Historic Beer Birthday: Peter Austin

Today is the birthday of Peter Austin (July 18, 1921-January 1, 2014). He “was a British brewer. He founded Ringwood Brewery and was a co-founder and first chairman of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA). He built some 140 new breweries in the UK and 16 other countries.”


This overview is from his Wikipedia page:

Peter Austin was born in Edmonton, London on 18 July 1921. He went to Highgate School, followed by the British merchant navy training ship HMS Conway. His father worked for the brewing equipment supplier Pontifex, and his great-uncle had run a brewery in Christchurch.

Austin founded Ringwood Brewery in 1978. In 1979, David Bruce started his first Firkin Brewery brewpub in Elephant and Castle, London; Austin oversaw his choice of equipment and the design for its small basement brewery.

Austin was the prime mover in establishing the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) in 1980, and its first chairman. Under his leadership, SIBA campaigned for 20 years, without the support of any other body, for a progressive beer duty system (smaller breweries to pay less tax on their products) to be introduced in the UK. Such a system was finally adopted by the then Chancellor Gordon Brown in 2002.

By the time that Austin had retired from Ringwood Brewery, he had assisted in helping start 40 new UK breweries in a decade. After that, he worked internationally, in the US, France, China, Nigeria, and Russia, among others, building some 140 new breweries in 17 countries.

In the US alone, 74 new breweries were built, all using his brewing system. He taught Alan Pugsley brewing, and he went on to found Shipyard Brewing Company in 1994, and later take over Sea Dog Brewing Company.


Peter only recently passed away. Here’s his obituary in the Guardian, written by Roger Protz:

One rain-swept day in 1978 I went to Ringwood in Hampshire to meet Peter Austin and encounter a new concept in beer making: a micro-brewery. At that time brewing was dominated by six giant national brewers who were converting their pubs to keg beers and taking over and closing many of the remaining independent breweries.

It seemed unlikely that Peter Austin’s tiny plant in a former bakery would dent the power of the Big Six nationals. But Ringwood Brewery proved to be a catalyst. Camra – the Campaign for Real Ale – had been launched in 1971, its membership had soared and its beer festivals were packed.

Rebellion was in the air and Peter Austin, who has died aged 92, was ready to meet the challenge. When he eventually retired from Ringwood he helped set up some 40 new breweries in Britain over 10 years at a rate of one every three months. He then toured the world, repeating the exercise in countries as diverse as China, France, Nigeria, Russia and the United States. In total he built some 140 breweries in 17 countries.

Peter Austin was born in Edmonton, north London, and educated in Highgate and on the Merchant Navy training ship HMS Conway. His family was closely involved in the brewing industry. A great uncle ran a brewery in Christchurch while his father worked for Pontifex, a major supplier of brewing equipment. As a result of the Hampshire connection, his first love was boats not beer and he sailed in Poole Harbour during school holidays. He joined P&O from the Conway but contracted TB and had to be invalided home from Australia.

He was not fit enough to fight in World War Two and moved into brewing. He did his “pupillage” or apprenticeship at Friary, Holroyd & Healy in Guildford, worked briefly at Morrells in Oxford and joined the Hull Brewery in 1945, where he became head brewer. He left in 1975 following a takeover by Northern Dairies.

He moved to Hampshire, bought a boat and took visitors on fishing expeditions. But the brewing bug had bit deep. In 1977 he accepted an invitation from Monty Python’s Terry Jones and Guardian writer Richard Boston – both passionate believers in the concept of small is beautiful – to build a tiny brewery in a former cattle byre at Penrhos Court in Herefordshire. He was back in brewing and a year later opened Ringwood. With business partner David Welsh, he produced Ringwood Best Bitter, Fortyniner and XXXX Porter. The strong ale Old Thumper put Ringwood and micro-brewing on the map when it won the Champion Beer of Britain award from Camra in 1988. Peter was the first chairman of the Small Independent Brewers’ Association (Siba), now the Society of Independent Brewers, which became a powerful lobbying voice for the sector.

In 1986 Peter and David Welsh moved from the original site in Ringwood into bigger buildings in the town that had once housed Tunks Brewery. Ringwood was now a substantial business, producing 80 barrels a week for pubs throughout the south and south-west. Peter sold his share to David Welsh and became a consultant, adviser and builder to aspiring brewers in Britain and then worldwide.

His biggest impact was undoubtedly in the United States where 74 breweries were built using his brewing system. Alan Pugsley learnt the brewing skills with Peter at Ringwood (pictured above with Peter) and emigrated to the U.S. where he helped set up the D L Geary Brewing Company in Portland, Maine, in1986, one of the first new-wave American micros. Pugsley opened his own Shipyard brewery in Portland in 1992 and Peter gave him permission to brew Old Thumper under license. He supplied a sample of the Ringwood yeast culture for authenticity. A new brewery using Peter Austin’s system will open this month at the Four Mile Pub in Victoria, British Columbia — a fitting memorial.

Peter Austin married twice. His first wife, Joan, died in 1972 and he married Zena, who pre-deceased him. He had five children, Roland, Jane, Henry (who died in 1992) Jeremy and Sarah, and two step-children, Philip and Leah.

His impact on good beer is immeasurable. There are more than 2,000 craft breweries in the U.S., 1,200 in Britain, 150 in Australia, 70 in New Zealand and a growing number in Italy. Beer drinkers have never had greater choice – and much of that is due to Peter Austin. Alan Pugsley at Shipyard in Maine says: “He was an inspiration” and Terry Jones hails him as “the grandfather of micro-brewing”.

Austin with Alan Pugsley.

This tribute to his mentor is from Pugsley’s Brewing Projects International:

In 1978 Peter Austin opened Ringwood Brewery in Hampshire, England, presenting a new concept in beer making: a microbrewery. At that time in the UK brewing was dominated by six giant national brewers who were converting their pubs from cask conditioned beers ( real ale) to bland filtered keg beers and taking over and closing many of the remaining independent breweries.

It seemed unlikely that Peter Austin’s tiny plant in a former bakery would dent the power of the Big Six nationals. But Ringwood Brewery proved to be a catalyst. CAMRA – the Campaign for Real Ale – had been launched in 1971, its membership had soared and its beer festivals were packed.

Rebellion was in the air and Peter Austin was ready to meet the challenge. When he eventually retired from Ringwood he had helped set up some 40 new breweries in Britain over 10 years at a rate of one every three months. He then toured the world, repeating the exercise in countries as diverse as China, France, Belgium, Nigeria, South Africa, Russia, Canada and the United States. In total he and his consulting company built some 140 breweries in 17 countries.

Peter Austin was born in Edmonton, north London, and educated in Highgate and on the Merchant Navy training ship HMS Conway. His family was closely involved in the brewing industry. A great uncle ran a brewery in Christchurch while his father worked for Pontifex, a major supplier of brewing equipment. As a result of the Hampshire connection, his first love was boats not beer and he sailed in Poole Harbour during school holidays. He joined P&O from the Conway but contracted TB and had to be invalided home from Australia.
He was not fit enough to fight in World War Two and moved into brewing. He did his “pupillage” or apprenticeship at Friary, Holroyd & Healy in Guildford, worked briefly at Morrells in Oxford and joined the Hull Brewery in 1945, where he became head brewer. He left in 1975 following a takeover by Northern Dairies.

