Beer Birthday: Denise Jones

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Today is the birthday of Denise Jones, longtime brewer in the Bay Area. Until last year, Denise had started with a new brewery, Napa Point Brewing before it closed, but brewed for long stints at Moylan’s and Third Street Aleworks, among others. More recently she’s moved to Bamberg, Germany and is working with Weyermann. She’s a very talented brewer, and makes especially great stouts. Join me in wishing Denise a very happy birthday.

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With Ralph Woodall of HopUnion at GABF in 2006.

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Shane Aldrich and Arne Johnson, from Marin Brewing, Brendan Moylan, who owns both, and Denise, along with Jim Grbac, from Molyan’s Brewing after the award ceremonies at GABF in 2007.

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Denise with Brendan Moylan and Mark Worona, from Brewers Supply Group, at Tcho Chocolate in 2012 after a chocolate beer competition during CBC (which Denise won).

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With Alec Moss at the Triple Rock Firkin Fest in 2009.

Historic Beer Birthday: Joseph Liebmann

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Today is the birthday of Joseph Liebmann (December 20, 1832-March 26, 1913). He was born in Schmiedelfeld, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany. His father owned the Castle Schmiedelfeld, but when Joseph was seven, the family moved to Ludwigsburg and operated the Zum Stern Inn there, which also included a brewery. For political reasons, some of the family moved to America around 1850 to build a home, and the rest followed in 1854. Initially he ran the old Maasche Brewery, but later built a new brewery in Bushwick. Originally, it was called the Samuel Liebmann Brewery, but when his sons joined the brewery, it was called the S. Liebmann’s Sons Brewery. When Joseph’s father died in 1872, Joseph and his brothers took over the family brewery, and Henry became brewmaster, while Joseph “was chiefly responsible for financial matters,” though for a time was also president of the family brewery. After prohibition ended, the brothers’ six sons re-opened the brewery as the simpler Liebmann Breweries, but in 1964 they changed the name again to Rheingold Breweries, after their most popular beer. The brewery closed in 1976.

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Here’s his obituary from the New York Times:

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This is from “The Originators of Rheingold Beer: From Ludwigsburg to Brooklyn – A Dynasty of German-Jewish Brewers,” by Rolf Hofmann, originally published in Aufbau, June 21, 2001:

New Yorkers over the age of fifty will remember the brand name Rheingold Beer and the company’s brilliant publicity stunt in which a bevy of attractive young women competed annually for the privilege of being elected that year’s Miss Rheingold and appearing in ads on billboards and in the subways throughout the New York area.

The beer’s evocative name with its allusion to Germany’s great river, was the culmination of a German-Jewish family enterprise that had its beginnings in 1840 in the town of Ludwigsburg, north of Stuttgart, in what was then the Kingdom of Württemberg. One Samuel Liebmann, a member of a prominent Jewish family in the region, settled there and bought the inn and brewery “Zum Stern.” A liberal and staunch supporter of Republican ideals, Liebmann encouraged other like-minded citizens, including some soldiers from the garrison, to meet in his hospitable surroundings. The ideas fomented there contributed to the local revolution of 1848. It brought the opprobrium of the King down upon Liebmann’s enterprise, and “Zum Stern” was declared off limits to the soldiers. Soon thereafter, in 1850, Samuel Liebmann emigrated to the U.S.

The family settled in Brooklyn and Samuel, together with his three sons, Joseph, Henry, and Charles, opened a brewery once again at the corner of Forest and Bremen Streets. With the responsibilities divided among the family – Henry became the brewing expert, Charles. the engineer and architect, Joseph, finance manager – the company was already flourishing by the time of Samuel’s death in 1872. Success also led to a concern for the company’s Brooklyn surroundings, and the Liebmanns became involved in local welfare – focusing on housing and drainage systems.

