Historic Beer Birthday: Jacob Leinenkugel

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Today is the birthday of Jacob Leinenkugel (May 22, 1842-July 21, 1899). He was born in what today is Germany, but moved with his family to American when he was only three years old, in 1845. In 1867, along with John Miller, he co-founded the Spring Brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. In 1884, Jacob bought out Miller and the name was changed to the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. Miller Brewing Co. bought the brewery in 1988, but it continues to be managed by the Leinenkugel family.

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This biography of Jacob is taken from Find-a-Grave:

Jacob Leinenkugel was one of the most generous, and in thought and deed one of the most upright men. He was a thoughtful, patriotic citizen, ever devoted to the welfare of the city and anxious in every way with his reach to promote the happiness and welfare of his fellow men. No man ever heard from the lips of Jacob Leinenkugel an unkind or uncharitable saying concerning another. His word was indeed his bond; and in small matters as well as large.” (as written of Jacob Leinenkugel in the the Daily Independent, July 22, 1899).

Jacob Mathias Leinenkugel, born in Germany (Prussia) in 1842, came to America with parents in 1845. He grew up in Sauk City, Wisconsin. There he and his four brothers were taught the art of brewing by their father, Matthias.

He married Josephine Imhoff, daughter of another German immigrant family from Highland, Wisc., in 1865. Shortly after the birth of their first son Matt in 1866, Jacob realized a growing desire for independence and a business of his own. Together Jacob, Josephine and baby Matt journeyed north into logging territory, eventually settling in Chippewa Falls. There, in 1867, he built a little brewery with his friend John Miller (no relation to the Miller Brewing Company).

Jacob built a home on the brewery property where his two daughters, Rose and Susan, and a second son, William, were born.

Josephine, in the tradition of pioneer women, worked beside her husband as he struggled to establish the small company. Josephine prepared three meals a day for up to 20 hungry men, in addition to caring for her family. As the brewery grew larger and the major expansion of the brewery started to take place, there were more employees to feed. She would rise at 3 a.m. to do the family (which now included three adopted children) wash before beginning breakfast for employee boarders at 5 a.m. Josephine died of acute pneumonia in 1890, at the age of forty-four, the winter before the expansion was completed. Family members remember Susan Mayer Leinenkugel, daughter to Josephine, describing her mother as having “worked herself to death.” The city newspaper wrote of Josephine after her death: She was a devoted wife and mother, one who was ever ready to strengthen in all labor, and comfort in all sorrow: one who faithfully performed the common duties of life, the noblest part of woman’s work in this world.

Two years after the death of Josephine, Jacob married Louisa Wilson, and a son Edward, was born.

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It wasn’t unusual for Jacob Leinenkugel to choose a life of brewing. It was his legacy. Plus, he looked the part! Perfectly cast, he was a big, round, hard-working German. What many people don’t know is that Jacob had other interests too.

He erected and owned the first creamery in the county. He opened a meat and grocery store on brewery property. He milled feed grains for the dairy industry and made “Snowdrift” flour for the local retail market. (The firms dam formed the millpond which was located across from Irvine Park. After Jacob’s death and the venture became unprofitable, the mill was razed and the land donated to the city in connection with the Marshall family to form Marshall Playgrounds.) He was elected alderman in the first city election of 1869 and was reelected in 1871,1880 and 1883. He was the mayor of Chippewa Falls on three separate occasions: 1873, 1884 and 1891. He was extremely progressive and enjoyed and embraced the use of new inventions and technology. In fact, as mayor of Chippewa Falls he pushed for electric streetlights in the downtown area. (Our fine city had electric streetlights before the large thriving metropolis to the west, called St. Paul, Minnesota.)

Jacob and his family had their “summer home” on the shores of a lake north of Chippewa Falls. It was his refuge-that special spot where an individual or the family gathered to celebrate all of life’s blessings. Each year a family “outing” was planned. One summer Sunday all members of the family arrived home to head north for the annual outing when Jacob became ill. He requested that the family not wait for him … he’d follow in a few days after he felt better. Jacob never felt better. The family was summoned home.

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The brewery around 1930.

And this fuller history is from the website Chippewa Falls History:

When people hear the name Leinenkugel, most would think of the beer or maybe even Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. As the owner of Colette’s Tavern says, “Some people get hysterical when they find out I have it. The beer’s got some kind of charm.” (Brewer’s Digest). Most, however, do not think of the rich and interesting history that has gone into the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company. Most of this history comes from its origins and how over five generations, the business has kept within the Leinenkugel family. To properly tell the history of this family, we must start at the beginning with Jacob Mathias Leinenkugel himself. Jacob Leinenkugel was born May 22nd, 1842 in Prussia to Matthias and Maria Leinenkugel (1860 Federal Census). Jacob and his entire family arrived in New York on August 2nd, 1845. They had taken a ship, the American, from Amsterdam to New York, New York. Jacob Leinenkugel was three at the time of this trip (Arrival in New York, 1845). The Leinenkugel family settled in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin and stayed there to raise their children (1860 Federal Census). In 1865, Jacob Leinenkugel married Josephine Imhoff in Sauk City, Wisconsin. Two years later, Jacob, Josephine and their son, Mathias, all moved to Chippewa Falls when Jacob started the Spring Brewery, now known as the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company (Chippewa Falls Main Street, pg. 76).