He moved to Hampshire, bought a boat and took visitors on fishing expeditions. But the brewing bug had bit deep. In 1977 he accepted an invitation from Monty Python’s Terry Jones and Guardian writer Richard Boston – both passionate believers in the concept of small is beautiful – to build a tiny brewery in a former cattle byre at Penrhos Court in Herefordshire. He was back in brewing and a year later opened Ringwood. With business partner David Welsh, he produced Ringwood Best Bitter, Fortyniner and XXXX Porter. The strong ale Old Thumper put Ringwood and microbrewing on the map when it won the Champion Beer of Britain award from CAMRA in 1988. Peter was the first chairman of the Small Independent Brewers’ Association (SIBA), now the Society of Independent Brewers, which became a powerful lobbying voice for the sector.

In 1986 Peter and David Welsh moved from the original site in Minty’s Yard, Ringwood into bigger buildings in the town that had once housed Tunks Brewery. Ringwood was now a substantial business, producing over 80 barrels a week for pubs throughout the south and south-west. In 1990 Peter sold his shares to David Welsh but continued consulting to aspiring brewers in Britain and worldwide.

His biggest impact was undoubtedly in the United States where over 75 breweries have been built using the Original Peter Austin Brick Kettle Brewing System. Alan Pugsley learnt the brewing skills with Peter at Ringwood and emigrated to the U.S. where he helped set up the D L Geary Brewing Company in Portland, Maine, in 1986, one of the first new-wave American micros. In 1994 Shipyard Brewing Company was opened in Portland, Maine where Ringwood Brewery gave Alan Pugsley permission to brew Peter Austin’s Old Thumper recipe under licence. Peters legacy is truly alive and well in North America particularly the North East corridor.

Peter Austin passed away January 1, 2014 at the age of 92. Peter was a master brewer, Alan Pugsley’s mentor and dear friend. He was a great man, a great brewer, and an inspiration to all whom he touched. His legacy will continue on through the many beers and brewers he inspired around the world. His impact on good beer is immeasurable. There are more than 2,500 craft breweries in the U.S., 1,200 in Britain, 150 in Australia, 70 in New Zealand and a growing number in Italy. Beer drinkers have never had greater choice – and much of that is due to Peter Austin.


And here’s one more tribute from the Salisbury Journal:

THE founder of Ringwood brewery Peter Austin – widely credited with saving the microbrewery movement in the UK as well as introducing it to America and popularising it worldwide – has died aged 92.

Mr Austin set up the famed brewery in 1978, aged 57. He came from a brewing family; his great-uncle was a brewer in Christchurch and his father worked for Pontifex, which was the leading brewing engineering firm in the country.

After school Mr Austin joined the sail training ship HMS Conway and subsequently went to sea with P&O. He was invalided out in 1938 and convalesced before going to Friary Meux Brewery in Guildford to study.

In 1944 he worked at Morrells in Oxford and in 1945 he went as third brewer to the Hull Brewery, where he stayed for 30 years, eventually becoming head brewer.

But in 1975, disillusioned with the direction of the company after it was taken over by Northern Dairies, he left 30 years of brewing, bought a boat and ran sea-angling trips on the south coast.

Mr Austin was approached by Monty Python star Terry Jones and The Guardian beer columnist Richard Boston, who were looking for help setting up a small brewery with Martin Griffiths, the owner of a medieval manor called Penrhos Court and he leaped at the chance to return to brewing.

The Penrhos Brewery was established and this inspired Mr Austin to launch Ringwood Brewery, starting with small premises in the old station yard.

Business partner David Welsh previously described Mr Austin as “a slave to the mash tun”, often checking his brews in the early hours.

He told The Grist magazine in 1995: “One very hot summer night he went down (to the brewery) in his dressing gown and had to take this off to skim the yeast. There was a knock at the door and it turned out to be the local bobby who was confronted by Peter in his underpants, wielding a yeast scoop. ‘You’re probably wondering what I’m doing officer’, he said. ‘I didn’t like to ask, sir’,” came the reply.”

In 1982 Mr Austin hired Alan Pugsley to train to brew and work with him on brewery start-ups.

They installed more than 120 breweries in 17 countries, including Siberia, China, Nigeria and South Africa. The equipment for the Siberian brewery was lost in the Russian railway system for two years before finally turning up in Dudinka.

Mr Austin also helped found the UK’s small brewers association SIBA in 1980.

Keith Bott of Titanic Brewery in Staffordshire, the current SIBA chairman, told Camra magazine: “Peter Austin was the godfather of the microbrewing revolution in the UK.”

In 1986 Mr Austin moved the brewery to its current location, and retired two years later, aged 67. On July 12, 2007, it was announced that Ringwood had been purchased by Marston’s Plc for £19.2million.

Mr Austin’s son Jeremy said: “The family are proud of dad, who was very modest about all that he had achieved.

“Peter was a determined and colourful character who made an impression on all. He was bright and amusing right up until the end and his family and friends will miss him deeply.”


Historic Beer Birthday: Josef Sedlmayr

Today is the birthday of Josef Sedlmayr (July 18, 1808-March 12, 1886). He was the son of Gabriel Sedlmayr, who owned Spaten brewery, and Josef owned the Franziskaner brewery, though the two breweries later merged.

Joseph Sedlmayr in 1861

Here’s a very short biography on Find a Grave:

Owner of the Franziskaner Brewery in Munich, which was established near the Franciscan Monastery in Munich in 1363. Up to and during Sedlmayr’s time it was known as the Franziskaner-Leistbrauerei.

According to Spaten’s website (which owns Franziskaner today)

At the same time, one of the sons of Gabriel Sedlmayr – Joseph, was the owner of the brewery Leist (Leistbrauerei), which dates back to the fifteenth century.

In 1858, he bought shares in the Franziskaner brewery, and from 1861 Joseph Sedlmayr becomes its sole owner.

In 1865, the entire production of the brewery Leist is transferred to the Franziskaner-Brauerei.

At Oktoberfest in 1872 becomes presented a new beer with an amber colour, which gave rise a new style known since then as Marzenbier.


And here’s a timeline from the Sheehan Family Companies website:

  • 1363 – Franziskaner’s roots can be traced back to 1363. It was in this year that the brewer Seidel Vaterstetter is first mentioned as the owner of the ‘brewery next to the Franciscans’ in the Munich Residenzstrasse. The name ‘Franziskaner’ derives from the Franciscan monastery diagonally across the street.
  • 1841 – The Franziskaner Brewery moves to Lilienberg in Munich’s eastern suburb of Au. In the same year Augustin Deiglmayr, a son-in-law of Spaten’s owner Gabriel Sedlmayr the Elder, buys the Residenzstrasse brewery.
  • 1861 – Joseph Sedlmayr, owner of the Leist Brewery (probably founded in the 15th century) and son of Spaten’s Gabriel Sedlmayr the Elder, buys out August Deiglmayr, with whom he has been co-running the Residenzstrasse brewery since 1858.
  • 1865 – The Leist Brewery in Sendlinger Strasse stops its brewing operations, which are now left entirely to the Franziskaner Brewery.
  • 1872 – ‘Ur-Märzen’, the amber-colored Oktoberfest beer from Franziskaner-Leist, is served for the first time at the Schottenhamel Tent on the Oktoberfest fairgrounds. Brewed from a Viennese recipe, this golden-yellow beer is stronger than the summer beer.
  • 1909 – Gabriel Sedlmayr III, the son of Joseph Sedlmayr, turns the Franziskaner-Leist Brewery into a family-owned joint stock company, the ‘Joseph Sedlmayr Zum Franziskanerkeller (Leistbräu) AG’.
  • 1922 – The Franziskaner-Leist Brewery and the Spaten Brewery, likewise owned by the Sedlmayr family, unite to form a single joint stock company, the ‘Gabriel und Joseph Sedlmayr Spaten-Franziskaner-Leistbräu AG’, in order to combat the economic problems of the crisis-ridden postwar years and to capitalize on synergies.
  • 1935 – The Munich artist Ludwig Hohlwein designs the company’s distinctive trademark, which is still used today. The Franciscan Friar continues to stand for the unsurpassed quality of Franziskaner’s premium weiss beer.


