Historic Beer Birthday: William J. Lemp

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Today is the birthday of William J. Lemp (February 21, 1836-February 13, 1904). He was the son of Johann Adam Lemp, who founded the Lemp Brewery in 1840. When his father died in 1862, he and a grandson inherited the brewery, and it was renamed the William J. Lemp Brewing Co. Two years later, William bought out the grandson (who was not Lemp’s son) and carried on until 1904, when he committed suicide, most likely from depression after his favorite son Frederick died at age 28. His other son, William J. Lemp Jr., ran the brewery thereafter, until it was closed by prohibition in 1920.

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This short biography is from Find-a-Grave:

Son of Lemp Brewery founder Johann Adam Lemp, William built the brewery into an industrial giant. In 1870 it was the largest brewery in St. Louis and remained so until the start of Prohibition in 1919. At the time of William’s death, the Lemp brewery was the third largest in the United States. William shot himself through the right temple in his bedroom at the family mansion, apparently still grieving over the loss of his beloved son Frederick, the heir apparent to the family brewery, who died at the age of 28.

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In the March-April 1999 edition of the American Breweriana Journal, there’s a lengthy article about the Lemps, entitled “William J. Lemp Brewing Company: A Tale of Triumph and Tragedy in St. Louis, Missouri,” by Donald Roussin and Kevin Kious. While it starts with Adam, and through the then-present, the middle section is about William J. Lemp Sr.:

In his will, Adam bequeathed the Western Brewery in common to both his son William Jacob Lemp and grandson Charles Brauneck, along with “all of the equipment and stock.” There may have been friction between the two inheritors of the brewery, as the will contained the condition that if either contested the will, the other would receive the property. Charles Brauneck and William J. Lemp formed a partnership in October 1862, and agreed to run the business under the banner of the William J. Lemp & Co. This partnership, however, was destined to be short lived, as it was dissolved in February 1864 when William J. bought out Charles’ share for $3,000.

However, unlike many businesses that wilt when a strong leader dies, the Lemp Brewery actually grew and blossomed after William J. Lemp took control. The Western Brewery was then producing 12,000 barrels of beer annually, virtually all of the lager type.

William had been born in Germany in 1836, and spent his childhood there until brought to St. Louis by his father at age 12. William had struck out on his own as a brewer after working with his father, partnering with William Stumpf for a time in a St. Louis brewery established by the latter in 1852. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted into the Union Army, but was mustered out within a year. A short man at not quite five feet, one inch, he and his brewery would nonetheless both become giants in the brewing industry.

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MOVING TO CHEROKEE STREET

In 1864 William J. Lemp purchased a five block area around the storage house on 13th and Cherokee, and began construction of a complete new brewery. By putting the new facility over the storage caves, moving all the kegs by wagon from the Second Street brewery would no longer be necessary.

By the early 1870’s, Lemp’s Western Brewery was the largest brewery in St. Louis in a field of 30, with E. Anheuser & Company’s Bavarian Brewery coming in second. The brewery was the 19th largest in the country, producing 61,000 barrels in 1876. A bottling plant was added the following year. By the end of the decade, William Lemp, Sr. had risen to vice-president of the United States Brewer’s Association in addition to having overseen the tremendous expansion of the brewery.

Before the introduction of artificial refrigeration, the Lemp brewery had four ice-houses on the Mississippi River levee in south St. Louis, each having a storage capacity of five thousand tons each. These ice houses were cleverly built so as to be able to directly receive the cargoes of river barges, also owned by the Lemp brewery. 1878 marked the first artificial refrigeration machinery being added to the facility. It was also the year production reached 100,000 barrels.

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FIRST BEER COAST TO COAST

On November 1, 1892, William J. Lemp’s Western Brewery was incorporated under the title the William J. Lemp Brewing Company. The stockholders elected the following officers: William J. Lemp, Sr., president; William J. Lemp, Jr., vice-president; Charles Lemp, treasurer; Louis F. Lemp, superintendent; and Henry Vahlkamp, secretary. In addition to learning the business at their family’s brewery, all the Lemp sons had attended the brewing academy in New York.

