Beer Birthday: Andy French

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Today is the 49th birthday of Andy French, brewmaster at Southern Pacific Brewing in San Francisco, one of the new wave of breweries that opened in the city in recent years. I first met Andy when he brewed at Speakeasy, and after that would see him from time to time at Zeitgeist, though he first started brewing back East in the DC area. When his roommate Chris Lawrence, who also worked for Speakeasy once upon a time, decided to open his own brewery, he tapped Andy to work the mash paddles, and things have been going great since they opened a few years ago. Join me in wishing Andy a very happy birthday.

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Andy at his brewhouse in 2012.

Historic Beer Birthday: Peter Ganser

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Today is the birthday of Peter Ganser (June 24, 1836-August 5, 1915). He was born in Germany, but settled in Steele County, Minnesota, buying the Knobloch & Mannheim brewery and founding the Peter Ganser brewery in Owatonna, along with his brother Adam. It was generally known as the Peter Ganser, City Brewery, off and on from 1865, before it finally closed a few years into prohibition.

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Here’s his obituary, from the American Brewers Review:

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Local brewer Peter Ganser sits on an ornate chair, holding two of his daughters. On the left is Adeline, who later became Mrs. William Zamboni; on the right is his daughter, Catherine, who later married Harry Brown (from the Steele County Historical Society).

And here’s another account from the “History of Rice & Steele Counties, Minnesota, Illustrated, Vol. II,” and published in 1910:

Peter Ganser, proprietor of the Owatonna City Brewery, is one of those substantial citizens, who, in building the foundations for their own fortunes, find the time to take an interest in all worthy causes that tend toward the development of the community. He combines liberality with shrewd common sense and business ability and from his first settlement here he has had an unbounded faith in Owatonna’s future. Mr. Ganser was born in Prussia, Germany, June 24, 1836. He received his early education in the public schools and remained in his native country until 1854, when he came to America and located in Dane county, Wisconsin, where he lived for a time and then went to California. In 1863 he returned to Wisconsin and there remained until 1865 when he came to Owatonna and, together with his brother, Adam, purchased the city brewery, which they continued together until 1872, at which time the brother died. The subject of this sketch then became the sole owner and proprietor. In 1878 the brewery was destroyed by fire, entailing a loss of about $12,000. Undaunted by this loss, Mr. Ganser rebuilt, but in 1884 again suffered a similar disaster. The present building, to which additions and improvements have been made from time to time, was erected in 1884. In 1879, Mr. Ganser, in company with Jacob Glaeser, erected the building then known as the Germania Hall. Mr. Glaeser has carried on a large and increasing business from year to year. In 1894 he sold out his business for six years lived a retired life. In 1900 he again came into possession of the brewery, which he has since conducted. Mr. Ganser was married in 1867 to Mary Knight, who was born in Indiana. The fruit of this union was three children, viz: Margaret, now the wife of William Fleckenstein of the Fleckenstein Brewery at Faribault; Adeline, now Mrs. W. C. Zamboni; Kate, now Mrs. H. D. Brown, of Owatonna. Mr. Ganser is a Democrat in political faith. He takes an active interest in public affairs, and served as a mayor of Owatonna one term, and alderman of the fourth ward for two years. Mr. Ganser is a self-made man, enterprising in business, and has won his position by persevering efforts. He lives in a very find residence at 508 South Oak street.

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Ganser Brau Near Beer.

And this is from Land of Amber Waters: The History of Brewing in Minnesota:

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Historic Beer Birthday: Steve Harrison

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Today would have been longtime Sierra Nevada employee Steve Harrison’s 66th birthday. Unfortunately, Steve passed away in August of 2007. He was Sierra Nevada employee number one, and was responsible for a lot of their early success. I first got to know Steve in the mid-1990s when I was the chain beer buyer at BevMo. He was a terrific person and universally respected and beloved in the industry. Sierra Nevada had to hire two or three people to take over his responsibilities. Join me in raising a glass of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to Steve’s memory today. Here’s to you, Steve.

The last time I saw Steve was at a CSBA meeting in San Diego in 2007, though we talked on the phone a few more times after that because he’d asked me to do some freelance work for him shortly after that CSBA meeting. You can almost make him out in the photo below. He’s in the middle, toward the back, in a blue shirt. He’s in between Tom McCormick (in a green shirt) and a man in a black shirt raising his glass below the giant boulder in the background.

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A very young Steve, at right, with Michael Jackson and Lou. (Photo by Tom Dalldorf, from the Celebrator Beer News.)

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The Steve Harrison Memorial Arch, which is at the northern entrance to the Steve Harrison Bike Path, which is located not very far from the brewery in Chico. (The photo was taken in 2010 by Jack Peters, and sent to me by Miles Jordan. Thank you, gentlemen.)

