Historic Beer Birthday: John Emmerling

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Today is the birthday of John Emmerling (February 21, 1851-May 24, 1912). He was born in Philadelphia, but moved to Johnston in Western Pennsylvania, where he founded the Empire Brewery in 1878. It was concurrently also known as the Emmerling Brewing Co. the entire time it was in business, until it was closed by Prohibition in 1920.

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Here’s a biography of Emmerling, written in 1896 from the Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Cambria County:

JOHN EMMERLING, proprietor of the Empire Brewery, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was born in Philadelphia, this State, February 22, 1851. His education was acquired in the public schools of his native city, upon the completion of which he learned the business of brewing. Subsequently, he traveled extensively, visiting many of the more important cities of the West, and finally, located in Pittsburg, where he married. In 1878 he came to Johnstown, and immediately embarked in the brewing business on his own account. Starting in the humble building now known as the Eintracht Hall, the brewery of John Emmerling prospered so well that in one year it was moved to the larger building now occupied by the bottling house of William Thomas. Six years more saw the business grow until it became necessary to build and remove to the large and commodious brick structure which occupies nearly half a square, fronting on Horner street. The plant is two hundred by one hundred and eighty feet, three stories high, and has an annual output of eight thousand barrels, and contains all the latest improved machinery known to the brewer’s art, including engines, two ten-ton refrigerators, seven pumps for various purposes, and bottling apparatus. A visit to the vault in which the beer is stored, gives to the uninitiated a genuine surprise. Following the guide, one wanders in and out among the huge hogsheads, some of which contain forty, and others as high as eighty barrels of the amber fluid, surrounded on all sides by pipes covered to the depth of several times their own thickness with white frost, produced by the intense cold of the ammonia and brine which they contain, one can but express astonishment at the wonderful advance made since the time when nature alone supplied the cooling substance. So large is the local demand for the beer brewed at this establishment, that very little is shipped out of the city. Two wagons are kept going constantly, and two others are used when the demand requires. The present force consists of fourteen men, to which several others are added when increased business makes demand. On September 26, 1872, Mr. Emmerling married Miss Phil. Houch, a daughter of Earnest Houch, a prominent citizen of Pittsburg, and to them have been born ten children. Mr. Emmerling was one of the organizers of the board of trade, in which he takes an active interest.

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And this is his obituary from the Western Brewer, June 1912

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John Emmerling at the wheel of a 1908 Maxwell that he drove round-trip between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in a race with a $20,000 prize at stake (around $532,258 today’s money). Emmerling (who owned Emmerling Brewery) came out on top.

This is John Emmerling’s brewery, also known as the Empire Brewery in Johnston, Pennsylvania, which also served as the family’s residence.
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Historic Beer Birthday: Philip Zorn

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Today is the birthday of Philip Lewis Zorn (February 21, 1837-January 4, 1912). Zorn was born in Wűrzburg, Bavaria, and learned brewing from his father, how was a brewer in Germany. In 1855, when he was eighteen, he emigrated to the U.S., and initially settled in Illinois, where he worked in breweries in Blue Island, Illinois. In 1871, he moved to Michigan City, Indiana and opened the Philip Zorn Brewery. Twenty years later, he incorporated it as the Ph. Zorn Brewing Co. After prohibition, his sons Robert and Charles, who had worked for the brewery beginning as young men, reopened the brewery as the Zorn Brewing Co. Inc., but it in 1935 it became known as the Dunes Brewery, before closing for good in 1938. He was also a city councilman and a co-founder of Citizens Bank of Michigan City.

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This account is from the Indiana Bicentennial:

Philip Zorn Jr. was the son of a brewer in Wűrzburg, Bavaria who immigrated at the age of 18. He worked at a brewery in Illinois from 1855 until he started his own in Michigan City. By 1880 he was making 3,000 bbls annually. He became a prosperous man, a city councilman and the founder of the Citizens Bank of Michigan City.

The company passed to Philip’s sons Robert and Charles who built a new brewhouse in 1903 and reached almost 15,000 bbls by the time of Prohibition. During the dry years they made the Zoro brand of soda pop. After Prohibition they changed the name to Dunes Brewing, possibly because of a court action against Zorn in 1935 for selling beer to unlicensed companies. They made Grain State, Golden Grain and Pilsenzorn brands.