Each of the three brothers had two sons, and when the older Liebmanns retired in 1903, the six members of the third generation took over. Other members of the family also contributed to the gradual expansion of the company. In 1895 Sadie Liebmann (Joseph’s daughter), married Samuel Simon Steiner, a trader in high quality hop, an essential ingredient for good beer. Steiner’s father had begun merchandising hop in Laupheim in 1845 and still today, S.S. Steiner, with its headquarters in New York, is one of the leading hop merchants. Under these fortuitous family circumstances, beer production grew constantly. In the early years, the brewery had produced 1000 barrels per year, by 1914 its output stood at 700,000 barrels.

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The Liebmann family.

Unfortunately, political developments in the U.S. between 1914 and 1933 were extremely disadvantageous for the Liebmann brewery. The resentment against Germany and anything German during World War I led to an informal boycott of German beers. Following close upon the lean wartime years, was the implementation of Prohibition in 1920 forbidding the manufacturing and trading of alcohol. The Liebmann enterprise managed to survive by producing lemonade and a product they called “Near Beer.”

With the reinstatement of legal alcohol production under President Roosevelt in 1933, opportunities for the brewery opened up, abetted by the anti-Semitic policies of Hitler’s Germany. The pressures on Jewish businessmen there, brought Dr. Hermann Schülein, general manager of the world-renowned LšwenbrŠu brewery, to America. Schulein’s father, Joseph, had acquired two of Munich’s leading breweries at the end of the nineteenth century–Union and Münchner Kindl–and his son had managed the 1920 merger with Löwenbrau. Arriving in New York with this experience behind him, Hermann Schülein became one of the top managers of the Liebmann brewery and was instrumental in its spectacular growth after World War II.

Working with Philip Liebmann (great-grandson of Samuel), Schülein developed a dry lager beer with a European character to be marketed under the brand name “Rheingold.” According to company legend, the name was created in 1883 at a brewery dinner following a performance at the Metropolitan Opera. When the conductor took up his glass, he was so taken with the shade of the beer, that he declared it to be the color of “Rheingold.” For New Yorkers, however, the name Rheingold did not bring to mind the Nibelungen fables, but the pretty young ladies who participated in Schülein’s most brilliant marketing strategy – the selection of each year’s Miss Rheingold by the beer-drinking public of greater New York

At the height of the campaign’s success in the 1950’s and 60’s, the Liebmann Brewery had an output of beer ten times that of Löwenbrau at the same time in Munich.

For thirty years, Rheingold Beer reigned supreme in the New York area, but by 1976, as a local brewery, it could no longer compete with nationwide companies such as Anheuser & Busch, Miller, and Schlitz, and its doors were closed. Only recently, using the same brewmaster, Rheingold is once again being sold in the tri-state area.

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Here’s an “Origin of Liebmann Brewery” posted by a relative on Ancestry.com:

On May 12 1833 (Sulzbach-Laufen Archive) Samuel and his older brother Heinrich bought a castle/inn Schmiedelfeld, Sulzbach-Laufen, Schwaebisch Hall District that dated from 1739. They renovated the place and created a prosperous farm/estate and in 1837 began a brewery in the cellar. In 1840, he moved to Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart and purchased the gasthaus [guest house or inn] “Zum Stern” on Seestrasse 9 (later Zum Rebstock) which included a brewery. (source: Translation extract from Dr. Joacim Hahn’s book, History of the Jewish Community of Ludwigsburg)

After supporting a movement to oust King William I of Wurttemberg, and sensing the wavering tolerance of Jewish businessmen, Samuel sent his eldest son Joseph to the US in 1854 to scout out a location to establish a brewery.

Samuel retired in 1868 and turned the family business over to his sons Joseph, Charles, and Henry under the name S. Liebmann’s Sons Brewery.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Frederick Sehring

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Today is the birthday of Frederick Sehring (December 19, 1834-July 2, 1892). He was born in Germany, but came to America with his parents when he was thirteen, in 1847, and settled in Joliet, Illinois. After careers in the service industry and politics, he bought the Columbia Brewery, and eventually incorporated it as the Fred Sehring Brewing Co.