By the mid-1890’s the Lemp brewery was well on its way to becoming a nationally known shipping brewery. In fact, Lemp was the first brewery to establish coast-to-coast distribution of its beers. Lemp beer was being transported in some 500 refrigerated railroad cars, averaging 10,000 shipments per year. The brewery proper employed 700 men. Over 100 horses were required to pull the 40 delivery wagons to make St. Louis City deliveries. The twenty-five beer cellars went down to a depth of fifty feet, and could store fifty thousand barrels at one time. The rated production capacity of the brewery was 500,000 barrels a year. It was the eighth largest beermaker in the nation.

Lemp was the first shipping brewery to establish a national shipping strategy, operating its own railroad, the Western Cable Railway Company, which connected all of the plant’s main buildings with its shipping yards near the Mississippi River, and then to the other major area railroads. The large shipping breweries of this time frequently formed their own trunk railroads to make shipments from their plants, due to battles with railroads over the way the brewers shipped their beer, in the years before artificial refrigeration in beer cars. That is, the breweries would cram the rail cars with as much ice as possible (overload them, according to many rail lines), to protect the unpasteurized beer from spoiling during transport. By running their own trunk lines, the major shipping breweries could gain more control of the conditions under which their golden product was transported to other markets.

Construction of new buildings, and the updating of old ones, was virtually continuous at the Lemp brewery. The entire complex was built (or remodeled) in the Italian Renaissance style, featuring arched windows, pilaster strips, and corbelled brick cornices (projecting architectural details, such as the rolling Lemp shields). Ultimately the giant facility covered five city blocks.

Having expanded their distribution network throughout the United States, Lemp continued to expand overseas. By the late 1890’s, Lemp beers were being shipped in large quantities to Canada, British Columbia, Mexico, Central and South America, the West Indies, the Hawaiian Islands, Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong. Lemp beer was even available in the cities of London and Berlin, both well known for their own local brews.

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AFTER THE FIRST SUICIDE

William J. Lemp Sr.’s death by suicide occurred in February 1904. By then the Lemp brewery had become the third largest in the country. The responsibility for leadership of the business fell on his son William J. Lemp, Jr., who was subsequently elected corporate president on November 7, 1904.

William J. Lemp, Jr. was aided in the management of the business by his brother Louis F. Lemp. Louis, who had been born in 1869, took advantage of the family fortune in his youth to explore his passion of sports. At 18, he admired the boxer John L. Sullivan to such a degree, that we went to New Orleans to bet $5,000 on one of his fights. Louis also said that if Sullivan didn’t win, he would ride all the way home in a hearse. Sullivan lost, but Louis reneged and took the train home! In later years, Louis would continue to enjoy his love of sports by being a pioneer supporter or automobile and airplane events.

The Lemp brewery was soon facing a much altered St. Louis landscape, when in 1906 nine large area breweries combined to form the Independent Breweries Company. This was the second huge merger in the local beer business, following the 1889 formation of the St. Louis Brewing Association. Initially controlled by an English syndicate, the SLBA absorbed eighteen breweries and like the IBC continued operating up to Prohibition. The formation of these two combines left only Lemp, Anheuser-Busch, the Louis Obert Brewing Company, and a handful of small neighborhood breweries as independent St. Louis beermakers. Of even more concern to a shipping brewery like Lemp was the growing clamor of the temperance movement. The first heyday of United States brewing was about to draw to an abrupt halt.

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CERVA, THE LAST HOPE

Like most of its competitors, the Lemp brewery limped on through the years of the World War. According to numerous accounts, the company’s equipment was allowed to deteriorate during this time as the Lemp family, their vast fortune already made, began to loose interest in the business. The last major capital improvement to the plant was the erection of the giant grain elevators on the south side of the complex in 1911. With the shadow of Prohibition falling across the land, Lemp, like many other breweries, introduced a non-intoxicating malt beverage, named Cerva. While Cerva did sell moderately well, revenues were no where near enough to cover the overhead of the plant.

