Today is the birthday of Will Meyers, brewmaster of Cambridge Brewing near Boston, Massachusetts. Will’s a great brewer and an even better human being, one of the nicest in the industry. We judged together again just last week, in an incredibly difficult medal round, that might have killed or injured a lesser person. But we made it through intact. Join me in wishing Will a very happy birthday.
Today is the 46th birthday of Luc De Raedemaeker, who’s the Tasting Director for the Brussels Beer Challenge, the Dutch Beer Challenge and also the owner of BIERinhuis. I first met Luc in D.C. when Stephen Beaumont introduced us during CBC, and then we judged together in Japan a few years ago, and I’ve also been privileged to judge at the BBC the last few years. We generally run into one another several times a year, both in the states and in Belgium, and he’s always fun to share a beer or three with. Earlier this summer, his family stayed with us for a week while they were on vacation in the states, and had a grand time. Join me in wishing Luc a very happy birthday.
Today is the 34th birthday of Kushal Hall, former Director of Brewing Operations for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers. Kushal had been brewing at Speakeasy since 2007, but left in May of last year, to open his own space in Southern California. The new brewery will be called Common Space Brewing and will be located in Hawthorne. It should open before the end of the year. While Kushal studied photography at UC Santa Cruz, I think we can all agree the world is a better place since he became a brewer. A terrific brewer and person, please join me in wishing Kushal a very happy birthday.
[Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.]
Today is the birthday of Barbara Groom, co-founder of Lost Coast Brewing in Eureka, California. I first met Barbara when I was the beer buyer at BevMo in the mid-1990s and our paths have crossed on occasion ever since. She makes terrific beers and her brewery recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Join me in wishing Barbara a very happy birthday.
Note: All photos purloined from Facebook.
Today is the birthday of Patrick Perkins (October 10, 1838—May 17, 1901). He was born in Ireland, but emigrated as a child to Queensland, Australia, with his parents in 1854, when he was sixteen. “With his brother Thomas, he started breweries in Victoria and Queensland. In 1866, Patrick Perkins started the Perkins Brewery in Toowoomba. In 1872, he later extended his operations to Brisbane with the purchase of the City Brewery in 1872. In 1876, Patrick Perkins moved to Queensland in order to manage the Brisbane and Toowoomba breweries.” He was also heavily involved in local politics. After his death, “in 1928, the Perkins brewing company was bought by their rivals Castlemaine Brewery with new company being known as Castlemaine Perkins.”
This is his biography from his Wikipedia page:
Patrick Perkins, nicknamed Paddy Perkins, was a brewer and politician in colonial Queensland. He was a Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly and, later, a Member of the Queensland Legislative Council.
Patrick Perkins was born in a humble cottage on a small farm in the village of Clonoulty near Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland. He was the second son of Thomas Perkins, a farmer, and his wife Ellen (née Gooley). He attended the local National School.
Thomas and Ellen Perkins and their eight children (including Patrick) immigrated on the Persian, departing Southampton and arrived in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 9 April 1854.
Toowoomba circa 1865.
In 1861, he married Mary Ellen Hickey in Victoria. They had three children born in Victoria: Thomas Hector (born 1864), Edgar Colin Francis (born 1868) and Lilly Eleanor Perkins (born 1875). They had two children born in Queensland: Patrick Harold (born 1878) and Helene Cicilia (born 1880).
Patrick Perkins was a miner and storekeeper on the diggings in Victoria in districts including Ballarat, Bendigo, Woods Point and Jamieson.
With his brother Thomas, he started breweries in Victoria and Queensland. In 1866, Patrick Perkins started the Perkins Brewery in Toowoomba. In 1872, he later extended his operations to Brisbane with the purchase of the City Brewery in 1872.
In 1876, Patrick Perkins moved to Queensland in order to manage the Brisbane and Toowoomba breweries.
Perkins also had interests in property and mining, including the Mount Morgan Mine and coal mining in the West Moreton area. He was considered a shrewd and successful businessman.
On 9 April 1877, Edward Wilmot Pechey, the member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly in the seat of Aubigny, resigned. On 1 May 1877, in a by-election, Perkins was elected in Aubigny, defeating Angus Mackay (the then editor of The Queenslander) by a large majority. He was elected again in Aubigny in the 1878 election and was appointed as Minister of Lands in the First McIlwraith Ministry from 21 January 1879 to 13 November 1883.
Perkins was elected again in Aubigny in the 1883 election, However, allegations about electoral fraud (including intimidation, bribery, and ballot stuffing) in the Aubigny election started to surface, resulting in a petition to the Governor of Queensland detailing numerous kind of electoral fraud and asking to declare that the Aubigny election was void and that Patrick Perkins was guilty of bribery and corruption. On 21 February 1884, the Committee of Elections and Qualifications ruled the Aubigny election was null and void and called for a by-election. Perkins had denied any involvement in the alleged electoral fraud and the Committee of Elections and Qualifications did not disqualify him from re-contesting the seat, which provoked outrage in some quarters. However, Patrick Perkins announced he would not re-contest the seat as he would be taking a trip to England. James Campbell was elected unopposed at the resulting by-election on 4 March 1884.
At the 1888 election, Perkins was elected in the seat of Cambooya on 10 May 1888, which he held until 6 May 1893.
On 23 May 1893, Perkins was appointed to Queensland Legislative Council from 23 May 1893. Being a lifetime appointment, he served until his death on 17 May 1901.
Late in life, Perkins was in poor health and moved to Hawthorn, Melbourne. He attended the opening of the first Federal Parliament at the Royal Exhibition Building on 9 May 1901 and caught a chill which developed into bronchial pneumonia, from which he died on Friday 17 May 1901 at “Ingleborough”, Berkeley Street, Hawthorn. On Saturday 18 May 1901, his funeral was conducted at the Roman Catholic church at Glenferrie, after which he was buried in the Boroondara General Cemetery in Kew, Melbourne.
In 1928, the Perkins brewing company was bought by their rivals Castlemaine Brewery with new company being known as Castlemaine Perkins Limited.