Historic Beer Birthday: Christian Schmidt

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Today is the birthday of Christian Schmidt (June 24, 1833-September 6, 1894). Schmidt was born in Magstadt, Wurtemberg, Germany but moved to Philadelphia as a young man. In 1859, he became a partner with the Robert Coutrennay Brewery but bought him out the following year, renaming the brewery the Christian Schmidt Brewing Company until his sons joined the brewery in 1892, when it became known as C. Schmidt & Sons.

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Here’s a biography of both Schmidt and his brewery from Workshop of the World — Philadelphia:

Christian Schmidt, an immigrant from Wurtemberg, Germany, purchased the Robert Courtenay brewery which primarily produced ale at this site in 1860. The acquisition of other breweries, such as Peter Schemm, in addition to the production of lager beer, boosted output to 100,000 barrels by 1892. A marked expansion of the physical plant kept pace with the brewery’s growth.

The last quarter of the nineteenth century was Philadelphia’s shining era for large and small breweries. Bergner and Engel (120,000 barrels), and William Massey and Company (75,000 barrels), were the third largest and eleventh largest breweries respectively in the U. S. in 1877. By 1895, Bergner and Engel with 250,000-300,000 barrels had fallen to 15th place; the largest local brewery. Other major companies were Engels and Wolf, Betz and Bergdoll. Christian Schmidt was succeeded by his son Edward who headed the company from 1895 until 1944. There were 421 employees at Schmidt’s in 1943. It had survived and thrived through new technologies—refrigeration, and political impediments, even Prohibition, which decimated other breweries both locally and nationally. Only 26 breweries operated in Pennsylvania in 1960. Philadelphia lost brands such as Esslinger, Poth, Gretz and Class and Nachod.

Schmidt family ownership ceased in 1976 with the sale of the brewery to William H. Pflaumer. By the late 1970s Schmidt’s was the tenth-largest American brewery. It operated a plant in Cleveland, Ohio which facilitated mid-west regional sales. Valley Forge Brewing Company was acquired in the 1960s, Duquesne Brewing Company (Pittsburgh) in 1972, and label and brewing rights to Reading and Bergheim were purchased in 1976, Rheingold in 1977, Erie Brewing Company, with its Koehler brands in 1978. In 1981, Ortlieb, the only other Philadelphia brewery, was purchased by Pflaumer. Schmidt’s, unable to cope with the marketing muscle of the giant national brewers even though it employed 1,400 and produced three million barrels of beer as recently as 1984, sold its brands to G. Heileman Brewing Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin, in April 1987. Production of the Schmidt’s labels slumped to about $1.6 million barrels in 1986, less than one percent of the total U. S. Market. The demise of Schmidt’s marked the end of the large brewery in Philadelphia.

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In Rich Wagner’s Philadelphia Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Cradle of Liberty, he has this to say about Christian Schmidt:

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The Schmidt’s brewery in the 1930s.

And in One Hundred Years of Brewing, published in 1903, this was the entry for C. Schmidt & Sons.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Joseph Seelinger

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Today is the birthday of Joseph Seelinger (June 23, 1863-October 17, 1939). He was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph F. Seelinger, who owned the Erie City Brewery for a time. Originally founded in 1861 by George Frey, Seelinger bought in 1870, renamed it the Joseph F. Seelinger Brewery in 1872, but closed it for good the same year, and relocated to Norfolk, Virginia and opened the Onyx Saloon.

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This short obit is from Find-a-Grave:

Joseph Seelinger aged 76, operator of one of Norfolk’s Bygone popular restaurants, and who entertained such prominent personages as President Grover Cleveland, when the latter came to Norfolk on duck hunting trips, died yesterday afternoon at 4:30 at his residence, 318 Mowbray Arch.

Mr. Seelinger came to Norfolk in his early life from Erie Penn. and became widely know throughout the city by the fastidious diners with whom cost was not a factor. In the gay days of Norfolk his place was the center of fashionable gatherings, especially around the holiday seasons.

Mr Seelinger was an active member of Norfolk Lodge No. 38, BPOE. He was the son of F Joseph and Elizabeth Stemmer Seelinger, he is survived by his sons Sherman E and Joseph P Seelinger and two daughters Mrs. C J Aydlette and Mrs C C Dixon.

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The family never looked back and found success with the restaurant saloon in Virginia. There’s also an entertaining account of the time Saloon Owner “Joe” Went Gunning with Grover Cleveland. That may be Seelinger in the trade card below, but nobody seems to be able to confirm it.

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Visual Poetry: Let’s Have A Beer

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So this post will be chiefly for the literary, and especially poetry lovers, among you, a small subset of beer lovers who also enjoy art. Visual poetry is “a development of concrete poetry but with the characteristics of intermedia in which non-representational language and visual elements predominate. In other words, it was experimental or avant-garde poetry in which the arrangement of the text also was a part of the poem’s meaning, which was communicated both visually and through the text itself.