The giant plant closed without notice. Employees learned of the closing of the brewery when they arrived for work one day, only to find the brewery doors and gates locked shut.

International Shoe Company purchased almost the entire brewery at auction on June 28, 1922 for $588,000, a small fraction of its estimated value of $7 million in the years immediately before Prohibition. Unfortunately for brewery historians, virtually all of the Lemp company records were pitched shortly after International Shoe moved its operations into the complex. International Shoe used the larger buildings, and even portions of the caves, as a warehouse.

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Apparently, William’s suicide in 1904 wasn’t the only one to occur in the Lemp Mansion, nor was it the only tragedy to befall the Lemp family. Here’s a good overview, Lemp Mansion: Tales of a Cursed Family and Their Haunted House, with the history involving William J. Lemp below:

William married Julia Feickert in 1861. In 1868, Julia’s father Jacob built what is known today as the Lemp Mansion, likely with financial help from William. In 1876, William bought Feickert’s mansion, at which time he began to renovate it in a grand style. William and Julia moved into the lavish home, outfitted with the most extravagant textiles and modern conveniences of the day.

In 1878, William Lemp was the first St. Louis brewer to install a refrigerated area in his facility. This new technology freed him from reliance on his lagering caves. In time, the caves were converted into private underground amusements such as a theater; a bowling alley and a concrete-lined swimming pool, complete with hot water piped in from the brewery.

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The Western Brewery was incorporated in 1892 under the name of William J. Lemp Brewing company. As his brewery had grown, so had William and Julia’s family. Between the years of 1862 and 1883, the couple had nine children, one of whom died in infancy. From oldest to youngest, the Lemp children were Anna, William Jr., Louis, Charles, Frederick, Hilda, Edwin and Elsa.

When the brewery was incorporated in 1892, William Lemp Sr. appointed his sons William Jr. and Louis as Vice President and Superintendent, respectively. Both were trained and college educated in managing business and the process of brewing Lemp’s lager. William Jr., called Billy, and Louis embraced their positions in the family business and as wealthy, powerful members of St. Louis society. Billy was active socially and had a reputation as a flamboyant playboy. Louis was an avid sportsman, horse breeder and racer.

Billy eventually married a young woman named Lillian Handlan, a wealthy socialite known for her beauty and exquisite wardrobe. Because of her fondness for wearing lavender clothing and outfitting her accessories and horse-drawn carriage in the color lavender, people called her the Lavender Lady.

Despite Billy being appointed Vice President of the brewery by his father, William Sr.’s son Frederick was said to be his favorite son and first choice to run the company after his death. Frederick immersed himself in his job at the brewery, evidently aware of his future as heir apparent. When Frederick began to have health problems in 1901, he took time off for an extended stay in California, hoping the warm climate would benefit his health. After a few months, just when it seemed as if he was improving, Frederick died at age 28. One primary source attributes Frederick’s death to “mysterious circumstances.” Another lists the cause of death as heart failure.

William Lemp took the death of his son exceptionally hard. His friends at the time said he never recovered from the tragic news, and seemed to lose interest in his business and his life. William went through the motions for three years, at which time he lost his best friend, Captain Frederick Pabst, a member of another beer brewing dynasty. William withdrew further and sank deeper into depression after the death of Pabst. He was observed going to work and sitting at his desk, staring off into space and making nervous motions with his hands. On the morning of February 13, 1904, William was alone at Lemp Mansion except for his servants. Lying in bed in his second floor bedroom, William shot himself in the head. He died later that day. At the time, his brewery was valued at $6 million and his personal assets at $10 million.

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This is a slideshow of Lemp breweriana and photos.

