Historic Beer Birthday: Gottlieb Sigismund Kirchhof

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

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Here’s a biography from Encyclopedia.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Brief History of Catalysis

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

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

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

AN IMPROVED DEFINITION

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

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

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

Enzymes: Helpful Catalysts in the Body

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

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

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

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

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

Historic Beer Birthday: Henry Weinhard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oregon Historical Society Photographs Dept.

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

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A view of the brewery in 1908.

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

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Historic Beer Birthday: Ernest Davis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ernest Davis in 1961.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The 8 Kinds Of Drunks

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There are a bewildering number of words to describe that someone has been drinking a bit to much. I’ve collected over 3,000 slang terms, or Drunk Words. There are modern terms, of course, and slang from almost every age of man. Even Ben Franklin had his own list. Another literary take on over-indulging came from Thomas Nashe, who “was a playwright, poet, and satirist. He is best known for his novel The Unfortunate Traveller.” He lived from 1567 until around 1601, and was also “considered the greatest of the English Elizabethan pamphleteers.” One of his pamphlets was entitled the Pierce Penniless, His Suppliction to the Devil, published in 1592. “It was among the most popular of the Elizabethan pamphlets.”

It is written from the point of view of Pierce, a man who has not met with good fortune, who now bitterly complains of the world’s wickedness, and addresses his complaints to the devil. At times the identity of Pierce seems to conflate with Nashe’s own. But Nashe also portrays Pierce as something of an arrogant and prodigal fool. The story is told in a style that is complex, witty, fulminating, extemporaneous, digressive, anecdotal, filled with wicked descriptions, and peppered with newly minted words and Latin phrases. The satire can be mocking and bitingly sharp, and at times Nashe’s style seems to relish its own obscurity.

pierce-penniless

And this is the sort of introduction of the list, that paragraphs that precede it.

King Edgar, because his subjects should not offend in swilling, and bibbing, as they did, caused certaine iron cups to be chayned to everie fountaine and wells fide, and at euery Vintner’s doore, with iron pins in them, to stint euery man how much he should drinke; and he that went beyond one of those pins forfeited a penny for euery draught. And, if stories were well searcht, I belieue hoopes in quart pots were inuented to that ende, that eury man should take his hoope, and no more. I haue heard it justified for a truth by great personages, that the olde Marquesse of Pisana (who yet liues) drinkes not once in feauen years; and I haue read of one Andron of Argos, that was so sildome thirstie, that hee trauailed ouer the hot, burning sands of Lybia, and neuer dranke. Then, why should our colde Clime bring forth such fierie throats? Are we more thivstie than Spaine and Italy, where the sunnes force is doubled? The Germaines and lowe Dutch, me thinkes, should bee continually kept moyst with the foggie ayre and stincking mystes that aryse out of theyr fennie soyle; but as their countrey is ouer-flowed with water, so are their heads alwayes ouer-flowen with wine, and in their bellyes they haue standing quag-myres and bogs of English beere.

One of their breede it was that writ the booke, De Arte Bibendi, a worshipfull treatise, fitte for none but Silenus and his asse to set forth : besides that volume, wee haue generall rules and injunctions, as good as printed precepts, or statutes set downe by Acte of Parliament, that goe from drunkard to drunkard; as still to keepe your first man, not to leaue anie flockes in the bottonie of the cup, to knock the glasse on your thumbe when you haue done, to haue some shooing home to pul on your wine, as a rasher of the coles, or a redde herring, to stirre it about with a candle’s ende to make it taste better, and not to hold your peace whiles the pot is stirring.

Nor haue we one or two kinde of drunkards onely, but eight kindes.

THE EIGHT KINDES OF DRUNKENNES

Below are the eight types of drunks, as articulated by Nashe, along with commentary by the staff of Merriam-Webster.

  1. Ape Drunk
    ape
    The first is ape drunke; and he leapes, and singes, and hollowes, and danceth for the heavens;

    From Merriam-Webster: A number of the animals referenced in Nashe’s list have found themselves commonly used in compound nouns, or functioning as a figurative adjective. Ape, however, appears to have largely escaped this fate. It does come up in the expression go ape (“to become very excited or angry”), which is somewhat similar in meaning to the actions of the drunk described by Nashe but as this is not recorded until the middle of the 20th century it is unlikely to have a connection to ape drunk.

  2. Lion Drunk
    lion
    The second is lion drunke; and he flings the pots about the house, calls his hostesse whore, breakes the glasse windowes with his dagger, and is apt to quarrell with anie man that speaks to him;

    From Merriam-Webster: When considering how often one encounters another person who might best be described as “drunk and mean,” it is rather odd that we should have lost more than one useful ways of referring to such a person in our language. For in addition to Nashe’s lion drunk a number of Scottish dictionaries make note of barley-hood, which is an episode of bad temper brought about by imbibing. A variant of this word, barlikhood, is memorably defined in the glossary to a collection of British plays from the late 18th century: “a fit of drunken angry passion.”

  3. Swine Drunk
    swine
    The third is swine drunke; heavie, lumpish, and sleepie, and cries for a little more drinke, and a fewe more cloathes;

    From Merriam-Webster: Some people think that swine have received a bad rap, what with the whole secondary meaning of “contemptible person,” large portions of the world’s population considering them unclean animals, and the general pejorative meanings of the word pig; others think that they likely don’t care much, save to be relieved that some people do not want to eat them. It is unclear to most lexicographers what connection exists between the members of the family Suidae and Nashe’s idea that a swine drunk wants a “fewe more cloathes.”

  4. Sheep Drunk
    sheep
    The fourth is sheepe drunk; wise in his conceipt, when he cannot bring foorth a right word;

    From Merriam-Webster: Sheep are not an animal that is traditionally associated with drunkenness, or misbehavior of any sort, come to think of it. The word for this particular animal has been used to indicate that a person, or group or people, is timid, meek, or in some other fashion unassertive. If you would like to describe someone as sheepish, meaning “resembling a sheep”, but would like to not have to explain that you don’t mean the sense of sheepish that is tied to embarrassment, you may use the word ovine.

  5. Maudlin Drunk
    maudlin
    The fifth is mawdlen drunke; when a fellowe will weepe for kindnes in the midst of ale, and kisse you, saying, “By God, captaine, I love thee. Goe thy wayes; thou dost not thinke so often of me as I doo thee; I would (if it pleased God) I could not love thee as well as I doo;” and then he puts his finger in his eye, and cryes;

    From Merriam-Webster: We have all met the maudlin drunk; in fact, the word maudlin began with the express meaning of “drunk enough to be emotionally silly,” and later took on the sense of “effusively sentimental.” The word comes from Mary Magdalene, the name of the woman who is often thought to be represented as washing Jesus’ feet with her tears. Through this representation (which some people think is not necessarily Mary Magdalene) the name came to be associated with tears, teariness, and a general state of lachrymosity.

  6. Martin Drunk
    martin
    The sixt is Martin drunke; when a man is drunke, and drinkes himselfe sober ere he stirre;

    From Merriam-Webster: There are a number of animals which are called martin; the name is applied to a wide variety of swallows and flycatchers (these are birds), to a kind of female calf that is born simultaneous with a male (and which is usually sterile and sexually imperfect), and also was formerly used to refer to an ape or monkey. Nashe’s martin drunk most likely is concerned with the last of these three possibilities. The Oxford English Dictionary, one of the few that records any of these kinds of drunkards, suggests that the martin in question was chosen by Nashe as a means of referring to Martin Marprelate, the pseudonym of a rival pamphleteer in the late 16th century.

    While I think Merriam-Webster got most of these right, I think their analysis of Martin was a bit of a stretch, and I think there’s a simpler explanation. The “Dictionary of Phrase and Fable,” from 1894, includes the following definition for “Martin Drunk:”

    Very intoxicated indeed; a drunken man “sobered” by drinking more. The feast of St. Martin (November 11) used to be held as a day of great debauch.

    St. Martin’s Day is still an important holiday in several countries, and I think that Martin being used in that sense makes a great deal more sense than the other, seemingly flimsier explanation.