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The brewery was constructed in 1867 on property along the Duncan Creek which Jacob had purchased from Hiram Allen (Chippewa Falls Main Street, pg. 10). Jacob Leinenkugel established the Spring Brewery with John Miller (Chippewa Falls Wisconsin). In their first year alone, they “…delivered 400 barrels…with a small cart pulled by a horse named Kate.” (Bottom’s Up). Originally, the Brewery only had two teams of horses, which meant they could deliver kegs of beer up to ten miles outside of Chippewa Falls. “During the early years, Jacob Leinenkugel drove the wagon himself.” (Chippewa Falls Main Street). The Spring Brewery was named as such because it was built near the Big Eddy Springs in Chippewa Falls. These springs “…poured nonacidic, non-alkaline water that the brewery uses without treatment to this day.” (Breweries of Wisconsin). The Spring Brewery soon became the Jacob Leinenkugel Spring Brewery Company when John Miller sold his share in 1883 (Bottom’s Up).

It is said that “Jacob Leinenkugel…was more than a brewer of Leinenkugel’s beer. Described as a noble, magnanimous man and a generous contributor to Notre Dame Church, he served two years as mayor.” (Chippewa Falls Wisconsin). Indeed, Jacob Leinenkugel was more than just a brewer. He also had a rich family life. He had five children with his first wife, Josephine. The oldest, Mathias “Matt” Jacob was born in 1866. Their oldest daughter, Rose, was born in 1867. Their next oldest son, William, was born in 1870. Susan, the second oldest daughter, was born nine months later in 1870 (1870 Federal Census). And finally, they had one child who was born in 1873 but sadly passed away as an infant (Infant Leinenkugel). Josephine Leinenkugel passed away in 1890, at the age of 44 (Chippewa Falls Main Street). A few years later, Jacob Leinenkugel re-married in 1892. He married Anna Wilson and had two children. Della, the oldest, was born in 1894 and Edward was born in 1896 (1905 State Census).

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In further blogs, I will touch on each of his children and their families. Unfortunately, William from Jacob Leinenkugel’s first marriage did not live very long. He passed away suddenly on January 22nd, 1897. The Chippewa Herald reported that he “…died at noon today of consumption after suffering about two years with this disease.” William had worked at the brewery with his father and the rest of his family. The paper states how he was “…a hard and faithful worker and a valuable assistant to his father who depended largely on his son’s good judgment on matters pertaining to the…business.” (Chippewa Herald).

Jacob Leinenkugel passed away on July 21st, 1899. Before his death, he contributed many things to Chippewa Falls, other than the Brewery. One of these accomplishments was erecting and owning the first creamery in the county. He was also able to serve as mayor three separate times in Chippewa Falls, in 1873, 1884, and 1891. All of these accomplishments paint a picture of a man who was “…a thoughtful, patriotic citizen, ever devoted to the welfare of the city and anxious in every way with his reach to promote the happiness and welfare of his fellow men.” (Daily Independent).

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Leinenkugel’s fermenting tanks in 1897.

Another post at the website Chippewa Falls History explores Jacob Leinenkugel: The Later Years:

After Jacob Leinenkugel’s first wife, Josephine, passed away, he waited two years before marrying Anna Louise Wilson in 1892. Not nearly as much is known about his second marriage, but it’s still quite interesting.

Anna Louise Wilson was born in December of 1865, in Pennsylvania (Wisconsin State Census, 1905). Her parents were Bernhard and Eva Wehrle. Her father was born in 1823 and her mother in 1823. They were both born in Switzerland. Their whole family lived in St. Louis, Missouri, where her father worked as a backer (St. Louis 1880 Census).

After Jacob and Anna’s marriage in April, 1892, they had two children. The first was named Della and she was born in 1894 (Wisconsin State Census, 1905). However, there was no further information found on her after 1905. Their other child was Edward J. and he was born on September 21st, 1896 (Wisconsin Vital Record Index). Edward grew up to be a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War I. He started his service on June 5th, 1918 (U.S. Veterans Gravesites). When he came back from the war, he married Eleanor in 1920 (1930 Federal Census). Edward and Eleanor lived in St. Paul, Minnesota for a short time after getting married, where Edward worked as a salesman (City Directories).

For the next few years, it appears they moved around as they started having a family. Patricia “Patty” Leinenkugel was born June 17th, 1923 in Illinois. Their second oldest, Joanne Leinenkugel, was born in 1927 in Missouri. Finally, their youngest, Roberta O. Leinenkugel, was born June 4th, 1929 in Florida (1930 Federal Census, Cook County Birth Index). According to the City Directories, Edward and Eleanor stayed in Tampa, Florida until 1932. During this time, Edward worked as a real estate agent and as a salesman. Then, in 1934, the family moved back to St. Paul, Minnesota. Here, Edward worked as a broker, a box maker, and a packer. In 1941, he worked as a packer for Swift & Co. (City Directories). Edward and Eleanor were able to live out the rest of their days together. Edward passed away on October 31st, 1967. Not even three years later, Eleanor passed away as well on August 6th, 1970 (Minnesota Death Index).

And this tray was created to commemorate the brewery’s 125th anniversary in 1992.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Eduard Buchner

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Today is the birthday of Eduard Buchner (May 20, 1860-August 13, 1917). Buchner was a German chemist and zymologist, and was awarded with Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1907 for his work on fermentation.

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This is a short biography from The Famous People:

Born into an educationally distinguished family, Buchner lost his father when he was barely eleven years old. His elder brother, Hans Buchner, helped him to get good education. However, financial crisis forced Eduard to give up his studies for a temporary phase and he spent this period working in preserving and canning factory. Later, he resumed his education under well-known scientists and very soon received his doctorate degree. He then began working on chemical fermentation. However, his experience at the canning factory did not really go waste. Many years later while working with his brother at the Hygiene Institute at Munich he remembered how juices were preserved by adding sugar to it and so to preserve the protein extract from the yeast cells, he added a concentrated doze of sucrose to it. What followed is history. Sugar in the presence of enzymes in the yeast broke into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Later he identified the enzyme as zymase. This chance discovery not only brought him Nobel Prize in Chemistry, but also brought about a revolution in the field of biochemistry.

