Historic Beer Birthday: George Gund II

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Today is the birthday of George Gund II (April 13, 1888-November 15, 1966). He was the son of George F. Gund and the grandson of John Gund, the founder of John Gund Brewing, of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and the brother of Henry Gund and John Gund Jr., who founded Lexington Brewing, in Lexington, Kentucky. George Frederick Gund founded Gund Brewing Co., of Cleveland, Ohio. Despite the brewing heritage, Gund II “was an American banker, business executive, and real estate investor who lived in Cleveland, Ohio in the early and middle part of the 20th century. Heir to the George Frederick Gund brewing and banking fortune, he was a philanthropist for most of his life. He established The George Gund Foundation in 1952 and endowed it with most of his $600 million fortune at his death.”

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Here’s his biography from Wikipedia:

Gund’s grandfather, Johann Gund, was born in 1830 in Brühl am Rhein in the independent country of the Grand Duchy of Baden (now part of Germany). The family emigrated to the United States in 1848 and settled in Illinois, but in 1854 moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin. There his grandfather founded the John Gund Brewery. His father, George Frederick Gund, was born in LaCrosse in 1856 and later managed the Gund Brewery. His father moved to Seattle, Washington, founded the Seattle Brewing and Malting Company, became a director of two banks, and then returned to the Midwest to move his family to Cleveland in 1897. His father bought the Jacob Mall Brewing Company, renamed it the Gund Brewing Company, and made a large fortune investing in banking, mining, and real estate.

George Gund, Jr. (as he was then known) was born to George Frederick and Anna Louise (Metzger) Gund on April 13, 1888. He was a student at the University School of Cleveland from 1897 to 1905. He entered Harvard University, and received his A.B. in 1909. Toward the end of his Harvard education, he simultaneously enrolled in the Harvard Business School, and graduated in the school’s first class in 1909. He moved to Seattle and took a job as a clerk with the Seattle First National Bank, but moved back to Cleveland when his father died in 1916. But when World War I broke out, he enlisted in the United States Army and served in the Military Intelligence Division.

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The Jacob Mall Brewing Co. when George Gund bought it in 1897.

After the start of prohibition in the United States in 1920, Gund was forced to close his father’s brewery in Cleveland. But during the war, Kaffee HAG, a German corporation, was stripped of its assets in the United States. Among its subsidiaries was Sanka, the company which manufactured decaffeinated coffee. Gund purchased Sanka in 1919, then sold it to Kellogg’s in 1927 for $10 million in stock. Gund also took over management of the Gund Realty Company in Cleveland and invested his money in numerous ventures. During the depths of the Great Depression, he purchased large amounts of stock at very low prices.

Gund studied animal husbandry at Iowa State University from 1922 to 1923. He made many trips to California and Nevada, often staying there for many months at a time, and became interested in a possible political career in Nevada. He purchased a large cattle ranch in Nevada, but on May 23, 1936, he married Jessica Laidlaw Roesler. She was the granddaughter of Henry Bedell Laidlaw, the founder of one of the first investment banking houses in New York City, Laidlaw & Company. Gund purchased a large home in Beachwood, a wealthy suburb of Cleveland, and the couple had six children: George III, Agnes, Gordon, Graham, Geoffrey, and Louise.

In 1937, Gund was elected a director of the Cleveland Trust Company (a savings bank established in 1896), and was named president in 1941. He was made chairman of the board of trustees in 1962. Under Gund’s leadership, by 1967 the bank had more than $2 billion in assets, making it the 18th largest bank in the United States. Gund also served on the board of directors of another 30 national and multinational corporations. But despite the urban nature of his work, Gund never lost his affection for the Old West. He used his income to collect a large number of works of art which depicted the American West, including works by Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington, and Charles Marion Russell.

George Gund died of leukemia at the Cleveland Clinic on November 15, 1966. He was interred at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.

His foundation also has a nice biography of him.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Gambrinus

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Today is the traditional birthday of Gambrinus, sometimes called King Gambrinus, considered to be a patron saint of beer, brewing and/or Belgian beer. Not an “official” saint, at least not in the catholic church, but a legendary figure. Regardless, join me in drinking a toast to King Gambrinus today.

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Here’s the overview at Wikipedia:

Gambrinus is a legendary king of Flanders, and an unofficial patron saint of beer or beer brewing. Gambrinus is variously depicted as a European king, as an English knight of the Middle Ages, or (less commonly) as a plump old man. Gambrinus’ birthday is purported to be April 11.

The origin of the character is most widely believed to be John the Fearless (1371–1419), who some also believe to be the inventor of hopped malt beer. However, other sources report that one of the cup-bearers in the court of Charlemagne (742–814) was also called Gambrinus. In 1543, the German poet Burkart Waldis wrote of Gambrinus, explaining that Gambrinus learned the art of brewing from Isis, the ancient Egyptian goddess of motherhood and fertility.

