Sunday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1903. In the first decade of the 20th century, Schlitz Brewing, then one of the largest breweries in the U.S. after the industry had shrunk from over 4,000 to around 1,500 in just 25 or so years, did a series of primarily text ads, with various themes. In this ad, Schlitz is explaining that the reason they brew “Over a Million Barrels a Year” is — you probably guessed — their “absolute purity.” That’s also why they “doubled the necessary cost of our brewing to have Schlitz Beer right.”
Today is the birthday of Gustav Hodel (April 30, 1875-July 3, 1966). Hodel was born in Emmendingen, Baden, Germany, the youngest of seven. His father, Christian Hodel, owned the local Hodel Brewery. One of his brother’s emigrated to America and became a maltser in Nebraska, then another brother came and became a brewer, and eventually so did Gustav, who everybody called “Gus.” He started in one brother’s brewery in Galena, Illinois but struck out on his own and either owned or worked for a number of different breweries over the course of a 56-year career in beer. He retired in 1946 to Santa Cruz, California to be closer to his daughters, where he remained until his death in 1966.
Brewery Gems has a great account of Hodel’s life, apparently with considerable help from Gus Hodel’s grandson, William “Bill” Whetton. And given that it’s the only source I could find, your best bet it to just go read it there.
Billings Brewing Co. in Montana, just one of many where Hodel worked.
Today is the birthday of Lawrence Steese (April 20, 1912-April 19, 1991). Steese is part of the more recent lore of Anchor Brewing. Originally from Mill Valley, in Marin County, he bought Anchor in 1960 when Joe Allen was retiring, though Allen stayed around to teach him how to make Steam Beer. Fifty-one percent of the brewery was then bought by Fritz Maytag, who eventually bought out Steese and assumed full control.
Steese was from Mill Valley, and in the July 14, 1962 edition of the Daily Independent Journal, an article used the headline How a Marinite Rescued Steam Beer, which included the following in its coverage.
SOME THREE years ago the requiem for steam beer was being played, and the sad demise of a California tradition was being mourned. At that time Joe Allen, owner of Anchor Brewery, announced his retirement. There was no one skilled in the exacting art of steam beer brewing to take his place, and no one, it seemed, who cared to take the time and trouble to learn from the old master. No one, that is, until Lawrence Steese decided he’d like to try. Joe Allen was more than willing to teach. And since his official “retirement” these three years past, Allen has spent his days at the brewery as professor of steam beer brewing. The making of steam beer is not like the brewing of other beers. Steam beer is naturally carbonated; neither additives nor preservatives become it. “The Sincere Beer,” it is called by some. IT IS TRULY a “health food,” its devotees assert, containing more malt and hops than other beers, and without corn or rice to lighten it.
And this is Steese’s story, distilled to its essence on Anchor Brewery’s website today.