The Castlemaine Perkins brewery in Brisbane (pictured above early last century) has strong links to the history of Toowoomba. Don Talbot and John Larkin outlined the story In their book Strange and Unusual Tales. Queensland’s first brewery was built in Toowoomba in 1867. By 1869, it was one of the largest breweries in the southern hemisphere. The brewery’s original and official name was the Downs Brewery, but came to be known as Perkins Brewery. Paddy Perkins was born in Tipperary, Ireland, in 1838 migrating to Australia in 1855 with his father Thomas, and brothers James and Thomas. Paddy and his family travelled the Ballarat and Bendigo goldfields. Paddy and his brother Thomas set up a merchandising store in Castlemaine, Victoria, and later held an interest in the Castlemaine Brewery in Victoria. After testing water quality in Brisbane and Ipswich, the Perkins brothers located a reliable spring in West Swamp, Toowoomba. In 1867, the brothers purchased land in Margaret St (where Grand Central is today). In December, 1869, Perkins Brewery brewed its first commercial hogshead of light ale in Queensland. At this time, the brewery was one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere with the capacity to produce 400 hogshead (113,650 litres) of XXX (Extra Exhilarating Extract) beer per week. Paddy Perkins later purchased the City Brewery, Mary Street, Brisbane in 1872. In August, 1876, tragedy stuck the Perkins family when Thomas was killed aged 35 while riding his horse in Grandchester. Paddy continued running the breweries in Toowoomba and Brisbane which prospered and expanded up until the 1920s. Profits began to decline due to competition from the new and extremely popular XXXX Bitter Ale, a stronger beer which was bought out by Perkins’ competitor Castlemaine Brewery Brisbane. The Perkins and Co. Ltd Downs Brewery in Toowoomba and the City Brewery in Brisbane were sold to the Castlemaine Brewery in August, 1928. The company was then restructured as Castlemaine Perkins Ltd. The Downs Brewery ceased brewing in 1958 after it had operated continuously for 89 years.
And this history of the Perkins Brewery is from a site focusing on the Toowoomba Region:
Queensland’s first brewery was built in Toowoomba in 1867. By 1869, it was one of the largest breweries in the southern hemisphere. The brewery’s original and official name was the Downs Brewery but came to be known as Perkins Brewery. Read about its history and how it eventually became part of Castlemaine Perkins.
Perkins BreweryPaddy Perkins was born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1838 migrating to Australia in 1855 with his father Thomas, and brothers James and Thomas. Arriving in Victoria Paddy and his family traveled the Ballarat and Bendigo goldfields.
Paddy and his brother Thomas set up a merchandising store in Castlemaine, Victoria and later held an interest in the Castlemaine Brewery in Victoria.
After testing water quality in Brisbane and Ipswich, the Perkins brothers located a reliable spring providing the quality they required in West Swamp Toowoomba. In 1867 the brothers purchased land in Margaret Street (where Grand Central is today) and contracted Mr. John Garget to construct Queensland’s first brewery.
In December 1869 Perkins Brewery brewed its first commercial hogshead of light ale in Queensland. At this time, the brewery was one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere with the capacity to produce 400 hogshead (113,650 litres) of XXX (Extra Exhilarating Extract) beer per week.
Another product from the Perkins Brewery was Carbine Invalid Stout that was promoted for fortifying the blood and as a tonic for nursing mothers.
The Perkins brothers also founded the malting industry in Toowoomba, building a malt house in addition to their Dent Street brewery. In 1871 maltster J. G. Sims processed 14,000 bushels of barley on the floor of the Perkins’ malt house (1 bushel = 0.363 litres).
The opening of the brewery in Toowoomba saw an increase of barley growing on the Downs which led to experiments in the cultivation of hops, all of which were unsuccessful. The malting process was discontinued in the 1880s and 1890s until a duty was imposed on imported malt and processing of local barley was again encouraged.
Perkins and Co described their beer as “A good, light, drinkable and nutritious ale, having been a long-felt want in Queensland, the proprietors beg to announce that they are now prepared to supply unlimited demand with a sound and nutritious ale, such as they trust will command general favour and support.”
Paddy Perkins later purchased the City Brewery, Mary Street Brisbane in 1872.
In August 1876 tragedy stuck the Perkins family when Thomas was killed aged 35, whilst riding his horse in Grandchester. Thomas Perkins is buried at the Toowoomba & Drayton Cemetery.
Paddy continued running the breweries in Toowoomba and Brisbane which prospered and expanded up until the 1920s. Profits began to decline due to competition from the new and extremely popular XXXX Bitter Ale, a stronger beer which was bought out by Perkins’ competitor Castlemaine Brewery Brisbane. The Perkins and Co. Ltd Downs Brewery in Toowoomba and the City Brewery in Brisbane were sold to the Castlemaine Brewery in August 1928. The company was then restructured as Castlemaine Perkins Ltd.
Today is the birthday of Anna Maria Hartig Krug Schlitz (October 9, 1819-January 20, 1887). She was born in Germany, and married August Krug when she was 21, in 1840, and the couple emigrated to Milwaukee Wisconsin in 1848. The Krugs opened a restaurant and the following year, 1849, added a brewery, which was known then as the August Krug Brewery. When he died young, in 1856, his bookkeeper, Joseph Schlitz took over management on behalf of Anna Maria Krug. In 1858, she married Joseph Schlitz and he renamed the brewery after himself.
This biography is from Find-a-Grave:
Anna Maria Hartig was born in Germany. Her first husband was Georg August Krug and her second husband was Joseph Schlitz.
Anna Maria and August were married in 1840 in Miltenberg, Germany. August came to Milwaukee Wisconsin in 1848 and in 1849 opened a restaurant and saloon on Juneau Avenue. He brewed his own beer in the basement of his Kilbourntown home, enough to supply the saloon and restaurant. Because of no refrigeration, beer was only brewed in colder months. He brewed about 150 barrels during the first year. When business was prospering, Anna Maria joined him from Germany.
In 1850, Georg Krug, August’s father, and eight-year old August Uihlein, August’s nephew, came to visit them. On their passage to Milwaukee, they survived the sinking of the S.S. Helene Schlomann. Krug’s father gave August $800, so he sold his restaurant and began construction of a full-time brew house, called the August Krug Brewery. He built Milwaukee’s first underground vaults for the storage of beer. August Uihlein remained in Milwaukee, lived with them and attended school in Milwaukee.