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It is also possible that the original Gambrinus was Duke John I of Brabant (1254-1298), who was called Jan Primus.

Other possible Latin etymologies of the name include cambarus (cellarer) and ganeae birrinus (one who drinks in a tavern). Plzeňský Prazdroj, brewer of the Gambrinus lager, endorses the explanation that the name is a corruption of Jan Primus (John the First), referring to John I, Duke of Brabant. Alternatively, Gambrinus may be a corruption of the name Gambrivius. Although less likely, Gambrinus might also derive from camba, a word from the Celtic language family that refers to a brewer’s pan.

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The beer website Froth N Hops has the fullest account of the story of King Gambrinus in one place, though it’s unclear what the source material is. Hopefully, he won’t mind my re-printing it here.

King Gambrinus, known as “the patron saint of beer,” has long been a universal symbol of beer and brewing. Particularly during the late nineteenth century, the image of Gambrinus was used by countless brewers to promote their products and remind consumers of the rich heritage of beer-making. Many breweries were even adorned with life-size statues of the King.

But who was Gambrinus? It is Gambrinus who brought beer to earth, and here is the legend of how this came to pass, and how he came to be King: Gambrinus was a poor apprentice in glass-making, hailing from a little town in the Flandres called Fresne sur l’Escaut. With his wonderful pink cheeks, blonde hair and blonde beard, he was the most beautiful boy in the town and had great romantic success with the town girls.

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But Gambrinus had secretly fallen in love with the beautiful daughter of his master, Flandrine. In those times, glass makers were noble from birth, and taught their art only to their sons. Flandrine, as proud as she was pretty, wanted to marry a master glass maker like her father, grandfather, and great grandfather. Gambrinus, as an apprentice, would only prepare the glass for his master, who then skillfully puffed it into decorative sheets.

At last, Gambrinus gathered the courage to reveal his feelings to Flandrine. But Flandrine, offended that such a lowly apprentice sought her affection, refused so strongly that Gambrinus left Fresne, and vowed never to return to glass-working again so that he might forget about Flandrine forever.

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So Gambrinus wandered from town to town playing his violin and writing poetry to sing along while he played. Gambrinus, who was very clever and a quick-learner, soon gained a reputation as one of the best violinists in the region. He was constantly called on in towns far and wide to liven up weddings, birthdays, and other parties.

When the people of Fresne heard of the fame Gambrinus had achieved, they could barely believe it. They were so proud of their Gambrinus that they invited him back to Fresne and threw a town-wide celebration in his honor. Gambrinus, flattered by the thought of a celebration in his honor, accepted the towns invitation and returned to Fresne. When he arrived in Fresne and began playing his violin, the delighted townspeople began to sing and dance and cheer.

But soon after Gambrinus had started playing, he noticed Flandrine in the crowd. Overcome by nervousness, Gambrinus began to tremble. He trembled so much and played his violin so horribly that the townspeople began to kick him and shout at him.

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The townspeople all blamed Gambrinus for the commotion, since it was his poor playing that upset everyone. Gambrinus soon found himself arrested by the town officials and spent a full month in jail for the trouble he caused in the street and the noisy disturbance he had caused in the night. When Gambrinus was released from jail, he decided the only way he could ever make himself forget about Flandrine was to kill himself. He decided to hang himself, and headed out into the forest to set up a noose and platform. Gambrinus slid the noose over his neck, but just when he was about to step off the platform, he saw before him the devil himself. As is his custom, the devil proposed a deal to Gambrinus: if his power was not strong enough to make Flandrine love Gambrinus, the devil would oblige Gambrinus to forget Flandrine forever. This in exchange for Gambrinus’ soul in 30 years time. Gambrinus accepted the deal, and agreed to the devil’s terms.

As soon as Gambrinus returned to town, he noticed an intense desire to gamble on games. Indeed, the devil meant to turn Gambrinus’ love for Flandrine into a passion for betting. Gambrinus bet on everything he could, not caring whether he won or not. But win he did, and soon Gambrinus found himself the owner of a small fortune. Although gambling had nearly eclipsed any thought of Flandrine, Gambrinus suddenly had an idea. Because he was as rich as a prince, perhaps Flandrine would agree to marry him as a noble. Gambrinus approached Flandrine for the second time and expressed his feelings to her. But Flandrine’s rejection was as swift and as ruthless as the first time: Gambrinus wasn’t a noble; he was born a boy, and would remain a boy for life.