Beer Birthday: Meg Gill

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Today is the birthday of Meg Gill, founder and owner, along with Tony Yanow, of Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles. Meg is also the former national sales manager for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers in San Francisco. When I first met Meg she was working for Oskar Blues, and later she organized the Opening Gala for SF Beer Week in years two and three, a Herculean undertaking. Golden Road made some waves two Septembers ago when they were acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev, and haven’t seen her since she went over to the “winning team,” and alienated us losers. Still, join me in wishing Meg a very happy birthday.

The Brewing Network's Justin Crossley interviewing Meg Gill from Speakeasy
Justin Crossley, from the Brewing Network, with Meg at the 22nd Celebrator Anniversary Party in 2010.

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Speakeasy owner Forest Gray, Brian Lenzo, from Blue Palms in L.A., and Meg at a Speakeasy Anniversary event several years ago.

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Faction’s (then Triple Rock’s) Rodger Davis, struggling to keep the sun out of his eyes, with Meg at the Sour Fest.

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Meg and me at SF Beer Week’s Opening Gala a few years ago. (Photo by Mike Condie.)

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An older photo of Meg and Dave Hopwood, from Stone Brewing. (Photo purloined from Facebook.)

Historic Beer Birthday: Rudolph J. Schaefer

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Today is the birthday of Rudolph J. Schaefer (February 21, 1863-November 9, 1923). He was the son of Maximilian Schaefer, who along with his brother Frederick, founded the F&M Schaefer Brewing Company in 1848. Rudolph became the president of F&M Schaefer Brewing in 1912, and continued in that position until his death. He also bought out his uncles and their heirs, and controlled the entire company.

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This is what the brewery in Brooklyn looked like in 1916, shortly after Rudolph J. Schaefer took control of the company.

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Below is a chapter on the history of F&M Schaefer Brewing Co., from Will Anderson’s hard-to-find Breweries in Brooklyn.

Longest operating brewery in New York City, last operating brewery in New York City [as of 1976], and America’s oldest lager beer brewing company — these honors, plus many others, all belong to The F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Co.

“F. & M.”, as most breweriana buffs know, stands for Frederick and Maximilian, the brothers who founded Schaefer. Frederick Schaefer, a native of Wetzlar, Prussia, Germany, emigrated to the U.S. in 1838. When he arrived in New York City on October 23rd he was 21 years old and had exactly $1.00 to his name. There is some doubt as to whether or not he had been a practicing brewer in Germany, but there is no doubt that he was soon a practicing brewer in his adopted city. Within two weeks of his landing, Frederick took a job with Sebastian Sommers, who operated a small brewhouse on Broadway, between 18th and 19th Streets. Frederick obviously enjoyed both his job and life in America, and the next year his younger brother, Maximilian, decided to make the arduous trip across the Atlantic also. He arrived in June of 1839 and brought with him a formula for lager, a type of beer popular in Germany but unheard of in the United States. The brothers dreamed, and planned, and saved – and in the late summer of 1842 they were able to buy the small brewery from Sommers. The official, and historic, starting date was September, 1842.