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Eduard Buchner is best remembered for his discovery of zymase, an enzyme mixture that promotes cell free fermentation. However, it was a chance discovery. He was then working in his brother’s laboratory in Munich trying to produce yeast cell free extracts, which the latter wanted to use in an application for immunology.

To preserve the protein in the yeast cells, Eduard Buchner added concentrated sucrose to it. Bubbles began to form soon enough. He realized that presence of enzymes in the yeast has broken down sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Later, he identified this enzyme as zymase and showed that it can be extracted from yeast cells. This single discovery laid the foundation of modern biochemistry.

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One of the most important aspects of his discovery proving that extracts from yeast cells could elicit fermentation is that it “contradicted a claim by Louis Pasteur that fermentation was an ‘expression of life’ and could occur only in living cells. Pasteur’s claim had put a decades-long brake on progress in fermentation research, according to an introductory speech at Buchner’s Nobel presentation. With Buchner’s results, “hitherto inaccessible territories have now been brought into the field of chemical research, and vast new prospects have been opened up to chemical science.”

In his studies, Buchner gathered liquid from crushed yeast cells. Then he demonstrated that components of the liquid, which he referred to as “zymases,” could independently produce alcohol in the presence of sugar. “Careful investigations have shown that the formation of carbon dioxide is accompanied by that of alcohol, and indeed in just the same proportions as in fermentation with live yeast,” Buchner noted in his Nobel speech.

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This is a fuller biography from the Nobel Prize organization:

Eduard Buchner was born in Munich on May 20, 1860, the son of Dr. Ernst Buchner, Professor Extraordinary of Forensic Medicine and physician at the University, and Friederike née Martin.

He was originally destined for a commercial career but, after the early death of his father in 1872, his older brother Hans, ten years his senior, made it possible for him to take a more general education. He matriculated at the Grammar School in his birth-place and after a short period of study at the Munich Polytechnic in the chemical laboratory of E. Erlenmeyer senior, he started work in a preserve and canning factory, with which he later moved to Mombach on Mainz.

The problems of chemistry had greatly attracted him at the Polytechnic and in 1884 he turned afresh to new studies in pure science, mainly in chemistry with Adolf von Baeyer and in botany with Professor C. von Naegeli at the Botanic Institute, Munich.

It was at the latter, where he studied under the special supervision of his brother Hans (who later became well-known as a bacteriologist), that his first publication, Der Einfluss des Sauerstoffs auf Gärungen (The influence of oxygen on fermentations) saw the light in 1885. In the course of his research in organic chemistry he received special assistance and stimulation from T. Curtius and H. von Pechmann, who were assistants in the laboratory in those days.

The Lamont Scholarship awarded by the Philosophical Faculty for three years made it possible for him to continue his studies.

After one term in Erlangen in the laboratory of Otto Fischer, where meanwhile Curtius had been appointed director of the analytical department, he took his doctor’s degree in the University of Munich in 1888. The following year saw his appointment as Assistant Lecturer in the organic laboratory of A. von Baeyer, and in 1891 Lecturer at the University.

By means of a special monetary grant from von Baeyer, it was possible for Buchner to establish a small laboratory for the chemistry of fermentation and to give lectures and perform experiments on chemical fermentations. In 1893 the first experiments were made on the rupture of yeast cells; but because the Board of the Laboratory was of the opinion that “nothing will be achieved by this” – the grinding of the yeast cells had already been described during the past 40 years, which latter statement was confirmed by accurate study of the literature – the studies on the contents of yeast cells were set aside for three years.

In the autumn of 1893 Buchner took over the supervision of the analytical department in T. Curtius’ laboratory in the University of Kiel and established himself there, being granted the title of Professor in 1895.

In 1896 he was called as Professor Extraordinary for Analytical and Pharmaceutical Chemistry in the chemical laboratory of H. von Pechmann at the University of Tübingen.

During the autumn vacation in the same year his researches into the contents of the yeast cell were successfully recommenced in the Hygienic Institute in Munich, where his brother was on the Board of Directors. He was now able to work on a larger scale as the necessary facilities and funds were available.

On January 9, 1897, it was possible to send his first paper, Über alkoholische Gärung ohne Hefezellen (On alcoholic fermentation without yeast cells), to the editors of the Berichte der Deutschen Chemischen Gesellschaft.

In October, 1898, he was appointed to the Chair of General Chemistry in the Agricultural College in Berlin and he also held lectureships on agricultural chemistry and agricultural chemical experiments as well as on the fermentation questions of the sugar industry. In order to obtain adequate assistance for scientific research, and to be able to fully train his assistants himself, he became habilitated at the University of Berlin in 1900.

In 1909 he was transferred to the University of Breslau and from there, in 1911, to Würzburg. The results of Buchner’s discoveries on the alcoholic fermentation of sugar were set forth in the book Die Zymasegärung (Zymosis), 1903, in collaboration with his brother Professor Hans Buchner and Martin Hahn. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1907 for his biochemical investigations and his discovery of non-cellular fermentation.

Buchner married Lotte Stahl in 1900. When serving as a major in a field hospital at Folkschani in Roumania, he was wounded on August 3, 1917. Of these wounds received in action at the front, he died on the 13th of the same month.