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King on a Barrel Gambrinus, returned to the forest to see the devil and ask him what went wrong; after all, Gambrinus still had not forgotten Flandrine, nor had Flandrine been made to fall in love with Gambrinus. Suddenly, before Gambrinus’ eyes appeared a large field with long lines of poles on which green plants began to grow. Soon the poles were covered by these green, perfumed plants. “These,” explained the devil, “are hops.” Just as quickly, two buildings burst forth from the ground. “The first building is a hophouse,” said the devil, “and the second one is a brewery. Come, and I will teach you how to make beer, Flandres’ wine. Beer will help you to forget Flandrine.”

Gambrinus learned how to make beer (not without tasting it every now and again) and found it delicious. Gambrinus soon felt like singing and dancing and playing his violin. But he remembered that the last time he had played violin he had been arrested, and his violin destroyed. Gambrinus asked the devil how he might seek revenge against the townspeople of Fresne who kicked him, sent him to jail, and broke his violin. The devil gave Gambrinus a new instrument that no one could resist, and taught Gambrinus how to play it. The devil explained that this instrument was called the chimes. The devil gave Gambrinus some seeds and the chimes and sent Gambrinus back to Fresne.

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Once he arrived home, Gambrinus planted the precious seeds given to him by Belzebuth, and practiced making beer and playing chimes. One morning, Gambrinus set up tables, chairs, barrels, and chimes on the main town square and invited all the townspeople to join him to sample his new drink called beer. The townspeople tasted the beer, which was a brown lager. At first the people complained: “It is too bitter,” “It is too strong.” The people soon began laughing at Gambrinus and his stupid drink. Then Gambrinus began to play the irresistible chimes. The people all began dancing and could not stop. All the dancing made the people thirsty, which encouraged them to drink more beer. After an hour or so, the tired and woozy townspeople pleaded with Gambrinus to stop playing chimes. But Gambrinus kept playing for hours and hours. Gambrinus was satisfied that he had gotten his revenge on those who had wronged him.

But after time the townspeople began to appreciate the beer. They begged Gambrinus to make more and called beer the best drink they ever had. Word of Gambrinus’ drink spread far and wide and crossed over all frontiers. People from other towns soon begged Gambrinus to bring beer to their towns. Everywhere Gambrinus went, he brewed beer and played the chimes. So impressed were the nobles of the region that the Dukes, Counts, and Lords offered Gambrinus the title “King of Flandres.” Gambrinus accepted the position of king, but said he preferred the title “King of the Beer.” From thence on, Gambrinus was known as “The Brewer King.”

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When Flandrine realized that Gambrinus would never come to her again, she came to talk to him. Gambrinus, however, more than a little inebriated, couldn’t recognize Flandrine, and just offered her something to drink; indeed, Gambrinus had forgotten about Flandrine.

Gambrinus lived happily with his subjects for many years, until finally the devil returned. “Thirty years have passed since we made our deal,” said the devil. “Now you must follow me.” But when the devil turned around, Gambrinus began playing the chimes, and the devil began to dance. The devil begged Gambrinus to stop playing, but Gambrinus continued, and the devil could not stop dancing. Finally, the devil agreed to break his deal with Gambrinus, releasing Gambrinus from his end of the deal.

King Gambrinus lived happily for another half century playing chimes and making beer. When Gambrinus finally died, his body disappeared, and in its place appeared a barrel of beer. This is why Gambrinus has no tombstone, and why no one knows of the resting place of The Brewer King.

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Another website lists some tall tales that have made Gambrinus famous:

  • He received the gift of beer directly from the Egyptian fertility goddess Isis
  • In medieval times he loaned his soul to the devil for 30 years to learn the art and process of brewing
  • He outwitted his opponent in a challenge to lift an impossibly heavy beer cask by first drinking the beer then triumphantly lifted the empty cask
  • During a three-day banquet he drank mug after mug of foamy beer and he was known forever after as the King of Beer

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Below is a Symphonion No. 25 GS: “Gambrinus,” a “spectacular original coin-operated disc musical box by ‘Symphonion Musikwerke, Leipzig,’ for 11 3/4 in. discs, 84 teeth in duplex comb (complete), with a wonderful wood-carved figure of the mythical Flemish King “Gambrinus”. 43 1/2 in. high. With 10 discs.”

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The German Beer Brewers Museum in Munich owns a portrait from 1526 of King Gambrinus, and it includes the following verse:

Im Leben ward ich Gambrinus gennant,
König zu Flandern und Brabant,
Ich hab aus Gersten Malz gemacht
Und Bierbrauen zuerst erdacht.
Drum können die Brauer mit Wahrheit sagen,
Daß sie einen König zum Meister haben.

Which translates roughly to:

In life I was known as Gambrinus,
King of Flanders and Brabant,
From barley I made malt
And was first at brewing beer.
Thus the brewers can truthfully say,
They have a king as master brewer.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Johann Sedlmayr

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Today is the birthday of Johann Sedlmayr (April 9, 1846-November 24, 1900). Johann was the grandson of Gabriel Sedlmayr and the third son of Gabriel Sedlmayr II. Johann’s father inherited the Spaten Brewery, along with his brother, when his father died, but Gabriel became sole owner after his brother Joseph left to start his own brewery, Franziskaner. Two of Joahnn’s older brother dies before their father, so when Gabriel II passed away, he and his younger brothers Carl and Anton inherited the family brewery.