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Sommers’ former facility was a start, but that’s all it was, as it was much too small. New York beer drinkers immediately took a liking to “the different beer” the brothers brewed, and in 1845 Frederick and Maximilian developed a new plant several blocks away, on 7th Avenue, between 16th and 17th Streets (7th Avenue and 17th Street is today, of course, well known as the home of Barney’s, the giant men’s clothing store). This, too, proved to be just a temporary move; the plant was almost immediately inadequate to meet demands and the brothers wisely decided to build yet another new plant, and to locate it in an area where they could expand as needed. Their search took them to what were then the “wilds” of uptown Manhattan. In 1849 the brewery, lock, stock and many barrels, was moved to Fourth Ave. (now Park Avenue) and 51st Street. Here, just north of Grand Central Station, the Schaefers brewed for the next 67 years, ever-expanding their plant. The only problem was that the brothers were not the only ones to locate “uptown.” The area in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s grew rapidly all during the last half of the 19th century, and especially after the opening of the original Grand Central Terminal in 1871. Frederick and Maximilian had wisely purchased numerous lots between 50th and 52nd Streets, and by the time they passed away (Frederick in 1897 and Maximilian in 1904) the brewery was, literally, sitting atop a small fortune. Maximilian’s son, Rudolph J. Schaefer, fully realized this when he assumed the Presidency of the brewery in 1912. In that same year Rudolph purchased the 50% of the company owned by his uncle Frederick’s heirs. He thus had complete control of the brewery, and one of the first matters he turned to was the suitable location for a new, and presumably everlasting, plant. In 1914, in anticipation of its move, Schaefer sold part of the Park Ave. site to St. Bartholomew’s Church. This sale, for a reputed $1,500,000, forced Rudolph to intensify his search for a new location. Finally, in June of 1915, it was announced that the brewery had decided on a large tract in Brooklyn, directly on the East River and bounded by Kent Avenue and South 9th and 10th Streets. Here, starting in 1915, Rudolph constructed the very best in pre-Prohibition breweries. The move across the river to their ultra-new and modern plant was made in 1916, just four years before the Volstead Act crimped the sails (and sales!) of all United States breweries, new or old alike.

While it must have seemed a real shame to brew “near beer” in his spanking new plant, Rudolph Schaefer obviously felt that near beer was better than no beer at all; consequently, the brewery remained in operation all during Prohibition, producing mostly near beer but also manufacturing dyes and artificial ice.

In 1923 Rudolph J. Schaefer passed away at the relatively young age of 60. Control of the company thus passed to his two sons, Frederick M.E. Schaefer and Rudolph J. Schaefer, Jr. Frederick guided the brewery for several years but was troubled by poor health, therefore, in 1927, only a few years after his graduation from Princeton University, Rudolph Jr. was elected President. Although he was by far the youngest brewery President in the United States, Rudy, Jr. provided excellent leadership. Several months before that magic Repeal date of April 7, 1933, when 3.2% beer became legalized, he beat most of his New York City competitors to the punch by launching an extensive advertising campaign, centered around the theme that “Our hand has never lost its skill.” Rudy, Jr. also personally outlined and designed many of the new buildings added to the brewery in expansion programs in the 1930’s and early 1940’s.

In 1938 Schaefer joined that exclusive group of brewers that sold 1,000,000 barrels in a year, and the 2,000,000 mark was passed in 1944, two years after the company celebrated its 100th birthday in 1842. Sales continued strong throughout the 1940’s and, to increase capacity, Schaefer purchased the former Beverwyck Brewery Co. in Albany, New York in 1950. They remained a two-plant company until 1961 when, with an eye toward expanding into large areas of the mid-west, Rudy Schaefer purchased the Standard Brewing Company, of Cleveland, Ohio. This, however, did not turn out to be a wise move; Schaefer beer just didn’t seem to catch on in Ohio, and within two years Schaefer sold the plant to C. Schmidt and Sons, which used it as their midwestern brewing arm. In what almost seems like musical breweries, however, Schaefer added a plant in Baltimore in the same year, 1963, that it disposed of its Cleveland facility. Ironically, Schaefer purchased the Baltimore plant from Theo. Hamm, a large St. Paul, Minn. brewer that had been attemping, with little success, to move into the east coast. The grass may always seem greener in the other brewer’s territory, but it certainly wasn’t so for both Schaefer and Hamm’s in the early 1960’s!

Schaefer’s most dramatic move with respect to plants was the decision, in 1971, to build a brand new, ultra-modern brewery just outside of Allentown, Pa. Realizing that all three of its plants at the time, Brooklyn, Albany, and Baltimore, were old and inefficient, Schaefer management decided it had to go the route being taken by Pabst, Schlitz, Anheuser-Busch and Miller – build a brand new and thoroughly modernized brewery rather than continue to try to upgrade old facilities. To construct a new brewery is extremely expensive, of course, but when it was opened in 1972 Schaefer could be justifiably proud – their Lehigh Valley plant was one of the most modern and efficient breweries in the world!

