Historic Beer Birthday: Georg Schneider

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Today is the birthday of Georg Schneider (November 26, 1817-1890) who co-founded G. Schneider & Son along with his son Georg Schneider II in 1872. Georg leased the royal ‘Weisse Brauhuas’ Hofbräuhaus in Munich in 1855 and purchased from King Ludwig II the right to brew wheat beer in 1872. Georg, along with his son acquired the so-called Maderbräu Im Tal 10′ in 1872.

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Both he and his son passed away in 1890, and his grandson, Georg III, took over the brewery even though he was barely 20 at the time, and today George VI still owns and runs the brewery.

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Here’s what the brewery website has about their history:

The history of wheat beer is also the history of the Schneider brewing family and its famous Schneider Weisse. Georg I Schneider, as the wheat beer pioneer and creator of the Schneider Weisse Original recipe (which is still used today), is revered by all wheat beer connoisseurs.

Two-hundred years ago, wheat beer could only be brewed by the Bavarian royal family in their reweries. In 1872, King Ludwig II discontinued brewing wheat beer due to a steady decline in sales.

That same year, he sold Georg I Schneider the exclusive right to brew wheat beer. Thus, the Schneider Family saved wheat beer from extinction. Today, Georg VI Schneider is running the brewery in Kelheim, which the family acquired in 1927 and has remained the Schneider Weisse brewery to this day. It is the oldest wheat beer brewery in Bavaria; wheat beer has been brewed there without interruption since its founding in the year 1607.

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The Schneider Brauhaus has a slightly different history of the Schneider story:

Georg Schneider I was a tenant of the Königlich Weissen Hofbräuhaus in Munich between 1855 and 1873. On the basis of the prevailing narrow conditions, the production of white beer was to be abandoned. The victory of the lower-fermented beers (at that time known as brown beer) could no longer be stopped in Bavaria.

Georg Schneider I believed, however, that the old top-breed brewing method had a future. Therefore, during the reign of King Ludwig II, he negotiated with the Bavarian court brethren about the replacement of the Weissbierregal (the right to brew Weissbier). The latter believed that he could give the request, since Weissbier was no longer allowed any chance.

At the same time Georg Schneider I had the opportunity to purchase the abandoned Maderbräu. After about a year of conversion, he began to produce his own white beer together with his son Georg Schneider II. The “Schneider Weisse” was born and the “Weisse Bräuhaus G. Schneider & Sohn” from the original Maderbräu became. Georg Schneider I himself was responsible for the business and found in his wife Maria Anna, born Hettel, an efficient cook and economist.

Overall, the acquisition of Georg Schneider I was a speculation with a high level of commitment. The success did not fail. The influx of guests, who wanted to enjoy a “delicious mouth beer” soon surpassed all expectations. George Schneider I is rightly referred to as the Weissbierpionier, who has rescued the superior brewing methods in their original form into modern times.

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The “Weisses Bräuhaus” in Munich, Tal (or Thal) is the founding place of their brewery. It’s the place where Georg Schneider I brewed his first Schneider Weisse Original in 1872.

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“In 1927 the owners, who to this day are descendants of Georg Schneider I, expanded their brewing operations into Kelheim and Straubing. After the breweries in Munich were destroyed in 1944 by aerial bombardment by the Allies of World War II, the entire production was relocated to Kelheim.”

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Historic Beer Birthday: Frederick Miller

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Today is the birthday of Frederick Edward John Miller (November 24, 1824-May 11, 1888). He was originally born as Friedrich Eduard Johannes Müller in Württemberg, Germany. He learned the brewing business in Germany at Sigmaringen, and moved the U.S. to found the Miller Brewing Company by buying the Plank Road Brewery in 1855, when he was 31. For a time it was known as the Fred Miller Brewing Co., but later dropped Fred’s name to become the Miller Brewing Co.

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Here’s a short biography of Miller:

Born in Germany in 1824, Frederick Miller learned the art of brewing from his uncle in France. After working through the ranks of his uncle’s brewery, Miller leased the royal Hohenzollern brewery at Sigmaringen, Germany, and brewed beer under a royal license until political unrest caused him to emigrate to the United States in 1854. Miller arrived in Milwaukee in 1855 and purchased the Plank-Road Brewery, located several miles west of the city. Miller led the company for thirty-five years, pursuing a policy of aggressive expansion and modernization. After his death in 1888, Miller’s sons took over management of the company.

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The Plank Road Brewery around 1870.

Here’s his obituary, from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Catholic Cemeteries:

Miller, Fredrick Edward John, November 24, 1824 – June 11,1888, Began Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee, WI, the second largest brewer in the United States. Fredrick Miller came from a family composed of German politicians, scholars and business owners. He began to learn the craft of brewing beer in Germany. At the age of 14, Miller was sent to France for seven years to study Latin, French and English. While residing in Europe, he visited his uncle in Nancy, France. His uncle was a brewer and Fredrick Miller decided to continue to learn the business of brewing.
Fredrick Miller came to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1855. He brought his passion for beer and business expertise with him. With $8,000 in gold from Germany, Miller opened the Plank Road Brewery, a brewery originally started by Fredrick Charles Best that was abandoned in 1854.

Fredrick Miller was married to Josephine Miller on June 7, 1853, before they immigrated to America. Josephine and Fredrick Miller had six children together. Most of the children died during infancy. In April 1860, Josephine died. She left Fredrick with 2-year-old daughter, Louisa. When Louisa was 16, she too died of tuberculosis.

Miller was remarried in 1860 to Lisette Gross and they had several children who also died during infancy and five who survived: Ernst, Emil, Fred, Clara and Elise.

When Fredrick Miller brewed his first barrel of beer in America, he spoke passionately about “Quality, Uncompromising and Unchanging.” It was his slogan, mission and vision for the company. His statement and vision still lives on today.

Through the Great Depression, Prohibition, and two World Wars, Miller Brewing Company has preserved and grown.

Fredrick Miller died of cancer on June 11, 1888; interment in Cavalry Cemetery, Wauwatosa, WI.

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This account of the early Miller brewery is from Encyclopedia.com:

Between the establishment of the Miller Brewing Company in 1855 and the death of its founder in 1888, the firm’s annual productive capacity increased from 300 barrels to 80,000 barrels of beer. This impressive growth has continued to the present day: Miller now operates six breweries, five can manufacturing plants, four distributorships, a glass bottle production facility, a label and fiberboard factory, and numerous gas wells. Beginning with a staff of 25, Miller now employs about 9,500 people. The company currently produces more than 40 million barrels of beer per year and is the second largest brewery in the United States.