  7. Goat Drunk
    goate
    The seventh is goate drunke; when, in his drunkennes, he hath no minde but on lecherie;

    From Merriam-Webster: The goat has long been associated with lechery, so it it not surprising that Nashe’s list should reserve this animal for the category of “drunk and horny.” Goat itself has had the meaning of “lecher” since the late 16th century, and a number of words meaning “resembling a goat” (such as rammish and hircine) have also taken on the meaning of “lustful.”

  8. Fox Drunk
    fox
    The eighth is fox drunke—when he is craftie drunke, as manie of the Dutchmen bee, that will never bargaine but when they are drunke.

    From Merriam-Webster: Many of us are somewhat familiar with the extended uses of fox, often implying slyness or craftiness, and which range from being used in expressions (crazy like a fox) to simply being on of the figurative meanings of the word itself (“a clever crafty person”). Less commonly known is the sense of fox (which is now somewhat archaic), meaning “drunk” (although, it should be noted, without any connotations of craftiness). And even less commonly known than this is that Dutchmen will not bargain unless they are drunk … we think Nashe may have made this one up. 


So what do you think of his list. It’s over 400 years old, but still seems to hold some universal truth. Although perhaps a more modern list might look a little different. We may have to look into that.

Historic Beer Birthday: George Younger

george-younger
Today is the birthday of George Younger (February 17, 1722-September 28, 1788). Well, not exactly. His exact birthdate was not recorded, but he was baptized today, so that’s the best date we have to use.

Here’s a biography from the University of Glasgow’s Scottish Brewing Archive.

George Younger (1722–1788), a member of a family of saltpan owners in Culross, Fife, Scotland, was brewing in Alloa, Scotland from 1745. He established his first brewery, later known as Meadow Brewery, in Bank Street, Alloa, in about 1764. After his death the business was passed on from father to son, trading as George Younger & Son. Additional premises adjacent to the brewery were acquired in 1832 and 1850.

The Candleriggs Brewery, Alloa, owned by Robert Meiklejohn & Co, was leased in 1852 and bought outright for GBP 1,500 in 1871. The Meadow Brewery ceased brewing in 1877 and was turned into offices for the business. Craigward Maltings, Alloa, were built in 1869 and a new bottling department was established at Kelliebank, Alloa, in 1889. The Candleriggs Brewery was badly damaged by fire in 1889 and rebuilt on a larger scale to cover nearly 2 acres, becoming the largest brewery in Scotland outside Edinburgh.

George Younger & Son Ltd was registered in February 1897 as a limited liability company to acquire the business at a purchase price of GBP 500,000. The company traded extensively to the North of England, West Indies, Australia and North America and from the 1880s to India, the Far East and South Africa. It took over R Fenwick & Co Ltd, Sunderland Brewery, Low Street, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, England, and Robert Fenwick & Co, Chester Brewery, Chester–le–Street, Durham, England (closed 1934), in 1898.

The first chilling and carbonating plant in Scotland was installed at Kelliebank Bottling Stores in 1903. The company’s own bottling works was established there in 1908 and a new export bottling plant opened in 1912. The company built up large supply contracts with the armed forces at home and abroad and by 1914 had a lucrative regimental canteen business at Aldershot, Hampshire, England.

It acquired the Craigward Cooperage of Charles Pearson & Co, Alloa; George White & Co, Newcastle–upon–Tyne, Tyne & Wear; and the Bass Crest Brewery Co, Alloa, in 1919. During the same year the Kelliebank bottle manufacturing plant was floated as a separate company and eventually became known as the Scottish Central Glass Works. The Grange Brewery closed in 1941 and the Sunderland Brewery was rebuilt, being sold in 1922 to Flower & Sons Ltd, Stratford–upon–Avon, Warwickshire, England.

The company took over Blair & Co (Alloa) Ltd, Townhead Brewery, Alloa, in 1959. It was acquired by Northern Breweries of Great Britain Ltd in April 1960 and became part of the combined Scottish interests of that company, Caledonian Breweries Ltd, later United Caledonian Breweries Ltd, which merged with J & R Tennent Ltd, Glasgow, Strathclyde, in 1966 to form Tennent Caledonian Breweries Ltd. The Candleriggs Brewery ceased to brew in December 1963.

George-Younger-RA

And here’s another short account from the Scottish Antiquary.

george-younger-scottish-antiquary

Here’s his Meadow Brewery around 1890, before it became known as George Younger & Sons.

George-Younger-meadow-brewery

Ron Pattinson has a post about Boiling at George Younger in the 1890’s, and also about the early years of George Younger.

younger-sweetheart-stout-1961

youngers-pony-brand-1930

George-Younger-pale-ale

Historic Beer Birthday: Samuel C. Whitbread

whitbread-oval
Today is the birthday of Samuel Charles Whitbread (February 16, 1796-May 22, 1879). “He was the grandson of Samuel Whitbread,” who founded the brewery Whitbread & Co. Samuel C. “represented the constituency of Middlesex (1820–1830) and was High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1831. His interests were astronomy and meteorology. He served as president of the Royal Meteorological Society from 1850 to 1853. In June 1854 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.”

NPG D4766; Samuel Charles Whitbread

Here is a portion of his biography from the History of Parliament:

b. 16 Feb. 1796, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Samuel Whitbread† (d. 1815) of Cardington and Southill, Beds. and Elizabeth, da. of Lt.-Gen. Sir Charles Grey of Falloden, Northumb.; bro. of William Henry Whitbread*. educ. by private tutor Richard Salmon 1802-7; Sunninghill, Berks. (Rev. Frederick Neve) 1807; Eton 1808; St. John’s, Camb. 1814. m. (1) 28 June 1824, Juliana (d. 13 Oct. 1858), da. of Maj.-Gen. Henry Otway Trevor (afterwards Brand), 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) 18 Feb. 1868, Lady Mary Stephenson Keppel, da. of William Charles, 4th earl of Albemarle, wid. of Henry Frederick Stephenson*, s.p. suc. bro. to family estates 1867. d. 27 May 1879. Offices Held Sheriff, Beds. 1831-2.

Biography

Whitbread, a member of the brewing dynasty, was raised in London and Bedfordshire, where his father, a leading Foxite Whig, inherited the family’s recently purchased estate of Southill in 1796. His parents’ favourite, he was educated with his elder brother William and sent to Cambridge to prepare him for a career in the church or politics. Little is known of his reaction to his father’s suicide in July 1815. His uncle Edward Ellice*, who now oversaw the Whitbreads’ troubled finances, dismissed the brothers’ private tutor Sam Reynolds, who ‘goes about as an idle companion to the boys’, and pressed their continued attendance at Cambridge. Whitbread joined Brooks’s, 22 May 1818, and became a trustee the following month of his father’s will, by which he received £5,000 and £500 a year from the age of 21, £5,000 in lieu of the church livings of Southill and Purfleet (Essex) reserved for him, and was granted the right to reside at Cardington when the house fell vacant. William came in for Bedford at the general election of 1818 and Samuel was now suggested for Westminster and Middlesex, where he nominated the Whig veteran George Byng* in a speech proclaiming his own credentials as a candidate-in-waiting. Encouraged by his mother, who took a house in Kensington Gore after William came of age, he fostered his connections with the Westminster reformers, purchased a £10,000 stake in the brewery and in 1819 joined their controlling partnership, which was then worth £490,000 ‘on paper’ and dominated by his father’s partners Sir Benjamin Hobhouse†, William Wilshere of Hitchin and the Martineau and Yallowley families. Maria Edgeworth, who now met Whitbread for the first time, described him as a ‘good, but too meek looking … youth’.

Whitbread grasped the opportunity to contest Middlesex at the general election of 1820, when, backed by his relations, brewing partners, the Nonconformists and the Whig-radical coalition campaigning in Westminster (which he denied), he defeated the sitting Tory William Mellish in a 12-day poll to come in with Byng. His lacklustre brother had shown none of their father’s talent and energy, but Samuel impressed with his enthusiasm and appealed throughout to his father’s reputation as a reformer and advocate of civil and religious liberty. Ellice praised his common sense and popularity and surmised that Parliament ‘may save him by throwing him into society and engaging him in politics, although possibly the situation he will occupy will be rather too prominent for either his abilities or experience’. He later informed Lord Grey:

Sam has exceeded all our expectations … He has on every occasion conducted himself with skill and feeling, and shown a quickness and talent, which I did not give him credit for, and if he will only apply himself with activity and industry to the business of the county, he may retain the seat as long as he pleases.