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The caption of this photo, from German Wikipedia, translates to “Delivery of the Spade brewery to the sons Johann, Carl and Anton Sedlmayr 1874,” although I can’t say which one is Johann. I don’t know much more about his time running the brewery. “From 1884 to 1890 he was a member of the German Reichstag for the electoral district of Oberbayern 1 Munich I and the Nationalliberal Party.”

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Historic Beer Birthday: Ralph Thrale

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Today is the birthday of Ralph Thrale (1698-April 9, 1758). Thrale’s exact date of birth is not known, but he died today in 1758, so that’s why I’m celebrating his birthday today. He was born in Offley, Hertfordshire, England, the son of Ralph Thrale, a Cottager originally from Sandridge who moved to Offley. His uncle brought him to London around 1711 after his father died (when he was only 13) to work at his Anchor Brewery, in Southwark, in the central part of the city, and eventually he became the Master of The Brewers Company, having bought the brewery after his uncle’s death. He was also a Member of Parliament from 1741-1747 and also High Sheriff for Surrey from 1733-34.

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Portrait of Ralph Thrale by Thomas Hudson.

This is his short biography from the History of Parliament:

The son of ‘a hardworking man at Offley’, Thrale was brought to London by his uncle, Edmund Halsey, the owner of the Anchor brewery at Southwark, who ‘said he would make a man of him, and did so but … treated him very roughly’, making him work ‘at six shillings a week for twenty years’. He soon ‘made himself so useful … that the weight of the business fell entirely on him’, and he was expected to succeed to the brewery.1 But he fell out with his uncle by marrying ‘a wench that Halsey wanted to have for his own pleasure’, and was cut off.2On Halsey’s death in 1729, the Anchor brewery was put up for sale. According to Mrs. Piozzi, Thrale’s daughter-in-law,

to find a purchaser for so large a property was a difficult matter, and after some time, it was suggested that it would be advisable to treat with Thrale, a sensible, active, honest man, who had been long employed in the house, and to transfer the whole to him for £30,000, security being taken upon the property. This was accordingly settled. In eleven years Thrale paid the purchase money. He acquired a large fortune. But what was most remarkable was the liberality with which he used his riches.

Returned as an opposition Whig for Southwark, the brewers’ constituency, he voted against the Government on the chairman of the elections committee in 1741 and on the Hanoverians in 1744, was absent from other recorded divisions, did not stand again, and died 8 Apr. 1758.

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Thrale’s Anchor Brewery around 1785.

This mention of Ralph Thrale’s involvement in the Anchor Brewery is from “A History of Beer and Brewing,” by Ian Spencer Hornsey:

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This is the entry for Barclay, Perkins & Co. Ltd, which at one time had been Thrale’s Anchor Brewery, from “The Brewing Industry: A Guide to Historical Records,” edited by Lesley Richmond, Alison Turton, published in 1990:

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The Anchor Brewery around 1820.

And finally, the famous English writer Charles Dickens, during the period when he was writing many of his major works, “he was also the publisher, editor, and a major contributor to the journals Household Words (1850–1859) and All the Year Round (1858–1870). In “Volume V, from March 30, 1861 to September 21, 1861,” in a piece entitled “Queen of the Blue Stockings,” from April 20, 1861, Ralph Thrale is mentioned in a history of the Barclay Perkins brewery to give context to his tale:

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A marker where Thrale’s brewery once stood in central London.

Historic Beer Birthday: Otto Schinkel Jr.

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Today is the birthday of Otto Schinkel Jr. (April 9, 1869-January 26, 1907). While Anchor Brewing began during the California Gold Rush when Gottlieb Brekle arrived from Germany and began brewing in San Francisco, it didn’t become known as Anchor Brewing until 1896, when “Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr., bought the old brewery on Pacific Avenue and named it Anchor. The brewery burned down in the fires that followed the 1906 earthquake, but was rebuilt at a different location in 1907.” Baruth had passed away the same year as the earthquake, and Schinkel died in an accident in early 1907 when struck by a streetcar in San Francisco.

Surprisingly, there isn’t much biographical information about Schinkel. He was born somewhere in Germany, and married Ida Caroline Baruth on November 26, 1890. She was born in California, sometime in July of 1873. They had three children together, all daughters: Elsie, Alice and Doris.

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I did discover that he was a president of the Norddeutscher Verein (or North German Association) four times as noted in this portrait from a book celebrating the organization’s 25th anniversary, or Silver Anniversary 1874-1899.

