Historic Beer Birthday: Frederick Wacker

Today is the birthday of Frederick Wacker (September 30, 1830-July 8, 1884). Wacker was born in Württemberg Germany (though some sources claim he was from Switzerland) and founded the Chicago brewery Wacker & Birk in 1857 with business partner Jacob Birk. Shortly thereafter, Birk left to start a different brewery, and the name was changed to the Frederick Wacker Brewing Co. 1865. But Birk appears to have returned to the business, because the name became the Frederick Wacker & Jacob Birk Brewing & Malting Co., and it remained some form of the two men’s names until it was closed for good by prohibition. Frederick Wacker is also remembered as the father of his more famous son, Charles Wacker, for whom Wacker Drive in Chicago was named. And while there are plenty of photos of Charles, not a one could I find of his father.

Here’s a biography of Frederick Wacker, from the History of Chicago, Volume 3, by Alfred Theodore Andreas, published in 1886.



The Chicago brewery Frederick started was originally called Seidenschwanz & Wacker, and was located on Hinsdale, between Pine and Rush streets. It was founded in 1857, but the following year it became known as Wacker & Seidenschwanz, and was on N. Franklin Street. That version lasted until 1865. Beginning that same year, its name changed once again to the Frederick Wacker Brewery, and its address was listed as 848 N. Franklin Street, presumably in the same location as its predecessor. Sixteen years later, in 1882, it relocated to 171 N. Desplaines (now Indiana Street) and it became known as the Wacker & Birk Brewing & Malting Co. This is also when Charles joined his father’s business, when he would have been 26 years old. Just before prohibition the name was shortened to the Wacker & Birk Co., although it appears to have closed by 1920.



Historic Beer Birthday: Conrad Seipp

Today is the birthday of Conrad Seipp (September 27, 1825-January 28, 1890). Conrad Seipp immigrated to the United States from Hessen, Germany, in the 1840s. After moving to Chicago, he drove a beer wagon for Miller Brothers brewery. Eventually he started his own brewery. By the turn of the century, the Seipp Brewery expanded to become one of the largest in the United States.


Chicagology includes a short history of Conrad Seipp at the page about Chicago Breweries:

Conrad Seipp, the founder of the brewing company of that name, was born in 1825, near Frankfort on-the-Main, Germany, his early trade being that of a carpenter and joiner. In 1849 he came to this country, locating at Rochester, N. Y., but after a brief stay there, during which he followed his trade, removed to Chicago. For the succeeding five years he was proprietor of a hotel, but in 1854 rented a small plant, known as the M. Best Brewery, at the foot of Fourteenth street. In the following year his brewery was destroyed by fire, but in the fall he rebuilt on the site of the present plant of the Conrad Seipp Brewing Company.

The main building, of brick, had a frontage of about fifty feet, the beer cellars being underground, the malt floors on the ground, the living rooms for Mr. Seipp and his three children on the second floor, and the storage rooms for the barley and malt above. In 1858 Mr. Seipp formed a partnership with Frederick Lehmann, the firm of Seipp & Lehmann continuing until the death of the latter in July, 1872.

The surviving partner purchased the interest of the Lehmann heirs and in 1876 incorporated the Conrad Seipp Brewing Company, of which he remained president up to the time of his death, in January, 1890. During this period also Wm. C. Seipp, his son, served as vice-president, and T. J. Lefens as secretary and treasurer. From the founding of the business, in 1854, until its incorporation in 1876, the output increased from 1,000 barrels of lager beer to more than 100,000 barrels. The founder of the company was a man, not only of remarkable strength of character, but of rare domestic and philanthropic virtues. After his death different local charities received bequests from his estate which amounted to more than $100,000.

In April, 1890, a few months after the death of the founder of the business, the Conrad Seipp, the West Side, and the F. J. Dewes’ breweries, with the L. C. Huck and the George Bullen malt houses were amalgamated to form the City of Chicago Brewing and Malting Company. By this time the Conrad Seipp plant had expanded into one of the most extensive establishments in the country, with an annual output of 240,000 barrels of lager beer. It was one of the pioneers in the adoption of artificial refrigeration, the first of its machines being installed in 1881.


After the success of his brewery, Seipp built a large mansion on the south shore of Geneva Lake in Wisconsin, which today is a tourist destination known as the Black Point Estate and Gardens. Their Facebook page includes …

Conrad Seipp’s Story

Conrad Seipp, the youngest of five brothers and sisters arrived alone in America at the age of 24 after fighting in the 1848 German Revolution as a protector of royalty. He was forced to fight against family & friends. Upon conclusion of the Revolution in he arrived in Rochester NY and moved to Lyons Illinois with his new wife Maria. His first job was driving a beer wagon. He soon set his sights on Chicago where he successfully managed a hotel on the corner of Washington & Fifth (Now Wells). In 1851 he staked claim on 80 acres of farmland (now 79th and Jeffery, SE side). In 1854 with the profits from the sale of his hotel he purchased a small brewery from Matthias Best on 14th street. It burned down within the year so he immediately built a new brick brewery at the foot of 27th and Lake Michigan with 50′ frontage, underground cellars, malt floor on ground level and 2nd floor living quarters for his growing family. By the end of the first year he had 6 employees and was producing over 1,000 barrels. In 1858 he formed a partnership with Frederick Lehmann and the name was changed to Seipp & Lehmann. The brewery expanded to 50 employees and began producing over 50,000 barrels annually. His wife Maria died of pneumonia at age 39 in 1866. Understanding the need to have a matriarch he met and married 26 year old Catharina Orb within the year. Disaster again struck in 1872 when Lehmann was killed in a buggy accident but the brewery continued to grow. Producing 103,697 barrels of beer during the period of May 1872-1873, it was now the leading brewery in the United States and Conrad was only 47 years old. He lost the US lead to a Milwaukee brewer but the Chicago Tribune article January 1, 1880 described the Seipp Brewery as the largest in Chicago with a barrelage in 1879 of 108,347. Since 1877 he had to purchase malt and barely from outside sources to keep up with production. (See 1877 Chicago News article attached) Seipp was one of the first to ship beer outside Chicago, his Salvator bottled beer was greatly appreciated in the developing Western states and Territories. According to another Tribune article, “Seipp’s bottled beer was often considered a temperance drink that has done more to reform the mining districts of the West then all the moral agencies that have ever been sent there. It has supplemented the use of stronger drinks.” Conrad’s extraordinary use of advertising helped make him one of the most successful brewers, using match boxes, coasters, trading cards, serving trays, and beer mugs. During the 1880’s a number of horse racing tracks were opening up in the Chicago area. He purchased property near Washington Park Race Track and other real estate surrounding the area tracks allowing him to build company saloons to accommodate thirsty customers attending the races. This period of growth in Chicago’s ran unchecked with sporting houses and brothels cropping up weekly and often protected by ward politicians and police alike. There were numerous Seipp Beer advertisements in “The Sporting House Directory of 1889, a Guide to Chicago Brothels” which just proved that Seipp knew and understood niche markets. In the early part of the 20th century, it was estimated that the annual consumption of beer in the Chicago bordellos was more than seven million bottles of beer and we can only assume many of those bottles were from the Conrad Seipp Brewery!