The founder of the Miller Brewing Company, Frederick Miller, was born in Germany in 1824. As a young man he worked in the Royal Brewing Company at Sigmaringen, Hohenzollern. In 1850, at the age of 26, he emigrated to the United States. Miller wanted to start his own brewery and regarded Milwaukee as the most promising site, probably because of the large number of beer-drinking Germans living there.

In 1855 Miller bought the Plank Road Brewery from Charles Lorenz Best and his father. These two men had been slow to modernize their operation, but Miller’s innovative techniques made him successful, indeed famous, in the brewing industry. The Bests had started a “cave-system” which provided storage for beer in a cool undisturbed place for several months after brewing. Yet these caves were small and in poor condition. Miller improved upon the Best’s system: his caves were built of brick, totaled 600 feet of tunnel, and had a capacity of 12,000 barrels. Miller used these until 1906 when, due to the company’s expansion and the availability of more modern technology, refrigerator facilities were built.

After his death, Miller’s sons Ernest, Emil, and Frederick A., along with their brother-in-law Carl, assumed control of the operation which was incorporated as the Frederick Miller Brewing Company. By 1919 production had increased to 500,000 barrels, but it was halted shortly thereafter by the enactment of Prohibition. The company managed to survive by producing cereal beverages, soft drinks, and malt-related products.

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Finally, this account is from a brochure prepared by the Communications Department, Corporate Affairs Division, Miller Brewing Co., in the Fall of 1991:

When Frederick Miller brewed his first barrel of beer in America in 1855, he spoke empassionately about “Quality, Uncompromising and Unchanging.” It became his slogan, his vision, his mission for the company. The statement lived then as now in the dedicated commitment of employees.

Miller did more than speak his vision. He lived it. Both in the way he operated his business and in the way he handled his personal triumphs and tragedies, Miller was steadfast in his zeal for true excellence.

A glimpse into the life of Frederick Miller is presented in this brief history, which also includes some highlights of the company over the years. While this presentation is by no means comprehensive, it provides a good overview of the founder’s life and the heritage of the Miller Brewing Company.

He dressed and acted like a Frenchman, but his “confoundedly good glass of beer” won the respect of the German community of early Milwaukee. Tall and spare, Frederick Edward John Miller had a long face with a high forehead and short, Parisian beard. Born November 24, 1824, the man destined to found the Miler Brewing Company hailed from a family of German politicians, scholars and business owners and reportedly received $3,000 annually from an ancestral estate in Riedlingen, Germany.

At the age of 14, he was sent to France for seven years of study, including Latin, French and English. After his graduation, he toured France, Italy, Switzerland and Algiers. On his way back to Germany, he visited his uncle — a brewer — in Nancy, France. He decided to stay and learn the business.

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Working through the various departments of his uncle’s brewery, and supplementing the experience thus gained with the fruits of observation during visits to various beer-producing cities of Germany, he leased the royal brewery (of the Hohenzollerns) at Sigmaringen, Germany,” according to the 1914 edition of the Evening Wisconsin Newspaper Reference Book. Miller brewed beer under a royal license that read, “By gracious permission of his highness.”

On June 7, 1853, he married Josephine Miller at Friedrichshafen. About a year later, their first son, Joseph Edward, was born. In 1854, with Germany in the throes of political unrest and growing restrictions, the Millers and their infant son emigrated to the United States. They brought with them $9,000 in gold — believed to be partially gifts from Miller’s mother and his wife’s dowry, but “mostly from the fruits of his own labor,” a 1955 research account indicated. An undocumented story said the money was from a royal gift, but the 1955 researcher deemed that account unlikely because of the lack of records to prove it.

After spending a year based in New York City and inspecting various parts of the country by river and lake steamer, Miller traveled up the Mississippi to Prairie du Chien and traveled overland to Milwaukee. According to another old tale, Miller slept on a sack of meal on deck while waiting for a berth to open on the riverboat.

“He found out in the morning that the place had been vacated by a man who had just died of cholera. Miller rushed to the steward, got a bottle of whiskey and swallowed it at a single tilt. He lived in fear for a week, but he didn’t get cholera,” according to a story found in the Milwaukee County Historical Society archives. The same story said that, upon arriving in Milwaukee, Miller remarked: “A town with a magnificent harbor like that has a great future in store.”

Shortly after he arrived in Milwaukee, Frederick Miller paid $8,000 for the Plank-Road Brewery — a five-year — old brewery started by Frederick Charles Best and abandoned in 1854. Miller became a brewery owner in an era when beer sold for about $5 per barrel in the Milwaukee area and for three to five cents a glass at the city’s taverns. The Plank-Road Brewery — now the Milwaukee Brewery — was several miles west of Milwaukee in the Menomonee Valley. It proved ideal for its nearness to a good water source and to raw materials grown on surrounding farms.

Another story said that, on his first day at the plant, Miller “took a brief interlude from work and killed a black bear that had poked its nose out of the bushes across the road from the brewery.”

Because the brewery site was so far from town, Miller opened a boarding house next to the brew house for his unmarried employees. The workers ate their meals in the family house, at the top of the hill overlooking the brewery. Their annual wages ranged from $480 to $1,300, plus meals and lodging.

In an 1879 letter to relatives in Germany, Miller described the meals of the employees, who began work at 4 a.m.: “Breakfast for single men (married men eat with their families) at 6 o’clock in the morning consists of coffee and bread, beef steak or some other roasted meat, potatoes, eggs and butter. Lunch at 9 o’clock consists of a meat portion, cheese, bread and pickles. The 12 o’clock midday meal consists of soup, a choice of two meats, vegetables, cake, etc. The evening meal at 6 o’clock consists of meat, salad, eggs, tea and cakes.”

The day included a rest period from noon until 1 p.m. with work concluding at 6 p.m. Miller himself arose between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. each day during the summer to “energetically tour the brewery and write a few letters.” After a 7 a.m. breakfast of Swiss cheese with rye bread and fresh butter and a large cup of coffee with cream, Miller devoted the rest of his morning to correspondence.

He spent his afternoons attending to business outside of the office, including trips to the post office, bank, railroad office and to make purchases. He went to bed at 8 p.m. in winter and 9 p.m. in the summer.

Miller was a resourceful businessman, establishing a beautiful beer garden that attracted weekend crowds for bowling, dancing, fine lunches and old-fashioned gemuetlichkeit. “You can perceive that people in America, especially where Germans are located, also know how to live,” Miller wrote. “When one plods through the week and has dealt with all sorts of problems, one is entitled to enjoy his life on Sundays and holidays and should not complain about spending a few dollars mote or less.”

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An April 24, 1857, newspaper account heralded the opening of a new beer hall by Miller on Milwaukee’s East Water Street where he dispensed “an excellent article of ‘lager’ to all thirsty visitors.”