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The Anchor Brewery in the early 1900s.

Here’s what’s written about him at Find a Grave:

Anchor Beer began during the Gold Rush when Gottlieb Brekle arrived from Germany and began brewing in San Francisco. In 1896, Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr., bought the brewery and named it Anchor. The brewery burned down in the fires that followed the 1906 earthquake, but was rebuilt at a different location in 1907.

“Killed by a Bryant street car just below Twentieth street shortly after noon yesterday as he was attempting to take a seat on the open side of the vehicle. The sudden starting of the car is alleged to have caused him to fall directly in front of the moving vehicle.

“The first wheel crossed his chest and the heavy trucks crushed his skull before Motorman J. N. Swope could stop the car. Motorman, conductor and passengers jumped to the man’s aid. By main strenght they lifted the car. He was already dead, however, and terribly mangled.

“A brother J. H. Schinkel, was standing on the corner, less than fifty feet away, and saw the accident. He ran frantically to the scene and with his own hands dragged the form of his brother from under the car. J. N. Swope, the motorman, was arrested and charged with manslaughter. He was later released on $50 cash bail furnished by the railroad company.

“Otto Schinkel was a prominent German brewer of the city. He was the owner of the Anchor Brewery, located at North Beach before the fire and now being rebuilt at Eighteenth and Hampshire streets. He was a member of the Norddeustcher Verein, Norddeutsche Schutzen Verein, Schleswig-Holstein Society, Golden Gate Aerie of Eagles, Red Men and the Brewers Association. He was thirty-nine years old and had been very prominent in German-American circles for many years. He leaves a widow and two children. A checkbook found in his pocket showed that he had $40,000 on deposit in the Citizens National Bank.”

[Note: Find a Grave lists his birth year as 1849, while every other source I found says 1869.]

Historic Beer Birthday: John F. Betz

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Today is the birthday of John F. Betz (April 8, 1831-January 16, 1908). He was born in Mohringer, Germany and emigrated with his family when he was an infant. His sister Elizabeth married D.G. Yuengling, and he learned brewing there from an early age. When he was 24, he bought a brewery in New York, but moved to Philadelphia in 1867, and bought what was originally the Robert Hare & J. Warren Porter Brewery when it opened in 1775. It was the William Gaul Brewery, but Betz changed it to the John F. Betz Brewery, though after his son joined the business in 1880, it became known as the John F. Betz & Son Brewery. The brewery survived prohibition, but closed for good in 1939.

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Here’s one account by Rich Wagner on The Beers and Breweries of Philadelphia in Zymurgy from 1991:

John F. Betz came to Philadelphia in 1867 from New York, where he had been brewing for fourteen years. He took a job at the Gaul Brewery until purchasing it in 1880. Prior to Betz’s ownership, only ale and porter were brewed. Betz commenced brewing lager beer as well. John F. Betz became very active in the real estate market in the city. One of his other concerns was a beer garden at Riverside above the Wissahickon Creek on the Schuylkill River. He put in a line of little steamboats to carry his patrons up the river from Fairmount Dam. Betz produced an IPA of 6.5 % a.b.v. and an East India Pale Ale at 7.5% a.b.v. Betz’s half-and-half was a mixture of two-year old ale and stout, and Betz’s Best was a lager that was said to rival Bavarian imports. The Betz brewery reopened after Prohibition and remained in business until 1939.

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Here’s his biography from Find-a-Grave:

Brewer. He started as an apprentice in a brewery in 1844, and in 1855 he established his own brewery. John F. Betz then came to Philadelphia in 1867, working at the Gaul Brewery. He bought it in 1880. In that same year he built a state of the art brewery. Gaul had only brewed ale and porter; Betz introduced lager beer. He also invested in Philadelphia real estate. His beer garden at Riverside above the Wissahickon Creek on the Schuylkill River was so popular that steamboats brought patrons up the Schuylkill from Fairmount Dam. His contemporaries claimed that Betz’s Best was a lager that rivaled Bavarian imports. His brewery at Fourth and Callowhill Streets was one of the nation’s largest breweries until it closed during Prohibition. The Betz brewery reopened after Prohibition and remained in business until 1939. Though a Lutheran throughout his life, he was made a Chevalier of the Order of St. Gregory by Pope Leo XIII. His first wife was Sybilla Caroline Betz. He was later married to Anna Helene Berroldinger. Before his death he disposed of his property among his wife, two adult sons, and two minor children to avoid the any conflicts over his will.

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This mention of Betz and his brewery in New York is from “Yuengling: A History of America’s Oldest Brewery,” by Mark A. Noon:

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D.G. Yuengling’s son David Jr., who would have been Betz’s nephew, worked at the New York brewery, too. In 1884, the name was changed to the Star Brewery, but it closed for good in 1891.