Curiously, the iconic Franziskaner image of the monk that’s used on their labels was only created in 1935


Historic Beer Birthday: Anthony Straub

Today is the birthday of Anthony Straub (July 17, 1882-June 13, 1962). He was the son of Peter Straub, who founded the Straub Brewery in St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania in 1872. Anthony took over running the family brewery after his father died in 1913. The brewery is still owned and operated today by the Straub family.

Peter Straub and two of sons, I think Anthony is on he left.

He’s mentioned in the biography from his father’s Wikipedia page:

The Straub family had been brewing a local beer for generations. As expected Peter learned a trade important to the brewing art. He became a Cooper, a craftsman who makes wooden barrels. Peter aspired to be a brewer and at the age of 19 in 1869 immigrated to the United States for a better and more prosperous life. Upon his arrival in the United States he found employment at the Eberhardt and Ober Brewing Company in Pennsylvania. Peter admired his employers’ pledge to forfeit $1,000 if any adulteration was found in their beer, and as he honed his brewing skills to a sharp edge, he adhered faithfully to this promise. Eventually he tired of city life and moved north to Brookville, where he perfected his brewing process while working in the Christ and Algeir Brewery.

Peter later moved to Benzinger (St. Marys), where he met and married Sabina Sorg of Benzinger. The couple settled in Benzinger and had ten children: Francis X., Joseph A., Anthony A., Anna M., Jacob M., Peter M. (who died at two years of age), Peter P., Gerald B., Mary C., and Alphons J.

Peter’s employment in Benzinger was with the Joseph Windfelder Brewery and he worked there until he purchased the Benzinger Spring Brewery (founded by Captain Charles C. Volk in 1855) from his father-in-law, Francis Xavier Sorg. It was then that Straub Beer and the Straub Brewery was born.

The Straub Family in 1904. Anthony is in the second row, on the right.

Early on, Peter introduced his sons to the world of brewing. Straub used wooden kegs for his beer. He always placed a red band around his barrels to ensure that people would know they were drinking his beer and so that he would get them back. As a lasting trademark tribute to Peter, the brewery continues to place a bright red band around each of its barrels. Red has become a trademark color for the brewery.

Following Peter’s death on December 17, 1913, his sons assumed control of the brewery, renaming it the Peter Straub Sons Brewery. During this time, the brewery produced Straub Beer as well as other beer, such as the pilsner-style Straub Fine Beer and Straub Bock Beer. In 1920, the Straub Brothers Brewery purchased one half of the St. Marys Beverage Company, also called the St. Marys Brewery, where St. Marys Beer was produced. During Prohibition, which lasted from January 29, 1920, until December 5, 1933, the brewery produced nonalcoholic near-beer. On July 19, 1940 they purchased the remaining common stock and outstanding bonds of the St. Marys Beverage Company.

The Benzinger Spring Brewery in 1895.

And this account is by Erin L. Gavlock, from 2009, at the Pennsylvania Center for the Book at Penn State:

Straub owned and operated the Benzinger Spring Brewery until he died in 1912 and left the company to his son, Anthony. Anthony Straub changed the name of the brewery to “Peter Straub Sons’ Brewery,” the only alteration he would make to his father’s business. From there, Peter Straub’s beer would become a Pennsylvania legend.

The Bavarian Man, a long-time image of the Straub Brewery that recalls its German roots.
Fast-forward over a hundred years from Straub’s humble beginnings to today and one will find the Straub Brewing pledge remains unchanged. The company still serves only unadulterated beer to its customers, proclaiming to be “The Natural Choice.” “Our all grain beer is brewed from Pennsylvania Mountain Spring water and we don’t add any sugar, salt, or preservatives to our recipes,” brew master Tom Straub told St. Marys’ Daily Press. “You can say our beer is a fresher, healthier choice than many of the selections in the marketplace.” Although time and technology have forced a transformation in brewing techniques and standards, the taste, ingredients, and the location of Straub have remained constant. Still located in St. Marys, the brewery depends upon the same mountain water from the Laurel Run Reservoir to blend with all-natural ingredients of cornflakes (used to produce fermentable sugars), barley and hops. “Our brewing process is virtually unchanged since our great, great, grandfather, Peter Straub, perfected it in 1872,” Straub’s promises. The reason behind sticking to the fresh taste of the original recipe is simple: people like it. Through the century, Straub has grown a dedicated patronage in western Pennsylvania with its traditional flavor. “Our style of brewing has pretty much stayed the same over the years, but what is interesting is that our popularity has grown and the reputation of our hand-crafted beer has increased,” Straub CEO Bill Brock said. “It is nice to know that we are becoming increasingly popular not for something we’ve changed, but rather for something we’ve always done well.”

The choice to protect and maintain the brewing customs has kept Straub a small, family owned brewery. “We’ve always thought small. We’re more about quality than quantity,” Dan Straub, former CEO, told Fredericksburg, Virginia’s Free-Lance Star. Until June 2009, Straub Beer was only distributed in glass bottles throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio. Now Straub is being brewed and distributed in aluminum cans in Rochester, New York at the High Falls Brewery. The recipe and method have not changed in the new setting and are under the careful watch of brew master Tom Straub. Despite the recent company growth, Straub still only produces about 45,000 barrels of beer per year. “We are unique; we are much larger than a micro brewery yet far, far smaller than some of the leading national brands,” said Bill Brock. In the middle ground, the brewery has managed to survive beer tycoons, economic depression, and cultural trends—a tough maneuver for a company exporting from Pennsylvania’s least populated region. “I believe the brewery has survived because of the fact that it is family owned; it is steeped in tradition and we have an absolute passion for making beer and our products,” said Brock. “From my perspective, the company and our traditions are a huge legacy and there is a clear obligation to continue these traditions.” Keeping to the family legacy has allowed Straub to persevere through the years to become the second oldest brewery in Pennsylvania after Yuengling.