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Beer Birthday: Sabine Weyermann

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Today is the 59th birthday of Sabine Weyermann, co-owner of Weyermann Malting in Bamberg, Germany. If you’ve visited any of the Craft Brewers Conferences, you’ve no doubt seen the bright yellow and red of the specialty malting company, which is sold in the U.S. by the Brewers Supply Group. Sabine’s family began the Weyermann Malt company in 1879, although she can trace her family back at least as far as 1510. She’s an amazing person, and her malt has helped fuel many a small and large brewery. Join me in wishing Sabine a very happy birthday.

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Sabine giving a presentation at their offices in Bamberg when I visited there in 2007.

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Sabine and her husband Thomas Kraus-Weyermann at CBC in San Diego, 2012.

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You can see the Weyermann Malting Brewer’s Star that Weyermann’s starting making at the top of my home office/guest house, which we call “The Brewhouse.”

Historic Beer Birthday: John Schneider

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Today is the birthday of John Schneider (May 16, 1833-February 28, 1907). Schneider was born in Bavaria, and made his way to America in 1852. He settled initially in Cleveland, and worked all of his life as a journeyman brewer around Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. Late in life he became “a stockholder in the Standard Brewing Co.” of Cleveland, and was named director and 2nd president.

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Brewery History has reprinted an autobiography Schneider wrote around 1904 and it’s an interesting read.

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The Standard Brewing Co. of Cleveland, Ohio

Peared Creation also has a nice history of the Standard Brewing Co., which was founded in 1904, when Schnedier began his association with the brewery.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Christian Moerlein

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Today is the birthday of Christian Moerlein (May 13, 1818-May 14, 1897). Moerlein was born in Bavaria, and came to America around 1840, establishing the Christian Moerlein Brewery in 1853.

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Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:

Brewer. Born in Truppach, Bayreuth, Oberfranken, Bayern, Germany. He immigrated to the United States in 1841 settling in Cincinnati, Ohio a year later. Christian married his first wife Sophia Adam in 1843 and had three children with her. After losing Sophia and 2 of those children to the cholera epidemics of the time, he married his second wife Barbara Oeh in 1849 and had another 9 children. In 1853 Moerlein established a brewery bearing his name in Cincinnati and became the most prominent brewer in that city. The brewery became one of the largest in the country and remained in operation until Prohibition. Today a line of beer is again being marketed under his name.

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Here’s what the early 20th century book “One Hundred Years of Brewing” wrote about Christian Moerlein:

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Digging Cincinnati History has a nice post about where all the Moerlein buildings are today, along with some history of the brewery. In 2004, local resident Greg Hardman bought the Christian Moerlein brand and continues to operate it as Christian Moerlein lagers & Ales, and also opened the Moerlein Lager House, where they serve food and house beers.

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Jean Verdenal’s Letter To T.S. Eliot

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This will probably only be of interest to the most hardcore literati among you, but if you like poetry, literature or weird history, read on McDuff. According to Wikipedia, Jean Jules Verdenal “(May 11, 1890–May 2, 1915) was a French medical officer who served, and was killed, during the First World War. Verdenal and his life remain cloaked in obscurity; the little we do know comes mainly from interviews with family members and several surviving letters.”

Verdenal was born in Pau, France, the son of Paul Verdenal, a medical doctor. He had a talent for foreign languages. He was athletically inclined. Verdenal as a student was interested in literature and poetry and possessed copies of Stéphane Mallarmé’s Poésies and of Jules Laforgue’s Poésies and Moralités Légendaires. It was perhaps Verdenal’s literary inclinations that led him to become friends with American poet T.S. Eliot, whom he met in 1910 at the Sorbonne. After they parted ways, Verdenal and Eliot corresponded through letters. Verdenal was killed on May 2, 1915, while treating a wounded man on the battlefield. This was just a week into the Gallipoli Campaign and a few days shy of his twenty-fifth birthday.”

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T.S. Eliot, of course, was an American-born poet, who most people know of because his 1939 collection of poems, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” was later adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber into the popular musical, “Cats,” which debuted in 1981. But here’s the basics, again from Wikipedia:

Thomas Stearns Eliot (September 26, 1888–January 4, 1965) was a British essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic, and “one of the twentieth century’s major poets”. He moved from his native United States to England in 1914 at the age of 25, settling, working, and marrying there. He eventually became a British subject in 1927 at the age of 39, renouncing his American citizenship.

Eliot attracted widespread attention for his poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915), which was seen as a masterpiece of the Modernist movement. It was followed by some of the best-known poems in the English language, including The Waste Land (1922), “The Hollow Men” (1925), “Ash Wednesday” (1930), and Four Quartets (1943). He was also known for his seven plays, particularly Murder in the Cathedral (1935) and The Cocktail Party (1949). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, “for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry.”

There is also speculation that Verdenal was the inspiration for the character “Phlebas the Phoenician” in Eliot’s long-form poem “The Wasteland,” which he published in 1922. Eliot certainly dedicated some of his works to Verdenal, including “his first volume of poetry, ‘Prufrock and Other Observations,’ which was published two years after Verdenal’s death, in 1917.

Here’s another account of their meeting and friendship:

In 1910 T.S. Eliot, then a graduate student studying philosophy at Harvard University, went to Paris to study a year at the Sorbonne. He took a room at a pension where he met and befriended Jean Verdenal, a French medical student who had another room there.

Eliot returned to Harvard in the autumn of 1911 to continue his work toward a doctorate.