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Here’s a short biography of Sehring from a breweriana website:

Frederick Sehring was born in 1834 in Hesse, Darmstadt Germany. He moved to the U.S. in 1847, and settled near Joliet. Following a career in the hotel business and county treasurer, he purchased an interest in the Columbia Brewery in 1867. In 1883, he became owner and changed its name to the Fred Sehring Brewing Company. Frederick passed away in 1892, and his son, Louis, who had been superintendent of the brewery, took over. The brewery closed never to reopen in 1919.

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Here’s an obituary of Sehring from the Genealogical and Biographical Record of Will County:

FRED SEHRING, deceased, late president of the Fred Sehring Brewing Company of Joliet, was born in Langen, Dukedom of Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, December 19, 1834, and received the rudiments of his education in the excellent schools of his native land. When thirteen years of age, in 1847, he came to America with his parents, Weigand and Margaretha (Keim) Sehring. The Sehring family is one of prominence among the German-Americans of Will County. Its founders here were Weigand Sehring and his wife, who settled in Frankfort Township in 1847. Weigand was a soldier in the war of 1813 in Germany, which decided the fate of Europe. When he came to the United States he engaged in farming. In 1854 he and his family removed to Joliet and engaged in the hotel business, his son being interested with him in this enterprise. In spite of the fact that Fred Sehring had only eight months’ instruction in the schools of America, by diligent application he acquired a good English education and in early life laid the foundation of the broad knowledge that proved so helpful to him in later years. In 1860 he was appointed deputy clerk in the recorder’s office in Joliet, a position which he filled with such ability as to win recognition. In 1863 he was elected county treasurer. This office he filled with such fidelity and success that he was re-elected at the expiration of his term of two years, and served until 1867.

Upon retiring from office he purchased an interest in the brewing firm of Joseph Braun & Co., which founded what is to-day one of the finest plants in the northwest. The total capital at first was only $6,000 and during the 26 first year only three men were employed, but the total output reached one thousand barrels. Two years later it had increased to eighteen hundred barrels. Upon the death of Mr. Braun, in 1870, a change was made in the business, Mr. Sehring securing the active control, and changing the name to Columbia Brewery. The success already gained continued during the ensuing years. He put his whole soul into his business, with a determination that always wins success; yet, while determined, aggressive and pushing, he was upright and honorable in every transaction and recognized no line between meanness and dishonesty. He believed that the man who would purposely cheat his friend would cheat his God. His heart was kind, and full of warm responses to generous natures. The constant increase in the business led Mr. Sehring to make a change. In January, 1883, he incorporated the Fred Sehring Brewing Company, with himself as president, his son Henry, vice-president, his son-in-law, Henry F. Piepenbrink, secretary and treasurer, and his son Louis J., superintendent. The new corporation began with a capital of $50,000. He continued to act as president until his death.

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At the same time he was a director of the Will County National Bank. Fraternally he was a prominent Odd Fellow and frequently represented his lodge in the grand lodge. He was also a Knight Templar Mason, belonging to Joliet Commandery No. 4. Politically he believed in Democratic principles. In 1874 he was elected to the city council, where he served for eight years. During the same year he was the Democratic candidate for the state senate against A. O. Marshall, Republican, and C. Frazier, the Granger candidate. The returns showed Mr. Marshall elected by twelve majority. Mr. Sehring contested the election. The matter was taken into the legislature, where one hundred and forty illegal votes were proved to have been cast against him and which were placed to his credit, by the report of a majority of the committee on the contest; but the Republicans and Grangers combined against him, casting twenty-six votes for Marshall, while twenty-three were cast for him. He favored movements for the benefit of the people and the development of his home town, and proved himself a generous, public-spirited citizen. He died July 2, 1892, and is survived by his wife, who
resides at the old homestead, with her unmarried children, Susan E. and Louis J. Mrs. Fred Sehring was a daughter of Jacob and Barbara Bez, who came from Wurtemberg, Germany, to America in 1853 and settled in Joliet, where she was married to Mr. Sehring January 16, 1855. Besides her son and daughter who reside with her she has two daughters and two sons, viz.: Maggie, wife of Henry F. Piepenbrink; Henry, a member of the Sehring Brewing Company; Anna C., who is the wife of Dr. A. A. Poehner and resides in San Francisco, Cal.; and George F., who is teller in the Will County National Bank, and was married in 1896 to Miss Louisa Kramer, of this city.