NPG D9981; Samuel Whitbread
Samuel C. later in life.

While most of the rest of his biography concerns political machinations, toward the end, there’s some more about his life outside politics:

Out of Parliament, Whitbread acted to combat the ‘Swing’ riots in Bedfordshire in December 1830, attended the Bedford reform meeting in January 1831, and addressed the Middlesex meeting at the Mermaid with Charles Shaw Lefevre, 21 Mar. He declared for the Grey ministry’s reform bill, notwithstanding the omission from it of the ballot. As sheriff, he assisted his brother and the Bedford reformers in the county and borough at the May 1831 general election, when both constituencies were contested. He continued to promote reform and the ministerial bill at district meetings in Middlesex, where he turned down a requisition to contest the new Tower Hamlets constituency at the 1832 general election. A lifelong Liberal, Whitbread did not stand for Parliament again, but from 1852 took a keen interest in his son Samuel’s political career as Member for Bedford. His health remained erratic, and he increasingly devoted his time to business and scientific pursuits. As a fellow since 1849 of the Royal Astronomical Society, and treasurer, 1857-78, he built the Howard observatory at Cardington (1850), and became a founder member that year of the British Meteorological Society and a fellow of the Royal Society in 1854. In 1867 he succeeded his childless brother William to the family estates and as head of the brewery and trusts, and in 1868, almost ten years after Juliana’s death, he married into the Albermarle family, making Cardington available for Samuel, who had inherited his uncle’s shares in Whitbreads’. He died in May 1879 at his town house in St. George’s Square, survived by his second wife (d. 20 Sept. 1884) and four of his six children. According to his obituary in the Bedford Mercury:

in the world at large, Mr. Whitbread did not figure greatly. He was fond of sport, but not to a base degree; his caution prevented him making rash ventures, which often end unhappily. As a walker he was rather famous; it was a matter of amusement to his friends to see how in the vigour of his manhood and even of late years he used to walk down interviewers who bored him … The anecdotes of this species of pedestrianism are neither few nor far between, and the richest of them are those in which the bores were portly and ponderous to a degree. It may be imagined therefore that he was humorous; and so he was. He was good company everywhere. Political economists might have praised his habits of economy, for his chief fault was his desire never to waste anything.

His will, dated 30 Nov. 1875, was proved in London, 24 July 1879. By it he confirmed Samuel’s succession to the entailed estates and several family settlements, ensured that the non-entailed estates, including the brewery’s Chiswell Street premises, passed to his younger son William, and provided generously for other family members.

George_Garrard,_Whitbread_Brewery_in_Chiswell_Street_(1792)
The Whitbread Brewery in Chiswell Street, 1792, painted by George Garrard.

Hulk Smashes Beer Cans

hulk
Here’s a fun series of photographs by a Japanese photographer who goes by hot kenobi on Instagram. Apparently he likes action figures, especially of super heroes, quite a bit. Both his Instagram and Twitter feed are filled with photos he’s taken of them in all sorts of situations. But lately, several of his works have involved superheroes, mostly from Marvel, having some fun with beer cans and bottles. Enjoy.

hotkenobi-superheroes-2
Hulk smashes beer cans.

hotkenobi-superheroes-1
Captain America holds a can of Asahi like a punching bag while Iron Man takes a swing at it.

hotkenobi-superheroes-4
Spider-Man takes down a beer can with his web.

hotkenobi-superheroes-3
Superman easily crushes his can, while the mortal Batman has made only a small dent in his.

hotkenobi-superheroes-5
Just to mix things up, Wolverine opens a beer bottle with his adamantium claws, as Spider-Man holds on to it so it won’t fall over and spill.

Historic Beer Birthday: August Schell

august-schell
Today is the birthday of August Schell (February 16, 1828-September 20, 1891). He was born in Durbach, Germany, in the Black Forest, but when he was twenty booked passage to New Orleans. He then made his way to Cincinnati, where he married, and when he was 28, in 1856, he moved his family to New Ulm, Minnesota. In 1860, Schell formed a partnership with brewer Jacob Bernhardt, and they founded the 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.”

august-schell-portrait

Here’s a biography from Find-a-Grave, which they state was taken “from the Schells Brewery site,” but it must have been from a previous version of the company website:

August Schell was born in 1828 in Durbach, Germany, located in the heart of the famous German “Schwarzwald,” otherwise known as the Black Forest region. August received an early education as a machinist/engineer but after a short time, became intrigued by the opportunities overseas. In 1848, August bid farewell to his mother and father, leaving his homeland in search of success in the United States.

August arrived in New Orleans and continued up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to Cincinnati where he worked as a machinist in a locomotive factory. It was here that he met the love of his life, Theresa Hermann. Theresa, also a German immigrant, and August wed in 1853.

In 1856, August, Theresa and their two baby daughters headed to Minnesota along with a group of fellow Germans known as the Cincinnati Turner Society. The Turner Society had heard from a group of German settlers in Southern Minnesota that their settlement was struggling to succeed. The two groups merged and formed the town of New Ulm.

Once in New Ulm, August found a job as a machinist in a flour mill. But as the years passed, August realized that good German beer was difficult to find in such a small, rural area. In the fall of 1860, August partnered up with Jacob Bernhardt, a former brewmaster at the Benzberg Brewery in St. Paul, MN (what today was known as the Minnesota Brewing Company). They erected a small brewery just two miles from town along the banks of the Cottonwood River. During their first year of operation they produced 200 barrels of beer, a very small amount based on today’s standards.

The location of the brewery was ideal. Aside from the beauty of its natural surroundings (August was especially fond of his hikes into the woods), the brewery was located next to an artesian spring, providing exceptionally pure water for brewing. Its proximity to the Cottonwood River gave the brewery a means of transporting beer and supplies, and the river also became essential to the refrigeration process. Each winter, large blocks of ice would be harvested and hauled up the hill where they would be stored in underground caves. The ice would keep the caves cool throughout the spring and early summer in order to allow proper aging and fermentation of the beer.

But along with the rewards also came the risks. New Ulm, as many settlers back then realized, was located in the heart of Dakota Indian country. In the early days of the brewery, many of the Dakota Sioux Tribe visited the brewery where Mrs. Schell often provided them with food. This goodwill proved to be a blessing for the brewery. In 1862, southern Minnesota was the focal point of the “Sioux Uprising,” otherwise known as the “Dakota Conflict.” While buildings were burned and ransacked in New Ulm and other towns in the region, the brewery remained untouched due to the kindness of the Schell family.

In 1866, Jacob Bernhardt became ill and decided to sell his share of the brewery. In order to command as high a price as possible August agreed to place the entire brewery up for sale to the highest bidder. August’s bid of $12,000 won out and he became the sole owner of the business.

The early years were good for the Schell family. August and Theresa raised six children: two sons; Adolph and Otto; and four daughters; Emma, Emelia, Anna and Augusta. The brewery flourished as additions were built to the existing brewery, many of which continue to grace the brewery grounds, a testament to the enduring legacy of Schell.

At the age of 50, August became stricken with severe arthritis which greatly affected his activities within the brewery. While still maintaining an executive role with the brewery, August handed over the management responsibilities to his eldest son Adolph and the brewing responsibilities to his youngest son Otto, who studied brewing in Germany. Soon after, Adolph moved his family to California leaving Otto and his brother-in-law George Marti to run the brewery.

In 1885, August and Theresa built the exquisite Schell Mansion on the brewery grounds, complete with formal gardens and deer park, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. As August’s arthritis worsened, he would enjoy spending his days in the solitude of the gardens watching the constant hum and activity at the brewery.

August died on September 20, 1891 at the age of 63, leaving the brewery to Theresa with Otto as manager. 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.

schell-portrait

This is the history of the brewery that is currently on the company website:

The 1860’s

Once in New Ulm, August found a job as a machinist in a flour mill. But as the years passed, August realized that good German beer was difficult to find in such a small, rural area. In the fall of 1860, August partnered up with Jacob Bernhardt, a former brewmaster at the Benzberg Brewery in St. Paul, MN (what today was known as the Minnesota Brewing Company). They erected a small brewery just two miles from town along the banks of the Cottonwood River. During their first year of operation they produced 200 barrels of beer, a very small amount based on today’s standards.

