Historic Beer Birthday: M.K. Goetz

goetz
Today is the birthday of Michael Karl Goetz (January 16, 1833-August 11, 1901), who was born in Ingenheim, Alsace, in what today is Germany. He founded the
M. K. Goetz & Co. in 1859, which was located at 603 Albemarle Street (at 6th Street), in St. Joseph, Missouri. It was later known as simply the M. K. Goetz Brewing Co. before prohibition closed it down. The brewery was granted permit L-15 allowing the production of de-alcoholized beer.

goetz_st_joe

They came out of prohibition intact and resumed brewing there until 1961, when they merged with and became a division of Pearl Brewing Co. of San Antonio, Texas. In 1936, the opened a second facility in Kansas City, which operated for twenty years before closing in 1956. In 1976, Pearl closed the St. Joseph brewery and shifted production to Texas.

Goetz-brewery-2

Find A Grave has a short biography of Michael K. Goetz:

Business owner of The M.K. Goetz Brewery, Michael Karl Goetz was a German immigrant who stopped in St. Joseph, Mo., on the way to the California gold fields and decided to stay. He established his own brewery in a small frame building after working a few months for another brewer. When he died in 1901 his four sons carried on. The company, organized in 1859, was 101 years under the management of the Goetz family.

The company started making plans for its Kansas City plant immediately after prohibition. Cost of the building was $750,000.

At its peak the brewery, specializing in draught beer, turned out over 150,000 barrels annually. When the demand for bottled, canned and packaged beer products increased, Goetz shifted its operations in KC in the 1960s.

Goetz merged with the Pearl Brewing Company of San Antonio, Tex., in the 1960s. Today the old Goetz building is gone. The site is now used as a parking facility for the Catalogue Distribution Center of Sears Roebuck & Company.

Goetz-brewery-6

Vintage Kansas City has a number of great views of both Goetz breweries.

goetz_kc

Unfortunately, I was unable to find any photographs or images of Goetz himself. The Genealogy History Trails, for Buchanan County, Missouri Biographies has a fuller biography of Goetz:

Michael Karl Goetz. A large and distinctive contribution to the manufacturing and business prosperity of St. Joseph was made by the late M. K. Goetz, founder and for many years president of M. K. Goetz Brewing Company, an enterprise which was built up from very small beginnings and which represented in its extent and in its standards of excellence for its productiveness the thoroughness and worthy character of its founder.

The late Michael Karl Goetz was born in Alsace-Lorraine, Germany, but then a province of France, January 16, 1833, a son of Michael K. and Mary C. (Koel) Goetz. The father died at the age of twenty-eight in the same year of the birth of the son. The mother also lived out her life in Germany, and she had two children, the daughter also spending her life in the old country.

The late St. Joseph brewer and citizen during his youth attended school steadily, and was well prepared for a career of usefulness. As his mother earnestly desired him not to join the army, as soon as he became of military age he left Germany, and on June 24, 1854, embarked on a sailing vessel, named the Connecticut, at Havre, France, and at the end of sixty days was landed in New York City. From there he proceeded to Buffalo, New York, where he had a cousin in the grocery business. Under his employ he not only learned the details of the grocery trade, but also acquired a familiarity with the customs and language of the new world, and remained in Buffalo until 1857.

When he started west in that year it was his intention to continue to the Pacific coast and seek his fortunes in the great mining section of California. By railroad and by steamboat he got as far as St. Joseph, which was then a small but flourishing frontier city, and its advantages appealed to him so strongly that he determined to stay, and that was the beginning of a continued residence of more than forty years. Henry Nunning was at that time proprietor of a small brewery in St. Joseph, and Mr. Goetz took a position in the plant and worked there ten months. He was industrious and observing and quickly learned the details of the business, and in 1859 was prepared for an independent venture along the same lines. With J. J. Max he erected a small frame building at the corner of Sixth and Albemarle streets, and there on a small scale, but with infinite care and with close supervision over the character and excellence of products, the first Goetz beer was brewed. While the business was started on a small scale, Mr. Goetz employed scientific principles and is said to have been one of the first really scientific brewers in the West.