Conrad-Seipp-narrow In 1887 Chicago beer baron Conrad Seipp began construction for Black Point Estate & Gardens as a respite for his family. Owners like Seipp never envisioned their homes could ever be more than that since there were no roads nor access to utilities. The estate could be reached only by boat. The 20-room Queen Anne-style “cottage” was completed in 1888 for $20,000. It included 13 bedrooms and only one bathroom. It sat on nearly eight acres of beautiful grounds that included 620 feet of undisturbed Geneva Lake shoreline. While building Black Point, Seipp was simultaneously erecting a new mansion in Chicago. During this process he moved much of the family’s furniture from the previous Chicago home into Black Point.


A travel website, d-LIFE of @lm!ng, has an article entitled The Four Generations: Seipp Family

Conrad Seipp is a German immigrant who came to the United States in 1849 at the age of 25. He married Maria Teutsch and had three children. Before he became a Beer Baron in Chicago, he was a beer wagon driver for Miller Brothers brewery. Then he became an owner of a small hotel before he bought a small beer factory in 1854. A year after, his brewery was burned down. Conrad didn’t give up and rebuilt his company out of brick with underground cellars, a malt floor and family living quarters. After Maria died in 1866, he married Catherine Orb, and together they have five children.

Business seemed to be progressing which was producing 1000 barrels of beer in its first year. In 1858 he partnered with M. Frederick Lehmann to expand their business. In just ten years they produced 50,000 barrels of beers yearly. Seipp and Lehmann’s brewery grew to become one of the largest in the United States. But Lehmann died in an accident, so Seipp bought his partner’s shares and renamed his business to Conrad Seipp Brewing Company.

Seipp died in 1890, soon after Black Point was completed. His company was sold to British investors who merged with other brewing businesses in Chicago. Seipp family member continued to work at the brewery, but later their production exceeded by its competitors. The company was closed in 1933.


The Encyclopedia of Chicago has this entry for the Seipp (Conrad) Brewing Co.:

Conrad Seipp, an immigrant from Germany, started making beer in Chicago in 1854, after buying a small brewery from Mathias Best. By 1856, Seipp had six employees, who helped him produce about 1,100 barrels of beer each year. In 1858, Frederick Lehman joined the company, which became Seipp & Lehman. By the end of the 1860s, when Seipp & Lehman was one of Chicago’s leading brewers, about 50 employees made more than 50,000 barrels of beer (worth close to $500,000) per year. After Lehman died in 1872, Seipp organized the Conrad Seipp Brewing Co. Dominating the Chicago beer market by the late 1870s, Seipp was among the largest breweries in the United States, producing over 100,000 barrels a year. After Conrad Seipp died in 1890, the company merged with several smaller Chicago breweries to form the City of Chicago Consolidated Brewing & Malting Co., which was controlled by British investors, although Seipp was allowed to operate with considerable autonomy and under the Seipp name. At the turn of the century, the Seipp brewery was still active; annual output had reached about 250,000 barrels. The widespread establishment of neighborhood liquor stores around 1910 siphoned off sales from Seipp and other city breweries, but Seipp managed to stay afloat by introducing home beer deliveries. Grain and coal shortages during World War I stifled Seipp’s production before the enactment of Prohibition in 1919 dealt a devastating blow to the beer industry as a whole. The company limped along through the Prohibition years by producing low-alcohol “near bear” and distributing soda pop. Many speculated that Seipp also produced bootleg beer for the Torrio-Capone crime organization. Ironically, Seipp operations ceased in 1933, just before Prohibition was lifted. The brewery was destroyed that year to make room for a new hospital.


And here’s a curious artifact, a press release from the Conrad Seipp Brewery from May 4, 1879.

Only Lager Beer! Conrad Seipp’s Brewery Ships Genuine Lager Beer Only

Lager beer is the demand of the day! There was a time when the public preferred fresh beer, and brewers conformed to the fashion. There were also other factors involved: The tremendous increase in beer consumption and inadequate storage facilities which prevented an accumulation of what brewers considered an “adequately seasoned supply”. The public eventually became aware that fresh beer was not a particularly healthful beverage and thus public opinion clamored again for genuine Lager Beer.

Among those brewers who always have a large stock of well-seasoned beer on hand and need not substitute a hurried, artificially aged produce, is the Conrad Seipp Brewing Company. There has hardly been a period in the Company’s 2history when such a large supply for summer consumption has been available. According to official figures of the revenue collector, Seipp’s Brewery sold 108,000 barrels of beer between May 1, 1878 and April 30, 1879. Aside from this colossal amount the government report shows that a tremendous quantity was stored in the Brewery’s recently enlarged cellars–41,671 large barrels.

These figures are not mere estimates or exaggerations. They are accurate and are taken from official statements–showing the amount registered by the Revenue Department, and, quite aside from the fact that the Seipp Brewing Company has no intention of cheating the government, a falsification of these reports is not an easy matter, and if the Company claims to have a larger stock in storage than is actually available, then the Brewery would be faced with the problem of paying large additional sums for taxes.

The public can therefore rest assured that the Seipp Brewery had the above-mentioned quantity of beer in stock on May 1, this year, that is: 41,671 full 3barrels, and it is therefore quite evident that this large quantity was not brewed in a day or two; it required almost five months. Obviously, anyone seeing the sign “Seipp’s Beer” displayed by a saloon will be convinced that genuine, healthful Lager Beer is on tap.

That such a large concern as the Conrad Seipp Brewing Company makes special efforts to provide its customers with genuine Lager Beer augurs well and proves that even in this endeavor time-tried products will reassert themselves and make short shrift of “quick production processes”.