Staying small and faithful to the company’s founding principles has enabled Straub to keep traditions that other larger breweries have been forced to abandon. The returnable bottle, an eco-friendly service that allows customers to send glass bottles back to the brewery for recycling, is still offered at Straub. “We stayed with the returnable bottles first of all, and I think this is really important, because we have a really strong customer base and they like the returnables,” Bill Brock said during a 2009 radio broadcast. “Over the years we maintained it while other breweries slowly fazed them out.” For Straub, a successful regional brewery, shipping bottles back to the factory is feasible, where it would create more pollution for national brands to do the same. In the future, Straub hopes to go greener and offer more returnables to customers. “We’d love for it to grow,” Brock said. “We think it is the right thing to do and if we can blend the right thing to do with making our customers happy that’s almost a perfect world.”

The family in the early 1900s. Anthony is the third from the left in the front row.

Another Peter Straub tradition kept to make customers happy is the Eternal Tap, an oasis for Elk County beer drinkers. The Eternal Tap, established long before any of the brewery’s current chief operators were born, is a “thank you” gesture for patrons, daily providing two mugs of complimentary, fresh cold beer to anyone of legal drinking age. “The roots of it go as far back as the brewery itself and I am sure that my great, great, grandfather, his workers and their friends would spend time at the end of the week enjoying a few pints of freshly brewed beer,” Brock said. According to Bloomington, Illinois’ Pantagraph, the Eternal Tap sprang up shortly after Peter Straub received the Benzinger Spring Brewery from his father-in-law as a way to draw beer enthusiasts to the taste of Straub. Since the marketing gimmick started in 1872, the Eternal Tap has not been turned off, giving free beer to customers in good times and bad.

Although Straub has been in operation for more than a century since its founder’s death, if Peter Straub were able to return to his brewery today, he might feel as if he still ran it. The original recipe, the customer appreciation, and the environmental concerns he founded his business upon are still principal brewing laws at Straub today. For the descendents of Peter Straub, keeping the tradition was second nature. “For me, being President/CEO, my job is to be faithful to the traditions and it is really not that difficult,” Brock said. “I have one of the best jobs in the world and I have been given the opportunity to continue an important tradition and legacy.”

Anthony after his first communion in the late 1800s.


Historic Beer Birthday: Richard L. Yuengling, Sr.

Today is the birthday of Richard L. Yuengling, Sr. (July 16, 1915-March 25, 1999). He was the great-grandson of David Yuengling, who founded America’s Oldest Brewery, Yuengling Brewing, which was founded in 1829 (as the Eagle Brewery) in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.


Here’s his obituary from the Pottsville Register:

Richard L. Yuengling Sr., 83, whose great-grandfather, David G., founded America’s Oldest Brewery in 1829, died Thursday evening at ManorCare Health Services, Pottsville, after an extended illness.

He was the fourth-generation owner of D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. Brewery.

“He was a great person to work for,” said James P. Buehler, a 27-year employee recently elevated to brewmaster. “It’s a shame. He was a good man,” with a lot of friends, he added.

“On behalf of a mournful city, we extend our condolences to the Yuengling family,” Mayor Terence P. Reiley said.

Dick Sr. and brother F. Dohrman who preceded him in death took over management of the brewery when their father, Frank D., died at age 86.

Carol B. Johnson, whose husband, the Rev. Theodore T., was pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church in Pottsville from 1952 to 1975, has fond memories of Dick Sr., who used to attend church there.

“The Yuenglings were all a part of our life in Pottsville,” she said.

Dick Sr. and his brothers- and sisters-in-law were active and interested church members, she said from their home in a Northumberland retirement community.

He ran a good business, and was very kind and thoughtful to his mother, the late Augusta Roseberry Yuengling, she said. His father was the late Frank D.

Dick Sr. was more reticent than his son and daughter, Patricia H. Yuengling, who lives in LaMesa, Calif., she said.

During Dick Sr.’s tenure, in 1976, the brewery was recognized as “America’s Oldest,” and placed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a state historic site; and in 1979, its 150th anniversary was celebrated.

In 1985, Dick Jr. bought the company from his father.

Dick Sr. was an asset to the city, Reiley said. “Mr. Yuengling clearly kept the strong family tradition going that the brewery currently enjoys.”

That success was built upon Dick Jr.’s predecessors, including his father, Reiley said.

Thinking back to his childhood, Reiley recalled Yuengling as pleasant and accommodating when St. Patrick’s Church set up its parish block party between Fourth and Fifth streets near the brewery.

Buehler said Yuengling was always ready for a party, and the first to tend the Rathskeller bar to share a beer, he said.

Born in Pottsville, July 16, 1915, he was formerly of 1322 Howard Ave., Pottsville.

He was a veteran of World War II, serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a staff sergeant with 1060th AAF Base Unit.

In addition to F. Dohrman, he was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, the former Marjorie Hood, in 1997; two other brothers, David G. and Frederick G. Yuengling Sr.; a sister, Augusta Y. Ulmer.

In addition to Dick Jr. and Patricia, surviving are five grandchildren; several nieces and nephews; grandnieces and grandnephews.


Here’s what the Yuengling Wikipedia page has about Richard Sr.:

Richard L. Yuengling Sr. and F. Dohrman Yuengling succeeded Frank Yuengling after their father’s death in 1963.

Yuengling experienced an increase of sales after a renewed interest in history owing to the United States Bicentennial in 1976. Yuengling bought the rights to use the Mount Carbon (Bavarian Premium Beer) name and label when Mount Carbon Brewery went out of business in 1977. Yuengling initially brewed beer at Mount Carbon but eventually abandoned it. The dairy remained in business until 1985.


And this is his yearbook photo and entry from the Hill School from 1935. One curious fact is that some sources give his birth year as 1914 while others say 1915. But even his Find a Grave has photos of two separate gravestones showing differing birth years. One appears to be a military marker.


Hungover Heroes: Max McGee

Today is the birthday of Max McGee. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard his name, most people haven’t. He “was a professional football player, a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL. He played from 1954 to 1967, and is best known for his 7 receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the first Super Bowl in 1967.” And it’s his performance in that first Super Bowl that was so amazing, in no small part because he was badly hungover.

In 1967, McGee was at the end of his career. In fact, it was the second-to-last season he played. He was not a starter for the Packers that year they went to the first Super Bowl, and caught only four balls all year. So apparently, not expecting to play at all during the Super Bowl, the night before he broke curfew and spent the night with two women he met at the hotel bar. He rolled in around 6:30 a.m. the morning of the big game, passed Bart Starr in the hallway just getting up, and tried to catch a few winks before game time.

He was feeling pretty rough, but took his spot on the bench, fully expecting to be glued to it all game. He told starting wide receiver Boyd Dowler “I hope you don’t get hurt. I’m not in very good shape,” referring to the fact that he was badly hungover. Unfortunately, shortly after the game started, Dowler separated his shoulder and came out of the game, replaced by McGee. He had to borrow a helmet from another teammate, because he had left his in the locker room. McGee was reportedly startled as he heard Vince Lombardi yell, “McGee! McGee! Get your ass in there.”


A few plays later, McGee made a one-handed reception of a pass from Bart Starr, took off past Chiefs defender Fred Williamson and ran 37 yards to score the first touchdown in Super Bowl history. This was a repeat of his performance in the NFL championship game two weeks earlier, when he had also caught a touchdown pass after relieving an injured Boyd Dowler. By the end of the game, McGee had recorded seven receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns, assisting Green Bay to a 35-10 victory.