In 1850, August also hired four employees including Joseph Schlitz, a twenty-year-old bookkeeper, who was born in Mainz, Rheinhessen, Germany in 1831. Joseph Schlitz’s father was a wine and beer broker who taught his son the intricacies of both business and brewing. As a bookkeeper, Joseph helped to expand the business by buying horses, wagons, brewing equipment. By 1853 the brewery produced 300 barrels of beer.
Anna Maria’s first husband, August Krug died on December 30, 1856, seven years after his brewery opened. Joseph Schlitz assumed the role of brewery manager. In 1858, two years after August died, Joseph Schlitz married Anna Maria, who was twelve years his senior. By 1859, the Schlitz Brewing Company produced and sold approximately 2,000 barrels of beer.
In 1875, her husband, Joseph Schlitz, traveled to Germany and was lost at sea in a shipwreck off the coast of England on a steamer, The S.S. Schiller on May 7, 1875. A likeness of the steamer can be seen on the front of the Schlitz monument.
Anna Maria then had her five nephews on August Krug’s side of the family, the Uihlein brothers, run the Brewery. August Uihlein helped lead the company to its fame. When Anna Maria died in 1887 at age 68, complete ownership of the company went to the Uihlein brothers.
And this part of longer article on Immigrant Entrepreneurship entitled “Political Revolution, Emigration, and Establishing a Regional Player in Brewing: August Krug and Joseph Schlitz.” This portion discusses Anna Marie and her part of the story:
At the beginning was the German revolution of 1848. Georg August Krug (born April 15, 1815 in Miltenberg, grand duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt; died: December 30, 1856 in Milwaukee, WI) was born the son of Georg Anton Krug (1785–1860) and Anna Marie Ludwig (1784–1864), who owned the brewery “Zum Weißen Löwen,” the predecessor of today’s Faust brewery, in Miltenberg. This was a small and contested town at the River Main, which belonged until 1803 to the Electorate of Mayence (Mainz), became part of the grand duchy of Baden in 1806, was transferred to the grand duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt in 1810, and finally became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1816. Georg August Krug worked in the family business but also became a member of a group of revolutionists surrounding a local doctor and farmer, Jakob Nöthig, who later emigrated to the U.S. after he was accused of being a ringleader (Rädelsführerei) of a local band of political agitators and other offenses against the Bavarian authorities. Krug and his father were among the petitioners in Miltenberg on March 8, 1848 who demanded liberal reforms. On the following day Miltenberg was shaken by protests and turmoil, and Bavarian armed forces reestablished order. Facing official prosecution, the younger Krug became part of the first wave of politically-motivated emigration. He arrived in the United States in May 1848, where he used only his second name and where he was naturalized on December 15, 1854.
In Milwaukee, at that time a preferred destination for the 48ers, August Krug established, probably with his savings, a saloon and restaurant on 4th and Chestnut Streets. Far from Bavaria, he still managed to receive additional support from his family. First, his fiancée Anna Maria Wiesmann Hartig arrived from Miltenberg (Oct. 9, 1819–Jan. 20, 1887) and they eventually married—likely in 1849. She was the daughter of Michael Wiesmann and Christina Schlohr, both from Miltenberg. Her presence allowed an expansion of his business activities. While Anna Maria Krug managed the restaurant, August Krug started a small brewing business at a nearby building at 420 Chestnut Street in 1849. Second, his father Georg Anton Krug arrived in the United States on October 25, 1850, accompanied by his grandson, 8-year-old August Uihlein. Such visits were not without risk: the visitors travelled on the Helena Sloman, the first German steamship on the transatlantic route. It encountered distress at sea on November 28, 1850 and sunk. Nine people were killed, but the vast majority of the crew and the passengers, in total 175 persons, were rescued by the American ship Devonshire. Georg Anton Krug lost a Bavarian beer pump, which went down with the wreckage, but he rescued $800 in gold (or $23,000 in 2010 dollars). This capital was invested into the brewery of his son and used to hire three additional employees, including a bookkeeper named Joseph Schlitz.
August Krug became a respected citizen. In 1850, his real estate property was valued at $1,600 ($46,100 in 2010 dollars). His household consisted of five people: himself and his wife Anna Maria, two brewery workers (both from Bavaria), and a young 18-year-old women, probably a servant. Krug was apparently a respected voice in his neighborhood, as his name was invoked in a newspaper advertisement for a local fireproof tile maker. He could afford to visit Germany in 1855, where he was able to meet with his relatives again.
By the mid-1850s, Krug already saw himself as a competitor for preeminence with other German immigrant brewers in Milwaukee in particular the Best family and Miltenberg-born Valentin Blatz (1826–1894). However, he was injured in an accident late in 1856, when he tumbled down a hatchway, and passed away several days later. The value of the eleven lots of real estate he owned was estimated at $20,050 ($532,000 in 2010 dollars). There were a total of $15,296.76 in claims and demands against the estate, including $276.50 owed to bookkeeper Joseph Schlitz (in 2010 dollars, equivalent to roughly $406,000 and $7,330, respectively).
Anna Maria Krug became the sole owner of the Krug Brewery after her husband’s death. Two years later, in 1858, she married Joseph Schlitz, who at age 27 was twelve years her junior. While a later biography claimed that August Krug “had left definite instructions for the continuing of the business under the active supervision of his valued friend and employe[e], Mr. Schlitz,” there seems to be no direct evidence of this intention on August Krug’s part. Instead, this seems to have been a pragmatic decision reached by the couple together. Joseph knew the business, and he invested his savings to finance the small but steady expansion of the firm and received a free hand to operate it. The “son-in-law” or “widow/faithful employee” relationship mechanism was and is quite typical for ownership transfer in family businesses, and had already been practiced in Milwaukee’s brewing business: when Johann Braun, the owner of the City Brewery, died in 1851, Braun’s widow Louisa married Valentin Blatz. The widow’s capital and the new husband’s business skills enabled the business to continue operating without disruption. Although women played an important role in small businesses in the middle of the nineteenth century, such social mechanisms guaranteed that active management of mid-sized or larger firms by women was rare. Nevertheless, Anna Maria Schlitz seems to have been independent: for example, in 1863, she visited Germany without her husband escorting her.