Ere long other breweries must emulate the good example–if they have not already done so–and the public can then drink confidently the usual morning, noon, or evening quota without harmful after effects resulting from a hurriedly mixed, artificially fermented concoction; a wholesome, slowly and properly seasoned brew is now available.



Historic Beer Birthday: Eberhard Anheuser

Today is the birthday of Eberhard Anheuser (September 27, 1806-May 2, 1880). He “was a German American soap and candle maker, as well as the father-in-law of Adolphus Busch, the founder of the Anheuser-Busch Company.

Anheuser grew up in Kreuznach, where his parents operated a vineyard that had been in the family since 1627. He and two of his brothers moved to America in 1842. He was a major creditor of the Bavarian Brewery Company, a struggling brewery founded in 1853. When the company encountered financial difficulty in 1860, he purchased the minor creditors’ interests and took over the company.

Eberhard Anheuser became president and CEO and changed the company name to the Eberhard Anheuser and Company. His daughter Lilly married Adolphus Busch, a brewery supply salesman, in a double wedding with Anna Anheuser (Lilly’s older sister) and Ulrich Busch (Adolphus’ brother) in 1861. Despite the outbreak of the Civil War, the brewery remained competitive, partially because lager was not banned by the Union Army, while other hard liquors were. As Anheuser became older, Adolphus Busch took up more of the companies duties, and the company was renamed Anheuser-Busch in 1879.

Eberhard Anheuser

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

Businessman. Born in Kreuznach, Germany in 1843, he settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was joined shortly thereafter by his family. For the early part of his entrepreneurial career, people associated him with a completely different product, that product was soap. It is unknown whether he trained as a soap manufacturer in Cincinnati, if this training was part of his education as a chemist in Germany. In 1845 Eberhard and his family moved to St. Louis. Eberhard became a brewer just as changes in American consumer behavior sparked massive growth in beer consumption. Over the course of his career, the American brewing industry began a transition from being mostly small-scale in production, locally based in market, and limited in its competitive nature into an industry known for its acute competitiveness, rapidly expanding production capacity, and internationally expanding market. Although these new trends came to full fruition during the twenty years after Eberhard’s death, he witnessed their birth during his twenty-year career as a brewer. Eberhard made several contacts within the German brewing community. Some became lifelong friends, such as William J. Lemp, the largest brewer in St. Louis at the time. Others became relatives. Eberhard met a young brewery supplier named Adolphus Busch, and his older brother Ulrich, who ended up marrying Eberhard’s daughters Lilly and Anna in a double ceremony in 1861. The company became Anheuser-Busch in 1879. The partners agreed to expand the brewery continually with reinvested money from increased sales, so that the 8,000 barrels produced in 1865 shot to 141,163 by the time of Anheuser’s death in 1880. Using this strategy, the brewery grew so much that it received notice as a local landmark during Eberhard’s lifetime. Eberhard died in 1880, after a long struggle with throat cancer. He was 73 years old.

An illustration from One Hundred Years of Brewing of Eberhard Anheuser’s Bavarian Brewery, c. 1860.

Immigrant Entrepreneurship has a lengthy, and through, biography of Eberhard Anheuser:


At present, Eberhard Anheuser’s (born September 27, 1806 in Kreuznach, French Occupied Electoral Palatinate; died May 2, 1880 in St. Louis, MO) name is synonymous with beer and the brewing industry. However, for the early part of his entrepreneurial career, people associated him with a completely different product — soap. From one perspective, the story of his career in these two industries is one of continuity. From beginning to end, his forty-four-year entrepreneurial career in America was closely intertwined with connections to family members and to the German immigrant community. From another perspective, his career epitomizes change. Anheuser became a brewer just as changes in American consumer behavior sparked massive growth in beer consumption. Over the course of Anheuser’s career, the American brewing industry began a transition from being mostly small-scale in production, locally based in market, and limited in its competitive nature into an industry known for its acute competitiveness, rapidly expanding production capacity, and internationally expanding market. Although these new trends came to full fruition during the twenty years after Anheuser’s death, Anheuser witnessed their birth during his twenty-year career as a brewer. Accordingly, his story makes an illustrative case study of the transition between old and new trends in the nineteenth-century, American brewing industry.

Family and Ethnic Background: In the Land of the Fickle Fruit

Eberhard Anheuser was born on September 27, 1806, in Kreuznach, a historically Germanic region along the Rhine that at the time was occupied by Napoleonic French forces. It later became part of Rhenish Prussia. Although his name became famously associated with the beer industry, Eberhard actually started out as one of a long line of Anheusers engaged in the production of wine. The Anheuser vineyard was founded in Kreuznach in 1627, and is at the time of this writing under the direction of the fourteenth generation of the Anheuser family. Since by the time of Eberhard Anheuser’s birth the family’s vineyard had been conducting business successfully for almost 180 years, the question arises as to why he did not just stay there to carry on this family tradition.

Although it is not known why Anheuser left his homeland for America in 1843 when he was already in his late thirties, married, and with children, German history points to several converging economic factors that were making it harder for vintners to succeed, which may have influenced his decision to emigrate. Since the southwestern German lands were a region of divisible inheritances, it was customary for landholders in the area to divide estates among their heirs, rather than deliver them intact to a single heir. Although agricultural productivity was increasing with the advent of new farming methods, the population was increasing much faster, leading to land shortages, which caused land prices to skyrocket. The cost of acquiring land was beginning to outweigh the possibility of profit to be made by cultivating it. Additionally, the grape is a fickle fruit. It needs just the right conditions to thrive, and fails easily. Crop failures, like those that were common in the region in the 1830s, increased the financial strain on vintners, often leading to the accumulation of large debts, especially among those with smaller landholdings. In order to ensure the success of the business in the face of crop failures, it was important to cultivate enough land to build up sufficient reserves of wine during the good years to offset the losses in the bad years. In this environment, subdivision of property could spell economic disaster for the heirs of vintners. While the southwestern German lands would experience record grape harvests later in the 1840s, this was not the trend in the years leading up to Anheuser’s departure in 1843.