Eliot and Verdenal carried on a correspondence at least through 1912. Seven letters from Verdenal to Eliot (written in French) are archived at Harvard University’s Houghton Library. The Verdenal letters have also been published in The Letters of T.S. Eliot: 1898-1922 (Vol 1). Apparently no copies of Eliot’s letters to Verdenal survive.

So why I bring this is up is the following passage, from a letter that Verdenal wrote to T.S. Eliot in July of 1911.

“My dear friend, I am waiting impatiently to hear that you have found some notepaper in Bavaria, and to receive an example of it covered with your beautiful handwriting, before German beer has dulled your wits. As a matter of fact, it would have some difficulty in doing so, and we see that even few natives of the country escaped its effects; history tells us that the formidable Schopenhauer was a great beer-lover. He also played the clarinet, but perhaps that was just to annoy his neighbours. Such things are quite enough to make us cling to life. The will to live is evil, a source of desires and sufferings, but beer is not to be despised — and so we carry on. O Reason!”

Verdenal has an interesting take on German beer. ANd the clarinet, which I used to play, too.

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And this is passage from “The Wasteland,” about which some scholars believe Verdenal was the inspiration for Phlebas the Phoenician. You can read more about why at this page about T.S. Eliot and Jean Verdenal.

          IV. Death by Water

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
And the profit and loss.
                                 A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
                               Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

Historic Beer Birthday: Jacob Best

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Today is the birthday of Jacob Best (May 1, 1786-February 26, 1861). Best founded the brewery that eventually became Pabst Brewing Co., with his four sons in 1844. The Best family’s business was originally called “The Empire Brewery,” and then as the “Jacob Best & Sons Brewery” until 1859 when Phillip Best took over the firm and renamed it the “Phillip Best Brewing Company.” Upon Phillip’s retirement Frederick Pabst and Emil Schandein became the company’s president and vice-president in the mid-1860s and the brewery’s name was amended to Phillip Best & Company. After Schandein died, the company was renamed the Pabst Brewing Company in 1889.

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Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:

Business Magnate. Jacob Best learned the brewer’s trade in his hometown of Hesse Darnstadt, Germany, and then moved on to operate a small brewery in Mattenheim. In 1840, two of Best’s four sons immigrated to America, settling in the Kilbourntown section of Milwaukee. They were joined by Jacob Best, his two younger sons and other family members in 1844. With his sons, Jacob Best opened the Empire Brewery producing lager beer, whiskey and vinegar. As demand increased of light lager beer, the firm changed its name to Best & Company. Retiring in 1853, Jacob Best transferred ownership to Lorenz and Phillip. After 1860, Phillip assumed sole control of the brewery which became the Pabst Brewing Company. While retired, Jacob Best held local political offices, first as a ward assessor and the school commissioner. He remained active until his death.

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Immigrant Entrepreneurship has a lengthy article about the Bests, centered around Frederick Pabst, but with background that includes Jacob Best:

In 1844, Phillip Best (born September 26, 1814, in Mettenheim, Grand Duchy of Hesse; died July 17, 1869, in Altenglan, Kingdom of Bavaria), together with his father and three brothers, opened the Jacob Best & Sons Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Twenty years later, Phillip’s son-in-law Frederick Pabst (born March 28, 1836, in Nikolausrieth, Kingdom of Prussia; died January 1, 1904, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) joined the company and helped to transform it into the nation’s leading beer producer – first in 1874 and then again in 1879, a position that was maintained until the turn of the twentieth century. As the company’s president, the former ship captain led the firm through a remarkable period of growth and the Pabst Brewing Company (as it came to be called from 1889 onwards) became the epitome of a successful national shipping brewery. Pabst not only contributed to the firm’s (and Milwaukee’s) economic growth, he also left a permanent cultural and social mark both on the German-American community and on the public at large. A decade after the height of his success, Pabst died on New Year’s Eve of 1904, passing on his commercial and cultural legacy to his sons.

The Best family’s relocation from Mettenheim to Milwaukee went relatively smoothly. After spending a few weeks in the summer of 1844 looking for a suitable location, Jacob Sr. purchased two lots on Chestnut Street (today West Juneau Avenue) on September 10 and founded the Empire Brewery. Jacob Sr.’s sons, Charles and Lorenz, soon went on to establish independent brewing ventures, so Jacob Sr. formed a new partnership with his other two sons, Phillip and Jacob Jr., in 1851, which stayed in place until Jacob Sr. retired two years later. After several arguments about the expansion of the firm, Jacob Jr. sold out to Phillip on October 1, 1859, who continued the business as its sole proprietor under the name of the Phillip Best Brewing Company.

In its inaugural year, the Best brewery produced 300 barrels (one barrel equaling 31 US gallons). The firm initially produced ale and porter, but added German-style lager on February 22, 1845. In 1847, Phillip reported in a letter to his wife’s family that the business was developing well and selling 28-30 barrels of beer weekly for $4.50 per barrel ($5 if delivered). The brewery owned three horses for the malt grinding mill, as well as for deliveries in the city and county, and planned to buy another. By 1850, the company’s 2,500-barrel annual production classified it as a medium-sized producer, ranking fourth out of the twelve largest reported breweries in Wisconsin.

As production increased, the company acquired and built new facilities. In 1850, the family purchased a lot on Market Street between Biddle and Martin Streets (today East Kilbourn Avenue and East State Street). Five years later, the company built a new brick house on Market Street with a beer hall on the ground floor, and in 1857 it erected a new main brewery on the north side of Chestnut Street between Ninth and Tenth Streets with large storage cellars. The Milwaukee Sentinel reported on October 9, 1857, that the brewery had the “deepest cellars in the city” and it may be seen from almost any part of the city. The building is a fine looking one, and were it not for a life-sized figure of a sturdy Teuton which is perched on top, in the act of sipping a glass of lager, one would never suspect its being a brewery. It has much more the appearance of a public building of some sort.