Anna Maria Krug’s marriage to Schlitz allowed the brewery to retain a capable manager for the business. By the terms of her first husband’s will, after her death her share in Krug’s estate would pass on to his blood relatives, including his nephew August Uihlein. Anna Maria’s childlessness had been one reason for Uihlein’s migration. Her property rights were to become important for strengthening the Uihlein dominance in the Schlitz Brewing Company. After Schlitz’s death in 1875, she lived a modest and reclusive life at the home they had shared on 11th Street in Milwaukee, attended by only one servant, a young woman from Prussia. Like other Milwaukee elite members, she supported the Milwaukee Töchter Institut, founded by German immigrant social entrepreneur and early feminist Mathilde Franziska Anneke. However, not being active in business did not mean living without means: when Anna Maria Schlitz died in 1887, her estate was valued at $500,000 (or $11.8 million in 2010 dollars). Anna Maria Schlitz was buried at Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee.
Today is the birthday of Jacob Schmidt (October 8, 1846-September 2, 1910). He was born in Bavaria, Germany, but moved to America, worked at breweries in New York and Milwaukee, then settling in Minnesota, in 1866. In St. Paul, he was brewmaster at Hamm’s, and later left to brew for August Schell and some breweries in the midwest. In 1884, he returned to St. Paul and bought a 50% share of the North Star Brewery, but it burned to the ground, a total loss, in 1899. With his daughter and son-in-law Adolph Bremer, he acquired the Christopher Stahlmann, Cave Brewery, and in 1900 completely remodeled it turning into the iconic “Castle” brewery with the help of Chicago brewery architect Bernard Barthel. They also renamed it the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Co., and after Prohibition, it became the nation’s seventh largest brewery. The brewery continued until 1972, when the brand was bought by G. Heileman. The Castle brewery in St. Paul was abandoned and only recently was renovated into the Schmidt Artist Lofts. Today the Schmidt Brewery brands are owned by Pabst.
Surprisingly, I could find very little biographical information about Jacob Schmidt himself, not even a photo. Here’s a short biography from Find-a-Grave:
Businessman. Born in Bavaria, Germany, he arrived in America at the age of 20 and after working at several breweries for five years, he settled in St. Paul, Minnesota. In St. Paul, he was the Brewmaster for the Theodore Hamm’s Brewing Company, when he left this position in 1900, to become owner and founder of the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company. He became one of the first brewers to sell more than 10,000 barrels in Minnesota, along with being one of the first brewers to bottle his own beer. He died at age 63 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Here’s the brewery history from the current brand website:
In 1884, Jacob Schmidt moved to St. Paul, Minnesota and purchased a half interest in the North Star Brewery located at Commercial St. & Hudson Rd. Jacob retired in 1899, turning over the operation to his daughter and son-in-law. The following year the brewery burned to the ground and a new location was immediately found. In 1901, the brewery was incorporated as the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company and a new plant and malt house were erected next to the existing structures.
Jacob died in 1910, but the brewery continued to enjoy success until Prohibition struck. After a failed attempt at producing soft drinks, a non-alcoholic malt beverage was created and became extremely popular.
After considerable success following the repeal of Prohibition, the company continued to prosper under the Schmidt name until 1955. Most of the original buildings still stand today, looming proudly above the Mississippi River.
Schmidt beer is known as the “Official Beer of the American Sportsman”…a slogan that capitalizes on the exciting, rugged appeal of the Pacific Northwest. The quality and brewing tradition instilled by Jacob Schmidt, continues today.
And here’s the portion of Schmidt’s Wikipedia page that deals with the brewery’s namesake:
Jacob Schmidt started his brewing career in Minnesota as the Brewmaster for the Theodore Hamm’s Brewing Co. He left this position to become owner of the North Star Brewing Co. Under Schmidt’s new leadership the small brewery would see much success and in 1899 Schimdt transferred partial ownership of his new brewery to a new corporation headed by his son in law Adolph Bremer, and Adolph’s brother Otto. This corporation would later become Bremer Bank. With the new partnership the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company was established. In 1900 the North Star Brewery would suffer a fire that would close it for good. With the new management team in place a new brewery was needed, the new firm purchased the Stahlmann Brewery form the St. Paul Brewing Co. and immediately started construction on a new Romanesque brewery incorporating parts of Stahlmann’s original brewery along with it including the further excavation of the lagering cellars used in the fermentation process to create Schmidt’s Lager Beer.
This account is excerpted from the Land of Amber Waters: The History of Brewing in Minnesota, by Doug Hoverson:
Here’s a portion of a lengthier, more thorough account of the brewery’s history, from Substreet:
He came to the United States in 1865 at the age of 20 and worked in brewhouses as he moved westward. He worked in Rochester, Chicago, and Milwaukee, before coming to Minnesota, where he found a position at Schell’s brewery in New Ulm, before moving to Minneapolis’ Heinrich’s and then to Banholzer’s and Hamm’s of St. Paul.
At Theodore Hamm’s brewery, the biggest of its kind in the state, Schmidt became not just the chief brewer, but also a personal friend of the firm’s powerful owner and namesake.
Ultimately, Jacob Schmidt wanted his own brewery.
On the other end of Swede Hollow, in 1860, Edward Drewry and George Scotten founded what would become the North Star Brewery, then just called ‘Drewry & Scotten’. Though it featured a brewhouse large enough to compete with Stahlmann’s operation on the other side of St. Paul, and had adequate—though far from extensive—underground cellars to match, this brewery produced ale, not lager beer, and therefore did not compete with Stahlmann’s brand.
After changing hands several times, it was clear by the early 1880s that North Star required a talented master brewer. The owners of that humble brewery, William Constans (grocer and brewery supply dealer) and Reinhold Koch (brewer and Civil War veteran), hired Jacob Schmidt, and the former Hamm’s brewer rapidly expanded production below the bluff.
Together, Schmidt, Constans and Koch grew North Star Brewery to the point it competed directly with Hamm’s.
In a few years, the Dayton’s Bluff brewhouse became the second greatest producer of beer west of Chicago by some estimates, sending out 16,000 barrels annually as far as Illinois. In 1884, Constans and Koch decided to leave the business, thereby leaving Schmidt as sole owner. In 1899, Schmidt took down the ‘North Star Brewery’ sign and replaced it with ‘Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company’.