Just check out that first catch, for the very first touchdown in a Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the NFL won’t allow you to watch the video on my site, even though you can see it on YouTube or directly the NFL website. Thank goodness they protected a 50-year old event from being seen here. Who knows what money might have been lost by them had you been able to see it here instead of their own website.

Here’s more about the story from Sports Illustrated:

McGee came to California ready to party. He chafed at a week of locked-down training camp in Santa Barbara and when the team moved to Los Angeles on the eve of the big game, he made plans with those two flight attendants, assuming that Hornung, who was nursing an injured neck and wouldn’t play in the game, would join him. McGee snuck out after assistant coach Hawg Hanner’s 11 p.m. bed check and soon afterward, called Hornung. “He called and said ‘I’ve got two girls and yours is gorgeous,’ ” says Hornung. ” ‘Come out and have a couple drinks with us.’ ” The fine was at least $5,000 and Hornung was getting married later that week and his neck was sore. He declined. The next time he heard from McGee was at 6:30 the next morning. “He called from the lobby and asked if they did a second check. I said ‘No, you lucky bastard, now get your ass up here.’ ”

Before every game, Dowler, Dale and McGee would have a brief, ritual meeting to go over the game plan and review tendencies one last time. “We’re having our little meeting,” says Dowler, 79 and living in Richmond, Va., “and Max says, ‘Whatever you do, don’t go down today.’ I said, What do you mean? Max says, ‘I was out all night and I had a few more drinks than I should have and I didn’t get much sleep. So just don’t go down.'”


Dowler says, “Max had a strong constitution. I figured he could deal with it. But he did not expect to play.” This was a potential problem. Dowler had played most of the 1965 season and all of the ’66 season with a bad right shoulder; a calcium deposit had developed on the joint. Yet the Packers’ coaching staff had seen weaknesses in the Chiefs’ pass defense, including a propensity to leave the middle of the field open on blitzes. Starr was going to throw the ball extensively. “Plus, their defensive backs,” says Dowler. “They had ‘The Hammer’ [future Hollywood actor Fred Williamson] on one side and some other guy, No. 22 [Willie Mitchell] on the other side. Neither one of them were very good, one-on-one. It wasn’t going to be like trying to beat Lem Barney or Night Train Lane [of the Detroit Lions].”

(McGee knew this, too. Maraniss, in When Pride Still Mattered, quotes McGee as telling Packers broadcaster Ray Scott, “I’ve been studying film and I’ve found me a cornerback. I’m gonna have him for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” Still, if he had expected to play, he most likely would have stayed in the night before. Or possibly not.)

On the Packers’ first series, McGee took a seat next to Hornung on the bench and made small talk about the night before and Hornung’s upcoming wedding. On the field, Lombardi opened with three consecutive running plays. On the third, Dowler executed a crackback block on Chiefs’ free safety Johnny Robinson, who was dropping down in run support. “My shoulder was not in good shape at all coming into the game,” says Dowler. “I usually put a foam pad underneath my shoulder pad, but since we were going to be throwing the ball a lot, I wanted to have some flexibility. I took the pad out. When I hit Johnny Robinson, I heard the calcium deposit crack and I knew immediately that I was finished.”


McGee was summoned into the game, but couldn’t find his helmet. He put on a giant lineman’s helmet with a full cage and on his first snap missed connecting with Starr on a curl route. On the Packers’ next possession, Starr came out throwing: 11 yards to tight end Marv Fleming, 22 yards to running back Elijah Pitts, 12 yards to Dale. And then on third-and-three from the Kansas City 37, McGee ran a simple skinny post against Mitchell’s outside position and broke wide open. Robinson had blitzed, leaving acres of green in the middle of the secondary. Starr’s pass was far behind McGee, who reached back, controlled the ball and then turned straight upfield, into the end zone and history. It was a remarkable catch, by a man with a hangover and no sleep, running at full speed. McGee’s second touchdown, on another inside move against Mitchell, gave the Packers a 28–10 lead in the third quarter. That one came on a better throw by Starr, but McGee juggled it as he crossed beneath the goalposts, which were on the goalline. “The game of his life,” says Hornung.


You can also see more video from television programs talking about McGee performance, such as when a TV show ranked the Top 50 Super Bowl Performances, and picked McGee’s Super Bowl I play as #31, and in another show which ranked McGee’s catch #10 among the “Top 10 Super Bowl Plays.”

And while it’s true that I’m a giant Green Bay Packers fan, and they’re the only football team I’ve ever rooted for, I still love this story about how the hungover Max McGee helped them win the first Super Bowl in 1967.


Historic Beer Birthday: William McEwan

Today is the birthday of William McEwan (July 16, 1827-May 12, 1913). He was a Scottish politician and brewer. He founded the Fountain Brewery in 1856 (later known as McEwan’s), served as a member of parliament (MP) from 1886 to 1900.”

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Here’s a short biography from the University of Glasgow:

William McEwan, the son of John McEwan, shipowner of Alloa, Scotland, was born in 1827. He served his apprenticeship with John Jeffrey, an Edinburgh brewer, and in 1856 he established his own business, the Fountain Brewery, in Fountainbridge in Edinburgh. He quickly established a large Scottish market and in the 1860s built up a successful colonial export trade. His sister married James Younger, an Alloa brewer, and one of their sons, William, joined his uncle’s business. When William McEwan entered politics in 1886, William Younger became the firm’s manager.

William McEwan & Co Ltd was registered in July 1889 as a limited liability company to acquire the business at a purchase price of GBP 408,000. The company acquired the trade and goodwill of Alexander Melvin & Co of the Boroughloch Brewery, Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh, in 1907. It merged with William Younger & Co Ltd, Abbey Brewery, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, to form Scottish Brewers Ltd in 1931, and that company merged with Newcastle Breweries Ltd in 1960 to form Scottish & Newcastle Breweries Ltd. The Fountain Brewery was closed by S & N at the end of 2004.

The Right Honourable William McEwan (1827-1913), MP

Here’s an account of his early life from Wikipedia:

McEwan was born in Alloa, Scotland in 1827, the third child of ship-owner John McEwan and his wife Anne Jeffrey. His older sister Janet married James Younger head of his local family brewing business in 1850. He was educated at Alloa Academy. He worked for the Alloa Coal Company and merchants Patersons.

He worked in Glasgow for a commission agent and then as a bookkeeper for a spinning firm in Yorkshire.

From 1851 he received technical and management training from his uncles, John and David Jeffrey, proprietors of the Heriot brewery in Edinburgh. In 1856 he established the Fountain Brewery at Fountainbridge in Edinburgh with money from his mother and his uncle, Tom Jeffrey. After growing sales in Scotland, his nephew William Younger of Alloa began an apprenticeship with him and eventually became managing director. Exports were made to Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and India, with McEwan’s having 90% of sales in north-eastern England by the turn of the century. The brewery became part of Scottish & Newcastle.

William McEwan by Arthur Marx (photographer)

McEwan became a member of parliament for Edinburgh Central after the 1886 general election, representing the Liberal Party. He was returned unopposed in 1895 and continued to serve until 1900. He became a Privy Counsellor in 1907, but declined a title.

In Vanity Fair, 1902.