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Zorn beers.

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And this excerpt is from “Hoosier Beer: Tapping into Indiana Brewing History,” by Bob Ostrander and Derrick Morris:

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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.

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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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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Historic Beer Birthday: Gottlieb Sigismund Kirchhof

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Today is the birthday of Gottlieb Sigismund Kirchhof (February 19, 1764-February 14, 1833). He was born in Teterow, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, but spent most of his life in St. Petersburg, Russia, and considered himself to be Russian. Trained as a pharmacist and a chemist, and “in 1812 he became the first person to convert starch into a sugar, by heating it with sulfuric acid. This sugar was eventually named glucose. He also worked out a method of refining vegetable oil, and established a factory that prepared two tons of refined oil a day. Since the sulfonic acid was not consumed, it was an early example of a catalyst.” In other research, “he provided the groundwork for scientific study of the brewing and fermentation processes.”

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Here’s a biography from Encyclopedia.com.

Kirchhof’s father, Johann Christof Kirchhof, owned a pharmacy until 1783 and at the same time was a postmaster. His mother, the former Magdalena Windelbandt, was the daughter of a tin smelter.

In his youth Kirchhof helped his father run the pharmacy; after the latter’s death in 1785 he worked in various pharmacies in the duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, qualifying as a journeyman apothecary. In 1792 he moved to Russia and worked in the same capacity at the St. Petersburg Chief Prescriptional Pharmacy. From 1805 he was a pharmacist and became a member of the Fizikat Medical Council, a scientific and administrative group that supervised the checking of the quality of medicaments and certain imported goods. Kirchhof began his chemical studies under Tobias Lowitz, the manager of the pharmacy, and A. A. Musin-Pushkin. A few of his works were undertaken jointly with A. N. Scherer, and all of his scientific activity was carried out in Russia. In 1805 he was elected a corresponding member, in 1809 an adjunct, and in 1812 an academician adjunct of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. In 1801 Kirchhof was elected a member of the Mecklenburg Natural Science Society, in 1806 a member of the Russian Independent Economical Society, in 1812 a member of the Boston Academy of Sciences, in 1815 a member of the vienna Economical Society, and in 1816 a member of the Padua Academy of Sciences.

Kirchhof’s first major discovery was the decomposition of barite with water, which Lowitz reported in “Vermischte chemische Bemerkungen” (Chemische Annalen [1797], 179-181), explicitly mentioning the discoverer. Klaproth had discovered this reaction much earlier. In 1797 Kirchhof reported two important results: the bleaching of shellac, which had an appreciable significance for the production of sealing wax, and a wet process that made it possible to begin industrial production of cinnabar. Cinnabar was produced of such high quality that it supplanted imported cinnabar, and some was exported. In 1805 Kirchhof developed a method for refining “heavy earth” (barite) by allowing caustic potash to react with barium salts. In 1807 he entered a competition organized by the Independent Economical Society to develop a method for refining vegetable oil. In collaboration with Alexander Crichton he worked out the sulfuric acid method of refining oil and received a prize of 1,000 rubles. The two men founded an oil purifying plant in St. Petersburg on Aptekarskiy Island, the largest factory at that time, with an output of about 4,400 pounds of oil per day. In many respects (for example, in the method of adding acid and the clarification of oil by glue) Kirchhof’s method is closer to modern methods than that of Thénard (1801).

In 1809 Kirchhof resigned from the Chief Prescriptional Pharmacy but continued to carry out the assignments of the Fizikat Medical Council in his laboratory there; he also conducted investigations in his home laboratory. During this period he began prolonged research to find a method for producing gum from starch in order to supplant the imported products; he then began investigating the optimal conditions for obtaining sugar from starch.

Kirchhof studied the action of mineral and organic acids (sulfuric, hydrochloric, nitric, oxalic and so on) on starch and found that these acids inhibit the jelling of starch and promote the formation of sugar from starch. He also studied the effect of acids on the starches of potatoes, wheat, rye, and corn as well as the effect of acid concentration and temperature on the rate of hydrolysis. At the same time he was searching for new raw materials for producing sugar by the hydrolysis of starch. In 1811 Kirchhof presented to the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences the samples of sugar and sugare syrup obtained by hydrolysis of starch in dilute acid solutions. He advanced a technological method for producing sugar that was based on his investigations published in 1812. Best results were obtained by adding 1.5 pounds of sulfuric acid in 400 parts of water to 100 pounds of starch. The duration of reaction was between twenty-four and twenty-five hours at 90-100° C. The bulk of the acid did not enter into the reaction with starch, because after completion of the reaction, Kirchhof neutralized it with a specific amount of chalk. This was the first controlled catalytic reaction.