The location of the brewery was ideal. Aside from the beauty of its natural surroundings (August was especially fond of his hikes into the woods), the brewery was located next to an artesian spring, providing exceptionally pure water for brewing. Its proximity to the Cottonwood River gave the brewery a means of transporting beer and supplies, and the river also became essential to the refrigeration process. Each winter, large blocks of ice would be harvested and hauled up the hill where they would be stored in underground caves. The ice would keep the caves cool throughout the spring and early summer in order to allow proper aging and fermentation of the beer.

But along with the rewards also came the risks. New Ulm, as many settlers back then realized, was located in the heart of Dakota Indian country. In the early days of the brewery, many of the Dakota Sioux Tribe visited the brewery where Mrs. Schell often provided them with food. This goodwill proved to be a blessing for the brewery. In 1862, southern Minnesota was the focal point of the “Sioux Uprising,” otherwise known as the “Dakota Conflict.” While buildings were burned and ransacked in New Ulm and other towns in the region, the brewery remained untouched due to the kindness of the Schell family.

Schell-brewery-1860s
The original Schell brewery.

The 1870’s

In 1866, Jacob Bernhardt became ill and decided to sell his share of the brewery. In order to command as high a price as possible August agreed to place the entire brewery up for sale to the highest bidder. August’s bid of $12,000 won out and he became the sole owner of the business.
The early years were good for the Schell family. August and Theresa raised six children: two sons; Adolph and Otto; and four daughters; Emma, Emelia, Anna and Augusta. The brewery flourished as additions were built to the existing brewery, many of which continue to grace the brewery grounds, a testament to the enduring legacy of Schell.

At the age of 50, August became stricken with severe arthritis which greatly affected his activities within the brewery. While still maintaining an executive role with the brewery, August handed over the management responsibilities to his eldest son Adolph and the brewing responsibilities to his youngest son Otto, who studied brewing in Germany. Soon after, Adolph moved his family to California leaving Otto and his brother-in-law George Marti to run the brewery.

Schell-employees-1866
Employees of the brewery around 1866.

The 1880’s

In 1885, August and Theresa built the exquisite Schell Mansion on the brewery grounds, complete with formal gardens and deer park, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. As August’s arthritis worsened, he would enjoy spending his days in the solitude of the gardens watching the constant hum and activity at the brewery.

August died on September 20, 1891 at the age of 63, leaving the brewery to Theresa with Otto as manager. 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.

Schell-brewery-distance
The Schell brewery seen from a distance.

And here’s an even more thorough biography from Immigrant Entrepreneurship:

Introduction

The history of August Schell (born February 15, 1828, in Durbach, Grand Duchy of Baden; died September 20, 1891, in New Ulm, Minnesota) and the brewery that he founded in 1860 highlight several key aspects of German-American business and entrepreneurship in the nineteenth century. First, it highlights the role of the Turnverein and other non-religious societies as a means of networking and organizing co-ethnic immigrants (as well as a source of potential friction within the community). Secondly, August Schell’s experiences in New Ulm, Minnesota, highlight the development of German-American entrepreneurship in small town, rural, and frontier societies. Although many German-Americans founded businesses in urban settings, others found their avenues of opportunity in the more ethnically and linguistically homogeneous communities of rural America. The rural, frontier setting of New Ulm presented Schell with different challenges than he had faced in Cincinnati, including the Dakota Uprising of 1861, drought, and tornadoes. The tight-knit community provided for a stable family network, as well as a loyal and supportive customer base. In this context and through the work of his son, Otto Schell (1862-1911), and son-in-law, George Marti (1856-1834), the August Schell Brewing Company of New Ulm, Minnesota, was able to persist through hard times (like Prohibition) to become the second-oldest family-owned brewery in the United States (second to D.G. Yuengling and Son of Potsville, Pennsylvania).

August-and-Theresa-Schell
August and his wife, Theresa.

Family, Ethnic, and Turnverein Background

August Schell was born February 15, 1828, in the town of Durbach in the Grand Duchy of Baden. Situated in the rural, southwestern corner of Baden, the community was located in the foothills at the edge of the Rhine Valley and the Black Forest. Little is known about Schell’s family in the German lands outside of family stories and histories. Schell’s father, Carl Schell, who was born in 1769, was from Kippenheimweiler, Baden, a community near Durbach. According to family accounts, Schell’s family had an artistic bent having been involved in the stained-glass industry for years. But it was through a profitable marriage dowry that Carl Schell could afford to build a four-story brick house in the center of Durbach. Carl also held the position of Oberförster (head forester) in the region of the Black Forest near Durbach. As a result, Schell grew up in a world surrounded by trees and animals. The family coat-of-arms, carved into the archway of the Schell house’s caller in Durbach, depicts a jumping buck with “C Sch” inscribed above it. A love for the outdoor beauty of the Black Forest remained with August Schell and impacted how he designed his brewery, his house, and his property in order to recapture the land of his childhood. The family coat-of-arms eventually became the symbol of Schell Brewing Company.

Relatively little is known about Schell’s activities prior to immigrating to the United States. His father, Carl, died in 1839 and sometime after this he was apprenticed as a machinist prior to his decision to immigrate to the United States. Schell family remembrances indicate that he immigrated to New Orleans in 1849 but soon left for Cincinnati because the language barrier hindered his job search. With a large and growing German-speaking population in Cincinnati, Schell quickly found work as a machinist at the Cincinnati Locomotive Works. Four years after arriving in the United States, he married Theresa Hermann (born October 16, 1829; died May 21, 1911) who had emigrated from Rottweil in the Kingdom of Württemberg in 1849. After moving to New Ulm, they had five children, including the two boys who would play a role in the operation of the family brewery, Adolph (1858-1938) and Otto (1862-1911).

Although religious organizations tended to be among the strongest institutions around which German immigrants congregated, Schell did not follow this path. Schell, like many other German emigrants in the wake of the Revolutions of 1848, turned to the local Cincinnati Turnverein, founded in 1848 as the first Turner society in the United States. Although it is not known whether Schell participated in the Revolutions of 1848, he associated with the uprising’s sympathizers and refugees. More than any other network or ethnic association, Schell’s growing involvement and eventual leadership role with this German-American Turner network would have a large impact on his career and his business decisions in Cincinnati and in New Ulm, Minnesota.

The Turnverein was a liberal, gymnastic society founded amid the Napoleonic Wars. Turners believed that their countrymen needed to become stronger and more physically fit in order to unite and defend their homeland. Under Napoleon, French forces had overwhelmed the divided German states, which had been brought within the French political orbit. Despite being opposed to the French, the Turners embraced many of the liberal, Enlightenment-based notions at the root of the French Revolution. Turners were in the front ranks of the so-called Revolutions of 1848 that swept across Europe. These revolutions were fueled by the ideologies of liberalism (e.g. a constitutional monarchy or a republic with a written constitution and an elected legislature) and nationalism (combining the many Germanic kingdoms and principalities so that all Germans would live within a united nation-state). However, despite initial successes by the Turners and other revolutionaries, the conservative monarchs eventually reasserted control and turned against the liberals.

Most of these “Forty-Eighters,” as the political refugees to the United States came to be known, retained their radically liberal philosophy and put it into action when replanting the Turnverein movement in the United States. Reflecting their close connections to Freethinker societies, the Turners emphasized that moral instruction should not come from churches but from science and history. Turners were students of the Enlightenment and rationalism. Over the next several decades, the Turner societies maintained their emphasis on physical education but also began emphasizing the strengthening of the mind. They did not trust organized religion. The majority of these transplanted Turners were not latter-day Puritans who hoped to establish a “city on the hill” and eventually return to their homeland once their countrymen had seen the light. After the Forty-Eighters immigrated to the United States, the Turners became fiercely loyal to their adopted country and focused on its improvement. They strongly advocated integration into the American political and social spheres. The Turners soon thrived in the United States and, along with other exiled liberals, became leaders in many of the German communities across the United States.