The problem of land shortages was compounded by a decline in profits. Because of the 1818 Prussian Tariff Rule, Rhenish winegrowers were protected from competition from French wines, and possessed something of a monopoly in the Prussian wine trade, leading to sustainable high prices. However, interstate tariff rates were lowered, first by an agreement between Prussia and Hesse in 1828, and then by the creation of the Zollverein customs union in 1834. This exposed Rhenish Prussia to increased competition with other German wine producing states. By the mid-1830s, prices were about one-fourth as high as in 1826. Also, as a result of the crop failures of the 1830s, the chemist Ludwig Gall promoted a technique of wine sweetening in the region in order to counteract the effects of harvesting unripened grapes. The influx of cheap, sweetened wine in the market drove down prices for vintners producing middle and lower-quality varieties. Wine prices also suffered due to the rise of cheaper alternatives, such as alcoholic spirits made from distilled potatoes. Although prices rebounded from their low point in the mid-1830s, regional prices fell by about fifty percent overall between the late 1820s and early 1840s, when Anheuser left the region. Profits were further lessened by the sharp increase in the price of wood, which was needed for the stakes that were vital for supporting grapevines and the barrels used to store and ship wine. Additionally, taxes in the region were high, and food prices were rising. Vintners especially suffered from increased food prices because they had to purchase much of their food, since most of their land was tied up in the cultivation of grapes.

If there was not enough production capacity in a piece of land that one owned, or stood to inherit, to compensate for crop failures, high taxes, falling wine prices, and rising food prices, emigration became more alluring. Therefore, many educated, middle- to upper-class children of vintners immigrated to America in the 1830s and 1840s in a quest to maintain the economic standing they stood to lose if they stayed where they were. It is likely that Eberhard Anheuser was one of this number.

An illustration from One Hundred Years of Brewing of Eberhard Anheuser’s Bavarian Brewery, c. 1860.

Business Development: A Slippery Start

Eberhard Anheuser’s business career in America got off to a slippery start. That is to say, he worked in the soap manufacturing industry. After arriving in America in 1843, Anheuser settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was joined shortly thereafter by his wife, Dorothea, his sons William and Adolf, and his daughters, Anna, Minna, Lilly, and Hermine. Although it has been stated that before emigrating “he had fitted himself, both by education and experience, to enter upon a successful career as a man of affairs,” the exact nature of these affairs during his first two years in Cincinnati remain a mystery. In one of his obituaries, Anheuser was remembered as “an energetic businessman” and a “talented technician and chemist,” who was “trained as a soap manufacturer.” It is unknown whether he trained as a soap manufacturer in Cincinnati, if this training was part of his education as a chemist in Germany, or if he picked up this skill in St. Louis, where he settled for good.

What is known is that Anheuser’s business career in St. Louis always had strong ties to the city’s German population. After Anheuser came to St. Louis in 1845, he worked in the soap factory of William D’Oench. About ten years Anheuser’s junior, he was a German from Prussian Silesia who had immigrated to St. Louis in 1841. D’Oench had studied medicine and chemistry, and ended up becoming a wholesale druggist, merchant, and soap manufacturer. He was also involved in several other business ventures, some of them involving Eberhard Anheuser, before re-immigrating to Stuttgart in 1872. It is unknown whether Anheuser was an employee or partner in the D’Oench and Ringling soap and candle factory. It is possible that this is where Anheuser completed his education in the soap industry. The pair remained on good terms, and continued to do business with each other after Anheuser left D’Oench’s factory in 1852. Later in the 1850s, Anheuser had stock in the Franklin Insurance Company/Franklin Savings Institution, where D’Oench served as president and in which almost all of the company officers were German. In 1860, the two partnered to take over a struggling brewery.

Although most of Anheuser’s business relationships were with fellow German immigrants, he also partnered at times with American-born businessmen. For example, in 1852 Anheuser became a partner with Lawrason Riggs, a native New Yorker about ten years his junior, in the Riggs & Co. candle, soap, and lard oil factory (often confused with Riggs & Levering, the name of the wholesale grocery and merchant’s shop where Riggs was also a partner). Anheuser’s partnership with Riggs lasted for five years, and was replaced with a four-way partnership with another native-born American and two fellow German immigrants. In March 1857, Anheuser’s partnership with Riggs was dissolved and he joined up with Nicholas Schaeffer, Anheuser’s former competitor in the candle and soap business and a longtime friend. Schaeffer was from Alsace, which, like Kreuznach during the Napoleonic era, was an area along the Rhine that contained a large ethnic German population but belonged to France. Schaeffer also originally immigrated to St. Louis via Cincinnati, although roughly a decade before Anheuser’s arrival. On May 1, 1857, Schaeffer and his partners, German immigrant Adolph Krauss and native-born American entrepreneur James Reilly, announced that Anheuser had become a full partner in the N. Schaeffer & Co. soap, candle, and oil factory. The company was then renamed Schaeffer, Anheuser & Co.[11] Schaeffer and Anheuser soon began building a new factory, finished in February of the following year, which they promised would help them “fill orders in our line with dispatch, on the most favorable terms.”

Anheuser’s business career was also heavily intertwined with his family relationships. Shortly after partnering with Schaeffer, Anheuser brought in his eldest son, William, to serve as foreman in the company. It seems Anheuser’s relationship with William was somewhat complex and, to some degree, strained. Perhaps their relationship suffered after Anheuser’s wife, Dorothea, died in 1854 at the age of thirty-nine, leaving Anheuser a single father to the eighteen year-old William and his five younger siblings. It is clear that Eberhard invested heavily in William’s future, and had high hopes for him early on. He started by putting William in private school with Professor Edward Wyman, a leading local educator from Massachusetts. Under Wyman, he received “careful instruction in both the English and German languages.” Apparently, William was meant to succeed Eberhard in the soap business, as he had worked with his father for a number of years before being made foreman, and was given “particular attention to the study of chemistry” in his schooling. On June 28, 1862, Anheuser announced the dissolution of his partnership with Schaeffer, Reilly, and Krauss, and started a new soap, candle, and oil business with William as a full partner under the name of E. Anheuser & Son. While the Anheusers’ partnership only lasted about five years, Schaeffer & Co. continued to thrive, focusing more on lubricants and oil over time. Today, the company is still based out of St. Louis and is known as the Schaeffer Manufacturing Company.