He manufactured a beer which by its very excellence quickly became popular, and needed little exploitation to increase the trade. The plant now occupies several blocks of ground, and is equipped with all the most modern machinery and appliances. Mr. Max continued in partnership with Mr. Goetz until 1881, and the latter then became sole proprietor. In 1895 the business was incorporated under the name of M. K. Goetz Brewing Company, and the founder of the business became president of the corporation, and continued its active direction until his death on August 11, 1901. In 1885 an ice plant was installed, and the Goetz Brewing Company was one of the first in the West to undertake the manufacture of artificial ice. His success as a brewer was also extended to his investments and interests in other affairs, and he acquired a large amount of city real estate, including both business and residence property.

At St. Joseph the late Mr. Goetz married Caroline Wilhelmina Klink. She was born in Leutenbach, Wuertemberg, in March, 1844. Christian T. Klink, her father, also a native of Wuertemberg, in 1853 brought his family to America, coming by sail vessel and, after a voyage lasting several weeks, landing at New Orleans. Thence they came up the river to St. Joseph. At that time St. Joseph was without railroad communication, and comparatively speaking the country was still in the state of a wilderness. Christian Klink bought a tract of land in township 56, range 35, situated about ten miles south of the St. Joseph courthouse. The only improvements on the land when he bought it were a log house and a few acres of cleared ground. He established his family in that home, bent his efforts towards increasing the area of plowed fields, and remained one of the substantial and practical farmers of Buchanan County until his death. There were eleven children in the Klink family. Mrs. Goetz, who was nine years old when she came to America, had a good memory for scenes and events in the old country home, and also recalled many incidents concerning the struggles and hardships of the early settlers in Buchanan County. She died about six months after her husband, in March, 1902.

The valuable business interests built up and founded by the late Mr. Goetz are now continued and managed by his children. There are six children, namely: Emma, William L., Frank L., Albert R., Henry E., and Anna L. Emma is the wife of Theodore Benkendorf, and has one son, Theodore. William L., who is a graduate of the American Brewing Academy, is president of the M. K. Goetz Brewing Company, and by his marriage to Anna L. Pate has two sons, Wilfred L. and Horace Raymond. Frank L., who graduated from Ritner’s College, in St. Joseph, learned the trade of machinist at St. Louis, is now vice president of the company, and has charge of the mechanical department. He married Lena Meierhoefer, and their three children are Mildred, Michael K. and Ernestine Frances. The son Albert, also a graduate of Ritner’s College, in St. Joseph, is secretary and treasurer of the company, and married Flora Widmeier. Henry is assistant secretary and treasurer of the company, and married Inez Moore. Anna, the youngest, married E. A. Sunderlin, and they have four children—Caroline, Eugene, Robert and Van Roesler. The late Michael K. Goetz was an active member of the St. Joseph Turnverein, and both he and his wife worshiped in the German Evangelical church and reared their children in the same religious belief and practices.

Goetz-1930s

Goetz’s most famous beer, especially in the 1959s was Country Club, which was a malt liquor.

Goetz-Country-Club-1955-3

Historic Beer Birthday: Frank Ibert

frank-ibert
Today is the birthday of Frank Ibert (January 15, 1859-January 15, 1911). He was born in Brooklyn, New York. His first brewery, founded in 1880, was the Joseph Eppig & Frank Ibert Brewery in Brooklyn. The following year, he left the brewery to his partner, allowing himself to be bought out, and founded his own brewery nearby, which he called the Frank Ebert Brewery. It opened in 1891, but was closed by prohibition in 1914. Some accounts suggest it may have opened earlier, and it does make sense that he wouldn’t have waited ten years to open another brewery.

Ibert-brewery-c-1898-1900
The Frank Ibert Brewery circa 1898-1900, although another source says it’s from 1902.