Although there is no evidence that August Schell participated in the Revolutions of 1848, it is known that he closely followed the emigrant route of other political refugees and soon settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. Whether or not he was a Turner in Germany, Schell became an early member of the Cincinnati Turnverein. The majority of the founders were Forty-Eighters, many of whom were from Württemberg (the same region that Schell’s wife had emigrated from). William Pfaender was the first speaker of the Cincinnati Turnverein and would become the key figure in the founding of New Ulm, Minnesota. Schell would follow his fellow Cincinnati Turner into the territory of Minnesota to establish a safe haven to develop German culture in a more protected American context.

Relocating to safer environs became increasingly desirable for German-Americans as nativism flourished in the early 1850s. In Cincinnati, for example, the increasing numbers of German-speaking immigrants threatened to challenge the political authority of native-born Americans and their culture. As early as 1838, German citizens unsuccessfully petitioned the Cincinnati school board to adopt a German language program in its schools. German-speaking taxpayers, proclaimed German-language newspaper editorials, were paying for a public school education that offered little benefit to their own children. Couched in terms of constitutional rights, German Americans proposed that taxes from German residents should be earmarked for the instruction of German in the public schools. The German Americans successfully elected their own representatives to advocate their causes. The eventual creation of a bilingual German-English public school system illustrates the Cincinnati Germans’ growing confidence and political awareness amid the growing nativism.

In 1855, Pfaender wrote an article for the Turnverein’s national newspaper entitled “Practical Turnerism” that called for Turners across the country to pool their resources to create a joint-stock company that would buy land on the frontier and found a city to allow Turner ideas to flourish without impediment. For ten dollars a share, each stockholder would have a lot in the new city with other land being sold to establish “…mills, factories, and other nonprofit enterprises, which would accrue to the advantage of the whole….” Gaining the support of the national Turnverein organization, the Cincinnati Turners took charge of making this dream a reality.

With funding of $100,000 (roughly $2.68 million in 2011 dollars), Pfaender bought land on the banks of the Minnesota River in south-central Minnesota Territory from the Chicago Land Verein (Chicago Land Association). The Verein had originally bought the land and had given the tiny settlement its name of New Ulm. Facing financial ruin, the Chicago Land Verein agreed to be bought out by the Cincinnati Turnverein for $6,000 (roughly $161,000 in 2011 dollars). The two groups consolidated into a new joint-stock company known as the German Land Association of Minnesota. The executive committee of this association was based in Cincinnati where the bulk of the funds were located. Even before Pfaender set out by steamboat from Cincinnati to St. Paul, Minnesota, with the main group of initial Cincinnati Turners settlers in September 1856, August Schell and a few others had already made their way to the new German-American settlement on the frontier.

By the fall of 1856, several log houses, a post office, and two shops had been built around the town square. The Turners soon formed their own Turnverein chapter with August Schell elected as inaugural vice president of the society while William Pfaender became the corresponding secretary. Within the next year, this group erected their own Turner Hall that served as a community center, theater, and a space for gymnastics. Schell also served as one of the inaugural members of the New Ulm public school board. During his term of service, the school board erected a public school where subjects were taught in English and German. Schell found himself among the core leadership group of Turners on the Minnesota frontier. In this position, he had access to people and information, and played an important decision-making role that would prove crucial to his entrepreneurial success in the first decades of his business career.

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Business Development

August Schell spent his first four years in New Ulm involved in the milling industry. A viable milling industry was crucial for sustaining most any community, since flour and lumber were in universal demand. Schell’s years of service as a machinist made the industry a natural fit and an avenue of opportunity. Within a year of Schell’s arrival, the German Land Association had financed the construction of the Cincinnati Globe Mill Company. The building not only had the milling stones and other equipment necessary to process grain but was also equipped with saws, lathes, and a steam engine to run them. Though the company found it hard to recoup its costs, the mill helped make New Ulm a regional center by processing hundreds of bushels of wheat, corn, and buckwheat during its first year. However, as the Cincinnati Globe Mill looked forward to its second year of operation, the firm was struggling financially. On May 27, 1858, the Globe Mill Company increased its shares by 700 in order to raise money to cover a $4,000 (roughly $113,000 in 2011 dollars) deficit for construction costs as well as to provide money to continue operations. The mill also decided to cut its prices for lumber and the cost of cutting logs in order to increase revenues. In spite of this measure, the executive committee based in Cincinnati decided it could no longer pay the millers and machinists until the mill showed a profit. Frustration against the far removed executive committee led to protests including a mock funeral for a key member of the committee.

In August 1858, the mill was reorganized in order to continue operating and satisfy the stockholders back in Cincinnati. August Schell, along with group of fifteen other prominent settlers in New Ulm, signed articles of incorporation for a new Globe Mills Company, incorporated on August 6, 1858. According to the document, “The Business and object of the Company is to manufacture Lumber and flour. The Capital Stock of the Company is thirty seven thousand five hundred dollars, the number of shares is fifteen hundred. The Capital Stock actually paid in is two hundred and sixty dollars.” This reorganization transferred the office of operation to New Ulm with a board of directors located locally instead of in distant Cincinnati. Schell invested twenty dollars for two shares in order to be one of the stockholders signing for the new company. All but two of the stockholders noted in the document were from New Ulm with the remaining two located in Cincinnati.

Despite the new arrangement, the mill, like the German Land Company, still struggled to break even. By December 1858, the German Land Company had only $7,400 remaining (out of $100,000 that it began with) and its debts continued increasing. Realizing that the Turner’s planned community in south-central Minnesota was unsustainable, the German Land Company dissolved itself in May 1859 only two years after it was created. Before disbanding, the original stockholders ceded much of their land-holdings to the city for future schools, hospitals, and other public facilities in order to ensure that the city survived.

The Land Company formed a committee to sell the Globe Mill Company, Inc. on the open market to recoup its costs. The asking price was $6,000 (roughly $167,000 in 2011 dollars) with an estimated value at between $10,000 to $20,000 dollars. Throughout the summer of 1859, the committee tried to sell the mill but finally decided to lease it until a buyer could be found. August Schell saw an opportunity. While the mill was unprofitable to own since it was burdened by outstanding debts for materials and equipment, Schell must have believed that profits could be made if he was only required to cover rent on the facility. Schell partnered with John Bellm and leased the mill at a cost of $1,540 per year for two years. Although no records exist to gauge how much money Schell made during this period, he netted enough profit to build a new house in 1859 on the corner of Minnesota and Fifth Street, just south of town. It was a one-and-a-half-story frame house with a stone foundation and plastered walls. It had six rooms and a basement and was valued at $1,200 in 1860 (approximately $33,500 in 2011 dollars).

Though he had been a machinist from his youth in Europe through his employment in the Cincinnati Locomotive Works and his later work at the Globe Mill in New Ulm, Schell saw brewing as a more profitable line of work than milling. This is not surprising considering that German-Americans were greatly overrepresented in the brewing industry during the late nineteenth century. Schell was not the first to build a brewery in the region, which was increasingly dominated by German immigrants. The first two breweries had been established in 1858. The Koke and Heyrich Brewery, established a mile-and-a-half west of New Ulm across the Minnesota River, only lasted slightly over a year. In the same year, the first brewery within New Ulm itself was established by Andrew Betz and August Frinton near German Park in the center of town. In addition, north of downtown, Henry A. Subilia, an Italian immigrant, was building the Waraju Steam Distillery, which cost approximately $10,000 to build. It opened for business on April 6, 1861. In a cash-poor economy, Subilia, like others in the region, bartered with customers and extended credit to expand business. The Waraju distillery traded whiskey for rye, barley, corn and wood. Nevertheless, Schell knew his local market and believed that the market could support another brewery.

Schell’s first order of business was to secure land for his brewery. He purchased a large lot one-and-a-half miles south of New Ulm in the Cottonwood Valley. It was located on the bluffs above the Cottonwood River in a heavily wooded area. The Cottonwood River connected to the Minnesota River, which, in turn, provided access to the Mississippi River. According to the purchase contract, “August Schell doth hereby agree to pay the said John Fried. Ring the sum of $208, the consideration for the said premises, in the manner following: $100 in lumber and sawing at the usual prices, $75 in goods (cash articles), $25 in cash; the whole at any time before the first day of September, in the year 1861, when requested by the said John Fr. Ring, and $8 on the first day of September, 1861, in plaster laths.” With little cash money in circulation on the frontier, Schell purchased the lot with a mixture of cash and the bartering of services and materials.