The next year, it all burned.
Today, all that remains of the brewery are its aging cellars, which are a part of the new Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary in Lowertown off Commercial Street.
As he considered the cost of rebuilding, Schmidt received a proposal from St. Paul Brewing: they wanted to sell him their troubled brewery. The brewmaster accepted the offer and moved his operation into the former Cave Brewery, which had been only slightly modified since Stahlmann built it almost 50 years prior. Facilities were inadequate, but he would fix that.
Interestingly, Jacob Schmidt had all the bottles salvaged from the ruined brewery shipped to his new location. The glasses still bore the mark of the North Star brand, a large five-pointed star—a feature the brewer would ultimately opt to keep.
Stars cover the Schmidt brewery to this day, in signs and ironwork, hearkening to Jacob Schmidt’s time at, and the destruction of, North Star Brewery.
Observing the lowly state that Stahlmann’s brewery was in, Schmidt hired a rising Chicago architect, Bernard Barthel, to design a totally new complex to replace what was left of the Christopher Stahlmann Brewing Company, and St. Paul Brewing Company’s brash modifications to it.
It would be medieval on the outside, but totally modern and streamlined inside.
Soon, imposing red brick towers were rising on Fort Road, with obvious influences borrowed from feudal era castles, replacing the modest remains of Cave Brewery. Construction of Jacob Schmidt Brewing Co. was completed in 1904, followed in the next decade by its more significant outbuildings, notably ending in 1915 with the Bottling Department. Schmidt beer was some of the first to be bottled on-site in the state.
The new brewery complex was designed to compete with the biggest brewers in the country, and it did.
When Jacob died in 1911, his brewery was an icon of the West Side and the employer of more than 200 people. More importantly, the beer continued to flow, unlike the bust that followed the Stahlmanns. Though the man himself was gone, the name Schmidt was becoming ever more prominent across the country.
Schmidt’s also hired famed artist Norman Rockwell to do one of my favorite pieces of advertising art for them.
It’s a pretty awesome piece, but not the only work in beer he did. For more, see Norman Rockwell’s Beer.
The thing I personally remember about Schmidt’s was their collectible cans which were all over the place when I was a kid. There was a seemingly endless variety of their can designs, and I have read that it really helped keep the business afloat, at least for a time.
Today is the birthday of Nicholas Bastendorff (October 8, 1842-December 22, 1915). Bastendorff was born in Luxembourg, though it was considered part of Prussia (today Germany), and may have been part of the area of Luxembourg partitioned to Prussia in 1815, and before they gained their independence in 1867. He came to Pennsylvania when he was 30, and settled in Lancaster. While I can’t find very much information about Bastendorff, he was apparently one of the early owners of the Lion Brewery, and later was involved in some fashion with the Rickers Brewery, although I can’t find anything out about that brewery, not even where it was located.
The only mention I found was his obituary in the American Brewers Review from 1915:
The brewery was also known for a time as the Lion-Gibbons brewery and they had a line of beers under the Gibbons name.
Though nowadays Lionshead Deluxe Pilsner Beer is their flagship beer.
The Lion Brewery’s early history, from their Wikipedia page:
Lion Brewery, Inc. started as the Luzerne County Brewing Company with the acquisition of land from Delaware and Hudson Company in 1905. The land was purchased for one dollar on the terms that the company would build a brewery capable of producing 100,000 barrels per year in just the first year and sell each barrel for no less than a dollar a piece. If the terms were not met, the land would return to the Delaware and Hudson Company. The Luzerne County Brewery survived the terms of sale and was able to remain strong through the Prohibition years, 1920-1933, by brewing cereal beer. Cereal beer is more commonly known as “near-beer,” as it has an alcohol content of about 0.5%, which is about a tenth of most beers. Ted Smulowitz purchased the Luzerne County Brewery after Prohibition in 1933 and renamed it The Lion Brewing Company.
Today is the 38th birthday of Garrett Marrero, co-founder and brewmaster of Maui Brewing. His brewery started as a brewpub on the island in 2005, and quickly expanded to include a small production brewery, but more recently Maui built a much, much bigger brewery in Kihei, which is centrally located, and not too far from the airport. I’ve known Garrett for a number of years, but finally had the chance to visit his breweries on Maui during a family vacation there during Thanksgiving week last year. Garrett’s a great person and terrific brewer, giving you more than enough reasons to visit him on the island of Maui. Join me in wishing Garrett a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Charles Stegmaier (October 6, 1821-August 11, 1906). Stegmaier was bornin in Germany and worked there as a brewer until the age of 27. He moved to Pennsylvania and worked at breweries in Philadelphia, before he founded the Baer & Stegmaier Brewery with his father-in-law, in Wilkes-Barre, in 1857. It eventually became known as the Stegmaier Brewing Co., and Charles ran it with his sons, Christian, Fred and George.
Here’s a short biography from Find-a-Grave:
Charles Stegmaier was born in Gmund, Wurtemberg, Germany, on October 7, 1821, where he learned the art of brewing. At the age of 27, having been brewmaster at several large local breweries, he sailed for America, arriving in New York in 1849. He quickly found employment with Engle & Wolf brewery in Philadelphia, and then with the Louis Bergdoll brewery. Charles formed a short-lived partnership with John Reichard of the Reichard & Weaver brewery, and came to Wilkes-Barre in 1851. This business association produced the first lager beer brewed in the Wyoming Valley.
A longer partnership was formed in 1851 when Charles met Catharine Baer, daughter of George C. Baer. Charles and Catharine were married on January 4, 1852. The couple had six children – Charles Jr., Christian, Anna, George, Louise, and Fred.
In 1857 he formed a partnership with his father-in-law to build a small brewery. The new Baer & Stegmaier Brewery was opened in 1863 and lasted until the Panic of 1873.
Charles entered the hotel business for two years before buying another brewery. Forming a partnership with his son, Christian, he successfully increased business and repurchased the Baer & Stegmaier Brewery in 1880. They built a new brewhouse and storage facility in 1894, increasing annual capacity to 300,000 barrels. By the standards of the time, this was an extremely large brewery, and they incorporated the firm in 1897 as the Stegmaier Brewing Co. Charles, who continued active management of Company affairs until 1902, operated the firm with his sons, Christian, Fred and George.