In 1814 Kirchhof submitted to the Academy of Sciences his report “Über die Zucker bildung beim Malzen des Gestreides und beim Bebrühen seines Mehl mit kochendem Wasser,” which was published the following year in Schweigger’s Journal für Chemie und Physik. This report describes the biocatalytic (amylase) action, discovered by Kirchhof, of gluten and of malt in saccharifying starch in the presence of these agents. He showed that gluten induces saccharification of starch even at 40-60° C. in eight to ten hours. During the first hour or two the starch paste was converted into liquid, which after filtration became as transparent as water. Mashed dry barley malt saccharified the starch at 30° R. in one hour. Similarly, Kirchhof studied the starch contained in the malt, separating starch from gluten by digesting it with a 3 percent aqueous solution of caustic potash. The starch treated in this manner could not be converted into sugar. Thus he proved that malt gluten is the starting point for the formation of sugar, while starch is the source of sugar.

The catalytic enzyme hydrolysis of starch discovered by Kirchhof laid the foundation for the scientific study of brewing and distilling and resulted in the creation of the theory of the formation of alcohol.

In his last years of scientific activity Kirchhof developed a method of producing unglazed pottery by treating it with drying oils; a method to refine chervets (a substitute for cochineal) from oily substances; and a method for rendering wood, linen, paper, and other substances nonflammable. For refining chervets he suggested the regeneration of turpentine by mixing it with water and then distilling the mixture.

Kirchhof also conducted research assigned by the Academy of Sciences, including analysis of gun-powders, William Congreve’s rocket fuel, mineral samples, and mineral and organic substances.

And here’s a more thorough explanation of what he discovered, and how it applied to brewing beer, from Science Clarified:

A Brief History of Catalysis

Long before chemists recognized the existence of catalysts, ordinary people had been using the process of catalysis for a number of purposes: making soap, for instance, or fermenting wine to create vinegar, or leavening bread. Early in the nineteenth century, chemists began to take note of this phenomenon.

In 1812, Russian chemist Gottlieb Kirchhof was studying the conversion of starches to sugar in the presence of strong acids when he noticed something interesting. When a suspension of starch in water was boiled, Kirchhof observed, no change occurred in the starch. However, when he added a few drops of concentrated acid before boiling the suspension (that is, particles of starch suspended in water), he obtained a very different result. This time, the starch broke down to form glucose, a simple sugar, while the acid—which clearly had facilitated the reaction—underwent no change.

Around the same time, English chemist Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) noticed that in certain organic reactions, platinum acted to speed along the reaction without undergoing any change. Later on, Davy’s star pupil, the great British physicist and chemist Michael Faraday (1791-1867), demonstrated the ability of platinum to recombine hydrogen and oxygen that had been separated by the electrolysis of water. The catalytic properties of platinum later found application in catalytic converters, as we shall see.

AN IMPROVED DEFINITION

In 1835, Swedish chemist Jons Berzelius (1779-1848) provided a name to the process Kirchhof and Davy had observed from very different perspectives: catalysis, derived from the Greek words kata (“down”) and lyein (“loosen.”) As Berzelius defined it, catalysis involved an activity quite different from that of an ordinary chemical reaction. Catalysis induced decomposition in substances, resulting in the formation of new compounds—but without the catalyst itself actually entering the compound.

Berzelius’s definition assumed that a catalyst manages to do what it does without changing at all. This was perfectly adequate for describing heterogeneous catalysis, in which the catalyst and the reactants are in different phases of matter. In the platinum-catalyzed reactions that Davy and Faraday observed, for instance, the platinum is a solid, while the reaction itself takes place in a gaseous or liquid state. However, homogeneous catalysis, in which catalyst and reactants are in the same state, required a different explanation, which English chemist Alexander William Williamson (1824-1904) provided in an 1852 study.