This account, from Ancestry.com accompanies one version of the photo above:

Evergreen Avenue, Linden Street and Grove Street Frank IBERT Brewing Company formed in the late 1880s. The brick building that housed the Brewery itself, would be to the left of the horses. Valentine HOFMANN was the proprietor of the HOFMANN Cafe, as seen to the right of the horses, behind the people in the photo. (Valentine HOFMANN, Frank IBERT and their children.) Frank IBERT and Valentine HOFMANN were brother-in-laws. There was a passage way between the Brewery and the Cafe. The IBERT’S who was the brewmeister’s home was at 404 Evergreen Ave, right above the HOFMANN Cafe. They lived for a time on the upper floor and the HOFMANN family below. With the death of Frank IBERT in 1920s, the Brewery was sold to a son-in-law of HOFMANNS’, Frank WINTERRATH. (He married Valentine’s oldest daughter Margaret in 1907 in St. Barbara’s RC Church) WINTERRATH tried to make a go of the Cafe changing the name to “Linden Gardens.” With prohibition around the corner it did not stay in business for long, even after a go at as a speakeasy. The building was destroyed by fire in the late 1950s, leaving an empty lot where the Cafe & home once.

frank-iberts-brewery-crockery-mug

Here’s his obituary from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

ibert-obituary

Iberts-pob-scraper
A foam scraper for Ibert’s P.O.B.— “Pride of Brooklyn.”

And here’s a short account from a Hofmann family genealogy site:

Valentine went into the liquor business and became the co-owner with his brother-in-law Frank IBERT.(Margaretha’s sister, Mary Grammich married Frank Ibert). The Frank IBERT Brewing Company and HOFMANN Cafe. It was located on the corner of Evergreen,Linden and Grove, in Brooklyn. The top 2 floors were apartments. After Prohibition went into effect the brewery no longer produced beer but it did continue in the food end, becoming “The Linden Gardens” The building remained in the family until the 1950’s when it was destroyed by fire.

frank-ibert-brewery

In 1902, Frank also patented a beer cooler.

Historic Beer Birthday: Anthony Durkin

san-francisco
Today is not the birthday of Anthony Durkin (1831-January 15, 1868), but instead the day he died in 1868. Before the mid-1800s, record-keeping was spotty at best and only the well-heeled and royal consistently kept birth records. Durkin was born in Ireland, in County Mayo. He made his way to San Francisco, California as a young man, in the 1850s.

Anthony-Durkin-portrait
Durbin at 25, in 1857.

There’s not too much I could find about him, apart from this overview, from Brewery Gems.

In 1860, he established A. Durkin & Company, at 608-610 Mission St., for the purposes of brewing ale and porter. His two partners in the company were Charles M. Armstrong, a 35 year old Irish immigrant, and a German immigrant, Louis Luhden. In naming the brewery Anthony simply referenced its location, thus the Mission Street Brewery.

In their history of the Hibernia Brewery, there’s also this:

The first serious incident occurred on June 16th, 1861. The following account was reported by the Daily Alta California:

“A beautiful child, aged seven years, daughter of George Coffee, Boiler Inspector, fell into a vat of boiling beer in the Mission Street Brewery, last evening. A young man named Thomas Kennedy attempted to rescue the child and he also fell in. John McCabe, the cooper of the establishment, was severely scalded in his efforts to get them out. The child died almost immediately. Kennedy was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital. He will probably die.”

In spite of this tragic accident the business experienced steady growth and in 1863, in addition to its ale and porter, the brewery began producing lager beer. This wasn’t lager in the traditional sense, but a lager peculiar to the San Francisco area called steam beer. It was made without refrigeration but with a bottom fermenting yeast. Another steam beer producer, and major competitor, was a company that also took their name from their location, the Broadway Brewery.

In 1864, Anthony severely injured his left arm, leaving him partially disabled, but he didn’t quit brewing. Then in July of 1865, all that changed. The following is a newspaper account from the July 4th edition of the Daily Alta California:

“Anthony Durkin, the brewer who was disabled about a year since, by falling under a street car which fractured his left arm so that it was found necessary to perform the operation of excision of the elbow joint, met with another unfortunate accident while running to the fire with Engine Company No. 2, on Sunday morning. He tripped and fell while holding by the rope, and his arm, which had become in a measure useful again, went under the wheel of the engine, which crushed it into a shapeless mass, making what is termed by surgeons a ‘compound comminuted fracture’ of the worse description. Dr. Murphy, who is attending upon Mr. Durkin, has little hope of being able to avoid a full amputation this time.”