In 1864, the Anheusers brought in Constantine (Constanz) Peipers, a Prussian about William’s age who was involved in real estate and insurance sales, as a full partner in their company, which was renamed Anheuser, Peipers & Co. The 1867 St. Louis City Directory shows that the partnership was dissolved when William started a new soap and candle company with Hermann Eisenhardt, another Prussian about his age. After this, Eberhard Anheuser apparently dropped out of the soap business for good. William’s new partnership, Anheuser & Eisenhardt, lasted until 1872, when Eisenhardt purchased his share in the business and William left for California, from which he did not return until 1882, two years after Eberhard Anheuser’s death.

It has been reported that William helped start a large soap factory in California. However, there is no record of his business activities there for his first five years. The William Anheuser that emerged in 1877 in Oakland seems a far cry, financially speaking, from the one who left St. Louis. Whereas he had been a full partner in two soap and candle businesses in St. Louis, William was listed only as a foreman for the Standard Soap Company in the 1877-1881 Oakland City Directories. In the 1880 census he was labeled a “workingman” instead of an “owner.” It is certain that Eberhard and William had a major falling out, due in part to financial issues. When Eberhard died in 1880, he left William only one dollar, giving what would have been William’s share, “less the sum I have heretofore given and advanced to my son William, ” to trustees for William’s children. Eberhard allowed the trustees to use up to $5,000 (approximately $113,000 in 2011$) as they saw fit to take care of William and his family. Anheuser ordered that the remainder of this share be reinvested in another family business until William’s children came of age. It was this second family business — a brewery — that secured the financial fortunes of generations of Eberhard Anheuser’s descendants. However, this ultimate success sprang from a series of failures.


A Different Kind of Suds

Although beer was not unknown in St. Louis prior to Anheuser’s arrival in the 1840s, it was not anywhere near the drink of choice. Other spirits were preferred that were cheaper, traveled more easily, and stayed potable longer, such as cider and whiskey. It was not until the massive influx of German immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s that beer became worth producing at commercial levels in St. Louis. Still, the beginnings of the industry were inauspicious. According to one account, there were only six breweries in operation in the city in 1845, with none having the capacity to brew more than twenty-five barrels on a given day.

The wave of German immigrants that flooded the city in the following decades brought with them a taste for beer. One type in particular, lager beer, quickly became the most popular type of beer in America. Lager is a lighter, clearer, crisper brew that uses a special type of yeast which ferments on the bottom of the brewing vat. The top-fermenting American and English ales, porters, and stouts being produced in small-scale operations prior to 1840 were initially not very popular. The top-fermenting yeast they used reacted differently in America than it did in Europe, often resulting in a bitter tasting final product that spoiled extremely quickly. Lager beers were more difficult and time-consuming to produce. They required access to higher quality water and needed a long period of cold storage during and after the fermentation process (the root word “lagern” means “to store”). This made lager a seasonal product in the era before mechanical refrigeration. However, the bottom-fermenting yeast used in lager did not become bitter, and the final product lasted a long time if kept cool.[23] Because of its access to good water, ice from the banks of the Mississippi in the winter, and a bevy of caves and caverns nearby that served as a natural source of refrigeration, St. Louis was an excellent site for lager brewing. This was not lost on the German-American entrepreneurs in the city. St. Louis housed thirty-six breweries in 1853. Over half of their annual production of 216,000 barrels was lager beer.[24] A miniscule part of that number was provided by Georg Schneider, a Bavarian immigrant who had built a small brewery in 1852. Although placed advantageously next to a large portion of the city’s German population in South St. Louis, Schneider’s brewery was a small affair. It produced only about 500 barrels annually after five years in business.

Still, Schneider’s sales grew enough that he felt an expansion was in order, so in 1856 he built a new brewery on Eighth Street in the city block between Arsenal and Pestalozzi. He nostalgically named it “The Bavarian Brewery.” Unfortunately for Schneider, the next year ushered in the Panic of 1857, which hurt his profits and effectively destroyed access to the necessary credit and investment capital needed to keep his business alive. Thus, Schneider was forced to sell his brewery to Philipp Hammer, an immigrant from Baden, on December 11 of that year. Hammer’s brother Carl soon joined him at the Bavarian Brewery, and the two formed a partnership, named C. and P. Hammer & Co. However, neither of them had any brewing experience, so they left the business to their brother, Adam, in 1858. In December of that year, Adam formed the partnership Hammer & Urban with Dominic Urban, the head of the city’s board of assessors. The pair borrowed heavily in 1859 to augment the brewery’s production capacity. While the previous owners of the brewery had only produced scant hundreds of barrels annually, Hammer & Urban boosted production to around 3,200 barrels. Sadly, demand for their particular brand did not increase at anywhere near such a rapid pace, and the partners soon went bankrupt.

In 1860, the duo’s major creditors came calling — one of whom was Eberhard Anheuser. Rather than try to sell the brewery and parcel out the proceeds with Hammer & Urban’s other creditors, Anheuser decided to buy them out and take over the brewery himself. In order to do this, Anheuser partnered with his old friend and business associate William D’Oench. The business was renamed E. Anheuser & Co. Although the burden of running two separate businesses was draining, Anheuser continued his role with Schaeffer, Anheuser & Co. If Anheuser was already a successful businessman, why take on this extra responsibility? If it was because he sensed that economic and demographic trends were creating a more favorable business climate for breweries, he was correct.

Ref159-1, CD261

Illustration of Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch’s Bavarian Brewery, ca. 1878. The illustrator documents the brewery’s expansion over the past two decades (when compared with the 1860 image) and its access to both railroad and river transportation, which would have been used to ship barrels of beer. The illustrator also shows that the rail cars in the foreground are owned by E. Anheuser Co., as well as the steamboat, which is named Adolphus Busch. The drawing does not completely correspond to reality, however, since the illustrator has removed the U.S. arsenal, which would have stood between the brewery and the railroad track and Mississippi River, from the drawing. From Joseph A. Dacus and James William Buel, A Tour of St. Louis: Or, The Inside Life of a Great City (St. Louis, Western Publishing Company, 1878).