What does a company do, however, when it has one ultra-modern plant and three that appear very dated by comparison? The question is really rhetorical, of course; strive to add to the modern plant while phasing out the less efficient facilities. And that’s exactly what Schaefer did. The Albany plant was shut down almost immediately, on December 31st of 1972. In 1974 the Lehigh Valley plant was expanded from its original 1,100,000 barrels-per-year capacity to 2,500,000 and then, in 1975, it was decided to expand again – to 5,000,000 barrels plus. By 1975, therefore, it was obvious that one of the two less efficient plants should and would be closed, the only questions remaining was which plant, Brooklyn or Baltimore, and when. Both questions were answered on January 22, 1976 when Robert W. Lear, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The F. & M. Schaefer Corp., announced the closing of the Brooklyn plant. This announcement, only one week after Rheingold disclosed its plans to also shut down in Brooklyn, left Brooklyn and New York City without a single producing brewery. While both Frederick and Maximilian Schaefer, if they were alive today, would undoubtedly be proud of Schaefer’s history and many years of brewing, and would certainly be impressed with the modern brewing techniques reflected in the Lehigh Valley plant, I suspect they’d feel very badly about the closing of the company’s brewery in New York City, the city that’s had a love affair with Schaefer lager for over 134 years.

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A painting of Rudolph J. Schaefer.

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The Schaefers around 1895, with Rudolph Schaefer standing, with his father Maximilian Schaefer sitting down, holding F.M. Emile Schaefer, his grandson and Rudolph’s son on his lap.

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Three generations of Schaefers.

Beer In Ads #2193: Heineken Refreshes J.R. Ewing


Monday’s ad is for Heineken, from the 1970s. In the later 1970s, Heineken embarked on a series of ads with the tagline “Heineken Refreshes the Parts Other Beers Cannot Reach.” Many of the ads were in a sequential panel, or comic strip, format and they were intended to be humorous.

In this ad, a three-panel format, the main protagonist from the television series “Dallas,” which aired from 1978-1991, J.R. Ewing. “The character was portrayed by Larry Hagman. As the show’s most famous character, J. R. has been central to many of the series’ biggest storylines. He is depicted as a covetous, egocentric, manipulative and amoral oil baron with psychopathic tendencies, who is constantly plotting subterfuges to plunder his foes’ wealth.” In the first panel, a grinning J.R. stares straight ahead, obviously up to no good. In the second, he’s now holding a mug of beer, which presumably he’s downed half of, though his devilish expression has not changed. But by the third, the beer has apparently kicked in and a halo has appeared above J.R.’s head. I guess beer turned the naturally evil Ewing good.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Joseph F. Hausmann

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Today is the birthday of Joseph F. Hausmann (February 20, 1887-November 30, 1916). I couldn’t find much of anything about Hausmann, apart from this. He was the brewmaster of Capital Brewery in Madison, Wisconsin, which was founded in 1854. In 1891 it changed its name to the Hausmann Brewing Co. when, presumably, he bought the brewery.

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This is a short obituary from the 1917 American Brewers’ Review.

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This is what his brewery looked like.

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Beer Word: Symposium

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Last year, for the members of the North American Guild of Beer Writers, I set up a post-CBC symposium the day after the Craft Brewers Conference ended in Philadelphia. We’ll be doing it again in DC this year, on Friday, April 14. Essentially it’s a mini-CBC and we had six speakers, one hour each, including one panel of three, over the course of the day. When I was putting it together, I wasn’t sure what to call it, but liked the sound of symposium. Merriam-Webster defines “symposium” as “a formal meeting at which several specialists deliver short addresses on a topic or on related topics” and Dictionary.com states it’s “a meeting or conference for the discussion of some subject, especially a meeting at which several speakers talk on or discuss a topic before an audience.”