As a consequence of the accident, Anthony sold his interest in the brewery to his partner, the month after the incident.

Hibernia-Brewery-1899

Historic Beer Birthday: Joseph Junk

chicago-1
Today is the birthday of German-born Joseph Junk (January 15, 1841-1887) who emigrated to the U.S. in 1868, and in 1883 opened the eponymous Joseph Junk Brewery in Chicago, Illinois. Unfortunately, he died just a few years later, in 1887, and his widow, Magdalena Junk, took over management of the brewery, renaming it Junk’s Brewery and then the Jos. Junk Brewery, which it remained until 1909. She increased production from around 4,000 barrels to 45,000 barrels of lager beer.

It then became the South Side Brewing Co. until prohibition, and afterwards reopened under that same name. But in 1937 in became the more fancifully named Ambrosia Brewing Co., then changed again one final time, to the Atlantic Brewing Co., before closing for good in 1965. It was located at 3700/3710 South Halstead and 37th Streets. According to Tavern Trove, “the brewery has been torn down. What was the Ambrosia Brewery is now the parking lot for Schaller’s Pump, a tavern located at 3714 S. Halsted, Chicago.”

Here’s a short article from the Western Brewer (Brewer’s Journal) from August 1909 reporting on the transition from Jos. Junk to South Side Brewing.

south-side-chicago

I was unable to find any photos of any of the Junk family, and in fact very little of anything, which I guess makes sense since they were the Junk Brewery, or some variation, for a relatively short time a very long time ago. Here’s what I did find.

junk-bottle
A rare Junk bottle.

Delivery-from-South-Side-Brewing-aka-Ambrosia-Brewing-circa-1936
This is a South Side delivery truck taken around 1936.

postcard-chicago-ambrosia-brewing-company-3700-s-halsted-aerial-c1930
The website where I found this claims it was from 1930, but American Breweries II states that it wasn’t called Ambrosia Brewing until 1937, so it’s probably from the late 1930s at the earliest. But another source says it’s from the 1950s, and indeed it as known as Ambrosia through 1959, so that’s perhaps more likely given the look of the postcard.

ambrosia-brewing
This is in the collection of the Chicago History Museum, but they appear to have no idea when it was taken.

AmbrosiaChicago1952

This is the brewery around 1952, taken by Ernie Oest and featured at beer can history.

But by far, this is the most interesting bit of history on Joseph Junk I turned up. This is a newspaper article from the Chicago Tribune for March 29, 1902. It concerns what I can only assume is Joe and Magdalena’s son, since they refer to him as a “young man” and “member of the Chicago Brewery” rather then saying “owner.” Seems the young man went on a bender in San Francisco and ended up marrying some floozy he’d just met. But here’s the best bit. “The trouble began when the young man’s family learned that Lottie (is that not a floozy’s name?) had done a song-and-dance turn in abbreviated skirts.” Oh, the horror. It sounds like they could live with or tolerate the “song-and dance turn,” but not, I repeat not, if there were “abbreviated skirts” involved. That was the deal breaker, so they sent him off on “a Southern tour” and her packing back to Frisco, eventually settling on a payoff on $10,000, which in today’s money is over a quarter-million dollars, or roughly $276,150. It must have been the talk of polite society for months afterwards, bringing shame down on the Junk family.

Junk-chi-tribune-1902

Historic Beer Birthday: Henry Shlaudeman

decatur-brewing-old
Today is the birthday of Henry Shlaudeman (January 13, 1834-February 24, 1923), who founded what would become the Decatur Brewing Co., in Decatur, Illinois. Shlaudeman was born in Wildeshausen, Grossherzogtum Oldenburg, in what today is part of Germany. He emigrated to America in 1846. After a short stint in the cigar trade, he joined the Edward Harpstrite Brewery (which was originally the John Koehler & Adam Keck Brewery when it opened in 1855). Within a few years, he’d made enough of an impact that it became the Harpstrite & Shlaudeman Brewery, and two years after that, in 1884, he bought out his partner and it became the Henry Shlaudeman Brewery. In 1888, it was again renamed, this time the Decatur Brewing Co. It reopened after prohibition in 1934 under the name Macon County Beverage Co., but closed for good the same year.