The article went on to explain that demand for Best beer was not only “constantly increasing” locally but also across the whole nation: “Everybody has tasted Best’s beer, and it’s very generally acknowledged to be the best in the country.” Although the article certainly exaggerated the national impact of Best’s beer at mid-century, the company had begun to sell their brands outside Wisconsin in the early 1850s when it established a sales office in Chicago, Illinois. While Milwaukee and the surrounding region provided the main market for Best products throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, this early effort to serve the national and – beginning in the 1860s – international market was a distinctive feature of the company’s development.

Best’s production and profits increased during the nationwide economic boom of the 1850s, but the panic of 1857 and the economic disruption of the Civil War slowed the firm’s growth rate. At the height of its early prosperity in 1857, the brewery employed steam power to produce nearly 40,000 barrels a year and was valued at $50,000 (approximately $1.4 million in 2014$). It employed eight men and used ten horses for delivery. Not until after the Civil War would these production levels be reached again. But as the expansion of the family business began to stall, Phillip made his two sons-in-law, Frederick Pabst and Emil Schandein, equal partners in 1864 and 1866 – a decision which turned out to have a lasting impact on the future development of the company.

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The Best’s brewery in 1880, a few years after Jacob died and it became the Philip Best Brewing Co.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Gustav Hodel

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Today is the birthday of Gustav Hodel (April 30, 1875-July 3, 1966). Hodel was born in Emmendingen, Baden, Germany, the youngest of seven. His father, Christian Hodel, owned the local Hodel Brewery. One of his brother’s emigrated to America and became a maltser in Nebraska, then another brother came and became a brewer, and eventually so did Gustav, who everybody called “Gus.” He started in one brother’s brewery in Galena, Illinois but struck out on his own and either owned or worked for a number of different breweries over the course of a 56-year career in beer. He retired in 1946 to Santa Cruz, California to be closer to his daughters, where he remained until his death in 1966.

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Brewery Gems has a great account of Hodel’s life, apparently with considerable help from Gus Hodel’s grandson, William “Bill” Whetton. And given that it’s the only source I could find, your best bet it to just go read it there.

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Billings Brewing Co. in Montana, just one of many where Hodel worked.

Historic Beer Birthday: Louis F. Neuweiler

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Today is the birthday of Louis F. Neuweiler (April 28, 1848-1929). He was born in Württemberg, Germany, and his family was in the brewing business. He came to the U.S., first to Philadelphia, where he worked at local breweries there and also met his wife. In 1891, he moved to Allentown, where he formed a partnership with Benedict Nuding, who had started the Germania Brewery there in 1875 or 78 (sources differ). When they started their partnership, the brewery name was changed to the Nuding Brewing Co, but after Neuweiler bought out Nuding in 1900, it became the Louis F. Neuweiler & Son Brewery, which it remained until finally closing for good in 1968.

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

Born into a family of brewers, he immigrated to America and settled for a time in the Philadelphia area. While in Philadelphia he met his wife Sophia. They had 16 children. They relocated to Allentown, PA in 1891. He formed a brewing partnership with longtime brewer Benedict Nuding but bought him out in 1900. In 1906 his son Charles joined the brewery and the business became known as L.F. Neuweiler & Son. The “new” Neuweiler Brewery was opened on April 28, 1913 at the corner of Front and Gordon Streets in Allentown. His son Louis joined the family business and the company became known as Louis F. Neuweiler & Sons. Their slogan was “Nix Besser” meaning “none better”. After Louis died in 1929 the business was run by Charles Neuweiler. Neuweiler beers were regional best sellers until they went out of business in 1968.

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This story of the brewery is from a local Allentown newspaper, The Morning Call, from 2004:

Louis Neuweiler came to Allentown in 1891. Beermaking then was more than 100 years old in the Valley, its roots going back to the Moravian brewers in Bethlehem. Neuweiler hooked up with longtime brewer Benedict Nuding, whose business was at Seventh and Union streets. In 1900, Neuweiler bought out Nuding. In 1906, he took his oldest son, Charles, into the business that became L.F. Neuweiler & Son.

The Seventh Street location was too small for expansion, so in 1911 the Neuweilers purchased 4.5 acres at Front and Gordon streets and hired Philadelphia architects Peukert and Wunder to build the brewery. It got its water from an underground lake 900 feet below. Neuweiler ordered his own generators for electric power and had separate wells drilled.

Neuweiler opened at this location on April 28, 1913. That day, son Louis P. entered the business and its name became Louis F. Neuweiler & Sons, a name it would retain until 1965. (Louis P. Neuweiler later left the family business and became a local banking executive at Merchants National Bank.)

Neuweiler’s truly was a family operation. Charles Neuweiler sometimes drove the horse-drawn wagon to Bethlehem loaded with barrels. The women in the family kept the books.

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Neuweiler’s also was something of an absolute monarchy. Generous to his family, Louis F. Neuweiler had a temper and little patience with those he regarded as lesser mortals. He once ripped the telephone out of the wall in frustration and told the operator she could go to hell when she couldn’t understand the phone number he was asking for.