The New Ulm Pioneer, a local German-language newspaper, announced in its January 16, 1861, edition that August Schell had begun construction of the brewery and anticipated that it would be finished by the fall. Through October, Schell continued leasing the Globe Mill with Bellm to help finance his new brewery. Schell intended to live at the brewery and constructed a house next to it. By August 1861, Schell had moved his family out to the brewery site and was allowing relatives, including his sister-in-law, to stay at his house in town.

At the end of October 1861, the New Ulm Pioneer announced the opening of the new brewery owned by Schell and his partner, Jacob Bernhardt. Though he understood business and machinery, Schell had no expertise as a brewer. In order to compete with the other brewery in town, he partnered with Bernhardt, a master brewer who had been employed at a brewery in St. Paul, Minnesota. Construction not yet been entirely completed on the brewery structure, but it was ready enough to begin brewing beer. Schell had opted to create a sizable brewery with a cellar large enough for future needs. Over the next year, the Schell and Bernhardt Brewery expanded its customer base at least as far as Fort Ridgley, some 20 miles away.

Graced by a thriving farming economy in the surrounding countryside, as well as streams of chain migration by German-language immigrants, the city of New Ulm grew from 800 inhabitants in 1859 to 5,403 in 1890. New Ulm’s access to the most modern transportation systems available was instrumental to the city’s growth. Early in its history, New Ulm relied upon steamboats that plied up and down the Minnesota River. This river system connected New Ulm to the Twin Cities and, by way of the Mississippi River, to the rest of the nation. Prior to the coming of the railroads, the river was the key component in the rise of New Ulm and the spread of Schell’s product.

Business came to a halt in August 1861, however, as violence engulfed New Ulm. Native Americans on the nearby Dakota reservations struck back against encroaching white settlements after Union Army troops were shifted east to fight Confederate forces in the Civil War. Moving from north to south along the Minnesota River, waves of Dakota warriors advanced on white settlements with New Ulm being a primary target. Warned of the encroaching danger, New Ulm fortified the center of town. Schell was mustered into emergency service as a fifth sergeant in the Minnesota militia. After several sorties, the Dakota warriors moved on after failing to break the German-American defenses. The parts of town not fortified and held by the New Ulm defenders, however, were burned and destroyed. The Globe Mill, Betz & Frinton Brewery, Waraju Steam Distillery, and many of the other businesses in town were burned to the ground. Schell’s frame home where his sister-in-law and other relatives were living in town was also destroyed in the fighting. Fourteen days later, August Schell, Bernhardt, and nine or ten other men returned to the brewery to find, “…the door to the brewery broken open, the window knocked in, trunks and chests open and most empty and the best article of a pair of Sioux breech cloths outside the brewery.” Another witness noted that the Dakota had, “…killed and carried off a number of chickens [105 chickens] and burned and totally destroyed other articles of personal property,” belonging to Schell and Bernhardt. In addition to the barrels of beer that were taken from the brewery during the Sioux occupation, many other barrels were destroyed at Fort Ridgley, and in private homes and saloons within the city of New Ulm that had been burned down. In all, over 104 beer barrels had been burned. Despite the destruction, it could have been worse as the main structure of the brewery remained standing.

All settlers and businesses in the area soon applied to the federal government for reimbursement. Schell and Bernhardt, too, filed depredation claims for their losses. Money that normally would have been distributed to the Native-American residents of the Dakota reservations was instead diverted to the Minnesota settlers. This was the result of a clause typical to many of the treaties written with Native Americans who had agreed to go onto reservations in the event that they broke the agreement. As a result, Schell not only received cash compensation for his loses at the brewery but also for the loss of his home in town and family possessions including shoes, socks, quilts, and so forth. Interestingly, though valued at $1,200 in 1860, Schell claimed that the loss of the house in town two years later in 1862 would require reimbursement of $2,300 in cash (approximately $53,000 in 2011 dollars). In contrast to the owners of the distillery and the other brewery in the New Ulm area that had been completely destroyed, Schell restarted his business in relatively short order with an infusion of cash from the federal government that covered not only his losses at the brewery but also provided funds for expansion. With cash reserves on hand and a largely undamaged brewery building, Schell used this competitive advantage to increase the presence of Schell beer in the regional market while his competition had to rebuild from scratch.

In 1866, Jacob Bernhardt decided to leave the partnership due to failing health. As a result, the two men decided to put the brewery up for auction as a means to dissolve the partnership. On August 3, 1866, the New Ulm Pioneer announced the auction. In the advertisement, the brewery was described in detail. By 1866, the brick brewery building dominated the property and outbuildings for other aspects of beer production were also found there. The advert noted that the brewery had a pristine water source, a large cellar with stone vaults, a copper brewing vessel, and a twenty-horsepower mill for crushing grain. As Schell’s family had been living at the brewery since before the Dakota uprising, the sale also included the family house, horse stables, and garden. The brewery’s location near the Cottonwood River was also advantageous, as the proprietors could obtain ice from the river during the winter months for use in cooling beer in the brewery cellar during the summer months. August Schell won the auction with a bid of $12,000 ($175,000 in 2011 dollars). Although it is not known how much money Schell had to pay Bernhardt as a part of the settlement, legal notice was soon published that formally dissolved the partnership between Schell and Bernhardt and the newspaper was soon carrying advertisements for “August Schell’s Beer Brewery”.

Though now in control of his own company, Schell faced new and growing competition from fellow German immigrants as new breweries formed in the wake of the Civil War. Almost two years after Frinton and Betz’s brewery had burned down during the Dakota uprising, August Frinton rebuilt the facility under his sole ownership. He completed the reconstruction process and renamed it the City Brewery (1858-1917, closed at start of Prohibition). Jacob Bender founded a brewery bearing his name near the rebuilt Globe Mill (it would remain in operation until 1911). Also in 1866, the Carl Brewery opened but only lasted a short time from 1866 until 1871. Schell’s primary competition came from John Hauenstein Brewery which opened in 1864 in partnership with Andreas Betz (who had previously been a partner with Frinton). By the 1870s, Hauenstein owned the brewery outright and the company remained in operation over one hundred years until 1969.

As no business records remain for any of these breweries, the 1870 U.S. Census’ Industrial and Manufacturing Schedule offers a rough estimate to compare the breweries’ costs and sales. Schell and Hauenstein were able to sell their barrels of beer for an average of 9 dollars per barrel. Schell and Hauenstein’s larger production capabilities and greater capital investments gave them economies of scale that were crucial for competing against other breweries. Schell was able to produce a barrel of beer at a lower cost than any other brewery in New Ulm and thus achieve a wider profit margin that his competitors. Only Hauenstein came close. These numbers clarify why Hauenstein remained Schell’s major source of competition in New Ulm and why the other breweries had a harder time competing. Schell continued to invest in larger and more efficient production processes, thus making it more difficult for these smaller breweries to make money by competing on price.

Schell and his competitors faced concerns typical for businesses of the era, but life on the edge of the prairie presented its own unique problems in the late nineteenth century. Although Schell had emerged from the Dakota War of 1862 with a competitive advantage because the other breweries in the region had been destroyed, he faced frontier hardships as his company grew. Beginning in 1873 and lasting through 1878, massive swarms of grasshoppers plagued farmers throughout the Great Plains including south-central Minnesota where New Ulm is located. While this had some impact on grain supplies needed by brewers like Schell, the swarms devastated regional farms, which lowered purchasing power within the local agricultural economy. The Minnesota state legislature created its own grasshopper committee and provided various means of relief to the farmers of the state. There is little evidence, however, that beer consumption slowed enough to significantly harm Schell Brewing Company.

Severe weather, tornadoes in particular, threatened businesses on the frontier. In the middle of July 1881, a massive tornado tore apart much of New Ulm with over $250,000 in damage ($5,670,000 in 2011 dollars). Although Schell emerged with no damage, a relatively short distance away, Hauenstein Brewery, Schell’s main competition, took a direct hit from the tornado. The tornado tore apart the large brick structure leaving it, “…a shapeless mass of ruins, nothing remaining uninjured except the cellar vaults.” The brewery’s losses totaled over $40,000 ($908,000 in 2011 dollars) including nearly all equipment and over 2,000 bushels of malt. Fortunately for John Hauenstein, over four hundred barrels of beer remained untouched in the cellar allowing him to sell his product while rebuilding. Unlike the Dakota uprising where Schell and others were able to secure generous money from the government, Hauenstein had no insurance and could not recoup any of these losses. In fact, he began brewing new beer in covered shacks. Remarkably, Hauenstein was able to recover from this devastation. He built a new plant and incorporated his business in 1900 with a capitalization of $200,000 (5.53 million dollars in 2011 dollars). Nevertheless, the tornado hampered Hauenstein’s ability to compete with Schell.