When sales dropped during the Civil War, Miller is said to have traveled with a shipment of beer directly to St. Louis, and made deliveries himself, by horse and wagon.

In June 1884, he constructed a new brewery on two acres of land he purchased near Bismark in the Dakota Territory. Unfortunately, the state went dry the day the brewery was to open, according to one account. However, the Dakota brewery was listed among Miller’s assets when he died of cancer in 1888.

Records do not indicate the cause of Josephine’s death in April 1860, leaving Miller to care for Louisa, age 2. One family story states that Josephine died from an influenza outbreak while on a ship traveling back to Germany for a visit. Another speculated that she might have died in childbirth. At the time of her death, Milwaukee was issuing burial certificates at a rate of about 60 to 70 per week, with deaths mostly because of cholera.

Whatever the reason, Josephine’s death, and the deaths of their children, would haunt Miller throughout his life. The couple had six children, most of whom did not survive infancy, and Louisa who died of tuberculosis at the age of 16.

Miller married Lisette Gross later in 1860, and they, too, had several children who died in infancy and five who survived: Ernst, Emil, Fred, Clara and Elise.

In the 1879 letter, Miller offered a glimpse of his personal torments: “Think of me and what I had to endure – I have lost several children and a wife in the flower of their youth. I myself was at death’s door several times and still God did not foresake me. Instead I was manifestly blessed in the autumn of my life.

“Whenever I think of all of them, how they were taken away from me so quickly and unexpectedly, then I become sad and melancholy…

“In spite of all the misfortunes and fateful blows, I never lost my head. After every blow, just as a bull, I jumped back higher and higher…

“Whenever I think about it, I realize we must submit ourselves without murmur or complaint to the unexplainable wisdom of God and that such wisdom transcends human understanding.”

Miller’s children with Lisette provided the descendents who, with their spouses, later led Miller Brewing Company through the purchase of most of their stock by W.R. Grace Co. in 1966. Philip Morris Inc. purchased the company in 1969 and the rest of the family’s stock in 1970.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Eugene Hack

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Today is the birthday of Eugene Hack (November 18, 1840-June 12, 1916). He was born in Wurtenburg, Germany, but emigrated to Indiana and settled in Vincennes in 1868. In 1875, he and a partner, Anton Simon, bought a small brewery in Vincennes, Indiana from John Ebner, who had established in 1859. They continued to call it the Eagle Brewery, although it was also referred to as the Hack & Simon Eagle Brewery, though in 1918, its official name became the Hack & Simon Brewery, until closed by prohibition. The brewery briefly reopened after prohibition as the Old Vincennes Brewery Inc., but they appear to have never actually brewed any beer, before closing for good in 1934.

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Here’s Hack’s obituary, from the Brewers Journal, Volume 47, published in 1916:

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And this account is from “Vincennes in Picture and Story: History of the Old Town, Appearance of the New,” written by J.P. Hodge, and originally published in 1902.

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In 1859 the Eagle Brewery was established by John Ebner on Indianapolis Avenue in Vincennes, Indiana. It operated under his management until 1875 when it was sold to Eugene Hack and Anton Simon. They kept the name and added an eagle logo identifying their flagship brand. Hack and Simon successfully operated the brewery for decades. They were producing 18,000 barrels of beer a year and maintained five wagons and twelve head of horses for their local trade. In time they established five refrigerated beer depots in towns in Indiana and Illinois. The brewery was shut down by Indiana prohibitionary laws in 1918 and apparently not reopened in 1934 after Repeal.

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A brewery paperweight.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Hans Johann Claussen

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Today is the birthday of Hans Johann Claussen (November 13, 1861-March 20, 1940). He was born in Germany, but moved to California to work at the Fredericksburg Brewery in San Jose. In 1888, he moved to Seattle, Washington to take a job as the brewmaster of the Rule & Sweeney Brewing Co., but the brewery was in danger of going out of business and late the same year, Claussen and Edward Francis Sweeney re-incorporated it as the Claussen-Sweeney Brewing Co. Just a few years later, in 1891, Claussen sold his interest in the brewery. In 1901 he opened a new brewery in Seattle, the Claussen Brewing Association. It was in business until closed by prohibition, and by the time it was repealed, Claussen decided he was old enough to stay retired.

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Here’s a biography of Claussen is from “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of the City of Seattle and County of King, Washington,” published in 1903:

Mr. Claussen holds prestige as one of the essentially representative business men of Seattle, being prominently concerned in industrial enterprises of marked scope and importance and having shown that inflexible integrity and honorable business policy which invariably be- get objective confidence and esteem. Progressive, wide-awake and discriminating in his methods, he has achieved a notable success through normal channels of industry and today is president, treasurer and manager of the Claussen Brewing Association at Interbay, a suburban district of Seattle, and also vice-president of the Diamond Ice & Storage Company, whose business has likewise extensive ramifications.

Mr. Claussen is a native of the province of Holstein, Germany, where he was born on the 13th of November, 1861, being son of Caecilia M. and Peter Jacob Claussen, representative of staunch old German stock. Our subject prosecuted his studies in the schools of his native province until he had attained the age of ten years, when he accompanied his parents on their emigration to America, the family locating in the city of San Francisco, California, where he continued his educational work , as did he later in Dixon, that state, the family home having been on a farm for the greater portion of his youth. After completing the curriculum of the high school he entered a business college where be finished a thorough commercial course and thus amply fortified himself for taking up the active duties of life. In 1882 Mr. Claussen took a position as bookkeeper for the Fredericksburg Brewing Company in San Jose California. In 1884 he began learning the details of the brewing business, and later he passed about two years in the employ of the National Brewing Company of San Francisco, gaining a thorough experience in all branches of the industry and thus equipping himself in an admirable way for the management of the important enterprise in which he is now an interested principal. In 1888, in company with E. F. Sweeney, Mr. Claussen effected the organization of the Claussen, Sweeney Brewing Company in Seattle, and the business was conducted under that title until 1893, when the company disposed of the plant and business. In 1892 Mr. Claussen associated himself with Messrs. Charles E. Crane and George E. Sackett in the organization of the Diamond Ice & Storage Company, of which our subject became vice-president at the time of its inception and in that office he has since served, the enterprise having grown to be one of importance and extensive operations. In March, 1901, was formed a stock company which was incorporated under the title the Claussen Brewing Association, with a capital of fifty thousand dollars, which was later increased to two hundred and fifty thousand, and the company erected a fine brewing plant at Interbay and have here engaged in the manufacture of a very superior lager beer, the excellence of the product and the effective methods of introduction having gained to the concern high reputation and a most gratifying supporting patronage, which extends throughout Washington and contiguous states. The equipment of the plant is of the most modern and approved type and in every process and detail of manufacture the most scrupulous care is given, insuring absolute purity, requisite age and proper flavor, so that the popularity of the brands of beer manufactured is certain to increase. The annual capacity of the brewery is sixty thousand barrels, and the plant is one of the best in the northwest, the enterprise being a credit to the executive ability and progressive ideas of the gentlemen who inaugurated the same.