A record of the life of Fred Sehring would not be complete without mention of his wife. Though her sphere was in the home, yet from that place she aided and encouraged her husband in his struggle for success. Thus she assisted in the upbuilding of the business that has made the name of Sehring prominent and influential. From her home she made many errands of mercy to the homes of the poor and needy, but her deeds of devotion and self-sacrifice were always quietly done, being of the kind of which it may be said that the left hand knoweth not the benefactions of the right. Even the weight of advancing years has not lessened her activities. No one has ever left her presence discouraged, and her charitable spirit is so broad that it knows no distinction of creed or nationality.

The death of Mr. Sehring did not prove fatal to the business he had built up. This was left in safe hands, with his sons and son-in-law. The eldest of the sons, Louis J., succeeded him as president, and is still the general manager of the business. He was born in Joliet April 12, 1858, and at an early age learned the rudiments of the brewing business in his father’s brewery. Afterward he served apprenticeships with Bernheimer & Schmidt, of New York City, and the Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Company, of Chicago. Returning to Joliet in October, 1877, he was at once appointed superintendent of the brewery, and has retained the position as manager up to the present time.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Balthas Jetter

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Today is the birthday of Balthas Jetter (December 17, 1851-May 9, 1915). He was born in Engstlatt, Zollernalbkreis, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, but moved with his family to Omaha, Nebraska when he was nine, in 1860. In 1887, he and a partner founded the Jetter & Young Brewery in South Omaha. In 1890, Jetter bought out Young, the brewery was renamed B. Jetter, although it also traded under the name South Omaha Brewing Co. In 1902, it became the Jetter Brewing Co., which it remained until prohibition. It reopened in 1933 and remained in business util 1994, when it closed for good.

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Here’s Jetter’s obituary from the Omaha Daily Bee, published May 11, 1915:

Balthas Jetter, founder of the Jetter Brewing company of South Omaha, died Sunday at 11:20 o’clock from a paralytic stroke sustained Saturday morning.

Mr. Jetter was 64 years of age. He was in his usual good health up to Saturday, when he sustained a stroke. He was found Saturday forenoon in a semi-conscious condition in the brew house by William Hoffman, son of an employee. Physicians were summoned and the stricken man was removed to his home on South Thirtieth street, but he never regained consciousness.

Mr. Jetter is survived by his wife, one son, Henry, and three daughters, Misses Alma, Hulda and Edith Jetter, of this city. Martin Jetter, head of the Jetter Brewing company, is a nephew.

Balthas Jetter was born in Engsclat, Germany, December 17, 1851. He came to the United States in 1871 and was employed on the Union Pacific railroad as a bridge builder. He helped build the Union Pacific bridge at Omaha.

In 1873 he entered into the brewing business in Omaha, where he continued as an employee until 1887, when he removed to South Omaha and launched out for himself on a plat of land now covered by the Armour packing plant. He gradually increased his business until May, 1914, when he retired in favor of his nephew, Martin Jetter, present head of the Jetter Brewing Company. From the penury of a raw immigrant he gradually accumulated a large fortune.

Balthas Jetter was married in Omaha July 7, 1878. His family consists of his wife and four children. One son, Henry Jetter, is interested in the brewing company.

When Balthas Jetter determined to retire from active business a few years ago he made a tour of Germany in company with Fred Drew, vice president of the Jetter company, in order to study the manufacture of German beer. Even after his retirement as active head he continued to manifest interest in the affairs of the company.