Like other philanthropically minded entrepreneurs, Charles invested in the Wilkes-Barre community. A public-spirited citizen, he contributed a significant portion of his income to the organized charities of the Wyoming Valley.
Charles died of general debility at his daughter’s home in Los Angeles, California, on August 11, 1906. He left an estate valued at $4 million.
The Stegmaier brewery in 1870.
Here’s a history of the brewery by Ruddy Hechler, published in the Fall 1987 NABA Breweriana Collector:
Charles Stegmaier, born October 7, 1821, learned his trade in his home area of Wurtenberg, Germany. At the age of 27, having been brewmaster at several large local breweries, he set sail for America. He quickly found employment at the small Corporation Brewery in Philadelphia. Shortly thereafter, he gained employment with the Louis Bergdoll brewery, where he met John Reichard of the Reichard & Weaver brewery in Wilkes-Barre. This friendship of 1851 sent Charles packing on a 120-mile trip upstate, where he and John formed a short-lived partnership. This business association produced the first lager beer in their section of Pennsylvania. A longer partnership was also formed in 1851 when Charles married Catharine Baer, daughter of George C. Baer.
Several years later, Charles accepted a position in Pottsville with the George Laurer brewery, but he returned to Wilkes-Barre in 1857 to establish a bottling business. He quickly formed a partnership with his father-in-law, George Baer, to build a small brewery on South Canal Street. They brewed with a wooden kettle and stored their beer in an abandoned coal mine tunnel while a new brewery with underground vaults was built on East Market Street. The new Baer & Stegmaier Brewery was opened in 1863 and lasted until the Panic of 1873.
Out of a job, Charles entered the hotel business for two years before buying the Joel Bowkley Brewery on North River Street at the Canal. Forming a partnership with his son, Christian E. Stegmaier, he successfully increased business to the extent that they could repurchase the Bear & Stegmaier Brewery in 1880. Output continued to grow under the name of C. Stegmaier & Son; a new brewhouse and storage facility were built in 1894, increasing annual capacity to 300,000 barrels. By the standards of the time, this was an extremely large brewery. Charles and Christian incorporated the firm in 1897 as the Stegmaier Brewing Co. Charles, who continued active management of Company affairs until 1902, operated the firm with Christian and his other sons, Fred and George. The Stegmaier family were highly esteemed as citizens of the city; they were extremely charitable and contributed greatly toward the growth and development of Wilkes-Barre. Success this time was not short-lived; the company enjoyed many productive years before closing during long years of slow decline of the local brewers in October, 1974.
Between 1910 and 1913 Stegmaier won eight gold medals at expositions in Paris, Brussels and Rome. After prohibition it became one of the largest independent breweries in North America, reaching an output of a half million barrels in 1940. Using a 60-truck fleet and rail services, the distribution areas eventually covered the East Coast from Maine to Florida – a considerable evolution from the days of 1857 when Charles Stegmaier personally delivered each barrel of beer with an express wagon drawn by a husky goat.
The sudden announcement in 1974 by Edward R. Maier, great grandson of Charles Stegmaier, that the Stegmaier label was sold to Lion, Inc. of Wilkes-Barre sent shock waves through the brewery’s work force. The Company’s financial situation was known to be deteriorating, but the notice of sale still came as a surprise to most.
The Company was a family-run business covering four generations, always respected as a “class act” by its loyal employees, many of whom were from families whose parents and grandparents had worked with Charles Stegmaier. About 50 employees, along with Maier as Executive Vice President, were employed by Lion, Inc., but some 150 workers lost their jobs. The vacated Stegmaier brewery, purchased for back taxes in 1978, is currently owned by the City of Wilkes-Barre. The City has hopes of selling it to a developer who will pursue historic restoration of the buildings.
Stegmaier’s many years of brewing brought us not only award winning beer, but a myriad of advertising memorabilia. A room of considerable size could be filled with historic breweriana with the “Stegmaier Brewing Co.” name appearing.
Stegmaier beer is still produced by Lion, Inc., of Wilkes-Barre, and remains one of the firms best selling products. Enjoy a cold, frosty “Steg” and appreciate the history that the Stegmaier Brewing Co. has left behind.
Stegmaier Brewery workers c. 1894.
From Pennsylvania Heritage; Stegmaier Brewed Beer and a Regional History, by William C. Kashatus:
“Ring-A-Ding-Ding! Do the Stegmaier Thing, In the Summertime. It’s Cold and It’s Gold like a Pocono Spring, In the Summertime. So, Ring-A-Ding-Ding, Do the Stegmaier Thing, Any Time At All!”
Pennsylvanians may recall the infectious jingle advertising Stegmaier beer on WFIL radio and television in Philadelphia and shouted across billboards in the Pocono Mountains and the northeastern counties of the Keystone State in the 1960s. It was part of an aggressive advertising campaign launched by the Wilkes-Barre-based brewing company to retain its dominant position in the regional beer-making industry over emerging consolidated national brewers.
Stegmaier’s not only prevailed in the competition, but strengthened its relationship with its fiercely loyal consumer base struggling to survive the economic dislocation created by the demise of the region’s anthracite industry. The Stegmaier Brewing Company was an inextricable part of northeastern Pennsylvania’s cultural identity for more than a century. Founded in 1857 by German immigrant Charles E. Stegmaier (1821-1906), the business began as a modest brewery and bottling operation but, by the turn of the century, was producing 800,000 barrels of beer annually, making it one of the largest breweries in the United States. Stegmaier is the story of a German immigrant’s quest for the American Dream.
Pennsylvania’s beer-making industry dates to the earliest communities established by English and Dutch settlers in the early to mid-seventeenth century. The colonists quickly recognized that the climate and soil of the Mid-Atlantic region were particularly well suited to brewing beer and growing malt and hops, two of beer’s essential ingredients. William Penn, the Quaker founder of the colony, brewed beer at his Bucks County estate, Pennsbury Manor. His capital city of Philadelphia boasted at least four brew houses as the city’s earliest settlers were hearty drinkers. Beer was an essential staple in the seventeenth-century diet of Pennsylvanians and continued to be the drink of choice throughout the eighteenth century when brewing expanded to other communities such as Reading, Allentown, and Pittsburgh. For many years the production of beer remained a local enterprise. Bottling was expensive and beer did not stay fresh for long periods of time. Nearly all beer was stored in, and served from, wooden kegs. While there were many small breweries it was not uncommon for households to brew their own beer, particularly ales, porters, and stouts, in the English tradition.