Two Mexican poets in the 1920s, José D. Frias and José María González de Mendoza were both expatriates living in France and became friends, later exchanging humorous letters between themselves and their literary friends. Today is Mendoza’s birthday, which is what reminded me of this.

In 1923, the pair wrote a letter from Paris to fellow poet Francisco Orozco Muñoz that included four visual poems. They were based on the work of French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who a few years before wrote a book of visual poetry entitled Calligrammes: Poems of Peace and War 1913-1916. They also were influenced by Japanese Haiku, which had become popular at the time in their literary circles, as opposed to Apollinaire’s more cubist or l’esprit nouveau poetry.

Three of the visual poems were written by Frias and translated visually by Mendoza. But the fourth poem was done entirely by Mendoza, and it’s the one below. All four poems contain witty references to the fact that Muñoz was living in Brussels.

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The text is in the shape of a mug of beer, sitting on a table, and reads, according to several books on visual poetry, “Let’s Have a Beer” followed by “The Sun Has Already Set in Flanders.”

Beer Birthday: Brian Yaeger

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Today is the 43rd birthday of fellow beer writer Brian Yaeger, author of Red, White & Brew and Oregon Breweries. Brian also writes online at his Red, White & Brew Beer Odyssey blog. A couple of years ago Brian and his lovely bride Kimberly lived in Portland, Oregon (having moved from San Francisco), but then moved to Amsterdam, before more recently moving back to Portland. Join me in wishing Brian a very happy birthday.

Brian Yaeger, Brian Lenzo, owner of Blue Palms Brewhouse, and Meg Gill
Brian with Brian Lenzo, owner of Blue Palms Brewhouse, me and Meg Gill at the Speakeasy Brewery during SF Beer Week in 2010.

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Craig Cauwels with Brian, the Beer Chef Bruce Paton and me at a Schooner’s beer dinner at Cathedral Hotel in 2008.

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Brian and a sour Jeff Alworth [purloined from Facebook].

Historic Beer Birthday: Henry Foss

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Today is the birthday of Henry Foss, a.k.a. John Henry Foss (June 23, 1817-August 13, 1879). Foss was born in Hanover, Germany but emigrated to Ohio. In 1842, he married Elizabeth Rumpeing, but she passed away in 1854 after twelve years of marriage. He then married Adelaide Foss later the same year, and they had 13 children together. In 1867, he became involved with the Louis Schneider Brewery in Cincinnati, Ohio, becoming a partner and it eventually became known as the Foss-Schneider Brewing Co. It closed during prohibition, but reopened when it was repealed in 1933, though closed for good in 1939.

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Here’s a biography of Foss, from the “History of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio: Their Past and Present Including Early Development, Antiquarian Researches, Their Aboriginal History, Pioneer History, Political Organization, Agricultural, Mining and Manufacturing Interests, A History of the City, Villages and Townships, Religious, Educational, Biographies, and Portraits of Pioneers and Representative Citizens, Etc.,” which was published in 1894.

Henry Foss was born in Germany, June 23, 1817, and died in Cincinnati August 13, 1879. After attending the common schools until he was between thirteen and fourteen years of age he was given to understand that from that time he would be expected to “paddle his own canoe,” so he at once commenced the life of a farm laborer, and, to the credit of his industrious habits, it is said that he followed this kind of work faithfully until he was nearly twenty years old. But at that time he somehow or other began to get dissatisfied with the result of his six years’ hard work, so he thought he would “take stock” to see how much he had made, and calculated how much he would be worth in forty years, if he continued at the same business at the same wages — about twelve or fourteen dollars a year. He had nothing at the start; he had wasted no money; had only kept himself clothed, and still he had nothing to show for all his labor but a few dollars, barely sufficient to take him over the sea to the New World. Yet, nevertheless, he was determined to go with a party that was about to leave the village for America. Leaving home on the tenth day of May 1837, the party, consisting of himself and three others, traveled by wagon to Bremen, where they took passage on the ship “Richmond” bound for Richmond, Va. After paying his passage money he had but five cents left, so that it was no trouble for him to conclude to rely solely upon his efforts in the New World of the West — in fact, there was no choice in the matter. After being at sea for several days they encountered a storm of great severity, during which they lost their mainmast and much of their rigging, and were driven back so far that the distance lost was not regained for fourteen days. Besides the above disasters the cook’s galley, with all the cooking apparatus, was swept clean overboard, so that it was three days after before they had a particle of anything warm to eat or drink. At last, however, after twenty-two days. they landed safely at Richmond, Va., our subject having, we suspect, had enough of “life on the ocean wave” to satisfy him, as he never re-crossed it.