His wealth never changed him and his friends say that he lived as simply in his old age as in the days of his early struggle. He was friendly and companionable with his family and friends, but cared nothing for society.

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Here’s a short history of the Jetter Brewery from “Nebraska Beer: Great Plains History by the Pint,” by Tyler A. Thomas:

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An undated photo of the Jetter brewery employees. I can’t be sure, but it looks like Balthas may be in the top row, fifth from the left.

Here’s a lengthier history of the brewery from Jetter Brewing Company website, which seems to suggest the beer may be making a comeback, and began planning last year:

South Omaha, for many years, has been famous for being the home to one of the nation’s largest stockyards. Along with the stockyards were many very large packing houses. Wilson, Hammond Bros., Swift, Armour & Cudahy were the big five. In their heyday they employed thousands of immigrants from Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania and many other Middle and Eastern European countries. Immigrants who had settled in Omaha to find their dreams in America. One such immigrant was a German by the name of Balthas Jetter. Jetter found his way to Omaha in the later part of the nineteenth century with the full intention of establishing a brewery to help quench the thirsts of those packing house workers.

In 1887 along with a partner, Mr. Young, Jetter established the Jetter and Young Brewery at 30th & “Y” streets in the heart of South Omaha. Annual capacity at the time was an impressive 10,000 barrels. By 1890 Jetter had purchased his partner’s stake in the brewery and had taken on the name South Omaha Brewing Co., B. Jetter prop. An advertisement in the 1890 Omaha city directory shows an artist’s rendition of the brewery, with the Jetter home in the foreground, the large brewing operation in the center and a small lake to the south. The lake was on land that is now known as Upland Park.

Production at the brewery continued to keep pace with the bustling community of South Omaha. The packing house industry was booming and the Jetter Brewing Company kept pace by increasing their production to 30,000 barrels annually by 1902.

In 1905 the brewery became more simply known as the Jetter Brewing Company. During those years after the turn of the century, Jetter’s flagship brand was “Gold Top”. An ad from 1902 touts Gold Top as a beer that “…always snaps and sparkles, that never leaves a bad effect, that is a good beverage and a better tonic, that is Gold Top”.

Jetter’s, as well as the other Omaha breweries, prospered during the early part of the century. Expansion and modernization of the brewery continued. The brewery was now an all brick, concrete and steel structure.

Sometime around 1909, the brewery dropped the Gold Top brand in favor of the brand name “Old Age”. The Old Age label featured three elderly gentlemen conversing while hoisting steins of Old Age beer. A loaf of bread adorns the table the three are sitting around. Those three gentlemen became well known to beer drinkers. The three adorned every bottle of Old Age and appeared on nearly all pieces of advertising used by the brewery.

The Jetter Brewery continued to produce Old Age beer all the way up to Prohibition. At the height of production, the brewery turned out in excess of 100,000 barrels annually. In 1919 when the production of real beer became illegal, the brewery was forced to halt the brewing of Old Age. Jetter’s turned to the production of soda pop and near beer. Soda pop went under the label “Sahara” and featured a scene right out of the desert. Near beer was marketed under the Old Age name as well as St. Regis brew. Production continued well into the twenties, but with prohibition dragging on the brewery was very underutilized and only maintained a skeleton crew of employees. By 1930 the brewery had ended the production of any type of beer or soda. The brewery sat idle for the first time in 43 years.

You can pick up their more recent story at the history page.

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Historic Beer Birthday: George Frey

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Today is the birthday of George Frey (December 17, 1826-1872). He was born in Ober-Saulheim, Germany, but moved to Buffalo, New York when he was fourteen, in 1840, and worked for a brewery there, before moving to Erie, Pennsylvania, to build his own there. Most brewery history, especially breweriana-focused sources, claim the George Frey Brewery was only called by that name in 1855, and the following year became known as the Eagle Brewery. But “One Hundred Years of Brewing” states that Frey built the brewery in 1842 but sold it to Henry J. Kavelage in 1854, who sold it to Jackson Koehler in 1883, and in 1899 it was bought by the Erie Brewing Co. And the breweriana brewery lists say it was known as the Eagle Brewery through all of its changes in ownership, at least through prohibition. Although it appears to have also been known by “Jackson Koehler’s Eagle Brewery” after Koehler bought it.