In discussing the reaction observed by Kirchhof, of liquid sulfuric acid with starch in an aqueous solution, Williamson was able to show that the catalyst does break down in the course of the reaction. As the reaction takes place, it forms an intermediate compound, but this too is broken down before the reaction ends. The catalyst thus emerges in the same form it had at the beginning of the reaction.

Enzymes: Helpful Catalysts in the Body

In 1833, French physiologist Anselme Payen (1795-1871) isolated a material from malt that accelerated the conversion of starch to sugar, as for instance in the brewing of beer. Payen gave the name “diastase” to this substance, and in 1857, the renowned French chemist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) suggested that lactic acid fermentation is caused by a living organism.

In fact, the catalysts studied by Pasteur are not themselves separate organisms, as German biochemist Eduard Buchner (1860-1917) showed in 1897. Buchner isolated the catalysts that bring about the fermentation of alcohol from living yeast cells—what Payen had called “diastase,” and Pasteur “ferments.” Buchner demonstrated that these are actually chemical substances, not organisms. By that time, German physiologist Willy Kahne had suggested the name “enzyme” for these catalysts in living systems.

Enzymes are made up of amino acids, which in turn are constructed from organic compounds called proteins. About 20 amino acids make up the building blocks of the many thousands of known enzymes. The beauty of an enzyme is that it speeds up complex, life-sustaining reactions in the human body—reactions that would be too slow at ordinary body temperatures. Rather than force the body to undergo harmful increases in temperature, the enzyme facilitates the reaction by opening up a different reaction pathway that allows a lower activation energy.

One example of an enzyme is cytochrome, which aids the respiratory system by catalyzing the combination of oxygen with hydrogen within the cells. Other enzymes facilitate the conversion of food to energy, and make possible a variety of other necessary biological functions.

Because numerous interactions are required in their work of catalysis, enzymes are very large, and may have atomic mass figures as high as 1 million amu. However, it should be noted that reactions are catalyzed at very specific locations—called active sites—on an enzyme. The reactant molecule fits neatly into the active site on the enzyme, much like a key fitting in a lock; hence the name of this theory, the “lock-and-model.”

Historic Beer Birthday: Henry Weinhard

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Today is the birthday of Henry Weinhard (February 18, 1830-September 20, 1904). He was born in Württemberg, which today is in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, but moved to nearby Stuttgart where he was an apprentice brewer. According to Wikipedia, he was a German-American brewer in the state of Oregon. After immigrating to the United States in 1851, he lived in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and California before settling in the Portland, Oregon, area. He worked for others in the beer business before buying his own brewery and founded Henry Weinhard’s and built the Weinhard Brewery Complex in downtown Portland.”

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Here’s Weinhard’s obituary, from a 1904 newspaper, the Morning Oregonian.

Henry Weinhard, the pioneer brewer of the Pacific Coast, whose name has become a household word in Oregon, died at 11:10 o’clock last night at the age of 74 years. He was suffering from an attack of uremic coma, the third with which he has been seized in recent years, and for several days his life has been despaired of. The disease stopped the action of his kidneys three days ago and he had been unconscious during that period, except for a slight glimmer yesterday afternoon. The end came without struggle and apparently without pain.

Mr. Weinhard was a typical Western man, with all the social qualities of the Western man and German. He succeeded by close application to a business which he made one of the largest industries of the city with a fame extending beyond the bounds of the United States. He was ready to lend to the city and state for the promotion of the success of the community the energy and ability which had made his own success, and he readily contributed to every charitable and public enterprise. As disease has crept upon him with age, he has gradually entrusted his business more and more to his sons in law, who have associated with him from their early manhood, so that thee will be no break in the management of his great interests. The arrangements for his funeral will probably made today. As he was a Mason, the Masonic body will doubtless take a leading part in the ceremonies.

The story of Henry Weinhard’s life is the story of success achieved by a young German who came to the United States equipped with youth, energy and thorough knowledge of his business. Born at Lindenbrohn, Wurtemburg in 1830, he was educated there and was apprenticed to the brewing business. Then he determined to seek a broader field for his activity and in 1852 came to the United States. After being employed for four years at a brewery at Cincinatti, O., he came to the Pacific Coast by way of the isthmus in 1856. He first worked at his trade in Vancouver, Wash., for six months and then in 1857 moved to Portland and, in partnership with George Bottler, erected a brewery at Couch and Front streets.