During the nineteenth century Pennsylvania witnessed the emergence of brewing as a significant industry. Industrial growth attracted considerable immigration from strong beer-drinking countries such as England, Ireland, and Germany. German immigrants, in particular, were skilled craftsmen who found work in the building and beer-making trades. Breweries were established in every major city and many towns associated with the steel and coal industries. One of these immigrants was Charles E. Stegmaier.
Born on October 7, 1821, in Gmund, Wüttemberg, Germany, Stegmaier at the age of fifteen became an apprentice to a local brewer. He spent thirteen years learning the art of brewing. Intent on parlaying his knowledge into a lucrative business the twenty-seven-year-old German set sail for the United States in 1849. He settled in Philadelphia where he found employment at the small Corporation Brewery, also known as the Philadelphia Joint Stock Brewery, at 209 North Third St. In 1851 Stegmaier joined the Louis Bergdoll and Sons Brewing Company, also in Philadelphia, where he met Wilkes-Barre brewer John Reichard who had been producing British-style ales. Reichard brewed his beer with top fermenting yeasts which ranged from light pale ales to hearty chocolate-colored stouts and porters. The American market at the time was yielding to an increasing demand for German-style lager beers. Lager beers require a great deal of care and attention; not only do they need a longer maturation period than ales, but they use a bottom fermenting yeast and are much more sensitive to temperatures. Capitalizing on the shifting market Stegmaier and Reichard formed a partnership at Wilkes-Barre to produce the first lager beer in northeastern Pennsylvania.
On January 4, 1852, Stegmaier married Katherine Baer (1820-1885) and they became the parents of six children, five of whom survived into adulthood: Charles Jr., Christian E., George J., Frederick J., and Louise, who married Philip Forve. Newly married and with a child on the way, Stegmaier had greater ambitions. He accepted a position as a brewer with George Lauer of Pottsville, Schuylkill County, operator of the Orchard Brewery from 1845 to 1860 and one of the most prominent brewers in Pennsylvania. During the next five years, Stegmaier learned the intricacies of managing a brewery and lived frugally, intending to find a suitable place to establish a brewery of his own.
Confident that Wilkes-Barre, with its growing anthracite mining industry and its rapidly increasing population, would eventually provide a lucrative market for his products, Stegmaier returned to the Wyoming Valley in 1857 and entered into a partnership with his father-in-law, George C. Baer. They established their business on Hunt Street. It was a provincial operation in which beer was brewed in a wooden kettle and stored in an abandoned mine tunnel to keep it cool. Stegmaier delivered the beer to local bars and taverns in a goat-drawn cart. He devoted himself to every detail of the business, made friends, and extended his trade. Within a few years, they erected a small brewery on South Canal Street, formally adopted the name of Baer and Stegmaier Brewing Company, and hired five employees.
Baer and Stegmaier prospered, enabling the partners to build a new brewery with underground vaults on East Market Street. The new operation, opened in 1863, enabled the firm to enlarge its brewing and storing capacity and to steadily increase its trade. It was one of 1,269 breweries in the United States. Collectively, the breweries produced more than one million barrels of beer yearly for the nation’s population of thirty-one million. New York and Pennsylvania accounted for 85 percent of the production. But the boom and bust economy of the late nineteenth century ended success for many breweries.
During the Panic of 1873, which triggered a severe economic depression that lasted until 1879, values depreciated to such an extent that many breweries failed. Forced to sell his brewery, Stegmaier briefly entered the hotel business before declaring bankruptcy. Despite the financial setback he managed to regroup by 1875. He formed a partnership with son Christian and leased the old Joel Bowkley Brewery on North River Street. Within two years C. Stegmaier and Son increased production to 4,362 barrels of beer. With the profits Charles was able to repurchase the Baer and Stegmaier Brewery in 1880. Output continued to grow and the brewery expanded to a sprawling 4.6-acre complex.
In 1890 Stegmaier commissioned Adam C. Wagner (1858-1935), a Philadelphia architect who designed fifty brewing plants during his career, to draw plans for a new cupola-topped brew house, administration building, and storage facility. Construction of the handsome complex was completed in 1894. The elaborately crafted, wood-paneled office building was centered among the brew, wash, bottle, and barrel houses, where more than three hundred employees worked. Workers kept the brewery in immaculate shape and it awed visitors with its gleaming brass railings, brightly shining kettles, and enormous vats.
The new facilities also allowed the company to increase annual capacity to 400,000 barrels, making C. Stegmaier and Son an extremely large brewery by the standards of the time. The company specialized in Lietbotschaner lager, marketed as “the people’s popular beverage,” and porter. It employed forty-seven men at the brewery, as well as drivers for thirty-six delivery horses. The enterprise was so prosperous that Stegmaier returned to the hotel business, operating the Brewery Hotel at the corner of East Market and Baltimore Streets, where the company’s offices were also located. It was also during this decade that Stegmaier’s other sons, Charles Jr., George, and Frederick, began working for the company.
Charles Stegmaier was literally in the right place at the right time. Beer was a mass-produced, mass-consumed beverage at the close of the nineteenth century. At a time when America was becoming an industrialized society most workers in the manufacturing and mining trades drank beer during and after working hours. The beverage also benefited from a growing temperance movement that advocated beer instead of spirits such as rum or whiskey with considerably higher alcoholic content. Stegmaier capitalized on these trends. He launched an ambitious billboard campaign advertising his company’s brews as “Recommended by Prominent Physicians for Purity, Strength, and Flavor.” Other advertisements emphasized his hotel’s proximity to the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad Company’s train depot, noting that the “bar is always open and stocked with the choicest of wines, ales, liquors, and cigars.” The brewery enjoyed an enormous regional market supported by thousands of coal miners, as well as a growing national market. Stegmaier was one of several companies that increased its scale of production and scope of distribution by utilizing the growing railroad system to distribute beer in more distant markets. Situated across from the New Jersey Central Railroad line, the Stegmaier Brewery was easily able to transport its beer to consumers along the East Coast.