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Symposium scene: a reclining youth holds aulos in one hand and gives another one to a female dancer. Tondo from an Attic red-figured Kylix, c. 490-480 BC. From Vulci.

But I just learned that it has an older, original meaning that made my choice of naming our symposium even more perfect than I’d realized. That meaning, according to Merriam-Webster is “a drinking party; especially: one following a banquet and providing music, singing, and conversation.” And dictionary.com defines it “(in ancient Greece and Rome) a convivial meeting, usually following a dinner, for drinking and intellectual conversation.”

Here’s the Etymology:

Borrowing from Latin symposium, from Ancient Greek συμπόσιον ‎(sumpósion, “drinking party”) from συμπίνω ‎(sumpínō, “drink together”) συν- ‎(sun-, “together-”) + πίνω ‎(pínō, “drink”).

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A fresco taken from the north wall of the Tomb of the Diver
(from Paestum, Italy, c. 475 BC): a symposium scene.

This is from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

n. 1580s, “account of a gathering or party,” from Latin symposium “drinking party, symposium,” from Greek symposion “convivial gathering of the educated” (related to sympotes “drinking companion”), from syn- “together” (see syn- ) + posis “a drinking,” from a stem of Aeolic ponen “to drink,” cognate with Latin potare “to drink” (see potion ). The sense of “meeting on some subject” is from 1784. Reflecting the Greek fondness for mixing wine and intellectual discussion, the modern sense is especially from the word being used as a title for one of Plato’s dialogues. Greek plural is symposia, and the leader of one is a symposiarch (c.1600 in English).

And this is the “Did You Know?” section of Merriam-Webster:

It was drinking more than thinking that drew people to the original symposia and that gave us the word symposium. The ancient Greeks would often follow a banquet with a drinking party they called a “symposion.” That name came from “sympinein,” a verb that combines pinein, meaning “to drink,” with the prefix syn-, meaning “together.” Originally, English speakers only used “symposium” to refer to such an ancient Greek party, but in the 18th century British gentlemen’s clubs started using the word for gatherings in which intellectual conversation was fueled by drinking. By the 19th century, “symposium” had gained the more sober sense we know today, describing meetings in which the focus is more on the exchange of ideas and less on imbibing.

So that sounds about right, but with more emphasis on the imbibing, at least that was the goal. But I think I need to attend a lot more symposiums.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Kasper George Schmidt

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Today is the birthday of Kasper George Schmidt (February 20, 1833-December 10, 1898). He opened the William Siebert & Kaspar Schmidt Brewery in Chicago in 1860, but by 1866 it was known as the K.G. Schmidt Brewery.

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Here’s a biography from the Encyclopaedia of Biography of Illinois.

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And this is another one from A History of the City of Chicago.

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Although it’s unclear, it appears that the Chicago brewery bought the Columbia Brewery in Logansport, Indiana in 1893, renaming it K.G. Schmidt. Though by that time, Kaspar may have already been retired, and his son George K. Schmidt was running the company.

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Beer In Ads #2192: Heineken Refreshes Spock


Sunday’s ad is for Heineken, from the 1970s. In the later 1970s, Heineken embarked on a series of ads with the tagline “Heineken Refreshes the Parts Other Beers Cannot Reach.” Many of the ads were in a sequential panel, or comic strip, format and they were intended to be humorous.

In this ad, a three-panel format, Spock from Star Trek must be under the weather, or at least in a bad mood. His ears are limp and drooping. In the second panel, he lifts a mug of beer to his lips and immediately his ears being to perk up. But after finishing his beer, Spock’s ears are standing tall, and even he thinks it’s “illogical.”

