
When the Sterling Brewery closed its doors and was later razed, it was like demolishing a piece of Evansville's history. Recently a group on Facebook called "I Grew up in Evansville" shared a documentary that was created by the Feel the History Program at Reitz High School. The documentary is titled Sterling Brewery: The End of an Era, and it's so incredibly well done.
At one point there were big plans in Louisville to revitalize Sterling beer, but it seems those plans fell through. At the moment it doesn't look like Sterling Beer is in any kind of production. Who knows what the future holds, but it would definitely be cool to see this brew make a comeback, especially because it is a pre-prohibition beer, so it has such a cool history. I guess we will have to wait and see if we'll ever enjoy a pint of Sterling Beer again.