Riding the Amber Wave

Whether he knew it or not, Anheuser was riding the wave of the future. Between 1840 and 1860, annual per capita beer consumption in the United States tripled from 1.3 gallons per capita to 3.8 gallons per capita. A massive decline in the consumption of hard liquor, ostensibly due to the rise of the American temperance movement in the first half of the nineteenth century, was one of the reasons for the emergence of beer drinking during these years. Reformers linked crime and other social ills with the consumption of hard liquor, and fought to curb its use. At peak consumption in 1830, Americans consumed an average of 5.2 gallons of whiskey and 15 gallons of hard cider per capita, resulting in a per capita absolute alcoholic intake of 3.9 gallons. By 1845, whiskey consumption had declined to 2.1 gallons per capita, cider consumption had become negligible, and the absolute alcoholic intake dropped to only one gallon per capita. As the American temperance movement began to lose steam near midcentury, due in part to disagreements between those who favored temperance (the limited and responsible use of some alcoholic beverages) versus prohibition (the prohibition of all alcoholic beverages), lager beer was perceived as a compromise drink. Although the German population in America was growing rapidly, beer was becoming widely embraced outside of this group. It was marketed as a healthful, less-intoxicating alternative to the hard liquors that reformers attacked as dangerously intoxicating, immoral, and unhealthy.

This was seemingly the trend in St. Louis, as well. According to one article from 1857, beer was now “well nigh universally adopted by the English-speaking population; and the spacious bier halles and extensive gardens nightly show that the Americans are as fond of the Gambrinian liquid as those who have introduced it.” The article concludes that lager beer’s “general adoption in the place of spirits has been a benefit, both to the health and to the morals of the community.” National statistics also speak to this trend. Before 1840, per capita beer consumption in America had been negligible. It increased exponentially afterwards. From 1855 onward, beer reigned undisputedly as America’s drink of choice. While per capita hard liquor consumption remained stable and relatively low over the next several decades, per capita beer consumption increased greatly. Between 1863 and 1880, the year of Eberhard Anheuser’s death, per capita beer consumption tripled again from 2.1 gallons per capita to 7.4 gallons per capita.[30] Simply put, due to a combination of the rapidly increasing German-American population, a trend toward greater urbanization (beer was primarily an urban drink), the business savvy of German-American brewers, the American public’s increased demand for lager, and the emergence of beer as a compromise drink for temperance advocates, Anheuser took over the Bavarian Brewery in a booming market for beer. All he had to do to be successful was to secure a share of this market.


Ethnic and Family Networks

Anheuser made several contacts within the German brewing community. Some became lifelong friends, such as William J. Lemp, the largest brewer in St. Louis at the time. Others became relatives. Anheuser met a young brewery supplier named Adolphus Busch, and his older brother Ulrich, who ended up marrying Anheuser’s daughters Lilly and Anna, respectively, in a double ceremony in 1861. The Busch brothers eventually joined Anheuser and D’Oench at E. Anheuser & Co. — Adolphus as a partner and Ulrich as a bookkeeper.[31] Perhaps Anheuser was trying to ease the complications of running two businesses at once when he brought in Busch at the brewery and Peipers at the soap factory in 1864. This would make sense, given the historic events that added further complications to Anheuser’s already complicated business situation.

The Civil War broke out in 1861, the year after Anheuser took over the brewery. While many aspects of business were disrupted in St. Louis during the Civil War, there were certain advantages to selling beer there at this time. For example, many Union troops were stationed in the city. Although intoxicating beverages were banned from army camps, lager beer was not considered intoxicating by Union doctors. It was therefore a product sought after by Union soldiers. Also, the Federal arsenal was right down the street from the brewery (hence the name “Arsenal Street”), which probably gave Anheuser and D’Oench access to sell their wares to Union troops in the area, many of whom happened to be German. Even Anheuser’s soap business benefitted from the Union Army’s presence. For example, Anheuser was awarded an army contract for 100,000 lbs. of soap in 1865. Economic factors aside, many Germans felt the need to prove their loyalty to the Union. In fact, militias comprised mainly of German volunteers played a pivotal role in keeping St. Louis from falling to the Confederacy. Throughout the war, Germans continued to serve as a solid backbone for the support of the Union and the Republican Party in St. Louis. Eberhard Anheuser, his sons, and his sons-in-law were part of this backbone of support.

The Anheusers and Busches, like many German immigrants throughout St. Louis and the rest of Missouri, flocked to the Union cause. Many joined the Union Army to prove their loyalty to their new nation. This may have been a driving factor for Anheuser as well, as he had renounced his identity as a Prussian subject and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1848. Anheuser joined his son William and son-in-law Adolphus Busch in a three-month enlistment in the Union home guard stationed in St. Louis, which was composed mainly of German immigrants. Missouri was a border state, where much of the native-born, white, American population was split on the issue of secession. About a month after the Civil War started, a company of several hundred secessionists formed in St. Louis at an encampment they named “Camp Jackson” after Missouri’s secessionist governor, Claiborne Fox Jackson. The secessionists at Camp Jackson surrendered after being surrounded by a large Union force which predominantly consisted of Germans in the home guard, including the regiment of Private Eberhard Anheuser and Corporal Adolphus Busch. Although the secessionists gave up without a fight, the Union soldiers were harassed by an angry mob as they marched their captives back to the federal arsenal. Shots were exchanged between the soldiers and the crowd, which set off a period of mob violence lasting through the next day, resulting in several troop and civilian casualties. Although it aroused anti-German sympathies among some of the city’s population, the capture of Camp Jackson helped save the city of St. Louis, and therefore a sizeable portion of the state of Missouri, for the Union.[34]

After his enlistment was up, Anheuser served on a committee that promised the support of the German Americans in St. Louis to General John C. Fremont, the Union military leader of Missouri in 1861. Anheuser also supported Fremont’s presidential bid in 1864, and contributed money publicly to help citizens suffering from the effects of the war in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.[35] After the war, Anheuser and his sons, like many St. Louis Germans, kept up ardent support for the Republican Party.[36] Therefore, when the Republican-led federal government called for a one dollar per barrel tax on beer, Anheuser and many other German brewers felt obliged to accept this measure as an act of loyalty, which substantially affected their profit margins, even if business was increasing. However, taxes were raised on other alcoholic beverages as well, so beer remained relatively cheap in comparison.

Production at Anheuser’s brewery more than doubled between 1862 and 1863, from 2,500 to 6,000 barrels. While this speaks to Anheuser’s managerial prowess, this level of growth was more than likely directly related to consumption by the Union troops garrisoned at the nearby federal arsenal. The brewery’s sales had been less than stellar thus far, causing production to stall between 1863 and 1864 and D’Oench to leave the partnership sometime during the latter year. Luckily, Anheuser already had a suitable replacement in Adolphus Busch, whose presence immediately changed the fate of the underperforming brewery.