Betz also started a brewery in Jersey City, New Jersey with Henry Lembeck named The Lembeck and Betz Eagle Brewing Company. “The company was incorporated in May 1890. Since 1869, the brewery grew to become the fourth-largest brewery in New Jersey,” but closed due to prohibition.

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The Betz brewery in Philadelphia.

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This much longer account is from “Philadelphia and Popular Philadelphians,” published in 1891:

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The Philadelphia brewery.

I’m not sure if this was a newspaper advertisement or some very favorable coverage, but this was a page from The Times—Philadelphia on May 28, 1893.

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Bistro IPA Festival Winners 2017

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Today was the 20th annual IPA Festival at the Bistro. The weather mostly cooperated and it ended up only a little wet in Hayward, with sun peeking out mid-afternoon. It was near perfect beer-drinking weather once we emerged from judging in the basement all morning. This year’s big winner was Revision IPA, from Revision Brewing, which was chosen best in show, out of 53 IPA offerings. It was an especially big win for Jeremy, as it’s one of the first batches from his new Revision Brewing, which even managed to beat his own IPA that he created at his previous brewery, Knee Deep. Revised, indeed. The full list of winners is below.

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Jeremy Warren and me at today’s Bistro IPA Festival.

Budweiser Clydesdales Debut On April 7, 1933

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Today, of course, is known by many names: National Beer Day, Beer is Back Day, Legal Beer Day, Brew Year’s Day, and New Beer’s Day. And that’s because while the repeal of the 18th Amendment wouldn’t be ratified until December 5, 1933, the Cullen-Harrison Act took effect on April 7, 1933, having been enacted by Congress on March 21 of the same year. And that meant that at least some lower-alcohol beer could legally be served in about twenty states in the United States, which I imagine after a thirteen-year drought was a welcome relief to beer lovers everywhere. Here’s the nutshell history from Wikipedia:

The Cullen–Harrison Act, named for its sponsors, Senator Pat Harrison and Representative Thomas H. Cullen, enacted by the United States Congress March 21, 1933 and signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt the following day, legalized the sale in the United States of beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% (by weight) and wine of similarly low alcohol content, thought to be too low to be intoxicating, effective April 7, 1933. Upon signing the legislation, Roosevelt made his famous remark, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”

Of course, he actually signed the bill on March 22, 1933, which is when he made that remark, still a full sixteen days before he could actually do so.

According to the Cullen-Harrison Act, each state had to pass similar legislation to legalize sale of the low alcohol beverages in that state. Roosevelt had previously sent a short message to Congress requesting such a bill. Sale of even such low alcohol beer had been illegal in the U.S. since Prohibition started in 1920 following the 1919 passage of the Volstead Act. Throngs gathered outside breweries and taverns for their first legal beer in many years. The passage of the Cullen–Harrison Act is celebrated as National Beer Day every year on April 7.

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And while you often see this photo of Budweiser’s Clydesdales pulling a beer wagon to deliver beer in Washington for the president at the time, Franklin D. Roosevelt, this could not have been taken on April 7, but would have been a few weeks later at the earliest. Although the clydesdales did debut today in 1933, it was not in Washington D.C. Here’s the story, from Anheuser-Busch’s website:

On April 7, 1933, August A. Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch III surprised their father, August A. Busch, Sr., with the gift of a six-horse Clydesdale hitch to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition of beer.

Realizing the marketing potential of a horse-drawn beer wagon, the company also arranged to have a second six-horse Clydesdale hitch sent to New York on April 7 to mark the event. The Clydesdales drew a crowd of thousands on their way to the Empire State Building. After a small ceremony, a case of Budweiser was presented to former Governor Alfred E. Smith in appreciation of his years of service in the fight against Prohibition.

This hitch continued on a tour of New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, thrilling thousands, before stopping in Washington, D.C., in April 1933 to reenact the delivery of one of the first cases of Budweiser to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The St. Louis hitch also toured in celebration, stopping in Chicago and other Midwestern cities.

Shortly after the hitch was first introduced, the six-horse Clydesdale team increased to eight. On March 30, 1950, in commemoration of the opening of the Anheuser-Busch Newark Brewery, a Dalmatian was introduced as the Budweiser Clydesdales’ mascot. Now, a Dalmatian travels with each of the Clydesdale hitches.

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Original Budweiser Clydesdale Six-horse Hitch and Beer Wagon, in front of the St. Louis Brewery in 1933.

And here’s the story from Wikipedia:

The Budweiser Clydesdales were first introduced to the public on April 7, 1933, to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. August A. Busch, Jr. presented the hitch as a gift to his father, August Anheuser Busch, Sr., who was guided outside the brewery by the ruse of being told his son had purchased him a new car, but instead was greeted by the horses, pulling a red, white and gold beer wagon. The hitch proceeded to carry the first case of post-Prohibition beer from the St. Louis brewery in a special journey down Pestalozzi Street in St. Louis.