Mr. Claussen has been a resident of Seattle since 1888, and from the start he has maintained a lively interest in all that concerns the progress and material prosperity of the city, being known as an alert and public spirited citizen and able business man, and holding unqualified confidence and esteem in the community. He has been an active factor in the councils of the Democratic party, but in local affairs maintains a somewhat independent attitude, rather then manifesting a pronounced partisan spirit. In 1901, he was the Democratic nominee for member of the lower house of the state legislature, but as the district in which he was thus placed in nomination is overwhelmingly Republican in its political complexion he met defeat, together with the other candidates on the ticket. Fraternally he is prominently identified with the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Seattle Turnverein society and the German Benevolent society, in each of which he has held office. He was also one of the organizers of the Mutual Heat & Light Company in 1902, and is ever stood ready to lend his influence and definite co-operation in support of legitimate business undertakings and worthy projects for the general good. In 1892 he erected his fine residence on Boren Avenue, and this he still owns, though he now makes his home in at Interbay, in order that he may be more accessible to the brewery, over which he maintains a general supervision. He is a young man of forceful individuality and the success which has been his indicates most clearly his facility in the practical application of the talents and power which are his. In the city of Seattle, on October 10, 1891, Mr. Claussen was united in marriage to Miss Emma Meyer, who was born in Hamburg, Germany.

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To learn more about Claussen’s first brewery, the Claussen-Sweeney Brewing Co., there’s a thorough history of is at Gary Flynn’s Brewery Gems.

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Likewise, Brewery Gems has a longer history of the Claussen Brewing Association.

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Historic Beer Birthday: William IV, Duke of Bavaria

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Today is the birthday of William IV, Duke of Bavaria (November 13, 1493-March 7, 1550). William IV “was Duke of Bavaria from 1508 to 1550, until 1545 together with his younger brother Louis X, Duke of Bavaria. He was born in Munich to Albert IV and Kunigunde of Austria, a daughter of Emperor Frederick III.”

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Portrait by Barthel Beham.

Here’s a short account of William IV’s life:

Though his father had determined the everlasting succession of the firstborn prince in 1506, his younger brother Louis refused a spiritual career with the argument that he was born before the edict became valid. With support of his mother and the States-General, Louis forced William to accept him as co-regent in 1516. Louis then ruled the districts of Landshut and Straubing, in general in concord with his brother.

William initially sympathized with the Reformation but changed his mind as it grew more popular in Bavaria. In 1522 William issued the first Bavarian religion mandate, banning the promulgation of Martin Luther’s works. After an agreement with Pope Clement VII in 1524 William became a political leader of the German Counter reformation, although he remained in opposition to the Habsburgs since his brother Louis X claimed the Bohemian crown. Both dukes also suppressed the peasant uprising in South Germany in an alliance with the archbishop of Salzburg in 1525.

The conflict with Habsburg ended in 1534 when both dukes reached an agreement with Ferdinand I in Linz. William then supported Charles V in his war against the Schmalkaldic League in 1546. William’s chancellor for 35 years was the forceful Leonhard von Eck.

William was a significant collector and commissioner of art. Among other works he commissioned an important suite of paintings from various artists, including the Battle of Issus by Albrecht Altdorfer. This, like most of William’s collection, is now housed in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. With his order to expand the Neuveste with the so-called Rundstubenbau and to set up the first Court Garden began the history of the Munich Residence as a representative palace. To the history cycle of the garden pavilion belonged Albrecht Altdorfer’s painting. In 1546 he ordered to upgrade Dachau Palace from a Gothic ruin into a renaissance palace. In 1523 with the appointment of Ludwig Senfl began the rise of the Bavarian State Orchestra.

On 23 April 1516, before a committee consisting of gentry and knights in Ingolstadt, he issued his famous purity regulation for the brewing of Bavarian Beer, stating that only barley, hops, and water could be used. This regulation remained in force until it was abolished as a binding obligation in 1986 by Paneuropean regulations of the European Union.

William died in 1550 in Munich and was succeeded by his son Albert. He is buried in the Frauenkirche in Munich.

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Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria by Hans Schwab von Wertinger.

William IV, Duke of Bavaria, wrote and signed the Reinheitsgebot, also known as the Bavarian Beer Purity Law, and later the German Beer Purity Law.

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In the Bavarian town of Ingolstadt on April 23, 1516, William IV, Duke of Bavaria wrote and signed the law, along with his younger brother Louis X, Duke of Bavaria. That 1516 law was itself a variation of earlier laws, at least as early as 1447 and another in independent Munich in 1487. When Bavaria reunited, the new Reinheitsgebot applied to the entirety of the Bavarian duchy. It didn’t apply to all of Germany until 1906, and it wasn’t referred to as the Reinheitsgebot until 1918, when it was coined by a member of the Bavarian parliament.

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Another painting by Barthel Beham.

Historic Beer Birthday: Jacob Betz

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Today is the birthday of Jacob Betz (November 10, 1843-November 16, 1912). Betz was born in Bavaria, but moved to America when he five years old. When he was 32, he bought a brewery in Walla Walla, Washington, renaming it the Star Brewery (though some sources say 1874, when he would have been 31). It was also known as the Jacob Betz Brewing Co. From 1904, when a “syndicate of local saloonkeepers and capitalists” bought the brewery, with Betz retaining an interest in it, it was then called the Jacob Betz Brewing and Malting Co. In 1910, it merged with another Walla Walla brewery, the Stahl Brewing Co., and was then known as the Walla Walla Brewing Co. until closing for good in 1910.

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Here’s a profile of Betz published in “Washington, West of the Cascades” from 1917:

Jacob Betz, ever a good citizen, active in support and furtherance of Tacoma’s best interests, was born on the l0th of November, 1843, in the Rhine province of Bavaria, Germany, and his life record spanned the intervening years to the 10th of November, 1912. He was educated in the schools of Germany and America, having been brought to this country in 1848 when a little lad of but five summers. He arrived in California before the Civil war and there engaged in mining until 1870, when he removed to Walla Walla, Washington, where he erected a brewery which he operated for a long period. During his residence in eastern Washington his interests became extensive but at length he disposed of all of his holdings in that part of the state and in 1904 established his home in Tacoma. Here he purchased the Sprague block on Pacific avenue and at once began to remodel the building, which he improved in every way. He converted it into two hotels and also changed the store buildings and he installed therein the largest heating plant in the city. He also purchased the Hosmer residence at 610 Broadway and remodeled it into a most beautiful and attractive home. Since his death his family have carried out his plans and have erected an addition to the Sprague block on Fifteenth street. This property affords an excellent income to his heirs.