decatur_brewery_1895

Surprising, I was unable to turn up even one photograph of him, and very little even of the brewery he owned. The City of Decatur and Macon County, subtitled “A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement,” includes a biography of Henry Shlaudeman:

Henry-Shlaudeman-bio-1
Henry-Shlaudeman-bio-2

And while there’s not much about him, his house has an entire webpage, all about the Henry Shlaudeman House

Henry-Shlaudeman-house

He also held two patents related to brewing. One was for an Improvement in safety-valves for fermented-liquor casks from 1878 and the other for a Refrigerator-building for fermenting and storing beer.

10 Years Ago: Hunt’s Hop Tea

hops teapot
It’s hard to believe the Bulletin has been going for over ten years, just over eleven to be exact (not including on the family blog from a couple of years before that). But this post is from exactly ten years ago, in 2007, and I was reminded of it yesterday when a homebrew blogger linked to it in a discussion of hop utilization. Anyway, it was interesting to see again, and since it was exactly a decade, I thought I’d post Hunt’s Hop Tea again. It is, coincidentally, National Hot Tea Day today. Enjoy.


A few weeks ago while helping Moonlight with their hop harvest, owner/brewer Brian Hunt broke out something I’d never seen before: hop tea. Now I’ve seen regular hop tea before, I’ve even bought some at the health food store and tried it, but this was something totally different. Brian told me the idea grew out of an experiment he was doing to see how hops reacted at different temperatures, which he presented at “Hop School” a few years ago. He discovered in the process that he could make a delicious hop tea and that it varied widely depending on the temperature of the water. Here’s how it works:

  1. Put approximately two-dozen fresh hop cones in a 16 oz. mason jar.
  2. Heat water to __X__ temperature.
  3. Fill jar with heated water and seal cap.
  4. Let the water come down to ambient room temperature.
  5. Refrigerate.
  6. Drink.

There appears to be four main factors that change depending on the temperature of the water. These are:

  1. Color
  2. Float
  3. Bitterness
  4. Tannins

hop-tea-1

Intrigued by all of this and quite curious, Brian brought out seven examples of his hop tea made with water of different temperatures: 60°, 120°, 130°, 140°, 160°, 180° and 185°. They’re shown above from lower to higher temperature, left to right.

As you can see, the lower the temperature, the more green the hops are and the water remains less cloudy. At the higher temperatures, the hops are stripped of their green, becoming brown, and the water also becomes more brown. Also, as the temperature increases, the hops lose their buoyancy and begin to sink in the water. Although you can’t see it in the photo, the hotter the water, the more hop bitterness and at the upper range, tannins begin to emerge. Here’s what I found:

  • 60°: Fresh, herbal aromas with some hop flavors, but it’s light.
  • 120°: Bigger aromas, less green more vegetal flavors.
  • 130°: Also big aromas emerging, flavors beginning to become stronger, too, but still refreshingly light.
  • 140°: More pickled, vinegary aroma, no longer subtle with biting hop character and strong flavors.
  • 160°: Very big hop aromas with strong hop flavors, too, with a touch of sweetness. Tannins are becoming evident but are still restrained.
  • 180°: Big hop and vinegary aromas, with flavors becoming too astringent and tannins becoming overpowering.
  • 185°: Vinegary aromas, way too bitter and tannins still overpowering.

hop-tea-2
Trying each of the tea samples with Tim Clifford, now owner of Sante Adairius.

hop-tea-3

Brian was kind enough to let me take a small bag of fresh hops with me so I could recreate his experiment at home. I had enough for four samples and made tea at 100°, 140° and 160°. Using two dozen hop cones made the jars look light so I used three-dozen in the last jar, also using 160° water. I tasted them with my wife, hoping to get a civilian opinion, too. Here’s what we found:

  • 100°: Hops still green and floating. The nose was very vegetal and reminded my wife of the water leftover in the pot after you’ve steamed vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts. The mouthfeel is somewhat gritty with light, refreshing flavors and only a little bitterness, which dissipates quickly.
  • 140°: Hops turned brown, but still floating. Light hop aromas with some smokey, roasted aromas and even a hint of caramel. Fresh hop flavors with a clean finish. My wife, however, made that puckering bitter face signaling she found it repugnant.
  • 160°: Hops turned brown, but most has sunk to the bottom of the jar. Strong hop aromas and few negatives, at least from my point of view. My wife was still making that face, cursing me for dragging her into this. Hop bitterness had become more pronounced and tannins were now evident, with a lingering finish.
  • 160° Plus: This sample had 50% more hops. The hops had also turned brown but, curiously, they were still floating. The nose was vegetal with string hop aromas. With a gritty mouthfeel, the flavors were even more bitter covering the tannins just slightly, but they were still apparent, and the finish lingered bitterly.

It seems like either 140° or 160° is the right temperature. Lower than that and you don’t get enough hop character (I’m sure that’s why the hops remain green) but above that the tannins become too pronounced. It appears you have to already like big hop flavor or you’ll hate hop tea. I found it pretty enjoyable and even refreshing though it’s still probably best in small amounts. You do seem to catch a little buzz off of it, which doesn’t hurt. I’m sure the amount of hops is important and more research may be needed on that front. Brian tells me that hop pellets can also be used though I doubt the jar of tea looks as attractive using them. They have the advantage of being available year-round, of course. If you use pellets, you need only about a half-ounce for each pint jar.

If you try to make Hunt’s Hop Tea on your own, please let me know your results. And please do raise a toast to Brian Hunt’s ingenuity.

Session #119: The Discomfort Of Burning Mouth Beer

chili-pepper
For our 119th Session, our host is Alec Latham, who writes Mostly About Beer …. For his topic, he’s chosen Discomfort Beer, by which he means a beer which initially tasted funny, or odd, or off, or something, but which later became a favorite. Or maybe it didn’t. I’m not sure if I’m explaining that very well, so I’ll just let Alec take over and describe what he means:

What was your first ever taste of beer like? For me, it was like chilled copper coins mixed with tonic water and was disgusting. This is a process us committed beer drinkers can revisit every time we try something new.

A few years ago, I visited a pub in Pimlico called the Cask and Kitchen. There was a beer called Wild Raven by Thornbridge Brewery. Making assumptions based on the title, I ordered a pint as I love stout. I remember opening the sluices and then seizing up. Something wasn’t right. It had the chocolatey flavour of a stout but there was an intruder – lemon rind hissed in my nostrils and tainted my palate. Citrus grappled with the roast malt. Was it supposed to taste like this? Was it infection? Detergent? I spent some time staring at the floor in a suspended double-take.

That was my first ever Black IPA and at the time I wasn’t sure. Initially, I didn’t like it but whilst deciding whether or not to return it to the bar I kept giving it the benefit of the doubt. The dislike diminished. The acceptance grew. The pint gradually drained.

Black IPA is now one of my favourite styles but it could have gone the other way.

And does a Black IPA still get me blinking at the floor in a state of disquiet? No. Neither does the astringent character of Brett nor the dry bite of Lambic. All styles have been comprehensively “locked in”. Ultimately, familiarity devours discomfort.

For Session 119 I’d like you to write about which/what kind of beers took you out of your comfort zones. Beers you weren’t sure whether you didn’t like, or whether you just needed to adjust to. Also, this can’t include beers that were compromised, defective, flat, off etc because this is about deliberate styles. It would be interesting to see if these experiences are similar in different countries.

I think this could be a good archive for people researching fads, the origins of styles and the dearths of others – but especially how new ones were initially perceived.

Over the past year I’ve had a black barley wine, a braggot, a rye wine, a seaweed and cloudberry Gose, a beer made with Saki yeast and several made with Champagne yeast. I’ve sipped stout with Tonka beans, drank mulled lager and many tea beers – some with the tea complementing the hops – others completely replacing them. This has also been a year where 9 ABV hop-forward beers have become standard (from the UK perspective).