After looking around for a day or two, Mr. Foss went to work on the James River canal, at seventeen dollars per month and board. At this he continued for about seven months, when, having saved something like one hundred dollars, he thought he was rich at once, and would soon buy all the land he wanted. Like thousands of his countrymen he judged that the West was the place for him; so he joined a party of twenty-two possessed of the same idea. Clubbing together, the party procured a large team, and started over the mountains to the Kanawha canal, by which they arrived at Wheeling, where they took steamer for Pittsburgh, and at once proceeded down the river to Cincinnati. On landing here Mr. Foss found things so dull that he determined to proceed to St. Louis. Finding matters much the same there, he began to think he had made a mistake in coming west; but he passed over into Illinois with the expectation of going to work on a turnpike at Belleville. It was so swampy there, however, that almost every one who worked there was seized with fever and ague. In this emergency he returned to St. Louis, and from there again came to Cincinnati, where he was advised by his friends to go to work on the Whitewater canal, at Brookville, some forty miles from the city. He walked this distance with his knapsack on his back, and at once began to work at seventeen dollars per month and board. At the end of three months he went to Cincinnati. and sent fifty dollars home to his parents to help smooth the path of life for them. After working on the canal two months longer he was made foreman of a squad of quarry men; while at this work he conceived the idea of learning the stone-cutting trade, and after instructing another in his duties, he went to the yard to learn the trade. In nine mouths the locks of the canal were completed, at the end of which time Mr. Foss came to the city, and was employed at dressing stone until he saw an opening at the locks of the Licking canal, Kentucky. After working there about six mouths he commenced as a stone mason, and having a good eye for mechanics he soon proved an efficient workman, and thereafter could either cut or lay stone. After continuing in this way two years, during which he had sent $500 home to bring out the whole family, and saved $500 besides, on the arrival of his parents and his brothers and sisters they found that Henrv had rented and furnished a house complete for them to go into.

With the $500 in hand he commenced business for himself on a small scale, which he gradually increased from year to year until he employed from fifty to sixty journeymen, and nearly as many laborers. In 1848-49, in connection with Henry Atlemeier, he built the House of Refuge; and while thus engaged the cholera was raging so fearfully that the funerals moving from the city to the cemetery formed a constant procession. The architect of their job. Henry Walters, and many of their workmen fell victims to the epidemic. In 1851 he built the foundations of the Hamilton and Dayton depot, which consumed some 5,000 perches of stone, and completed the job in about three months. He built the church on the corner of Mound and Barr, and adjoining gymnasium in 1857-58, also the foundations of St. Philomena church on Congress and Butler streets; St. Joseph’s, on Linn; Holy Trinity, on Fifth; likewise that of the large block on the corner of Ninth and Walnut; and the church of the Holy Angels (all of stone), Fulton; and the south wing of Bishop Purcell’s seminary, besides a vast number of dwelling houses. He continued this business until 1856, when he sold off his teams and building apparatus generally, and built a distillery on the Plank road, now Gest street, for himself and his partner, with a capacity of 900 bushels per day. After its completion his partner was somewhat alarmed at their great undertaking, so, to make the matter lighter, sold a quarter interest to two other gentlemen, retaining a quarter himself. After conducting the business together for about three months, hard times came upon them, and Mr. Foss’ original partner again became alarmed for fear all would be lost; but not so Mr. Foss, who at once bought the interest of that gentleman, and continued the business with the owner of the fourth interest. The scale soon turned in their favor, and, after eight years of success, having considerable surplus money, Mr. Foss bought the interest of his partners, and carried on the business alone for about two years, then sold out to Mr. John Pfeffer, concluding that he would work a little in his garden, and take things easy the rest of his life. But to his surprise he did not know what to do with himself, and, after laying off about two months, he came to the conclusion that doing nothing was the hardest work in the world. He then formed a partnership with Adam Heitbrink for the purpose of building the foundation of the city Work House. After this was finished he formed a partnership with William P. Snyder and John Brenner, and went into the manufacture of. lager beer, ‘ the capacity of their works at the commencement being about sixty-five barrels per day. This was in December, 1867; in the spring of 1868 it became necessary to enlarge their works, and their business continued to increase. The further connection of Mr. Foss with the great brewing establishment, now known as the Foss-Schneider Brewing Company, is contained in the personal history of his son and successor, John H. Foss, president of that company, and which is contained in this volume.

Mr. Henry Foss was married in 1842, to Miss Elizabeth Rumpeing, a German lady, who was every way worthy to be his wife. Of this union five children were born, all of whom, together with their mother, have died, the latter in 1854. Mr. Foss was married again, during the same year, to Miss Adelaide TeVeluwe, of Zutfen Lechtenforde, Holland, and by her eight children were born to him, seven of whom—John H., William, Edward, Philomena, Lizzy, Rosey and Bernidena—are still living, as is also Mrs. Foss.

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Here’s a short history of the brewery, from “100 Years of Brewing:”

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