Mr. Betz was married in Walla Walla to Miss Augusta Wilson, who removed from California to Washington in 1866. To them were born five children, namely: Katherine; Jacob, Jr., who is deceased; Eleanor; Harry; and Augustus.

Mr. Betz was appreciative of the social amenities of life and found pleasant companionship in the Union and Country Clubs, of both of which he was a member. He also belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he filled all of the chairs. In politics he was a republican, ever active in support of the party, working earnestly for its interests. Five times he was honored with election to the mayoralty of Walla Walla and five times to the city council and it was during his administration that the waterworks fight in Walla Walla was on. He won the case for the city in the United States supreme court and thus gave to the city one of its most important public utilities. In business and in public affairs his judgment was keen and penetrating and his opinions sound and logical. What he accomplished represented the fit utilization of his innate powers and talents.

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Gary Flynn, in his always terrific Brewery Gems, points out that the profile above concerns itself primarily with his time in Tacoma, rather then Walla Walla, and adds the following:

[A]t the age of sixteen, Jacob returned to Germany to learn the brewing trade. Seven years later, Jacob departed Hamburg on the “Germanic” arriving back in the U.S. on August 6, 1866. It is unclear what he did next. The above account suggests that he tried his hand at mining, but another, more plausible account has him working in a couple of eastern breweries in the late 1860’s.

The above account also leaves out the period of 1870 to 1874, since he didn’t arrive in Walla Walla in 1870. He was in San Francisco for the 1870 Census, and his occupation was given as a maltster. The 1871 S.F. city directory also lists him as a maltster with the Lyon Brewery, and according to a later census, Jacob stated that he was naturalized in S.F. in 1871. Then the S.F. city directory for 1872 has Jacob employed as a brewer with the Jackson Brewery, and that is the last reference to him prior to arriving in Walla Walla.

We next find Betz in 1875 when he purchases the Star Brewery. It is commonly reported that Betz arrived in Walla Walla in ’74, so if that’s accurate, it’s safe to assume that a person with his experience was immediately placed in charge of the struggling brewery, and then sold to him by Seisser the following year.

The brewery prospered and in 1882 Betz purchased a wooden, frame building that had been the county court house, and added a new two-story, brick building adjacent to it. Then seven years later, an additional structure was built. This was a four-story, brick building erected on the other side of their corner saloon.

This served well until 1902, when additional plant capacity was needed, and Betz razed the frame structure, erecting a five-story, brick and stone building in its place.

In November 1903, Jacob’s 19 year old son (Jacob, jr.) died suddenly of pneumonia. The previous year Jacob was quoted as saying that the erection of his new, five story structure for his Star Brewery was to provide a legacy for his son. He was so distraught over his son’s death that within months the brewery was sold to a syndicate of Walla Walla saloon owners and capitalists.

In memory of his son he purchased a huge block of granite from Vermont and at tremendous cost had it shipped to Scotland to he shaped into an obelisk, hand polished, and returned to Walla Walla where it would mark the Betz family plot in the Mountain View Cemetery. He also established a scholarship in his sons name at Whitman College where his son was studying.

He then left Walla Wall for Tacoma where he remained until his death from heart failure on November 16, 1912.

Fire Dept parade, Alder St; Denny, Drumheller, Betz Brewery

And this was the brewery in 1909.

Betz-Brewery-1909

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Historic Beer Birthday: George Weisbrod

weisbrod-hess
Today is the birthday of George Weisbrod (October 31, 1851-January 1, 1912). Weisbrod was born in Germany, and that’s about all I could find out about the man who co-founded, along with Christian Hess, the George Weisbrod & Christian Hess Brewery, usually shortened to just the Weisbrd & Hess Brewery, and also known as the Oriental Brewery.

george-weisbrod-cartoon

Both Weisbrod and Hess were German immigrants, and originally their intention was simply to make enough beer to supply their Philadelphia saloon on Germantown Avenue. Some sources say they began as early as 1880, but most put the founding at 1882. The brewery was going strong until closed by prohibition. They managed to reopen in 1933, but closed for good in 1938.

weisbrod-hess-1905
A brewery poster from 1905.

In 1994, Yards Brewing renovated the old Weisbrod & Hess Brewery, but after the partners split, it became the Philadelphia Brewing Co., while Yards under the direction of Tom Kehoe moved to another location.

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In the Philadelphia Brewing Co. tasting room upstairs, an old photo of the employees of the original brewery on the premises, Weisbrod & Hess Oriental Brewing Company.

Both Philadelphia Weekly and Hidden City Philadelphia have stories about the brewery and efforts to re-open it.

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The brewery two years closing, in 1940.

The brewery was designed by famed local architect Adam C. Wagner, and this is an illustration of his design for the brewery from 1892.

W&H-1892

OrientalBreweryPhila1899
An ad from 1899.

Factory-Scene-1912-calendar-Signs-Pre-Pro-Weisbrod-Hess-Brewing-Co
And a calendar from 1912.

Schnitzelbank

schnitzelbank
Several weeks ago, while researching the birthday of Pennsylvania brewer Henry Fink, I happened upon the advertising poster below. Intrigued, because I’m fascinated with symbols, I couldn’t make out what they were because the largest image I could find is this one. All I could figure out at the time was that it had something to do with a song.

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Eventually I gave up, and moved on, because if I’m not careful I’ll keep going off on tangents and down rabbit holes until I’ve gotten myself well and truly lost, not to mention wasted hours of unproductive time. But I kept coming back to it, and eventually, I had to figure out what exactly it was or go crazy. So I started taking a closer look into the poster and figured out that they’re all over the place and it’s a famous German song called the “Schnitzelbank.” And the Fink’s ad poster, or versions of it, is everywhere and has been used by breweries, restaurants and others for years. Which makes sense because, although it’s a “German-language ditty for children and popular among German Americans with an interest in learning or teaching German to their offspring,” it’s also commonly sung by adults for entertainment and nostalgia, and usually while they’re drinking beer.