Historic Beer Birthday: Otto Schell

Today is the birthday of Otto Schell (July 15, 1862-January 14, 1911). He was born in New Ulm, Minnesota, the son of August Schell, who founded August Schell Brewing Co. Schell’s Brewery is still in business today, and is still owned by the family who started it. “It is the second oldest family-owned brewery in America (after D. G. Yuengling & Son) and became the oldest and largest brewery in Minnesota when the company bought the Grain Belt rights in 2002.” When August died in 1891, he left the brewery to his wife Theresa, with his son Otto as manager of the brewery. “While the brewery mourned the loss of its founder, Otto became its driving force. In 1902 the brewery was incorporated and Otto was elected president, his mother Theresa was elected vice-president, and his brother-in-law George became secretary-treasurer. Otto was president from 1902 until his untimely death in 1911.


This is his obituary from the New Ulm Review, for January 18, 1911:

It would be difficult to call in mind the death of any citizen in this community that came with more shocking effect and produced a more sincere mourning throughout the entire city than does that of Otto Schell. Is it possible that the man of sturdy physique and with healthy and pleasant countenance, seen on our streets but the day before, greeting his friends and acquaintances in his usual pleasant way should now lie cold in death? Yes it is true. Otto Schell died about 10 o’clock, apparently of no other cause than a choking spell which according to the first reports, was due to a severe cold he contracted some time ago. An autopsy held over his body however revealed the fact that his sudden death was cause by uraemic poison due to kidney trouble of severeal years standing. Even on the morning of the day of his death he resumed his regular duties at the office of the brewery continuing same until noon. Before going home he called on his aged mother who lies at the point of death. This was his daily custom. Being somewhat indisposed he remained at home that afternoon, but was able to partake of a hearty supper. At about 8 o’clock, however, his condition became such as to necessitate a physician who promptly responded, but whose help was of no avail, The end came at 10 o’clock.

In the death of Mr. Schell New Ulm loses one of its most prominent and public spirited citizens. Having been born and reared in this city its welfare was always uppermost in his mind. His ardent love for the beauties of nature prompted him to convert the surroundings of his home and establishment into a veritable beauty spot. This trait also made him valuable to the community at large in the capacity as park commissioner, which office he held for several years. His loss is furthermore keenly felt by various enterprises in which he was interested in a financial and social way, such as the New Ulm Stone Co.; the Brown County Agricultural Society; the Citizens State Bank; the New Ulm-Maennerchor; the 2nd Regiment Band; the Sons of Hermann Lodge; the Freemasons; the Arbelterverein, etc. The State Horticultural Society elected him a Life-member. He also belonged to the State Brewmasters Association. Although he never held a political office he was ever ready to be of servce to the community by lending his assistance with his practical knowledge, ability and experience.

The relation of the deceased as employer of his employees was such as to give evidence to his manly character and kindness of heart. This sincere sorrow manifested by them at the announcement of his death gave ample proof of the high esteem in which he was held by everyone in his employ.

The highest tribute, however that can be paid to any man is his ideal attitude toward the immediate members of his family. And in this respect too much can not be said in honor of the deceased. Although the loss of Mr. Schell is a heavy blow to the community it will be most keenly felt by his wife, children and all relatives. A loyal and true husband, a loving, kind and affectionate father, a dear brother, a devoted son, a good neighbor will be missed in the Schell home.

He had the rare faculty of strictly attending to his own business and never allowing himself to be unduly influenced by any faction sentiment. Herein lies the secret of the fact that he was probably as popular a man in all factions as as ever lived in the confines of this city.

Otto Schell was born July 15,1862 in New Ulm. He received his education in the public schools of this city. At the age of 16 years he went to St. Paul, attending a business college in that city. Completing this course he became a student at the Mankato Normal School. Having finished his business education he worked in his father’s office for about one year. When 19 years old he made a journey to Germany, visiting his father’s native town where he remained a little over a year. On his return he resumed the office work at his father’s brewery.

On the 6th of October, 1885 he was married to Miss Adelia Schwertfeger of New Ulm. After the death of his father, August Schell, the deceased managed the extensive business for his mother. When in the year 1903 the brewery was converted into a stock company he became the president and business manager of the new concern, which position he held up to the time of his death. In 1901 he made another trip to Germany being accompanied by his wife and two children.

Mr. Schell is survived by his wife and two children, Walter. 16 years and Mrs. Cleveland Frederich of Springfield; his aged mother, Mrs. August Schell; three sisters, Mrs. Geo. Schneider, Mrs. Geo. Marti of this city and Mrs. Yoerg, of Winthrop and one brother, Adolph of Portland, Oregon.


And this is the portion of the Schell story from Immigrant Entrepreneurship that discusses Otto’s involvement in the brewery:

August Schell navigated the challenges of developing a rural business by strengthening family ties in the brewery’s operation. Like many small business founded by immigrants, family dynamics played a large role in the company as the children grew older. They would play a more crucial role in brewery operations as August Schell became increasingly unable to walk due to steadily worsening rheumatoid arthritis. He turned over day-to-day operations to his family in the late 1870s. The first family member to emerge within the company was Schell’s oldest son, Adolph. Adolph traveled to Chicago to learn brewing techniques and train at another brewery before coming back to New Ulm. By 1879, Adolph was directly involved in managing the company. Though August Schell initially appointed his younger son, Otto, as master brewer for the firm, by the mid-1880s he had decided that Otto was better suited than Adolph to take the reins of the company.

After attending public school in New Ulm, Otto attended business college in St. Paul and completed a business education degree at nearby Mankato Normal College. When he was nineteen years old, Otto lived for a year in his father’s German hometown while studying brewing. After returning to the U.S., he began working in the brewery’s business office. The exact reasons behind August Schell’s decision to groom his younger son as his successor are no longer known, but soon after Adolph’s brief period as brewmaster and Otto’s return to New Ulm, Adolph was shifted out of key leadership roles in the company and given a variety of other jobs. Adolph then established his own business distributing Schell beer in areas a few hours west of New Ulm, and later moved to California in 1889 to start a fruit and chicken ranch. Though newspaper reports highlighted Adolph’s desire for a better climate as the deciding factor in his move, family reports emphasized the growing enmity between the brothers. By the early 1880s, Otto Schell had taken control of the brewery’s operations. When August Schell died after becoming increasingly weakened by arthritis at the age of 63 in 1891, he had ensured that his company would continue to prosper while still remaining in family hands.

Such family politics along with the frontier challenges and his growing competition spurred August Schell and his son, Otto, to expand and innovate. By 1879, August Schell’s continuous expansion had created a massive brick brewery with several outbuildings on the bluffs of the Cottonwood River. The main brewery was 150 feet long and from 30 to 80 feet in depth. Two main copper brew kettles dominated the brewery – one with a 25-barrel capacity and the other with a 12-barrel capacity. Underneath the main floor of the brewery were seven separate stone cellars for lagering beer and malting barley. There were four ice houses capable of storing 700 tons of ice. The ice was harvested from the Cottonwood River which ran 100 feet below the brewery at the bottom of the cliff. Each block of ice would be attached to tongs and hauled by a team of horses to the cellars via a rope and pulley system.