Although not considered a powerful national-oriented brewery such as Pabst in Milwaukee and Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, Stegmaier was able to compete with these larger firms in the eastern United States. Its regional success was due to such innovations as pasteurizing, bottling, and transporting beer, compared to the locally-oriented breweries that mainly supplied draught beer in wooden kegs to their immediate markets.
In 1897 the Stegmaiers incorporated their enterprise as the Stegmaier Brewing Company, an acknowledgement that the firm was a family business operated by father and his four sons. The company’s value was estimated at $600,000. Charles, who served as president, received 5,400 shares, and his sons 150 shares each. With a labor force of several hundred and cold storage plants and depots throughout northeastern Pennsylvania, Stegmaier was producing 110,000 barrels per year by 1903, doubling the output of any other brewery in Luzerne County and making it the largest brewery business outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Charles Stegmaier enjoyed the wealth he had worked so hard to achieve. He lived in luxury at the new Hotel Sterling. His suite on the top floor overlooked the Susquehanna River, Public Square, and the River Common. He was also an exceptional individual. Stegmaier was shrewd in business but scrupulously honest; frugal in his personal lifestyle but lavish in his hospitality. A modest man, he disliked praise or notoriety but was always willing to help a deserving cause. Like other philanthropically-minded entrepreneurs Stegmaier invested liberally in the Wilkes-Barre community and contributed significantly to the organized charities of the Wyoming Valley. He served on the boards of the city’s largest commercial enterprises and financial institutions. He made every effort to employ the “deserving” and “industrious” poor rather than those who were “idle” and simply looking for a handout. As a result, employees and their families were extremely loyal, as sons and grandsons eventually went to work for the brewery. When he died on August 11, 1906, Charles Stegmaier left an estate valued at $4 million, the equivalent of nearly one hundred million dollars in today’s currency. His sons continued the brewery with mixed success.
Stegmaier’s boiler room, c. 1930.
By 1910 brewing had become one of the leading manufacturing industries in the United States with 1,568 active breweries. Stegmaier reaped the rewards of that success winning eight gold medals at expositions in Paris, Brussels, and Rome between 1910 and 1913. In 1916 Stegmaier was producing more than 200,000 barrels annually, cementing its status as the largest brewery in northeastern Pennsylvania. As the brewery continued to grow, however, so too did the body of temperance reformers who sought to entirely eliminate alcoholic beverages from American life. The “dry forces” prevailed with the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment on January 29, 1919, and once again the Stegmaier Brewing Company would struggle to survive. Prohibition made the production and distribution of beverages with more than one-half of 1 percent alcohol illegal and resulted in the closing of many small breweries that had been profitable.
The larger shipping breweries with much greater investments were not as inclined to walk away from brewing. Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst, and Anheuser-Busch, the leading pre-Prohibition shippers, began producing “near beer,” a malt beverage containing less than one-half of 1 percent alcohol. While it was not a commercial success, its production allowed the firms to keep current their beer-making skills and generate modest revenues. Anheuser-Busch called its near beer Budweiser which was simply the old Budweiser lager beer brewed according to the traditional method and then de-alcoholized.
The federal government granted special licenses to leading breweries which allowed them to brew beverages with an alcohol content greater than one-half of 1 percent for medicinal purposes. The licenses gave them a competitive advantage since they were able to keep their brewing staff working. Stegmaier’s was caught in the middle. While it was larger than the other local breweries, it did not command the market of the bigger ones, which enjoyed a much greater national distribution. Stegmaier weathered the storm of Prohibition by producing near beer and malt syrup. While the company advertised malt syrup as an ingredient for baking cookies it was really intended for homemade beer.
In April 1933 Congress amended the Volstead Act to allow for 3.2 percent beer. Eight months later, in December, after more than thirteen dry years, Congress and the states ratified the Twenty-First Amendment, officially repealing Prohibition. After Prohibition ended Stegmaier’s became one of the largest independent breweries in North America, reaching an output of a half million barrels in 1940. During World War II the brewing industry boomed as consumers, both soldiers and civilians, used some of their wages for beer. Per capita consumption grew by 50 percent between 1940 and 1945. Stegmaier seized the opportunity to expand its market. Using a fleet of sixty trucks and rail services, the brewery’s distribution areas eventually covered the entire East Coast from Maine to Florida.
The company, proud of its magnificent complex completed in 1894, used images of it on stationery, including billheads which also advertised export and select beer, stock lager, porter, malt extract, and ales.
While total production of beer continued to grow in the decades after the war, per capita consumption fell in the 1960s before rebounding to levels of more than twenty-one gallons per capita in the 1970s, the highest rates in the nation’s history. It also became evident that Stegmaier could no longer compete with the nation’s leading breweries Anheuser-Busch, Pabst, Schlitz, and Blatz. With the company’s financial situation deteriorating, Edward R. Maier, the great-grandson of Charles Stegmaier, announced in October 1974 that the Stegmaier label had been sold to The Lion Inc. of Wilkes-Barre. The announcement sent shock waves through the brewery’s work force. Maier, as executive vice president, along with fifty employees were added to The Lion’s operation. Another 150 workers lost their jobs. “It was very sad to sell the business,” admitted Maier in a 1992 interview. “Ours was a gorgeous complex, like a dollhouse. It was shining, all brass and copper. Curved moldings, brass railings. But it was an impossible business. We closed for the same reason Rheingold, Schaefer, and Ballantine closed – a tough competitive environment. The brewery business is like the auto-making business. Either you’re very, very big or you get eaten up.”
Stegmaier beer is still produced by The Lion Inc. at its North End brewery and remains one of the firm’s best-selling products. The Stegmaier brewery complex, purchased by the City of Wilkes-Barre for back taxes in 1978, was restored by the awardwinning architectural firm of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and now serves as a federal office building. The Victorian era red brick brew house remains from the brewery’s glory days, an impressive reminder of the days when beer was the workingman’s champagne, and the robust aroma of hops, barley, and malt filled the air of downtown Wilkes-Barre.