Although rivers had played a key role in the early success of New Ulm and the August Schell Brewery, in the decades after the Civil War it became apparent that railroads were going to be crucial for continued growth. By 1872, the Winona and St. Peter Railroad (later part of the Chicago and Northwestern system) established a branch line to New Ulm. This railroad tied New Ulm closer to the rest of Minnesota and the United States. The line, however, was not a direct route, by any means, to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. In addition, without competition, the railroad charged very high rates for the branch lines. By 1897, New Ulm became part of the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad which eliminated nearly 90 miles of extra rail travel from the trip to the Twin Cities and tied New Ulm industry to St. Louis and other southern markets as well. Although some business leaders were not persuaded that extra taxation to raise money for the railroad connection was worth the cost, Schell unequivocally favored the development. These railroads further cemented the importance of New Ulm as the regional market center for surrounding farms.

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.

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.

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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.

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Conclusion

In many ways, August Schell followed a path that was typical of numerous first-generation German-Americans. As a young man, Schell immigrated to the United States amid a rush of other Germans in the aftermath of the failed Revolutions of 1848. Like many of his fellow immigrants, he initially established himself in an urban American setting (Cincinnati) among fellow German immigrants. Schell took advantage immigrant organizations to ease his transition into American society, as did many others. But whereas German-Americans often found such aid within church-related organizations (Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and others), August Schell was part of a sizeable and influential minority of German-Americans who eschewed churches and found an American home within the Turner Society. It was through his association with the Turner society and its networks that Schell became one of the respected founding fathers of the city of New Ulm, Minnesota. With such connections and advantages, Schell founded the August Schell Brewing Company just years after the city itself was founded and quickly grew it into a major business in the region. Like other brewers of his era, August Schell’s entrepreneurial activity was linked to German immigrants’ overrepresentation within the American brewing industry. He produced beer for a largely German-American consumer base, especially within the largely German-speaking New Ulm region. Through his Turner connections and his civic leadership in the region, Schell and his company overcame challenges due to war, plagues, and tornadoes that undermined many of his competitors. Whereas numerous firms founded by German-American that have survived into the twenty-first century had urban roots, August Schell’s business enterprises on the Minnesota frontier provide a valuable case study regarding the long-term impact of German-American entrepreneurship prevalent in rural, nineteenth-century America.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Philip Zang

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Today is the birthday of Philip Zang (February 15, 1826-February 18, 1899) who’s most remembered for his brewery in Denver, Colorado, although he also founded a brewery in Louisville, Kentucky, before moving west in 1869. He was born in Bavaria, Germany, but came to the U.S. in 1853.

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Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:

Brewing Magnate in Denver. Owner of first brewery in Denver, Rocky Mountain Brewery, which was also the largest west of the Mississippi from 1880 to the start of prohibition. Arrived in the USA in 1853; initially settled in Louisville, Kentucky where he owned Phoenix Brewery (later Zang Brewing Co.), the largest in Kentucky, for 16 years; relocated to Denver in September 1869; acquired Rocky Mountain Brewery in 1871 and changed its name to Philip Zang Brewing Co.; increased production over the years to achieve over 65,000 barrels per year while surviving a couple of destructive fires; sold Philip Zang Brewing Co. in 1888 to British investors; retired from brewing in 1889 and listed the same year as one of 33 millionaires living in Denver. Was involved in mining holding interests in a number of gold and silver mines in Silverton, Cripple Creek and Eagle County. A prominent Denver citizen, he was also elected as a democrat to a term as city alderman.

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And here’s a fuller biography, from the Zang Mansion website:

PHILIP ZANG, founder of the Ph. Zang Brewing Company, of Denver, was a native of Bavaria, Germany, immigrated to United States in by ship in 1853. Married Elizabeth Hurlebaus, who died in Chicago, leaving an only child, Adolph J. Zang.

  • Founded Phoenix brewery in Louisville (1859-1869) then moved to Denver
  • Bought Rocky Mountain Brewing Co. from John Good (1871)
  • Changed name to Philip Zang & Co. (7/1880)
  • Sold to UK syndicate-chg. name to PH. Zang Brewing Co. (1889)
  • Son; Adolf J. Zang took over management (General Manager)
  • Second Marriage (10/1870) to Mrs. Anna Barbara Buck, nee Kalberer, (b.1836)(d.4/1896)
  • Previously widowed from marriage to Jacob Buck (b.1832) m(1857-xxxx)
  • The family residence, built in 1887, was at 2342 Seventh street, Denver, CO

ROOTS

Philip Zang, founder of the PH. Zang Brewing Company, of Denver, was a native of Bavaria, Germany, and next to the oldest among the six sons and two daughters of John and Fredericka (Kaufman) Zang. His father, who was a member of an old Bavarian family, engaged in farming and the milling business, and took part in the Napoleonic wars, accompanying the illustrious general on his march to Moscow. He (John) died in 1849, at the age of sixty-two. Two of John and Fredericka’s sons, Alexander and Philip, immigrated to America. During the Civil War Alexander served in the Thirty-ninth New York Infantry; he died in Denver in 1892.

BOUND FOR AMERICA

Philip was a brewer’s apprentice for two and one-half years, after which he traveled around Germany, working at his trade. In 1853 he came to America, going from Rotterdam to Hull, then to Liverpool, and from there on the “City of Glasgow,” which landed him in Philadelphia after a voyage of eighteen days.

LEAPING FORWARD

Ignorant of the English language, his first endeavor was to gain sufficient knowledge to converse with the people here, and during the first six months in this country, while working as a railroad hand, he was storing in his mind a knowledge of our customs and language. In Philadelphia Mr. P. Zang married Miss Elizabeth Hurlebaus, who died in Chicago, leaving an only child, Adolph J. Zang. In January 1854, he went to Louisville, Ky., where he worked at his trade for one year. Later, desiring to learn engineering, he secured employment in a woolen mill, and remained there until January 1859, meantime becoming familiar with the engineer’s occupation.

THE BREWERY BUSINESS

Mr. P. Zang built a brewery in Louisville and this he conducted alone until 1865, when he erected a large brewery, which was carried on under the firm name of Zang & Co. Selling this in February 1869; he decided to locate in the growing town of Denver.

Here he was engaged as superintendent of the brewery owned by John Good until July 1871, when he bought out his employer and continued the business alone. Mr. Good had started the business in 1859 on the same spot, under the title of the Rocky Mountain Brewery, which continued to be its name for some years. In July 1871, Mr. Zang enlarged the brewery, which then had a capacity of one hundred and fifty thousand barrels per annum, and is the largest between St. Louis and San Francisco. There was also a malt house, with modern equipments; an ice plant, lager beer vaults, boiler house, brewery stables, and a switch from the railroad connecting with the main lines, in order to facilitate the work of shipment. In 1880 the name was changed to Philip Zang & Co., and in July 1889, the business was sold to an English syndicate, who changed the name to the Ph. Zang Brewing Company.

LOCAL AFFAIRS

In Denver, October 18, 1870, he was united in marriage with Mrs. Anna B. Buck, nee Kalberer, an estimable lady and one who has many friends in this city. The family residence, built in 1887, stood at 2342 Seventh street. For one term Mr. Zang served as an alderman of the sixth ward, to which position he was elected on the Democratic ticket, but he himself is independent in politics. While in Louisville he was made a Mason and an Odd Fellow, and he belonged to Schiller Lodge No. 41, A. F. & A. M., and Germania Lodge No. 14, I. O.O. F., of Denver, of both of which he was a charter member. He was also connected with the Turn Verein, Krieger Verein and Bavarian Verein, and took a prominent part in all local affairs.

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And in this short account, it is suggested it was gold fever that enticed Zang west, and when that didn’t pan out, he returned to what he knew: brewing beer.