Schell Brewing Company’s physical plant grew even more once Otto Schell took over daily operation of the company and initiated a major renovation of the brewery. In 1887, the company installed bottling equipment in order to reach broader regional markets and appeal to retailers and consumers who did not wish to purchase an entire barrel of beer at one time. The brewery kept expanding the market for its beer as railroads made transporting beer into new regions easier. For example, in 1890, the company built an ice house in St. James, Minnesota, (about 30 miles south of New Ulm) as a distribution point. In the fall of 1890, Schell erected a new two-story brick building to house beer and ice, as well as a barley storage house to take the place of an older framed building, at a cost of $7,000 for both ($179,000 in 2011 dollars). By 1891, Schell’s produced nearly 9,000 barrels of beer a year. Otto Schell proposed to more than double the brewery’s capacity so that it could produce over 20,000 barrels a year. The expansion would take the company to a production level that only a few other breweries in the state could match, even in the Twin Cities. With plenty of cash netted from doing a brisk business over the previous several years, Schell plowed the money back into the physical plant. He hired a Chicago architect to design the changes. Throughout much of the fall and winter of 1892-1893, the brewery shut down in order to complete the rebuilding effort. For approximately six weeks, new roads were built around the facility. Shell spent almost $20,000 ($510,000 in 2011 dollars) on constructing this modernized and expanded brewery. Most of the new expansion was completed just as the Panic of 1893 derailed the United States’ economic engine. Without having to rely upon loans or banks to stay solvent, however, the Schell Brewing Company weathered the Panic of 1893 remarkably well.

Otto Schell both expanded the brewery’s physical plant and invested heavily in new, expensive machinery to stay at the head of the crowded brewing industry in New Ulm. In 1895, the company again expanded by building a four-story malting house adjacent to the brewery with the intent of manufacturing malt on a commission basis. In the mid-1890s, the brewery upgraded its machinery including a new copper kettle able to produce 125 barrels of beer at a time, steel mash tubs and tanks, and other up-to-date equipment. In 1897, Otto Schell traveled to St. Louis, a city with a sizeable German-American community, to buy ice machines for better refrigeration of beer and improved ventilation. Otto Schell invented and patented a new machine and a new method for separating hops from beer in 1902. This innovation cut the costs associated with filtering the beer in half, which further increased revenue in the long term.

The Schell brewery seen from a distance.

When Otto Schell incorporated the August Schell Brewing Company in October of 1902 at $300,000 ($8,090,000 in 2011 dollars), he established a tradition of appointing only family members to the board of directors. The original board of directors listed Otto Schell as president, Theresa Schell, his mother and the wife of founder August Schell, as vice-president, and George Marti as secretary and treasurer. When Otto Schell died at the age of 48 in 1911, George Marti, August Schell’s son-in-law, took over as president of the August Schell Brewing Company. Operation of the company has remained within the Marti family ever since.

Though August Schell Brewing Company remained a relatively small regional brewery (one among many prior to Prohibition) compared to giants such as Anheuser-Busch and Schlitz, the close ethnic ties cultivated by German immigrants and organizations in New Ulm helped the firm to maintain a distinct identity and regional appeal. Continued family connections also played a role in sustaining the August Schell Brewing Company during Prohibition when it produced root beer (1919 Root Beer) and candy to stay afloat. Considering how few breweries remained viable outside of the large corporate breweries in post-Prohibition and post-World War II America, the fact that New Ulm boasted two breweries into the 1960s is noteworthy but also reflects the regional support for local brewing operations. After over 100 years in business, Hauenstein Brewing Company, Schell’s closest and most direct competition in its marketplace, closed its doors permanently in 1969. Such persistence proved stronger in rural ethnic communities like New Ulm where linguistic ties held people closer to others like them compared to similar sized ethnic communities in larger cities.


Social Status, Networks, and Public Life

Although the Turnverein organization aided August Schell’s initial rise in Cincinnati and later New Ulm society, Schell’s growing wealth and regional prominence soon made him a respected public figure beyond his status as a Turner. By the late 1870s, August Schell could indulge in developing his interests outside of business. He spent considerable wealth to design and create a new family mansion and elaborate gardens in the 1870s. Acting the part of a respected member of society, August Schell became a patron of the arts by hiring a young, and eventually notable, artist, Anton Gag, to help in the creation of his mansion. Like his father, Schell delighted in the outdoors and everything associated with it. He continually added to his deer park, the symbol of his brewery, which eventually grew to include sixteen deer by the time of his death in 1891. Every time an animal was added to his menagerie, the newspapers reported it. For example, while there were plenty of native deer in the area, Schell imported a tame fawn from Wisconsin to inhabit his backyard. Numerous wild animals from the Upper Midwest increasingly called the Schell deer park home, including wild geese, cranes, and pheasants. Schell’s tastes in animals ran to the exotic as he got older. In 1890, the newspaper reported that Schell’s pet monkey had escaped from its cage and was only captured five days later.

As August Schell rose in public prominence, he gradually separated himself from the local Turnverein. Schell remained a member of the Turners until his mid-fifties in 1884. Neither of his sons became members of the New Ulm Turnverein (though his son-in-law, George Marti, who eventually took over the family business in the early twentieth century became a member in 1879). Even prior to 1884, though Schell may have remained a member of the Turners, he became less prominently involved in the organization. Due to rising tensions between Turners and non-Turners in the region, Schell’s actions are not surprising. Small-town, frontier societies, in particular, breed familiarity and close ties but also sharp resentments among a population where everyone was a known quantity. The stark differences in worldviews of the Catholic German-Bohemians (who formed the bulk of the working class in New Ulm) and the liberal Turners like Schell who disdained organized religion bred underlying tensions within the community. Schell and his fellow Turners dominated the public life of New Ulm for decades. Even into the 1890s, the Turners still controlled the six-member school board that set the curriculum, hired teachers, managed the land owned by the school district, and planned construction of new schools. The total removal of religion from the schools, enforced by Turner school board members, angered many citizens of New Ulm. The Turners’ outright opposition to religion was anathema to religious parents at time when elsewhere in the United States the separation of church and state was much more loosely interpreted by school boards. This strong conviction flowed naturally out of their freethinking, liberal philosophy. Education, they believed, was the best means to combat the mysticism and superstitions bred by organized religion. Controlling the public school board, the Turners stamped their liberal philosophy upon the schools’ curriculum. For example, they used German-language textbooks published by the Turners. The public schools closed for Turner holidays as well. Furthermore, the school board held their meetings at Turner Hall. Though the Turners themselves continued using German as their primary language for years to come, they insisted that English receive primary consideration in the public schools. Their children would be raised as Americans who would be comfortable in an English-speaking world. This sentiment was not embraced by all within the borders of New Ulm. The 1892 annual New Ulm school meeting during which new school board member would be elected became a referendum on Turner influence in New Ulm in all areas of public life. One of the candidates that won a seat on the board in this election was a prominent businessman, Charles Silverson, owner of the Eagle Roller Mill in New Ulm and an immigrant from Baden as well. Silverson and his allies now openly charged the Turners with manipulating the public school system and the city’s politics.