Louis F. died in 1929. It was during Prohibition and Neuweiler’s was brewing only near beer with 3.2 percent alcohol and making mixers under the names Purity and Frontenac Pale. In the early 1930s, Charles Neuweiler turned down an offer to buy the brewery for $500,000 from gangster/bootlegger Arthur Flegenheimer, aka Dutch Schultz. According to son Theodore Neuweiler, his father said, “We have always made honest beer,” and ordered Schultz off the property.

At first, the post-Prohibition years were good for Neuweiler’s. Its slogan “nix besser,” none better, was shared across the community. But by the early 1960s it found itself trapped between the growing market share of the beer giants of the Midwest and the growing preference for its lighter product.

On May 31, 1968, Neuweiler’s closed its doors for the last time, $800,000 in debt.

Over the years, some of the equipment was sold. One of the stainless steel brewing tanks ended up at the Milford Park campmeeting grounds in Old Zionsville to be used for water storage.

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This is a translation of his German Wikipedia page:

Neuweiler was born as the son of a family of beer brewers. He emigrated to the United States and began to work as a brewer in Philadelphia . Within a few years he obtained the title of a Braumeister. In 1891 he met the businessman and hotelier Benedict Nuding, who had founded the Germania Brewery in Allentown in 1878.

Neuweiler became Nuding’s business partner. Together, they managed the brewery with success – until 1900 they already reached an annual output of 20,000 barrels . When Nuding retired in the same year, Neuweiler took over his shares and moved his sons into the company’s business during the following years. In 1925 the name Louis F. Neuweiler’s Sons, valid until the brewery was closed, was chosen for the brewery.

The brewery continued to be successful. In 1913 Neuweiler had a new, larger brewery complex built. The new brewery employed forty employees and reached an annual output of 50,000 barrels. A subterranean lake under the property was opened and a separate power plant was built – the brewery was thus independent of the electricity and water supply through the city.

During the period of prohibition, the Neuweiler brewery produced alcohol-reduced light beer and lemonade. At the height of its success, the Neuweiler brewery produced about 400,000 barrels a year and had 15 beer brands in its assortment. On May 31, 1968, she was closed.

Neuweiler died in 1929, his sons took over the management of the company. He is buried at the Fairview Cemetery in Allentown.

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And this history of the brewery is from the English Wikipedia page:

Neuweiler Brewery was founded by Louis Neuwiler, who bought out longtime local brewer Benedict Nuding in 1900. Nuding’s operation was limited by its location, and in 1911 Neuweiler and his son, Charles, eager to expand, hired Philadelphia architects Peukert and Wunder to build a new complex some distance away, at Front and Gordon streets.

The brewery, featuring its own generators for electric power, opened in 1913. By 1932, the brewery buildings and the warehouse building were joined as one structure, and the former machine warehouse became an independent electric plant with an ammonia tank and ice machine. A pump warehouse had been added onto the northwest corner of the former stock warehouse, and a two-story bottling plant with a basement was located to the north of the other buildings. Neuweiler produced several brands of beer: Light Lager, Cream Ale, Stock Ale, Premium Ale, Bock (seasonal), Half & Half, Porter, Stout and Hochberg. Most were available in the 12 oz. “Steinies” or Export bottles, quarts, cans or kegs. When in full operation, Neuweiler’s was one of Allentown’s largest employers.

By 1950, the bottling plant was extended to the corner of North Front Street and Liberty Street, the stock warehouse was extended toward North Front Street, and a tile ash hopper was located behind the boiler house.

Brewery operations ceased in 1968 due to competition from national breweries. However, the Neuweiler recipes and brand names were purchased by the Ortlieb Brewery of Philadelphia, who also purchased the Fuhrmann and Schmidt (Shamokin) breweries in 1966. After the brewery’s closure, the F&S Brewery produced several of the Neuweiler beers (Porter, Light Lager and Cream Ale) from around 1970 until closing in 1975. After F&S closed, the Ortlieb brewery continued Neuweiler Cream Ale at the Philadelphia plant until the late 1970s.

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“This photo from 1915 shows the laboratory at the Neuweiler Brewery that created the various brews made and sold by the company.”

These pages are from “American Breweries of the Past,” by David G. Moyer:

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And this lively history is from a local Allentown television station:

Arthur Flegenheimer, aka “Dutch Schultz,” is not remembered as one of your major league 1930s gangster headline-grabbers like Al Capone or Jack “Legs” Diamond. But such a view badly underestimates the man and his ruthlessness. And when he strode into the offices of Louis F. Neuweiler and Sons Brewery on Front Street in Allentown in 1932 he must have seemed formidable enough.

Cutting to the chase, the dapper dressing “Dutch” had some words for brewery owner Charles Neuweiler, son of the brewery’s founder and then the company’s president. He wanted to buy out the Neuweiler family operation which, since the start of Prohibition in 1920, had been reduced to turning out ice cream, “near beer” and carbonated soda water. He was offering $500,000 in cold cash.

Schultz may have thought he had made Neuweiler an offer he couldn’t refuse. It’s not known if the Dutchman’s “boys” were hanging around with itchy trigger fingers on their “gats” during the conversation.

But according to Charles’s son, Theodore Neuweiler, who recounted this tale to the press in the 1950s, his father was not biting. “We have always made honest beer,” he recalled his father saying before ordering Schultz off his property. And apparently the gangster went quietly.
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Shortly thereafter FDR would be elected, Prohibition banished, and happy days here again. And “Dutch” would die in 1935 on a hospital operating room table in Newark, New Jersey, following a hit by rival gangsters.

Today Neuweiler’s, which closed in 1968 and was left in a state that could only be called abandonment, is once more in the local news. Plans about its possible future as apartments, lofts or shops as part of the Neighborhood Improvement Zone- aka “the NIZ”- have caused much speculation. Could Neuweiler’s — at least the building if not the brewery — come back to life?