The growth of the business did not satisfy him, and not long after sold his interest and returned to Vancouver. He finally settled in Portland in 1862, when he bought Henry Saxon’s business on First, near Davis street, but in the following year bought the site of his present plant at Twelfth and Burnside streets, together with the small buildings occupied by George Bottler’s small plant.

Since then his business has steadily grown until his beer has a market throughout the Pacific states and he has built up a large trade export. The capacity of the plant has been steadily enlarged until it now covers two and three quarters blocks and produces 100,000 barrels of beer a year, the refrigerating machines alone making 42 tons of ice a day. How rapidly the business has grown is indicated by the fact that the storage capacity has also been greatly enlarged. Mr. Weinhard was always progressive and never hesitated to adopt the latest improvements in his business, he was very conservative in his investments. He erected ice plants at Eugene and Roseburg in place of local breweries which he bought out, and storage buildings at Oregon City, Baker City and Aberdeen, all of which with the sites were his own property.

He had of late years made large investments in real estate, but they were all in Portland and the immediate vicinity, and he has covered his city property with valuable buildings, but he never began any of them until he had the money on hand to complete them, for he never went into debt. His largest buildings, in addition to the breweries and its various buildings are the large seven story building bounded by Oak and Pine, Fourth and Fifth streets, the second half of which is nearing completion; the Grand Central Hotel, five stories high, at Third and Flanders, streets; the five story Hohenstaufen building, 50 by 100 feet, at Fourth and Alder streets, a two story building,50 by 100 feet, at Fourth and Madison streets, and a farm of 620 acres in Yamhill County, known as the Armstrong farm.

Mr. Weinhard married in 1859 Louise Wagenblast, a native of Wurtemberg, Germany, who survives him, and by whom he had three children, one of them a boy died at the age of 2 1/2 years, on September 13,1862. His other children were Annie C. who married Paul Wessinger, the superintendent of the brewery, and Louise H., who is the wife of Henry Wagner, his accountant. Mrs. Wessinger is the mother of two children, a girl of nearly eighteen and a boy of sixteen and a half years, and Mrs. Wagner is the mother of a boy of ten years. His only other relatives in this country is Jacob Weinhard, a well to do maltster at Dayton, Wash., who is his nephew.

Mr. Weinhard was a member of the Willamette Lodge, A.F.&A.M. of Portland, and the Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trade and Manufacturers Association. He always took an active interest in all measures aimed at promoting the development of the state and was a liberal contributor to all public enterprises.

Oregon Historical Society Photographs Dept.

The Oregon Historical Society also has a biography of Weinhard and Brewery Gems also has a thorough history of the brewery.

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A view of the brewery in 1908.

And here’s part one of a three-part documentary about the brewery. This part tells the story from the brewery’s founding up through prohibition. Part two covers the Blitz merger through the 1970s, and part three is about what they call “The Premium Reserve Years,” presumably from the 1970s to the present of when the film was made, which looks like late eighties or nineties.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Ernest Davis

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Today is the birthday of Ernest Davis (February 17, 1872–September 16, 1962). “Sir Ernest Hyam Davis was a New Zealand businessman, and was Mayor of Auckland City, New Zealand from 1935 to 1941. He was also on other Auckland local bodies (Fire Board, Hospital Board, Drainage Board) and on various philanthropic and sporting organisations. He was Mayor of Newmarket (a small inner-Auckland borough) 1909–1910.” His family owned several breweries and Davis was instrumental in the creation of New Zealand Breweries Limited, a merger of 10 breweries in 1923. It became known as Lion Breweries in 1977, and in 1988 merged with LD Nathan & Co. and became Lion Nathan. In 2009, Lion Nathan was bought by Japan’s Kirin.

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Here’s a biography of Davis from the “Dictionary of New Zealand Biography,” published in 1998:

A brewery baron for half a century, and the liquor trade’s master tactician against the prohibition movement, Ernest Hyam Davis exerted enormous influence at the highest political levels. He combined this with a complex business career and an unbounded enthusiasm for yachting, racing and philanthropy.