Whether intentional or not, Schell and his family were conspicuously absent among the business leaders who participated the fight over control of the public school system of New Ulm. For immigrant entrepreneurs like Schell, getting caught up in such social and political divisiveness could have had clear financial repercussions among a knowledgeable customer base with alternate choices. Although Schell held a strong market presence in south-central Minnesota, he still faced competition not just from other breweries in New Ulm but from even more distant breweries, especially with the advent of the railroad. Seeking to maintain the widest customer base, Schell likely knew he would lose market share if he, his family, or his company were perceived as part of the simmering social crisis in the region. The Schell Brewing Company, like nearly all small-town businesses, had to negotiate intensely personal tensions within the local community in order to thrive. Market share and financial success were often impacted not simply by their product alone but by public perceptions of the company and its leaders.

Although factions within New Ulm hardened their animosity towards each other, the Schell Brewing Company remained above the fray. These examples of opposition to the Turners provide a valuable window into the community during the crucial period in Schell’s company history when control was passing from August Schell to his son, Otto. Well before the conflict of the 1890s, the Schells’ had become regarded as major public figures in New Ulm and the surrounding region not because of their status as Turners but because of their beer. Without alienating their old Turner allies and connections, the Schell family withdrew from membership in the Turners just as the non-Turner population increased dramatically, which proved to be a wise business move for the firm (perhaps as forward-looking as any other decision in the company’s history). The conflict could have led to the family being branded as elitist Turners. Instead, the Schell family retained their long-developed status as widely respected businessmen.


Beer Birthday: Bob Stoddard

Today is the 62nd birthday of Bob Stoddard. Bob was an early beer pioneer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Originally a Miller distributor’s rep., Bob bought the original Palo Alo Brewing Co., which was started in 1983, from founder Ken Kolence two years later, in 1985. It was undercapitalized from the start, and there were some other issues, and it closed in 1987. It was also the first location to brew Pete’s Wicked Ale. A few years later, in 1993, he opened Stoddard’s Brewhouse & Eatery in Sunnyvale. By 2002, it was successful enough to open a second location in Campbell. Unfortunately, the new location was too large to be sustainable and today the original location is the FireHouse Grill & Brewery and the newer one is Campbell Brewing Company/Sonoma Chicken Coop. I attended the grand opening of the Campbel brewpub, but I can’t find my photos from the event. I think that’s the last time I’ve seen Bob, but somebody told me what he’s doing these days, only I can’t remember. I’m sure someone will happily fill me in. Until then, join me in wishing Bob a very happy birthday.

Bob, from an eBay listing for the book”Home Brewer’s Gold,” published in 1997. Surely someone must have some better photos of Bob? If so, send ’em my way, please.

And here’s part of the write-up from the same book:


Beer Words: Alebush

This morning, the O.E.D. tweeted as their “Word of the Day,” the all but obselete word “alebush,” which they define as a “n. A bunch of ivy or other plant hung up as a tavern sign.”

Illustration by Imogen Foxell.

Here’s the full entry from the O.E.D., revised in 2012:


I would certainly like to see more bars, and especially beer gardens, using bushes and trees to mark their spaces.

Alexander Nowell & The Invention Of The Beer Bottle

July 13, 1568 is often given as the date that the Dean of St Paul, Alexander Nowell invented the beer bottle. It’s almost certain that’s not correct. If you were writing a work of history you’d ignore what you couldn’t confirm, but if you’re only commemorating the event it’s as good a day as any to do so. The event in question was another fishing trip. Apparently, the theologian was quite the avid fisherman and “a keen angler.” Nowell’s contemporary, Izaak Walton — the author of The Compleat Angler — remarked of him that “this good man was observed to spend a tenth part of his time in angling; and also (for I have conversed with those which have conversed with him) to bestow a tenth part of his revenue, and usually all his fish, amongst the poor that inhabited near to those rivers in which it was caught; saying often, ‘that charity gave life to religion.'”


As for inventing the beer bottle, credit was apparently not given until after his death, by English churchman and historian Thomas Fuller, who wrote. “Without offence it may be remembered, that leaving a bottle of ale, when fishing, in the grass, he found it some days after, no bottle, but a gun, such the sound at the opening thereof: and this is believed (casualty is mother of more inventions than industry) the original of bottled ale in England.”

The best account, as usual, undoubtedly comes from Martyn Cornell on his Zythophile blog, in his article, A Short History of Bottled Beer:

While Nowell was parish priest at Much Hadham in Hertfordshire, around 20 miles north of London, in the early years of Elizabeth I, it is said that he went on a fishing expedition to the nearby River Ash, taking with him for refreshment a bottle filled with home brewed ale. When Nowell went home he left the full bottle behind in the river-bank grass. According to Thomas Fuller’s History of the Worthies of Britain, published a hundred years later, when Nowell returned to the river-bank a few days later and came across the still-full bottle, “he found no bottle, but a gun, such was the sound at the opening thereof; and this is believed (causality is mother of more inventions than industry) the original of bottled ale in England.”

The ale, of course, had undergone a secondary fermentation in the bottle, building up carbon dioxide pressure so that it gave a loud pop when Nowell pulled the cork out. Such high-condition ale must have been a novelty to Elizabethan drinkers, who knew only the much flatter cask ales and beers. However, Fuller’s story is fun, but it seems unlikely Nowell really was the person who invented bottled beer: it seems more than probable that brewers were experimenting generally with storing beer in glass bottles in the latter half of the 16th century, though there is no apparent evidence of commercial bottling until the second half of the 17th century, only bottling by domestic brewers.

Part of the problem was that the hand-blown glass bottles of the time could not take the strain of the CO2 pressure. Gervaise Markham, writing in 1615, advised housewife brewers that when bottling ale “you should put it into round bottles with narrow mouths, and then, stopping them close with corks, set them in a cold cellar up to the waist in sand, and be sure that the corks be fast tied with strong pack thread, for fear of rising out and taking vent, which is the utter spoil of the ale.”

(There is, incidentally, a garbled version of the “bottle as gun” tale which seems to have materialised in the late 19th century, and which conflates the bottled ale story with another about Nowell fleeing England in a hurry in the reign of Queen Mary, after he received a warning that his enemy Bishop Bonner, known as “Bloody Bonner”, was out to arrest him for heresy. For some reason, in this version of the story Nowell is called “Newell”.)


And this account is from Just Another Booze Blog:

It was a pleasant July day in 1568. Alexander Nowell, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, in London, decided he wanted to do some fishing down by the river. He packed up all his fishing gear and tackle, the wife packed him a ham and cheese sandwich, and he grabbed his night crawlers and the new fishing lure he bought off of the Outdoor Channel. He was all set to go when he realized, what would go great with fishing? A beer! Because fishing without beer is like driving without beer. It’s just no fun. So he stopped by the corner pub on his way to the river and had them fill a glass bottle up with beer for him. He made sure they sealed it up good and tight with a cork so his horse wouldn’t get pulled over for an open container.

When done fishing, he accidentally left the still half full bottle on the river bank. Several days later (July 13th) he returned to do some more fishing, because he needed an excuse to get away from the wife for a while. He saw his old beer on the ground and thought “man, I could really go for some for that right now.” When he went to drink it, the cork opened with a loud bang (the beer had fermented further over the past few days). He found it to be extra fizzy and quite delicious.

Alexander Nowell, DD, Benefactor, Principal (1595), Dean of St Paul's
A 1595 portrait of Nowell at Brasenose College, at the University of Oxford.