BCCA member Scott Mertie began collecting cans as a youth in Ohio. After moving to Nashville in 1992, he became intrigued by items from the Gerst Brewing Company. The publication of Nashville Brewing is a major milestone in his dedication to the brewing history of that Tennessee town.
Part of the Images of America series, the book follows its standard format of a couple photos on each page accompanied by a paragraph of text. The photos include a huge amount of breweriana (Gerst put out many interesting promotional pieces), print ads, factory scenes, Gerst family photos and much more.
The Gerst brewery closed in 1954, but the story (and book) doesn’t end there, as the family opened the Gerst House restaurant, which became a repository for choice items from the brewery. Numerous photos of the restaurant and bar employees also show a host of breweriana for other brands. The later revival of the Gerst label by the Evansville Brewing Company is covered well.
While the story of brewing in Nashville primarily that of Gerst, the closing section of the book covers the numerous brewpubs which have sprung up recently.
Nashville Brewing offers more than enough entertainment for its modest cover price, but there are some negatives. While most of the photos are excellent, a few did not reproduce very well. The black & white format also means that many of the colorful items pictured cannot be shown in their true glory. Also, the author admits that the size and format of the book prevented him from going into the historical detail he would have liked. This leaves items that get brief mention hanging unexplored (including the murder of one of the Gersts by a father-in-law.
Still, Scott Mertie has done his adopted town and the hobby a huge service with his book. Perhaps we can look forward to an article in this magazine where Scott can fill in some more of the historical tidbits?
Nashville Brewing is available for $19.99 at local bookstores, independent retailers, online bookstores or through Arcadia Publishing, www.arcadiapublishing.com or (888) 313-2665.