He was born in Nelson on 17 February 1872 (registered simply as Hyam), the son of Moss Davis, an immigrant Jewish merchant, and his wife, Leah Jacobs. He attended Bishop’s School in Nelson, but completed his education at Auckland Grammar School after his father joined, then acquired, the Auckland liquor firm of Hancock and Company. Ernest disliked academic study and his final report described him as ‘utterly incorrigible’, although he subsequently attended evening classes at Auckland University College. His first position was with the ironware merchants William McArthur and Company, but he soon quit this for a brief stint working in Brisbane and a walking tour of Fiji.

In 1892 Davis joined his father’s firm as a director along with his brother Eliot, and three years later added the directorship of another family acquisition, the Captain Cook Brewery, then the largest in New Zealand. When Moss Davis retired in 1910 to England, the two brothers took charge of Hancock and Company. With his portfolio of controlling shares, Ernest was appointed managing director, a position he retained until his death. On 2 August 1899, at Auckland, he married Marion Mitchell. They were to have a son and a daughter. At the same time, Davis evidently found ample opportunity for extra-marital affairs.

As well as managing his brewery interests, Davis was prominent in the liquor trade’s efforts to counter the flourishing prohibition movement. Between 1894 and 1910 the number of licensed premises slumped from 1,719 to 1,257, and in 1908 Hancock and Company lost 14 Auckland hotels without compensation. The 1911 triennial liquor poll, at which prohibition was almost carried, induced the brewery interests to intensify lobbying, and funds were channelled to political supporters.

Davis adeptly orchestrated this flow, and capitalised on the fact that among his brewery’s employees for a decade after 1908 was a rising labour activist, Michael Joseph Savage. Davis materially assisted the New Zealand Labour Party over a lengthy period, and probably foresaw that it would ultimately emerge as a governing force. He lodged securities for gaoled agitators during the 1912 Waihi miners’ strike, provided a hotel for John A. Lee to manage when he lost his parliamentary seat in 1928, and made standing donations to Labour candidates’ election funds until his death. His support was not based solely on cynical commercial motives.

From his 30s Davis showed an enormous capacity for a multitude of interests. He was prominent among the early members of the Auckland Rowing Club, and was a foundation member of the Auckland Orphans’ Club. In 1909 Davis became mayor of the small borough of Newmarket, and was re-elected in 1910. Moving on to Auckland City, he was elected as an independent councillor in 1915 and served until 1920, when he resigned, only to regain office in 1921. Later it was estimated that he held significant positions in at least 94 sporting and social bodies, 11 of them at the national level, including the presidency of the New Zealand Football Association. He also served on the board of management of the Auckland Hebrew Congregation.

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Davis played a pivotal role in the 1923 formation of New Zealand Breweries Limited from 10 existing companies, but this did not prevent his deepening immersion in local body affairs. In the 1920s and 1930s he served on the Auckland Harbour Board, Auckland Hospital Board, Auckland Metropolitan Fire Board and Auckland and Suburban Drainage Board. He crowned his municipal career by narrowly winning the mayoralty of Auckland in 1935 as the Auckland Citizens’ and Ratepayers’ Association candidate and, as Sir Ernest (he was knighted in 1937), comfortably secured re-election in 1938. Taking office at the end of the depression, he initially stressed economy and prudence, but later oversaw construction of the municipal bus terminal and parking station, Scenic Drive, and the Chamberlain Park Golf Course. In the early phases of the Second World War he was at the forefront of patriotic endeavour, but chose to retire from the mayoralty in 1941, basking in valedictories that hailed his calm progressiveness, executive capacity and exceptional popularity.

Belying his 70 years, Davis then resumed an active business life, holding many directorships including that of the Auckland Meat Company, Bycroft Limited, Kawerau Hotel, and the Northern Steam Ship Company. He chaired the Devonport Steam Ferry Company for 20 years and for a similar period was a trustee of the Auckland Savings Bank, serving as chairman in its centennial year (1947). In 1960 he became a foundation director of the New Zealand Distillery Company.

With trusted lieutenants to manage his brewery and hotel empire, Davis was free to indulge his sporting and cultural interests. About 1939 he bought a Rotorua farm, which subsequently became a model for a town-milk supply enterprise. An inveterate yachtsman, he owned several notable craft and had life membership of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron conferred on him in 1957. He became an avid racehorse owner, the success of his stable making him the leading stakeswinner four times in the mid 1950s. He commissioned for the city portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, Lord Freyberg and Sir Edmund Hillary.