Recognizing the advertising and promotional potential of a horse-drawn beer wagon, Busch, Sr. had the team sent by rail to New York City, where it picked up two cases of Budweiser beer at New Jersey’s Newark Airport, and presented it to Al Smith, former governor of New York and an instrumental force in the repeal of Prohibition. From there, the Clydesdales continued on a tour of New England and the Mid-Atlantic States, a journey that included the delivery of a case of beer to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House.

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The Budweiser Clydesdales are still going, of course, and have been a great marketing tool for the beer company. My daughter is a horse lover, and has been doing equestrian vaulting (essentially gymnastics on the back of a moving horse) since she was six-years old. When she was seven, in 2011, I took her to see the clydesdales at the Fairfield Budweiser brewery. I had called ahead, and we had a private tour of the brewery first, which was fun, and then the horses arrived in several specially designed trucks and put on a demonstration in the parking lot. We watched as they unloaded them, groomed them and then got them ready. Then they hooked them up to the wagon and they circled the parking lot. My daughter had a great time and the horses, to her at least, were beautiful and the attention to detail they put into them was amazing. Anyway, here’s a few photos from that trip.

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My daughter Alice, ready for the brewery tour.

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The horses arrives.

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Alice in front of the beer wagon.

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After getting the horses ready, they started hitching them up, one by one.

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Until they were all hitched and ready to go.

Historic Beer Birthday: George Ehret

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Today is the birthday of George Ehret (April 6, 1835-January 21, 1927). He was born in Hofweier, Buden, Germany but followed his father to America, arriving in New York in 1857, age 31. Having been trained as a brewer, he worked for a few years and then founded his own brewery, the George Ehret Brewery, which was also known as the Hell Gate Brewery, in 1866. It stopped producing beer in 1920 due to prohibition and limped along until 1927, when it closed due to his death.

The entry at Find a Grave has just a couple of sentences. “Beer Brewer, he established The Hell Gate Brewery in 1866 in New York City. It became one of the nation’s largest breweries, producing 602,000 barrels in 1900. When he died, his estate was valued at $40,000,000.”

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100 Years of Brewing has a much fuller account of Ehret and the Hell Gate Brewery:

George Ehret’s Hell Gate Brewery, New York City.

The Hell Gate Brewery was established by George Ehret in the year 1866; hence, at a time when the annual production of malt liquors [in the U.S.] had increased to 5,115,140 barrels. He had then just attained the age of thirty-one years, the date of his birth being April 6, 1835. Nine years before the establishment of this brewery, Mr. Ehret came to America (1857) to join his father, who had emigrated from Germany in August, 1852.

Mr. Ehret, being a thoroughly practical brewer, strictly devoted to his calling, had not long to serve in the brewery of A. Hupfel before he rose to the foremanship and gained the full confidence and friendship of his employer. When he made known his intention to start a brewery for himself, Mr. Hupfel, a man of generous instincts and philanthropic disposition, at once promised and, at the proper time, gave his support and assistance to the new enterprise.

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The site selected by Mr. George Ehret for his brewery was at that time of a decidedly rural character. It was opposite a dangerous passage in the East river, which had been designated “Hell Gate.” From this fact Mr. Ehret decided to name his brewery “The Hell Gate Brewery.”

The building in which he began brewing was erected under his supervision on the lower part of the block, between Ninety-second and Ninety-third streets and Second and Third avenues, and its interior appointments were completed at the beginning of the year 1867. This building is no longer standing. It was succeeded by another in 1871, which formed the nucleus of the establishment that now covers the greater part of an entire block. It is at present almost hidden by the over-towering brewery buildings which have sprung up around it in the course of a quarter century, and a full view of it can only be gained from the quadrangular yard, of which it forms the interior side, the buildings flanking it being the offices and the storehouse, both fronting on Ninety-second street.

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Mr. George Ehret, from the very beginning, aimed at the brewing of a beer as nearly like the best quality of Munich lager as the difference between our water and that of the river Isar would admit. How well he succeeded in this may be inferred from the popularity which his beer attained in a few years. As has been said, he began brewing immediately after the completion of his plant. At the beginning of January, 1867, the first brew was stored in the cellars; in March of the same year his wagons, freighted not only with kegs, but also, metaphorically speaking, with all his expectations and anxieties, left his yards for the first time to serve his new customers. Five years after that date he sold 33,512 barrels; seven years later, 74,497 barrels, and in 1874 he produced and sold 101,050 barrels — a quantity which twenty-eight years ago was manufactured by but very few of the largest establishments. This growth was then all the more remarkable, because Mr. Ehret’s operations had suddenly been checked for a considerable time on account of a fire which, on the 19th of September, 1870, destroyed the greater part of his brewery, including books and papers. It is owing to this fact that we are unable to give the quantities of beer brewed during the four years preceding the fire.