Keeping It in the Family

Family connections were important to Eberhard Anheuser. After immigrating to America, he maintained a relationship with his relatives in Germany, and visited them often. One of Eberhard Anheuser’s nephews, August Anheuser, stayed with him while studying business in America. August later went on to start a wine exporting company with Adolf Fehrs, named Anheuser & Fehrs, and used his American business connections with the Anheuser and Busch families to set up a thriving wine export trade to the United States. Along the same lines, Eberhard sent his son Adolf to Rohrer’s Commercial College in St. Louis, then gave him a position at the E. Anheuser & Co. brewery. Adolf served in the brewery until his death in 1886. As William was groomed by his father to serve in the soap business, it seems Adolf was groomed to serve in the brewery. He was employed by the brewery as a bookkeeper as early as 1865, and eventually served as a board member after inheriting some of his father’s stock from the brewery’s incorporation.[40] Unlike William, Adolf received a full share of his father’s estate. However, he never took over leadership of the brewery as William had in the soap factory. That role was filled by Adolphus Busch.

In the 1864 St. Louis City Directory, Adolphus Busch, Anheuser’s son-in-law, was listed as an owner alongside D’Oench and Anheuser. Although it is unclear how much of the brewery Busch owned or how active his partnership was at that point, it seems that he bought out D’Oench’s share fully by 1865. Like Anheuser, Busch was from a well-to-do family that did business on the Rhine. He hailed from Kastel (today known as Mainz-Kastel), in the province of Hesse, about forty miles upriver from Kreuznach. Busch’s merchant business, Wattenburg, Busch, and Co., specialized in providing brewery supplies, such as hops, malt, and barley to the breweries in St. Louis. Aside from this, Busch possessed a certain dynamism that made him an ideal candidate to revitalize Anheuser’s brewery. While many other businesses in St. Louis floundered due to the disruption of trade along the Mississippi River during the Civil War, Busch’s business flourished by engaging in the high risk/high reward cotton trade with steamboats making the dangerous trip between St. Louis and ports farther south.

Anheuser seems to have let Busch run the brewery, but the old man’s influence was still felt. He reportedly provided steady, sober advice and leadership that came from his years of experience, and possessed technical skills stemming from his education as a chemist. Busch was also an effective leader, but more of a salesman, innovator, and risk taker than Anheuser. Still yet, Anheuser seems to have been supportive of Busch’s new strategies, such as expanding the market into the Southwest to places like New Mexico and Texas, far away from the brewery’s staple customer base. He also allowed Busch to invest company money in important new innovations, like pasteurized bottled beer and refrigeration systems. Anheuser and Busch incorporated their business in 1875 as the E. Anheuser Brewing Association, Inc., which increased the amount of capital available and brought the prestige of a corporate title to the business. The partners agreed to expand the brewery continually with reinvested money from increased sales, so that the 8,000 barrels produced in 1865 shot to 141,163 by the time of Anheuser’s death in 1880. Using this strategy, the brewery grew so much that it received notice as a local landmark during Anheuser’s lifetime.

The way the shares were divvied up in the new corporation speaks to Busch’s dominant role. Although technically Anheuser was the president and Busch was the secretary of the new firm, Busch effectively served as the company head. Of the 480 total shares of stock, Anheuser kept 140, while Busch had 238, Lilly (Anheuser’s daughter and Busch’s wife) held 100, and their brewmaster was awarded 2. In 1879, the corporation was renamed the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association to reflect the reality of Busch’s leadership role.

When Anheuser died on May 2, 1880, after a long struggle with throat cancer, these stock shares were valued at $500 apiece (approximately $11,300 in 2011$). Anheuser left 23 shares, worth $11,500 (approximately $261,000 in 2011$), and a total of $7,426.07 in cash (approximately $169,000 in 2011$) to his children Anna, Lilly, Minna, and Adolf. He set aside the same amount to Gustava Klier, the only child of his late daughter, Hermine. As previously mentioned, William received only one dollar in cash, while the full share of cash and stock that would have been his was eventually passed on to his children by two trustees, Eberhard’s sons-in-law Adolphus Busch and Peter Schoettler (minus the undisclosed amount Eberhard gave William earlier and the $5,000 that had been earmarked for the trustees to help care for William and his children).[44] While it was a common practice in the nineteenth century to subtract prior gifts to an heir from the total of his or her inheritance, the fact that Eberhard kept the remainder of the share out of William’s hands is evidence that the difficulties between the two went beyond mere matters of financial indebtedness.


Immigrant Entrepreneurship: Between Two Worlds

Eberhard Anheuser reportedly had a significant presence in the brewery until 1877, when he retired due to mounting health problems. He apparently possessed an “old world” mentality when it came to advertising, which impacted how his brewery conducted business. While advertising in print was unfashionable with many of the older, more firmly established breweries, the developing trend among modern brewers was to flood the pages of newspapers with ever more elaborate advertisements. Anheuser preferred to advertise the old way. According to this way of thinking, visuals, such as posters, were meant to be kept onsite at cooperating drinking establishments, where they continually advertised for free, as opposed to appearing in recurring newspaper ads, which cost money. Although Adolphus Busch would eventually alter the company’s advertising formula in the years after Anheuser’s death, it seems he at first agreed with the older man’s policies concerning print advertising. Until the turn of the century, the company focused more on advertising in person. They used fine horses (although not the Clydesdales associated with the corporation today) and freshly painted wagons to make a public spectacle of the delivery of Anheuser-Busch beer, handed out trinkets, and exploited publicity from the awards their beers won in the numerous fairs and expositions that erupted throughout major American and Western European cities from the 1870s onward. Most importantly, though, Anheuser and Busch hired talented and well-compensated beer agents who treated patrons to free drinks and offered credit to proprietors in drinking establishments in order to secure outlets for their product and develop a loyal consumer base at the personal level.