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Historic Beer Birthday: Henry Allsopp

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Today is the birthday of Henry Allsopp, also known as the 1st Baron Hindlip (February 19, 1811–April 2, 1887). He was the son of Samuel Allsopp, who purchased the brewery started in the 1740s by his uncle, Benjamin Wilson, in 1807. Bringing his family into the business, he renamed it Samuel Allsopp & Sons. When his father died in 1838, the Burton-on-Trent brewery passed to Henry Allsopp. “He was very upset when shareholders claimed they had been misled over its 1887 stockmarket flotation, and he died within weeks of the criticism.”

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Here’s a short biography of Allsopp from “Modern English Biography,” published in 1892:

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Here’s a history of Allsopp’s brewery from Wikipedia:

Allsopp’s origins go back to the 1740s, when Benjamin Wilson, an innkeeper-brewer of Burton, brewed beer for his own premises and sold some to other innkeepers. Over the next 60 years, Wilson and his son and successor, also called Benjamin, cautiously built up the business and became the town’s leading brewer. In about 1800, Benjamin Junior took his nephew Samuel Allsopp into the business and then in 1807, following a downturn in trade because of the Napoleonic blockade, he sold his brewery to Allsopp for £7,000.

Allsopp struggled at first as he tried to replace the lost Baltic trade with home trade, but in 1822 he successfully copied the India Pale Ale of Hodgson, a London brewer, and business started to improve.

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After Samuel’s death in 1838, his sons Charles and Henry continued the brewery as Allsopp and Sons. In 1859 they built a new brewery near the railway station, and added a prestigious office block in 1864. By 1861 Allsopps was the second largest brewery after Bass. Henry Allsopp retired in 1882 and his son Samuel Charles Allsopp took over. Allsopps was incorporated as a public limited company in 1887 under the style Samuel Allsopp & Sons Limited . There were scuffles at the doors of the bank in the City as potential investors fought for copies of the prospectus, but within three years, these investors were demanding their money back as the returns were so much lower than predicted. Under Samuel Allsopp, ennobled as the 2nd Lord Hindlip on the death of his father, Allsopps lurched from crisis to crisis. With the difficult trading conditions for beer at the beginning of the 20th century, many Burton breweries were forced to close down or amalgamate. After a failed attempt at a merger with Thomas Salt and Co and the Burton Brewery Company in 1907, Allsopps fell into the hands of the receivers in 1911. The company’s capital was restructured and it continued trading. In 1935 Samuel Allsopp & Sons merged with Ind Coope Ltd to form Ind Coope and Allsopp Ltd. The Allsopp name was dropped in 1959 and in 1971 Ind Coope was incorporated into Allied Breweries.

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And here’s another history from “The Brewing Industry: A Guide to Historical Records,” edited by Lesley Richmond and Alison Turton, published in 1990:

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Beer Birthday: Grant Johnston

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Today is the 63rd birthday of Grant Johnston. Grant was the original brewer at Marin Brewing when it opened in 1989, and spent a number of years at Black Diamond Brewing in Concord, California. Grant was very influential in the early days of Bay Area brewing, and he’s an incredibly talented brewer. A few years ago he moved to the midwest, and these days can be found working a few days a week at the Argus Brewery in Chicago. A couple of years back, I was in Belgium at the Cantillon Brewery when in walked Grant, quite by chance, so you never know when you’re going to run into him. Join me in wishing Grant a very happy birthday.

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Grant and me at GABF in 2006.

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Grant (on the right) judging the 2006 Double IPA Festival in the cellar of The Bistro, with Tom Dalldorf, Vicky, our hard-working beer steward in the middle, and the Toronado’s Dave Keene in profile on the left.

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Brendan Moylan and Grant shortly before Marin Brewing opened in 1989.

Wild Rice Ale @ Marin's 25th
Grant and Arne Johnston brewing his Wild Rice Ale for Marin’s 25th Anniversary.

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Grant, bottom left, among the GABF judges for the 10th anniversary of the festival in 1992.