“Zang came to Denver in 1870 – a few years after the Civil War – having run the Phoenix Brewery in Louisville Kentucky for 16 years. Even though his brewery had thrived through the turmoil of the war, he caught gold fever, sold that brewery and headed west. His gold mining career in Leadville lasted about a month. Soon he found himself back in the more palatable environment of Denver, running the Rocky Mountain Brewery for a “Capitalist” (his official title) called John Good. Within a couple years, Zang bought the brewery from Good and soon increased its capacity ten-fold. From then until the complication of Prohibition in 1920, Zang Brewing Company was the largest beer producer west of the Missouri.”

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The wonderful book 100 Years of Brewing, published in 1901, also has a short account of Zang’s brewery:

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Zang

Historic Beer Birthday: Alvin M. Hemrich

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Today is the birthday of Alvin M. Hemrich (February 14, 1870-February 25, 1935). He was born in Wisconsin, of German-born parents, and from age 18 began working in breweries. In 1891, he moved to the Seattle, Washington area, and began working for breweries there and in Canada, including the Seattle Brewing & Malting Co. His brother Andrew bought the Bay View Brewery in Seattle, and later Alvin bought the North Pacific Brewery (also known as the old Slorah brewery), and renamed it the Alvin Hemrich Brewing Co. in 1897. Two of his brothers soon joined him in the enterprise, and it was renamed again, this time to Hemrich Brothers Brewing Company. They did well enough that he began buying out other area breweries. When prohibition closed the brewery, they were ready, having retooled their plants for near-beer and also having divested into some other businesses. They reopened when prohibition was repealed, and two of Alvin’s sons went into the family business, too, but their father died just two years later.

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Alvin M. Hemrich and his eldest son, Elmer, around 1910.

As is typical for Pacific Northwest breweries, Gary Flynn has a thorough biography culled from numerous sources at his Brewery Gems website.

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Hemrich Brothers Brewing around 1900.

Here’s some more history of the Hemrichs in Seattle from History Link:

Bay View Brewery

It was in 1883 that Andrew Hemrich (b. 1856) and John Kopp arrived in Seattle where they acquired a parcel of land right below Seattle’s Beacon Hill that boasted a cool, freshwater spring. It was there — just south of Seattle’s downtown (at Hanford Street — and 9th Avenue S, today’s Airport Way S) — that they constructed a small brewing facility.

Hemrich was the son of a German brewmaster who’d run a brewery in Wisconsin in the 1850s and he’d opened his own brewery in Glendale, Montana, where he met Kopp, a local baker. Once settled in Seattle, the Kopp & Hemrich company began brewing a “steam” beer and soon branched out with a lager style. Business was good: More than 2,600 barrels of beer were sold that debut year.

Increasingly impressed by the beautiful view of Elliott Bay seen from the brewery, the men renamed their operation the Bay View Brewing Company in 1885. Steady growth in business caused the firm to construct a new and vastly larger plant in 1887. At that time the waters of Duwamish delta still lapped the slopes of Beacon Hill, and the narrow-gauge Grant Street Railway (Seattle’s first “interurban” line) rode above the tideflats on a trestle along the future route of Airport Way. Hemrich erected his mansion above the brewery, in the middle of the future right-of-way for I-5.

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Here’s a short biography from “Sketches of Washingtonians: Containing Brief Histories of Men of the State,” published in 1907:

Alvin-Henrich-bio

Hemrich-Bros-crew
The brew crew at Hemrich Brothers, with Alvin front left.

And this biography is from “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of the City of Seattle and County of King, Washington,” from 1903:

Practical industry wisely and vigorously applied never fails of success. It carries a man onward and upward, brings out his individual character and powerfully stimulates the actions of others. It is this unflagging spirit of industry that has laid the foundations and built the commercial greatness of the northwest, and the career of him whose name initiates this paragraph illustrates most forcibly the possibilities that are open to a young man who possesses sterling business qualifications, and it proves that ambitious perseverance, steadfast purpose and indefatigable industry, as combined with the observance of sound business principles, will eventuate in the attaining of a definite and worthy success. Mr. Hemrich, who is president and manager of the Hemrich Brothers Brewing Company, an important industrial enterprise in the city of Seattle, is a young man of singular force of character and one who stands representative of that insistent and well directed energy which has brought about the development of the magnificent metropolis of the northwest. That he should be accorded specific mention in a work of this nature needs not be said.

Alvin M. Hemrich was born in the town of Alma, Buffalo county, Wisconsin, on the 14th of February, 1870, a son of John and Catherine (Koeppel) Hemrich, both of whom were born in Germany. The father was for many years engaged in the brewing business at Alma, Wisconsin, and he was seventy-three years old when he died, while his wife is still living. Alvin passed his boyhood days in Wisconsin and secured his early educational discipline in the public schools. At the age of sixteen he assumed charge of the business founded by his father in Alma and conducted the same for two years, becoming thoroughly familiar with all details pertaining thereto. At the expiration of the period noted he engaged in the brewing business on his own responsibility in the town of Durand, Wisconsin, and there he successfully continued operations until the year 1890, when he disposed of his interests and came to Seattle, where his parents had located some time previously. After his arrival in Washington Mr. Hemrich proceeded to Victoria, British Columbia, where for two years he held the position of manager of the Victoria Brewing Company. He then returned to Seattle and became foreman for the Albert Braun Brewing Association, retaining this incumbency one year, when the business was closed out, and he then took a similar position with the Bay View Brewing Association, in whose employ he continued for four years, being finally compelled to resign by reason of failing health, and he then passed some time in travel, principally in California. After recuperating his energies through this period of rest and recreation Mr. Hemrich returned to Seattle and here purchased the plant and business of the old Slorah brewery, located on Howard avenue, between Republican and Mercer streets, and there he conducted business for six months, at the expiration of which he became associated with his brother Louis of whom mention is mad on another page, and with Julius Damus, in the organization of the Hemrich Brothers Brewing Company, which was duly incorporated under the laws of the state on the 4th of February, 1899, and under the effective management of these interested principals the business has been built up to a most successful standpoint, the equipment of the plant being of the most approved modern type, while every detail of manufacture receives the most careful and discriminating attention of the part of our subject and his brother, both of whom are experts in this line of industry. The result is that the products of the brewery, including lager and porter, are of exceptional excellence, thus gaining a popularity which augurs for the increasing expansion and growth of the business. From the brewery are sent forth each year about thirty-five thousand barrels, and in the prosecution of the business in its various departments employment is afforded to a corps of about seventy-five capable workmen. None but the best material is utilized in the process of manufacture, the malt being secured from Wisconsin and California, and the hops being the most select products from Bohemia and from the state of Washington, whose prestige in this line is well known. The present company have made important changes in the equipment of the plant, having installed the latest improved accessories and having greatly augmented the productive capacity.
Alvin M. Hemrich has been president of the company from the time of its organization, and the success of the enterprise is in large measure due to his able and well directed efforts. In November, 1901, Mr. Hemrich effected the purchase of the property of the Aberdeen Brewing Company at Aberdeen, this state, and he began the operation of the plant shortly afterward, having organized a stock company, which was incorporated with a capital stock of sixty thousand dollars, he himself being president of the company.

Mr. Hemrich is well and most favorably known in connection with the business activities of the city of Seattle, and is esteemed as a straightforward, capable business man. He has made judicious investments in local real estate and is one of the most loyal admirers and enthusiastic citizens of his adopted city. His beautiful residence, which he erected in 1898, is located at 503 Melrose avenue, and is one of the most attractive of the many fine homes for which Seattle is justly noted. Fraternally Mr. Hemrich is identified with the Sons of Hermann, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Red Men, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, while his wife is a member of the Rebekah lodge of the Odd Fellows. Mr. Hemrich enjoys marked popularity in both business and social circles, being a man of genial presence and unfailing courtesy in all the relations of life, and his home is one in which a refined hospitality is ever in distinctive evidence. On the 8th of May, 1890, Mr. Hemrich was united in marriage to Miss Minnie Rutschow, who was born in Germany, being the daughter of Charles and Minnie (Benecke) Rutschow, both of whom were born in Prussia. Mr. and Mrs. Hemrich have two sons, Elmer E. and Andrew L.

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