Late in life Davis distributed much of his immense wealth in the form of widespread charitable benefactions. He also gifted Motukorea (Browns Island) to the citizens of Auckland, established the superb medical library at Auckland Hospital in honour of his wife (who had died in May 1955), and funded the construction of the Tiritiri Matangi Island shipping light. To celebrate his 90th birthday, the Auckland City Council hosted a formal civic reception. He died on 16 September 1962 at his central city residence in Waterloo Quadrant, survived by his daughter.

Although one of New Zealand’s most successful and eminent businessmen and a peerless political manipulator, Ernest Davis always regarded himself as a man of the people, obliged to set an example of good citizenship. About the virtues of Auckland he confessed a feeling near to adoration. His ability to juggle an astounding array of business, sporting and social priorities never faltered, and he was at the centre of civic life in Auckland for over 50 years.

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Sir Ernest Davis receiving the St. James Cup from the Queen Mother in 1958.

This newspaper story is from “The Truth,” published March 3, 1927:

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Ernest Davis in 1961.

And here’s his obituary, “Business baron’s greatest love was the sea:”

Entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sir Ernest Davis was also the “eminence grise” of New Zealand politics in the 1920s and 1930s, William Mace writes.

Brewery baron, two-time mayor of Auckland, knight of the British Empire, patron of the Labour Party and philanthropist. It is a distinguished list of honours, but Sir Ernest Hyam Davis may be best described – like many Aucklanders – as a yachtsman.

It was his love of the sea that drew him into an inauspicious start to his working life. A 1948 book by his brother Eliot Davis, A Link with the Past, exposes the consequences which led to Sir Ernest’s departure from the prestigious Auckland Grammar School in 1886.

He preferred to spend his school days looking after a yacht, Malua, which was owned by several local sailors who would take the 14-year-old on harbour and gulf expeditions.

One day, rather than turning up for an examination, “he persuaded the whole form he was “in to play the wag” so he could prepare the boat for an upcoming weekend voyage.

The next day young Ernest decided to stay home with a rheumatic relapse, nursed by his mother, while his younger brother went to school.

“The headmaster … was furious and the whole school was in a turmoil. Some of the boys gave the show away by saying that it was Ernest’s fault, with the result that he was promised the daddy of a hiding,” Eliot writes.

Eventually Ernest was forced to return to school, protecting himself with “three pairs of trousers and exercise books down his back, and extra flannel underwear on”.

But instead of the immediate punishment of a capital thrashing, Ernest was given homework to keep him busy over the holidays.

He gave every spare moment to his sailing hobby and failed to complete the schoolwork, “so he persuaded father to let him go to work”. His first job, with ironware merchants William McArthur and Company, was sweeping floors.

“Ernest was one of the annoying boys at school, always in trouble, although he was a favourite with the masters because he was very open and frank about it,” Eliot says.

In his last report before he left school a master described him as “utterly incorrigible”.

Described as equal parts persuasive, charming, frolicsome, incorrigible and enterprising, it was this mix of attributes that led Sir Ernest to climb the ranks of public popularity.

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In 1892, at the age of 20, he joined his father, Moss Davis, in his liquor business Hancock and Company, as did his brother. Three years later the family bought the Captain Cook Brewery in Newmarket. When his father retired to England in 1910, Sir Ernest was appointed managing director of Hancocks.

He guaranteed his prosperity by facing the strengthening prohibition movement head on. Graham Bush’s biography of Sir Ernest says that between 1894 and 1910 “the number of licensed premises slumped from 1719 to 1257 and in 1908 Hancock and Company lost 14 Auckland hotels without compensation”.

When prohibition nearly carried at the polls in 1911, brewers around the country were stirred to action. The brothers were at the forefront of lobbying efforts to ensure prohibition’s “attendant evils of corruption and wickedness” did not grab hold in New Zealand.

Eliot Davis wrote in 1948: “No men of the present day … have been through the mill of trouble and anxiety in business that Ernest and I have been through.

“There is no-one in Auckland, and perhaps in New Zealand, today who can possibly imagine what it meant to go through the stress and strain of the licensing polls between the years 1893 and 1921.”