Schnitzelbank-amazon-poster

In German, Schnitzelbank apparently “literally means ‘scrap bench’ or ‘chip bench’ (from Schnitzel ‘scraps / clips / cuttings (from carving)’ or the colloquial verb schnitzeln “to make scraps” or “to carve” and Bank “bench”); like the Bank, it is feminine and takes the article “die”. It is a woodworking tool used in Germany prior to the industrial revolution. It was in regular use in colonial New England, and in the Appalachian region until early in the 20th century; it is still in use by specialist artisans today. In America it is known as a shaving horse. It uses the mechanical advantage of a foot-operated lever to securely clamp the object to be carved. The shaving horse is used in combination with the drawknife or spokeshave to cut down green or seasoned wood, to accomplish jobs such as handling an ax; creating wooden rakes, hay forks, walking sticks, etc. The shaving horse was used by various trades, from farmer to basketmaker and wheelwright.”

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A traditional shaving horse around 200 years old.

And that’s also why the posters always include a Schnitzelbank, because in addition to it being the title, it’s also how the song begins.

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Here’s one description of the Schnitzelbank song:

A Schnitzelbank is also a short rhyming verse or song with humorous content, often but not always sung with instrumental accompaniment. Each verse in a Schnitzelbank introduces a topic and ends with a comedic twist. This meaning of the word is mainly used in Switzerland and southwestern Germany; it is masculine and takes the article “der”. It is a main element of the Fasnacht celebrations in the city of Basel, where it is also written Schnitzelbangg. Schnitzelbänke (pl.) are also sung at weddings and other festivities by the Schitzelbänkler, a single person or small group. Often the Schnitzelbänkler will display posters called Helgen [which is “hello” in German] during some verses that depict the topic but do not give away the joke.

Often the songleader uses the poster to lead people in the song, pointing to the symbols as they come up in the lyrics, as this photo from the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Lodge illustrates.

schnitzelbank-frankenmuth

The song uses call and response, with the leader singing one lyric, and the chorus repeating it back as it goes along. So here’s what the traditional version of the song sounds like:

Some Sauerkraut with Your Schnitzelbank? has an interesting reminiscence of a visit to a Fasching Sonntag in the St. Louis area around 1982, and includes his experience taking part in the singing of the Schnitzelbank song.

In the evening, everyone moved upstairs to the parish hall, which was the typical multipurpose gymnasium with a stage at one end. Set up with long tables in parallel rows on both sides, the band in place on the stage, and the large crowd ready for the music to begin, the hall had lost its bland, bare, everyday atmosphere. On the stage, off to one side, was a large easel with a poster on it. I didn’t pay much attention to it, thinking it was for announcements later in the evening. The band started, and the dancing began in the clear space down the middle of the hall, mostly polkas and waltzes, with a few variety numbers like the dreaded Duck Dance, which explained the need for pitchers of beer. Finally, when the crowd was well exercised and well lubricated, someone approached the easel with a pointer in his hand. People started shouting “Schnitzelbank! Schnitzelbank!” The music began, and the person with the pointer called “Ist das nicht ein Schnitzelbank?” and the crowd heartily responded “Ja, das ist ein Schnitzelbank!” Then came a chorus of music, to which everyone sang, “O Die Schoenheit un der Vand, da das ist ein Schnitzelbank.” And so it continued for several verses, the person on stage pointing to another object on the poster with “Ist das nicht ein.…?” and the crowd responding at the top of their voices. I was puzzled at first, but eventually joined in and didn’t think much more about it. I’m pretty sure that only a few people knew all the German words, and that some had memorized it over the years, while the ones in front were close enough to the poster to read the words under the pictures—everyone else just shouted a cheerful approximation of what they thought their neighbor was saying.

Schnitzelbank-1900-missouri

The Schnitzelbank, or Schnitzel Bank, is a song with short verses, meant to be sung the way it was at the Fasching Sonntag, with a leader and group response. It is sung in some areas of Germany for Fasching, Fastnacht, or Karnival, and also during Oktoberfest, and other occasions where there is a happy, celebratory crowd. In America, the posters are displayed at a few German restaurants and some tourist attractions with a German American heritage, such as the Amana Colonies in Iowa and some Pennsylvania Dutch locations. Singing the Schnitzelbank in America dates at least to the turn of the 20th century, which is when the John Bardenheier Wine and Liquor Company printed its version on an advertising poster.

According to “The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk,” first published in 1966, the melody first appeared in 1761 by a French composer and lyrics were written a few years later, n 1765, and it was known as “Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman,” but it became far more well-known as “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep” in subsequent years. Apparently it first appeared as “Schnitzelbank” in 1830.

schnitzelbank-music

This is the most common version of the poster, and as far as I can tell the symbols have become more or less fixed sometime in the mid-20th century. Perhaps it’s because one company is licensing the imagery to various purposes, or the song has simply evolved to its modern form, made easier by recordings and a growing number of shared experiences.

Schnitzelbank-maders-wisconsin

So let’s break down the most common version of the song:

schnitzelbank0

            Symbol Translation
schnitzelbank1 Is this not a Schnitzelbank?

(“Yes this is a Schnitzelbank”)

schnitzelbank17 Short and Long
schnitzelbank2 Him and Her
schnitzelbank3 Criss and Cross
schnitzelbank6 Shooting Gun
schnitzelbank18 Wagon Wheel
schnitzelbank4 Crooked and Straight
schnitzelbank5 Big Glass
schnitzelbank7 Oxen Bladder
schnitzelbank19 Heap of Manure
schnitzelbank9 Cantankerous Boy
schnitzelbank10 Heavy Woman
schnitzelbank8 Fat Sow
schnitzelbank11 Tall Man
schnitzelbank12 Fir Tree
schnitzelbank14 Wedding Ring
schnitzelbank15 Dangerous Thing

schnitzelbank13

schnitzelbank16

schnitzelbank-frankenmuth-clockFrom Mader’s Famous Restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Here’s another band performing the song. This is the Gootman Sauerkraut Band at the Bravarian Pretzel Factory 2014.

As I mentioned, this all started because a brewery used the Schnitzelbank poster as an advertisement. Apparently that was not unique, and I’ve find a number of others who did likewise. Here’s a few of them:

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The Eastside Brewery of Los Angeles, California, from the 1930s.

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Drewery’s, the Canadian brewery, from the 1940s.

Huebner-Bock-Schnitzelbank-Lithograph-Signs-Pre-Pro-Huebner-Toledo-Breweries-Co-Huebner-Brewery
The Huebner Brewery of Toldeo, Ohio, from sometime prior to prohibition.

Sitters-Beverage
This one, though not for a specific brewery, was for Sitter’s Beverages, a distributor of beer, wine, liquor and cordials in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It’s undated, but given that the telephone number is “1917” (yes, just those four numbers) I suspect it’s pre-prohibition. One source puts the date between 1912 and 1919.

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A promotional towel, from Koerber’s Brewery, also from Toledo, Ohio.