Some of the above I loved, others I liked and some I hated. What remains to be seen is which will catch on and which are just brief social media cameos.

session_logo_all_text_200

The beer that brings me the most discomfort I first tried in the mid-1990s. It was Ed’s Cave Creek Chili. Every bottle has a whole chili pepper inside of it. Why? Besides being novel, and eye-catching, some people — many people — like hot and spicy food. I am not one of those people, which immediately puts me at a disadvantage. It came across my desk as the chain beer buyer for Beverages & more. And so I tried it, and instantly regretted it. And still do to this day. Besides the pain of the barrage of hot and spicy flavors, these beers completely ruin me for any other beer I might want to drink, or really anything I might to eat too. Basically, it makes me unable to taste anything else for a period of time, and not just a few seconds; more like minutes, sometimes well over an hour.

3-chili-beers

Of course, we brought it in. Just because I don’t like something shouldn’t mean others wouldn’t want to try it. And there was some obvious appeal for people who like that sort of thing, and it sold reasonably well, probably to just the sort of person who loves four-alarm (or is it five-alarm now?) chili or ghost peppers. People who must go to the extremes, who never met a challenge they wouldn’t try.

The beer is still around, though it’s now called Cave Creek Chili Beer, and is brewed in Mexico. As far as I know, it was the first modern chili beer. It was certainly the first one I ever tried. And they appear to even be growing in popularity. Chili Beer was in a subgroup for GABF and World Beer Cup judging, but recently were broken out into their own category. That only happens if they’re getting a growing number of entries each year. I always bow out of judging that category.

To be fair, I don’t like hot or spices in anything, food or liquid. I am unabashedly a spice wuss. I grew up in rural Amish country Pennsylvania, and like to joke that my family only used two spices: salt and lard. But that’s not far off, as most of the dishes I remember eating were fairly bland; corn pie, meatloaf, casseroles, stews, potato soup, stuff with very few spices. Maybe it was just my Mom, but most of her recipes came from other family members, so I don’t think so. Anyway, to this day I don’t even eat mustard or mayonnaise, no pepper, never touch any Indian food, and will eat only the plainest Mexican fare. After over twenty years, my wife will still hand me something, saying it’s not too hot, and I’ll gag from the spiciness. Of course, this usually makes her laugh, so maybe she’s been doing it on purpose all this time.

But that aside, I don’t think that beer should compete with my food, or even my tongue, for attention. It can wash down and compliment or even contrast my food, but if it renders me unable to taste the next bite, then to my way of thinking it’s not doing its job. It should also be pleasant and ultimately enjoyable. And burning the inside of my mouth has never accomplished that, even though I realize that is actually a goal for some people.

But using any more than the barest amount of chili peppers usually results in it overpowering whatever the base style of beer is, effectively removing its beeriness. I have the same issue with many barrel-aged beers, when they take on so much of the barrel character, or whatever had been in the barrel previously, that its essence is gone, having lost its beeriness in the process. If I want bourbon, I’ll just drink bourbon. In any flavored beer, the adjunct or wood should add to the beer, but not mask, remove or overpower its essential beeriness, otherwise it becomes something else entirely. And for almost every chili pepper beer that’s what happens. I have had one or two examples where it was subtle enough that it did just add to the flavors and not overwhelm your senses, but that’s rare enough that it’s an exception rather than a degree of that type of beer. The majority, I feel, want to hurt me, and wear that goal like a badge of honor, daring me to try it. I don’t think of drinking beer as an endurance test, something to make it through, or a challenge to meet.

cave-creek-chili-beer-steaming

So unlike Alec’s experience with Black IPAs, or many people, including myself, warming to a new type of beer, chili beer seems like a love it or hate it kind of beer, with little ground in the middle. And you won’t be surprised to learn I hate them. How could there be any middle ground? Maybe your tolerance for spiciness increases over time, but that has not been my personal experience. My wife has been trying for over twenty years, as did many girlfriends before that. And while I do, believe it or not, eat many more foods today than I did when I was a child and in the intervening years, many people are still shocked at how picky I am and usually chuckle at what I consider to be too spicy. C’est la vie.