More evidence that he was brewing in Pennsylvania long before 1855 can be found in “The Brewing Industry and the Brewery Workers’ Movement in America,” by Hermann Schlüter, which was published in 1910. In a chapter on “Lager Beer,” it casually mentions Frey’s contribution. “George Frey, who brewed the first lager beer in Erie, Pa., in 1847, had helped in the first brewing of “lager” in Buffalo in 1843.

But I also found another listing in Erie for another George Frey Brewery that opened in 1861, but was renamed the Erie City Lager Brewery two years later, in 1863, then in 1870 dropped “Lager” to become known as the Erie City Brewery. It 1872, it was renamed the Joseph F. Seelinger Brewery, which would suggest it was sold to that person, which especially makes sense since that’s the apparent year Frey died.

It seems a shame after those accomplishments, that what happened to Frey after he sold his brewery is unknown, and I even had a hard time finding out when he passed away. This is also the first instance where I could find not one piece of breweriana or photograph online of George Frey or his brewery.

Historic Beer Birthday: Henry Liebmann

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Today is the birthday of Henry Liebmann (December 6, 1836-March 27, 1915). He was born Heinrich Liebmann in Schmiedelfeld, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany. His father owned the Castle Schmiedelfeld, but when Henry was four, the family moved to Ludwigsburg and operated the Zum Stern Inn there, which also included a brewery. For political reasons, some of the family moved to America around 1850 to build a home, and the rest followed in 1854. Initially he ran the old Maasche Brewery, but later built a new brewery in Bushwick. Originally, it was called the Samuel Liebmann Brewery, but when his sons joined the brewery, it was called the S. Liebmann’s Sons Brewery. When Henry’s father died in 1872, Henry and his brothers took over the family brewery, and Henry became brewmaster. After prohibition ended, the brothers’ six sons re-opened the brewery as the simpler Liebmann Breweries, but in 1964 they changed the name again to Rheingold Breweries, after their most popular beer. The brewery closed in 1976.

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Here’s his obituary from the Brewers Journal, in July of 1915:

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This is from “The Originators of Rheingold Beer: From Ludwigsburg to Brooklyn – A Dynasty of German-Jewish Brewers,” by Rolf Hofmann, originally published in Aufbau, June 21, 2001:

New Yorkers over the age of fifty will remember the brand name Rheingold Beer and the company’s brilliant publicity stunt in which a bevy of attractive young women competed annually for the privilege of being elected that year’s Miss Rheingold and appearing in ads on billboards and in the subways throughout the New York area.

The beer’s evocative name with its allusion to Germany’s great river, was the culmination of a German-Jewish family enterprise that had its beginnings in 1840 in the town of Ludwigsburg, north of Stuttgart, in what was then the Kingdom of Württemberg. One Samuel Liebmann, a member of a prominent Jewish family in the region, settled there and bought the inn and brewery “Zum Stern.” A liberal and staunch supporter of Republican ideals, Liebmann encouraged other like-minded citizens, including some soldiers from the garrison, to meet in his hospitable surroundings. The ideas fomented there contributed to the local revolution of 1848. It brought the opprobrium of the King down upon Liebmann’s enterprise, and “Zum Stern” was declared off limits to the soldiers. Soon thereafter, in 1850, Samuel Liebmann emigrated to the U.S.

The family settled in Brooklyn and Samuel, together with his three sons, Joseph, Henry, and Charles, opened a brewery once again at the corner of Forest and Bremen Streets. With the responsibilities divided among the family – Henry became the brewing expert, Charles. the engineer and architect, Joseph, finance manager – the company was already flourishing by the time of Samuel’s death in 1872. Success also led to a concern for the company’s Brooklyn surroundings, and the Liebmanns became involved in local welfare – focusing on housing and drainage systems.