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The year 1870 may be called the second starting point in the growth of Hell Gate Brewery. In a certain sense the fire was not an unmixed evil, especially in view of the fact that the demand for Ehret beer was fast outgrowing the capacity of the original plant, necessitating a considerable extension of the premises and buildings, and many additions to the machinery and other appointments.

As stated above, the amount of beer produced and sold by the Hell Gate Brewery in the year 1874 amounted to 101,050 barrels; in 1880, the production amounted to 220,096 barrels, an increase in six years of over one hundred per cent. Ten years after, in the year 1890, the production amounted to 412,851 barrels, making another increase of almost one hundred per cent for the decade. In the year 1900, the production was 601,000 barrels, showing an increase of about forty-six per cent. This is a record to be proud of, and one that has seldom been equaled in the history of brewing.

This immense production has been attained without any forced efforts to open new channels outside of the limits of the State of New York; although, naturally enough, whenever a demand was shown to exist in outside markets, Mr. George Ehret endeavored to supply it, and thus established a number of agencies. The home demand always proved so great that the idea of engaging in an extensive export trade beyond the sea could not be entertained, save in conjunction with plans for a further enlargement of the brewery premises and increase in equipment.

On approaching the brewery, one is impressed at the very first glance with the unusually large dimensions of the grounds upon which the buildings are erected. In a smaller city this would not be anything worthy of note, but in New York, and especially in that part of it to which we refer, where scantness of territory and an immense and ever-growing population render necessary the utmost economy in the utilization of space (much to the detriment of architectural beauty), such extended premises as those we speak of can not fail to make an impression. The grounds, extending from within a short distance of Third avenue to Second avenue, and from Ninety-first to Ninety-fourth streets, comprise, inclusive of stables and storage buildings on Second avenue between Ninety-first and Ninety-third streets, seventy-five city lots, or one hundred and eighty-seven thousand five hundred square feet.

The main building, an imposing structure, surmounted by a graceful clock tower, fronts on Ninety-third street, extending southward to a considerable depth; it is flanked on either side by lower wings, which, in point of architecture and symmetrical proportions, harmonize perfectly with the principal facade. Ornamental gables, rising from the cornices of every building, enhance the impression of uniformity which, next to utility, was manifestly one of the prime objects of the architect.

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100 Years of Brewing was published in 1903, so the rest of the story can be found in Will Anderson’s Breweries of Brooklyn:

George Ehret, once this nation’s largest brewer, passed away in January of 1927 (leaving an estate valued at $40,000,000!). It was beginning to look as if Prohibition would last forever and the executors of Ehret’s estate debated whether they should sell the mammoth brewery buildings on the upper east side of Manhattan. For years they held off but in April of 1935 Col. Jacob Ruppert, Ehret’s neighbor on Third Avenue and 92nd Street, made an offer that the Ehret family just couldn’t refuse. With the sale to Ruppert, the Ehrets had even more money to add to what they’d inherited earlier — but they had no brewery. This problem was solved very nicely by the cash purchase, in July of 1935, of the Interboro Beverage Co. facilities [in Brooklyn]. Although the location was new, the brewery was still very much under the control of the Ehret family. Louis J. Ehret, George’s son, headed the firm, and he was aided by two of George’s grandchildren, George Ehret Burghardt and William Ehret Ottmann. Richard Barthel, brewmaster at the old Ehret plant in Yorkville, also made the move to Brooklyn. Over $200,000 was spent to thoroughly recondition the plant throughout, and by the summer of 1936 Louis J. Ehret had the plant in full production.

Ehret’s Extra Beer and Ale were brewed in Brooklyn for the next 12 years, until 1948, when the company transferred its operations to Union City, New Jersey. Whether Ehret’s moved because of an irresistible offer from Schlitz [who bought the Brooklyn plant] or because the Union City plant seemed preferable is unknown. In any case, move to New Jersey they did, where they remained in operation but three more years.

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And finally, here;s George Ehret’s obituary.

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A ad from 1909.

Historic Beer Birthday: Caspar Eulberg

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Today is the birthday of Caspar Eulberg (April 6, 1826-May 19, 1902). There’s very little information I could find about him. He was born in Kreis Westerburg, Hessen-Nassau, which was then Prussia. He married Franciska Rost, also from Prussia, and together they had ten children, six of whom were boys. At least some of them must have worked at his brewery in Galena, Illinois, because for most of its life it was called Casper Eulberg & Sons Brewery.

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Originally called Math. Meller Brewery when in opened in 1874, it appears Eulberg acquired it in 1885, changing the name to his own, at least until closed by prohibition in 1920. It tried to open after repeal, under the name Galena Brewing Co., but closed for good in 1936.

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