Schnitzelbank-Post-Cards-Pearl-Brewing-Co
The Pearl Brewery of San Antonio, Texas

Schnitzelbank-Jacob-Ruppert-1907

Jacob Ruppert’s Brewery of New York City, 1907. Though notice that the almost uniform symbols were changed for Ruppert’s ad, substituting his own beer and brewery, along with other more beer-friendly items into the song list.

Schnitzelbank-1907-postcard

Although it’s possible that the symbols weren’t quite as settled in the early 20th century, as this postcard, also from 1907, has several that deviate from the standard symbols, including some also in the Ruppert’s poster, but also some that are not in that one.

vintage-yuengling-schnitzelbank-linen

Yuengling Brewery also apparently had their own Schnitzelbank poster, based on the Ruppert’s design. This one is a linen towel being used as a window shade, though it’s too small for me to read the date.

schnitzelbank-1934

Though the Ruppert’s design appears to be copyrighted again in 1934, based on this generic one found by someone in an antique store.

Schnitzelbank-1953-Falstaff

Likewise, this one for Falstaff Beer uses the traditional symbols, but adds two more, one for “Gutes Bier” (good beer) and “Falstaff Here.”

rathskeller-schnitzelbank

This one’s also not from a brewery, but the Alpine Village Inn in Las Vegas, Nevada. This one’s newer, as it opened in 1950, became somewhat famous, but then closed in 1970.

Schnitzelbank-penna-dutch

This one is labeled as being a “Pennsylvania Dutch Schnitzelbank” and has 20 symbols rather than the standard sixteen. And only eight of those are the usual ones. I don’t know how I missed it growing up (I grew up near Pennsylvania Dutch country in Pennsylvania, and in fact my grandparents grew up on Mennonite farms, but were the first generation to leave them).

amana-schnitzelbank

Apparently it’s also a big deal in Amana, Iowa, where there’s a gift and toy store called the “Schnitzelbank” and where, in 1973, the Amana Society created this Schnitzelbank poster.

German-Schnitzelbank-Poster

schnitzelbank-placemat
The Schnitzelbank Restaurant in Jasper, Indiana, uses the poster as their placemats.

This random German poster, which translates as “Oh you beautiful Schnitzelbank” has only about half of the standard symbols on it. I’m not sure when this one was created but it’s available on Polka Time as an “Oktoberfest Poster.”

Schnitzelbank-new-paltz-band
Also more modern, the New Paltz Band has their own version of the song using non-standard symbols.

Schnitzelbank-Marv-Herzog

And speaking of music, Marv Herzog used the poster on an album cover. The album, of course, included the Schnitzelbank song.

And lastly, the Animanics did their own version of the Schnitzelbank song in episode 56 entitled “Schnitzelbank,” which aired in 1994. It’s described as “a traditional German song that the Warners learn in German from Prof. Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeyer. The lyrics were adapted by Randy Rogel.”

schnitzelbank-conductor
From Henry Sticht’s “Schnitzelbank Two-Step,” 1907.

Historic Beer Birthday: Otto Bremer

schmidt-mn
Today is the birthday of Otto Bremer (October 21, 1867-February 18, 1951). He was born in the Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) area of Germany, and along with his brother Adolf, settled in Minnesota, in the St. Paul area.

OttoBremer

Bremer was a German American banker and philanthropist. He founded Bremer Bank and the Otto Bremer Foundation, which grants funds for use in the communities where the banks operate. His brother Adolf married brewer Jacob Schmidt’s daughter, and by 1901, Adolf and Otto Bremer owned 25 percent of the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company stock. When Schmidt passed away in 1911, the Bremer brothers took control of the brewery. When Adolf died in 1939, Otto assumed the role of president of Schmidt’s brewery until he died in 1951.

otto-bremer-beer
Otto Bremer with a sandwich and a beer.

Here’s a partial history of the Jacob Schmidt brewery during the time the Bremers were involved, from Wikipedia:

Jacob Schmidt started his brewing career in Minnesota as the Brewmaster for the Theodore Hamm’s Brewing Co. He left this position to become owner of the North Star Brewing Co. Under Schmidt’s new leadership the small brewery would see much success and in 1899 Schimdt transferred partial ownership of his new brewery to a new corporation headed by his son in law Adolph Bremer, and Adolph’s brother Otto. This corporation would later become Bremer Bank. With the new partnership the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company was established. In 1900 the North Star Brewery would suffer a fire that would close it for good. With the new management team in place a new brewery was needed, the new firm purchased the Stahlmann Brewery form the St. Paul Brewing Co. and immediately started construction on a new Romanesque brewery incorporating parts of Stahlmann’s original brewery along with it including the further excavation of the lagering cellars used in the fermentation process to create Schmidt’s Lager Beer

Upon Schmidt’s death in 1911 the Bremers took full control of the company and continued to see success and growth. In 1920 National Prohibition came to Minnesota and stopped the production and sale of intoxicating beverages. Schmidt’s was one of the few breweries to see success and remain open all throughout prohibition in offering nonalcoholic beverages or near beers such as Malta and City Club as well as other beverages. It was rumored that Schmidt’s continued to produce real beer during prohibition complete with a secret underground tunnel that allowed for beer to be transported from the brewery on the bluffs to awaiting ships on the Mississippi river below. None of these rumors were ever confirmed though.

Since Schmidt’s never stopped production of beverages in the brewery it was one of few breweries in Minnesota that was ready to produce real beer when prohibition was lifted in 1933. Schmidt’s re-released City Club beer as an strong beer with the new slogan of “Tops in any Town”. After prohibition Schmidt’s saw widespread success and continued to grow. This Success brought attention to the Bremer family leading to the kidnapping of Edward Bremer by the Barker-Karpis gang on the 16th of January, 1934; he was released on the 7th of February of the same year with 200,000 bail. As Schmidt’s continued to grow becoming the 7th largest brewery in the country by 1936 it was decided offering City Club in cans would be more profitable and became one of the first brewers in Minnesota to offer beer in cans. Like Hamm’s Schmidt’s offered beer in flat top cans, but became one of the only brewer to switch back to cone top cans after. During World War II Schmidt’s was granted a contract from the government to supply beer to the troops, made possible by a long standing friendship between the Bremers and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1951 Otto Bremer died and City Club beer began to be phased out. In 1954 due to mounting pressure and competition from outside National Brewers the Bremers decided to leave the brewing industry and sold the company to Detroit based brewer Pfeiffer.

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And here’s another biography of both Adolf and Otto Bremer, from Funding Universe:

Otto Bremer and his younger brother Adolph immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1886. The Midwest, where the young men settled, had experienced a period of rapid growth: the population had exploded and business opportunities were abundant. Otto Bremer’s first job was as a stock clerk for a wholesale hardware business in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1887, he took a bookkeeping position with the National German-American Bank–he had three years of elementary banking training in Germany, according to a Ramsey County History article by Thomas J. Kelley. Bremer eventually became chief clerk.