Each of the three brothers had two sons, and when the older Liebmanns retired in 1903, the six members of the third generation took over. Other members of the family also contributed to the gradual expansion of the company. In 1895 Sadie Liebmann (Joseph’s daughter), married Samuel Simon Steiner, a trader in high quality hop, an essential ingredient for good beer. Steiner’s father had begun merchandising hop in Laupheim in 1845 and still today, S.S. Steiner, with its headquarters in New York, is one of the leading hop merchants. Under these fortuitous family circumstances, beer production grew constantly. In the early years, the brewery had produced 1000 barrels per year, by 1914 its output stood at 700,000 barrels.

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Henry Liebmann (center with white beard) and family.

Unfortunately, political developments in the U.S. between 1914 and 1933 were extremely disadvantageous for the Liebmann brewery. The resentment against Germany and anything German during World War I led to an informal boycott of German beers. Following close upon the lean wartime years, was the implementation of Prohibition in 1920 forbidding the manufacturing and trading of alcohol. The Liebmann enterprise managed to survive by producing lemonade and a product they called “Near Beer.”

With the reinstatement of legal alcohol production under President Roosevelt in 1933, opportunities for the brewery opened up, abetted by the anti-Semitic policies of Hitler’s Germany. The pressures on Jewish businessmen there, brought Dr. Hermann Schülein, general manager of the world-renowned LšwenbrŠu brewery, to America. Schulein’s father, Joseph, had acquired two of Munich’s leading breweries at the end of the nineteenth century–Union and Münchner Kindl–and his son had managed the 1920 merger with Löwenbrau. Arriving in New York with this experience behind him, Hermann Schülein became one of the top managers of the Liebmann brewery and was instrumental in its spectacular growth after World War II.

Working with Philip Liebmann (great-grandson of Samuel), Schülein developed a dry lager beer with a European character to be marketed under the brand name “Rheingold.” According to company legend, the name was created in 1883 at a brewery dinner following a performance at the Metropolitan Opera. When the conductor took up his glass, he was so taken with the shade of the beer, that he declared it to be the color of “Rheingold.” For New Yorkers, however, the name Rheingold did not bring to mind the Nibelungen fables, but the pretty young ladies who participated in Schülein’s most brilliant marketing strategy – the selection of each year’s Miss Rheingold by the beer-drinking public of greater New York

At the height of the campaign’s success in the 1950’s and 60’s, the Liebmann Brewery had an output of beer ten times that of Löwenbrau at the same time in Munich.

For thirty years, Rheingold Beer reigned supreme in the New York area, but by 1976, as a local brewery, it could no longer compete with nationwide companies such as Anheuser & Busch, Miller, and Schlitz, and its doors were closed. Only recently, using the same brewmaster, Rheingold is once again being sold in the tri-state area.

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Here’s an “Origin of Liebmann Brewery” posted by a relative on Ancestry.com:

On May 12 1833 (Sulzbach-Laufen Archive) Samuel and his older brother Heinrich bought a castle/inn Schmiedelfeld, Sulzbach-Laufen, Schwaebisch Hall District that dated from 1739. They renovated the place and created a prosperous farm/estate and in 1837 began a brewery in the cellar. In 1840, he moved to Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart and purchased the gasthaus [guest house or inn] “Zum Stern” on Seestrasse 9 (later Zum Rebstock) which included a brewery. (source: Translation extract from Dr. Joacim Hahn’s book, History of the Jewish Community of Ludwigsburg)

After supporting a movement to oust King William I of Wurttemberg, and sensing the wavering tolerance of Jewish businessmen, Samuel sent his eldest son Joseph to the US in 1854 to scout out a location to establish a brewery.

Samuel retired in 1868 and turned the family business over to his sons Joseph, Charles, and Henry under the name S. Liebmann’s Sons Brewery.

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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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