All of this activity would have undoubtedly impressed old Louis F. Neuweiler, the brewery’s founder, although he might be disappointed that nobody is talking about making beer there. As a native of Wurttemberg, Germany he knew what beer was to all good Germans of his time and place- a thick hardy brew that was both food and drink and had been as long as there had been Germans.

For a time, Neuweiler worked in a Philadelphia brewery and rose within the ranks of the company. In 1891 he came to Allentown and teamed up with longtime local brewer Benedict Nuding. A Civil War veteran and several years Louis Neuweiler’s senior, Nuding’s brewery was located at 7th St. near Union.

Beer making had been going on in the Lehigh Valley probably since the first German settlers arrived. Commercial operations in Allentown are usually traced to the Eagle Brewery that opened at Lehigh and Union Streets in the 1850s. By the start of the 20th century there would be a number of breweries dotting the Lehigh Valley in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton.

By 1900 Nuding was ready to retire and Neuweiler brought him out. But even then Neuweiler had bigger ambitions. He had just admitted his son Charles into the business and began to look around for a space that was much larger than the site on 7th Street and also closer to a railroad line that would make shipment easier.

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What the new brewery also needed was a supply of pure water.

Neuweiler found all that he was hoping for- even a lake of pure water 900 feet underground- on a 4.5 acre site at the corner of Front and Gordon Streets. To build the brewery he hired Peukert & Wunder, Philadelphia architects with a national reputation for brewery design.

Work began on Neuweiler’s in 1911. It was completed two years later and opened for production on April 28, 1913. The Lehigh Valley had seen many brewery openings before but Neuweiler’s was something special. With its red brick tower that could be seen for many miles it dominated the horizon along the banks of the Lehigh River. In an extra architectural flourish a huge N, similar to those on a Paris bridge that honored Napoleon, framed and mounted in a colossal cartouche, was placed on the side of the building. The era didn’t nickname brewers “beer barons” for nothing.

Despite its size Neuweiler’s was a family business. Charles had been required to learn the business from the ground up, including driving a wagon load of beer barrels when called on to do so. Even the female members of the family played a role by keeping the brewery’s books.

Neuweiler’s was not a democracy. Patriarch Louis F., while a generous father to his family, expected obedience from them, even as adults. Although there is nothing on the record this may explain why one of his sons, Louis P., left the family business and got into local banking.

One of the longtime family stories that was recorded dealt with a confrontation between Louis F. and a telephone operator. When she could not understand the number Neuweiler was asking for he became so enraged he suggested there was a warm place she should go and ripped the phone’s cord out of the wall. His sons, fearing local reaction and gossip, told their father he had to call her back and apologize. According to the surviving sources the exchange went something like this:

Neuweiler: “Is this the woman who I told to go to hell?”
Operator: (timidly) “Yes”
Neuweiler: “Well you don’t have to go now!”

Louis F. died in 1929 and with the end of Prohibition in 1933 Neuweiler’s flourished. But the rise of national brewers and the post World War II preference for lighter beers doomed Neuweiler’s and other local ethnic brewers. But, who knows. Thanks to the NIZ the big N may rise again.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Emil Schandein

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Today is the birthday of Emil Schandein (April 15, 1840-July 22, 1888). He was born in Bavaria, Germany, but emigrated to America when he was sixteen, in 1856. Arriving first in New York, he moved shortly thereafter to Philadelphia, and moved around quite a bit, until finally settling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1866 where he joined the Philip Best & Co. brewery staff. That same year he married Best’s daughter Lisette, and her father sold the remaining half of the business to her husband, making Frederick Pabst president, and Schandein vice-president. Schandein was a director of the brewery from 1873-1888. When he passed away in 1888, Lisette was elected vice-president.

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This is the Google translation of Emil’s German Wikipedia page:

Schandein was born in 1840 in Obermoschel . His parents were the royal tax and community beneficiary Joseph Wilhelm Schandein (1800-1862) and Louisa Schandein (b. Barth). His uncle was the historian Ludwig Schandein.

At the age of 16 he emigrated to the USA and settled in Philadelphia . After working in different cities, he moved to Watertown, Wisconsin, in 1863. There he married Elizabetha “Lisette” Best, a daughter of the breeder owner Phillip Best.

Together with his brother-in-law Frederick Pabst, he bought shares in his Philip Best Brewing Company and from 1873 until his death took the post of vice-president.

In addition to his work for the brewery, Schandein was one of the founders and first president of the German Society of Milwaukee. He was also director of the Northwestern Life Insurance Company, the Second Ward Savings Bank and President of the Milwaukee Brewers Association.

Emil Schandein died in 1888 during a stay in Germany. He is buried at the Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee.

Only after his death was in 1889, the Saddle Your Mansion, a villa in the German Renaissance style, on the 24th and Grand Avenue (now Wisconsin Avenue) in Milwaukee completed. The Milwaukee County Emergency Hospital was built in 1929 on the site of the building.

His widow, Lisette Schandein, assumed his post as vice president after his death until 1894. She died in 1905 during a stay in Germany.

Shandein bequeathed part of his estate to the Kaiserslauter Kreisrealschule and to the Pfälzisches Gewerbemuseum. The Schandeinstrasse in Kaiserslautern is named after him. The Schandeinstrasse in Speyer, however, is named after his uncle Ludwig.

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This Phillip Best Brewing Co. stock certificate, from 1873, is signed by then-president Emil Schandein.

This is from the “National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. III,” published in 1891:

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