The boom days of the 1880s were followed by a bust in the early 1890s. Banks in St. Paul’s sister city of Minneapolis went under. The National German-American Bank had to suspend operations for a time. By the end of the decade, the nation was in a deep economic depression.

Otto Bremer left the National German-American Bank at the turn of the century to make a run for the office of city treasurer. A well established and respected member of the community by this time, he won the election and served for five terms. (He had an unsuccessful but closely contested race for mayor in 1912.) Meanwhile, his brother Adolph was making his own headway in St. Paul’s business community. One connection led to a romance as well. Adolph married Marie Schmidt, the daughter of North Star Brewery owner Jacob Schmidt, in 1896.

While serving as city treasurer, Otto Bremer became a charter member of the board of directors for the American National Bank. The bank was formed in 1903 through the merging of two St. Paul banks. Bremer held 50 of the 2,000 shares of capital stock. The charter members of the board of directors, well aware of potential pitfalls, operated a conservative banking business, unlike the days of wild growth when banks and customers were extended beyond their means.

Brother Adolph’s responsibilities also continued to grow. When the brewery was reorganized as the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company in 1899, he was named president. Adolph Bremer took over operating control when Schmidt died in 1910. He brought Otto in as secretary and treasurer shortly thereafter.

As Adolph gained ownership in the brewery, Otto Bremer increased his holdings in the bank, becoming a major shareholder by 1916. Adolph joined his brother on the American National Bank board of directors that year.

In 1921, Benjamin Baer, the bank’s second president and an original board member, died. Otto Bremer was named chairman. He also bought much of Baer’s stock and by 1924 gained controlling interest in the bank.

The brewery and its sales agencies in rural Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin provided a direct link to the Bremers and American National Bank in St. Paul. The brewery or the Bremers owned the land or buildings the sales agencies occupied, creating a starting point for further business relationships in the communities.

Otto Bremer became an advisor to local bankers, who often formed corresponding partnerships with American National. Dependent on the cyclical agricultural economy, country banks needed loans from city banks with a more diverse and therefore a more stable of base of business. Otto Bremer formed a deep commitment to the rural communities, and when economic disaster struck he was there to help.

Trouble began with a ramp-up of farm production in response to the needs created by the United States’ entry into World War I. Farmers began planting more acres and buying expensive machinery. Agricultural land increased in value. Farmers took out larger loans to drive the expansion. Demand collapsed following the war. Harsh weather conditions in the Midwest further hampered farmers. Loans went unpaid. A recession hit the nation in 1920, taxing city banks supporting the stressed country banks.

“Bent on maintaining the public trust in the country banks, Otto Bremer loaned them his good name and his money. Throughout the 1920s banks came into the fold of the American National Bank or the Bremer group,” wrote Kelley. Eventually, Bremer had to begin borrowing against his assets to keep country banks afloat.

By 1933, he held large or controlling interests in 55 banks in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Montana, apart from his holdings in American National. However, he was $8 million in debt. The backing of Adolph Bremer’s shares in the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company and a loan from the Federal Reconstruction Finance Corporation helped Otto Bremer keep his stock in American National and the country banks in the family.

Despite the one-two punch delivered by the farm recession and Great Depression, the Bremer brothers had kept control of both the brewery and the bank. When Adolph Bremer died in 1939, Otto Bremer succeed him as president of the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company.

Otto-Bremer-1943
Otto Bremer in 1943.

In 1943, he created the Otto Bremer Company. The bank holding company consolidated his holdings in the country banks and would protect them from being sold to settle his estate, according to the Kelley article.

The Otto Bremer Foundation was formed the next year to make charitable grants in the communities served by the country banks. The ownership of the Otto Bremer Company was transferred to the foundation in 1949. After Bremer’s death in 1951, the banking chain entered an extended period of consolidation. The brewery was sold in 1954, but descendants of Adolph Bremer held stock in American National until it was sold to Milwaukee-based Firstar Corp. in 1996.

Otto-Bremer

Historic Beer Birthday: William G. Ruske

pittsburgh-brewing
Today is the birthday of William G. Ruske (October 21, 1842-May 2, 1915). Ruske was born in Germany and came to Western Pennsylvania, co-founding the Keystone Brewing Co. 1886, and was its president. In 1899, Keystone became part of a regional trust known as the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, which was formed by the merging together of thirteen Allegheny County breweries. Ruske was initially secretary of the trust, but became president when his predecessor died. The brewery survived prohibition and today is known as the Iron City Brewing Co.

william-ruske

This is his obituary, from the American Brewers’ Review the year he passed away:

ruske-obit-1
ruske-obit-2
ruske-obit-3

Iron_City_Brewery_-_Pittsburgh_-_circa_1919
Pittsburgh brewery around 1919.

And here’s part of another history of Iron City Brewing, from the merger through the end of prohibition, from PA’s Big House:

As the century came to a close, breweries in the Pittsburgh area merged to form the Pittsburgh Brewing Company (PBC). The twelve local breweries included: Wainwright; Phoenix; Keystone; Winter Brothers; Phillip Lauer; John H. Nusser; Eberhardt & Ober; Hippely & Sons; Ober; J. Seiferth Brothers; Straub; and Iron City. In addition to these initial twelve breweries, nine more were included in the merger. Now, Pittsburgh Brewing Company was Pennsylvania’s largest brewery and third largest in the nation with combined assets worth an estimated $11 million. For the next three decades, PBC boasted a brewing capacity of more than one million barrels per year.

The onset of Prohibition in 1920 brought serious strain to breweries across the nation. Pittsburgh Brewing Company, however, was able to survive by using its facilities to produce ice cream, soft drinks, and non-alcoholic “near-beers.” When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, PBC was one of only 725 breweries in the U.S. still operating.

After Prohibition, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company regained market share and produced the same products it had made prior to the act. The president of the company at that time also created a new subsidiary and reinstated the original name: the Iron City Brewing Company (ICBC). ICBC’s products included Iron City Pilsner, Iron City Lager, Tech Beer, and Blue Label Beer. In 1947, the company again expanded and Iron City Brewing Company continued to grow in the market. By the mid-1950’s, ICBC became the best selling beer in Pittsburgh.

Iron-City-Factory-Scene-1901

I really couldn’t find very much information on Ruske, or even his original Keystone Brewery. But one curiosity I came across was this undated tintype. But since tintypes were popular for around twenty years, from the 1860s through the 1870s, I think it’s safe to conclude that’s what this one was created. The two beer bottles on the posts are from the Keystone Brewery and the label apparently reads Cabinet Export Beer.

tintwobrewerskeystone