So maybe I could, through a concerted effort, patent sampling, building up a tolerance over time, learn to better appreciate chili beers. Then what? They’d still be too much for everyday consumption. I can’t imagine a scenario or situation where that’s a beer I’d ever reach for willingly. What occasion would be appropriate to drink something that will burn my mouth and cause me to be unable to taste anything else? Maybe it’s pure hedonism on my part, but I don’t want to have to work at enjoying a beer. A good beer should, at the very least, just be enjoyable on its own, part and parcel of its beeriness. That is, and rightly should be what beeriness means: something delicious that you want to drink, and is enjoyable during and afterwards, or something that does not cause any discomfort.

napalm

Beer Birthday: Mark Dorber

the-anchor
Today is the 59th birthday of Mark Dorber, publican extraordinaire. When I first met Mark he was the publican at the White Horse in Parsons Green and we’ve judged together at both GABF and the World Beer Cup. More recently, he’s opened a new place a bit further northeast of London in Walberswick, on the Suffolk coast. His new pub is The Anchor. Mark is a terrific champion of cask beer and especially American beer in the UK. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.

P1020363
Pulling a pint at the White Hose Strong Ale Festival in 2007.

P1020481
On the floor at GABF in 2007, with Bob Pease, Ray Daniels, and John Mallet, from Bell’s Brewery.

P1120261
Toshi Ishi, then from Yo-Ho Brewing in Japan, and Mark Dorber at GABF in 2008.

P1020453
Just before taking the stage during GABF 2007, from left, Glenn Payne, Charlie Papazian, Mark, Garrett Oliver, Steve Hindy, Dave Alexander, and Tom Dalldorf.

Historic Beer Birthday: Matthew Nunan

hibernia
Today is actually the day that Matthew Nunan passed away, January 7, 1916, and was born in 1834, or possibly 1836, or maybe even 1828, but the exact date or even month is unknown. There are even some sources that give his date of death as January 13. He was born in Limerick, Ireland, and emigrated to the U.S. when he was fourteen, settling in California in 1855. Lured there by dreams of striking it rich in the goldmines, he soon tried of mining, and first opened a grocery store in San Francisco, but eventually bought the Mission Street Brewery. When they moved the brewery and built a larger one, they renamed it the Hibernia Brewery. Matthew Nunan also served two terms as Sheriff of San Francisco, 1876-1877 and 1878-1879.

1877_Nunan

Gary Flynn has a more thorough Biography of Matthew J. Numan at her terrific Brewery Gems website. He also has a lengthy history of the Mission Street Brewery (1860-1867) and [its] successor The Hibernia Brewery (1867-1920).

Hibernia-Brewery-1899

nunan

Historic Beer Birthday: John G. Schemm

john-g-schemm
Today is the birthday of John G. Schemm (January 7, 1834-March 1899). He was born in Germany, but when he was 22, in 1852, he and his father moved to the U.S., settling on a farm near Detroit. Unfortunately, after a short time, John’s Dad passed away, and he moved to Saginaw, Michigan in 1864. With business partner Christian Grueler, he started a brewery, the Schemm & Gruhler Brewery, in 1866. Three years later, Gruhler passed away and he brought on another partner, renaming the brewery the Schemm & Schoenheit Brewery in 1874. But by 1881, he bought him out, and it became the John G. Schemm Brewery. When he passed away, his son George C. Schemm took over, and incorporated it in 1899 as the J. G. Schemm Brewing Co. Inc. It closed in 1919 due to prohibition, and was sold to another business who tried reopening it as the Schemm Brewing Co. Inc., but it closed for good in 1938. While I found some information on the brewery, there was very little about Schemm himself, not even a picture of him.

Export-Beer-Labels-The-JG-Schemm-Brewing-Co

This account of the brewery is from the “Industries of the Saginaws: Historical, Descriptive and Statistical,” by John W. Leonard, published in 1887.

schemm-brewery-1
schemm-brewery-2

Schemm-brewer-castle

This short account is from “100 Years of Brewing,” published in 1903.

schemm-brewing-100yrs

schemm-brewing-poster

Export-Beer-Labels-Bay-City-Brewing-Co--pre-Prohibition

Schemm-Pilsner-Beer-Labels-Schemm-Brewing-Company