It was at this time that Sir Ernest began his association with the growing Labour Party movement. A young Labour activist named Michael Joseph Savage was among his brewery’s employees.

He donated money to the Labour cause, provided bail for agitators during the 1912 Waihi miners’ strike and provided a hotel for the radical John A Lee to manage when he lost his parliamentary seat in 1928.

The trump card for anti-prohibitionists came in 1918 when, according to Eliot, his father in England organised for returning World War I soldiers to vote on the issue – their desire for postwar freedoms more than cancelled out the teetotallers’ majority.

By 1919 in New Zealand the alliance for prohibition had huge resources behind it and looked to have won the domestic vote, but the still-returning New Zealand Expeditionary Force tipped the balance, as it had done in England.

Prohibition was defeated and in 1923 so was the spectre of nationalisation of the industry, as Sir Ernest played a prominent role in organising the incorporation of 10 regional breweries into New Zealand Breweries.

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The conglomerate became Lion Breweries in 1977, Lion Corporation from 1985 and Lion Nathan from 1988.

Japanese brewer Kirin completed a full takeover of Lion Nathan last year and it has since been merged with National Foods and Dairy Farmers. Lion Nathan National Foods listed a profit of A$539.7 million (NZ$662.9m) for 2009.

But Sir Ernest’s brother and his biographer, Graham Bush, are both confident his public role was not a cynical attempt to further his business interests.

In 1909, he became mayor of Newmarket, then in 1915 he was elected to Auckland City Council and served until 1920. He also served on the Auckland Harbour Board, Auckland Hospital Board, Auckland Metropolitan Fire Board and Auckland and Suburban Drainage Board.

He won the Auckland mayoralty in 1935, was knighted in 1937 and re-elected in 1938. He retired in 1941 while “basking in valedictories that hailed his calm progressiveness, executive capacity and exceptional popularity”, Mr Bush writes.

Sir Ernest had married an opera singer, Marion, later to be Lady Davis, in 1899 and they had two children.

His daughter Mollie, eventually a wealthy property investor in her own right, took in two children.

English war evacuee Georgie Williams, who was five years old at the time, remembers disembarking from a train from Wellington to be greeted by a tall man in a suit who bent down and uttered the words, “This one’s for my daughter”.

Georgie lived with her new mother in Parnell and spent time with Sir Ernest at his home, Longford, at Kohimarama.

She says the family wasn’t used to children and that she came in “like a bomb”.

She recalls Sir Ernest entertaining dignitaries such as Baron Bernard Freyberg, who spent the evening resting his foot on the hidden bell-push, resulting in a state of constant panic and annoyance for the kitchen staff.

In 1947, Mollie married Ted Carr and moved to Sir Ernest’s Highfields property in Rotorua. A young Clifford Gascoigne went to live with the family there and recalls Sir Ernest’s popularity with the British arts community.

Mr Gascoigne met Gone With The Wind actress Vivien Leigh several times, along with other silver screen legends Joan Fontaine and Jack Hawkins, and Irish writer George Bernard Shaw.

A ring gifted by Leigh to Sir Ernest as a token of their friendship was handed down to Mr Gascoigne by Mollie Carr and he still wears it occasionally.

As for a rumoured romance between Sir Ernest and Leigh, Mr Gascoigne says, “There was no romance at all, because Ernest used to joke about it and say, `if I was 40 years younger I’d be chasing after her’.”

There are further stories of a racehorse gifted to the Queen Mother and a reception for the Achilles warship returning from the battle of River Plate.

But throughout, Sir Ernest continued to nourish his love for sailing by corresponding with legendary sailor and teamaker Sir Thomas Lipton and becoming a lifetime member of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

But despite owning several state-of-the-art yachts, such as Viking and Morewa, he confided in his brother that “he never felt such a thrill with them as he did with that flat-bottomed craft which he purchased for half a quid” – his first yacht.

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In his later life he began to spread his wealth, donating Browns Island to the citizens of Auckland and funding construction of the lighthouse on Tiritiri Matangi Island. He also established a medical library at Auckland Hospital in memory of his wife, who died in 1955.

After his death in 1962 at the age of 90, his endowments still flowed through various community organisations. His daughter Mollie died in 1993, also in her 90th year, Mr Gascoigne says.

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