It would not be accurate to say that Anheuser-Busch did not utilize the power of print advertising effectively during Anheuser’s lifetime. The company just harnessed this power in unique ways that kept advertising expenses down. For example, on the day Anheuser died, the weekly copy of the leading German newspaper was flooded with advertisements from the city’s breweries. Some of these advertisements were quite large and ostentatious, and most likely cost a fair amount to keep running constantly in print. Yet, an ad from Anheuser-Busch is nowhere to be found. Instead, the company appears in an article in the main text of the paper. It reads, “Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association is without a doubt on the same level as the most important breweries in the city after this year’s demonstration. The unparalleled success of this brewery is most strikingly demonstrated by the following figures….” The article then goes on to show that the brewery’s sales had more than quadrupled to 112,145 barrels in the year between April 30, 1879, and April 30, 1880, when compared with the 26,639 barrels sold in the year between April 30, 1875, and April 30, 1876. The release of these newsworthy statistics basically resulted in free advertising.[46] Likewise, although the brewery sometimes ran ads for short stints publicizing awards won at certain expositions, it relied mostly on the free attention generated from such accolades, such as newspaper articles. It was not until after Anheuser’s death that Anheuser-Busch began to run newspaper ads more regularly, and began to place ads in national magazines. Even then, it was a slow transition. The one exception to the advertisement policy was Anheuser and Busch’s mutual friend Tony Faust, a restaurateur who advertised regularly in the papers and sometimes included advertisements (which were probably paid for jointly by Anheuser-Busch) promoting Anheuser-Busch beer at his establishments. In sum, though, print advertisements for the brewery remained irregular and small in scale until several years after Anheuser’s death.

Anheuser seems like a man caught between two worlds. Both of the industries in which he participated remained relatively small-scale, local concerns through the 1860s. Although Anheuser left the soap industry before much had changed, the brewing industry changed mightily between when he took over the Bavarian Brewery in 1860 and his death in 1880. Improved technology, massive immigration, rising urbanization, the growing network of interconnected shipping and rail lines, and the embrace of modern industrial processes led to a trend of increased production, competition, and continuous expansion among the nation’s top breweries. What started off as a small-scale industry dependent on a locally-based, ethnic clientele, where competition was often limited to individual saloons and restaurants near neighborhood boundaries, was morphing into an increasingly national and international industry composed of a dwindling number of rapidly expanding breweries locked in an increasingly competitive struggle to secure as much of the market as possible. The national statistics give evidence of this pattern. In 1870, 3,286 brewers produced 5,093,300 barrels of beer in America. In 1880, 2,266 brewers produced 12,800,900 barrels. In 1900, 1,751 brewers produced 39,330,000 barrels. The same trend seems evident in St. Louis. The production statistics of Anheuser-Busch alone show that the 2,500 barrels produced in 1862 had grown to 141,163 in 1880, and 939,768 in 1900. Likewise, the city had forty-three breweries known to be in operation in 1860, twenty-five in 1880, and twenty-three in 1900.

Anheuser-Busch did not begin to compete seriously at the national level until after Anheuser’s death. At the time of Anheuser’s retirement in 1877, his brewery was not yet even in the top twenty largest national brewers, and was only the second largest in St. Louis. It was not until 1885, five years after Anheuser’s death, that Anheuser-Busch finally outpaced its closest local competitor, Anheuser’s friend William J. Lemp’s Western Brewery, to become the largest brewer in St. Louis. Yet, the industrial changes that Anheuser-Busch embraced to become the undisputed leader in American brewing by the turn of the century, such as aggressive expansion of the brewery’s production capacity, the adoption of innovative new technologies, and the development of new markets, were already having a major impact during Anheuser’s lifetime. The keys to national and international competition between shipping brewers were in the utilization of refrigerated railroad cars (pulled by a train) and railcars (self-propelled individual train cars) on the ever-expanding American railroad network, and the mass production and shipping of pasteurized bottled beer. By the late 1870s, Midwestern shipping brewers from St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati were competing in various cities as far apart as Los Angeles, Dallas, New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C. By 1878, Anheuser-Busch was regularly shipping kegs of beer to various places around the country in refrigerated railroad cars on various railways, and also had a private fleet of 110 refrigerated railcars, which at any time could deliver beer to any place in the country connected to St. Louis by a rail line with ice depots along the route. On the other hand, pasteurized bottled beer could be shipped anywhere, and the marketplace became international for any brewery with access to a bottling works and reliable trade links to a major port, such as New Orleans. In 1878, Anheuser-Busch and Lemp were already competing on a limited scale in various port cities in South and East Asia, Australia, Hawaii, South America, the Caribbean Islands, and Western Europe.

Only about a year after Anheuser’s death, the consequences of all this increased production and competition hit Anheuser-Busch and the rest of the St. Louis brewing industry. In June of 1881, overtaxed workers initiated the city’s first brewery strike for better wages and shorter hours, which set the tone for the decade. A few months later, the Winkelmeyer brewery, one of the largest and most important in the city, cut its price from eight to seven dollars a barrel, due to pressure from rising competition with other brewers in the city. This violated a long-running price setting agreement among the cities brewers, and started a domino effect of retaliatory price-cutting that involved almost all of the city’s breweries within a day. Although the strike failed and the price agreement was soon restored, these events, which occurred so soon after Anheuser’s death, bear witness to the trends that had begun during his career in the brewing industry.

Social Status and Personality: They Called Him Papa

Because of his economic position, Anheuser had a significant presence in the German community near his brewery. German immigrant laborers, who provided almost all of the workforce in the city’s breweries, tended to cluster together in small ethnic communities, often living in boarding houses or apartments within walking distance of where they were employed. The salaries paid to Anheuser’s employees helped fund the churches, schools, and social institutions that strengthened the cultural bonds among the German community in this area. Anheuser himself also supported these institutions. For example, he invested in the local Germania Club and the Concordia Turners Hall that was located just down the street from his brewery. This helped make Anheuser a prominent social figure in the community.

Anheuser was also socially prominent among St. Louis’s German population as a whole. This was common for brewers. The consumption of beer was one of the culturally uniting factors in the scattered and divided St. Louis German-American ethnic community. While many Anglo-Americans promoted a somewhat Puritanical view of Sunday Sabbath observance, German Americans were conspicuous in their penchant for Sunday parties, organizational gatherings, picnics, and social engagements in local saloons. Because of the Sunday “blue laws” which restricted public gatherings deemed disruptive to the observance of the Sabbath and the sale and public consumption of alcohol in the city limits, many in the German-American ethnic community either headed to the outskirts of the city to parks and other open places to drink and recreate freely, or openly flouted the laws by going to a saloon. Many of these parks, open spaces, and saloons were owned and operated by German-American brewers. Consequently, several brewers became prominent leaders and organizers of recreational events and organizations in the German-American community.[54] Many St. Louis Germans saw Anheuser as a paternal figure, and referred to him as “Papa Anheuser.” E. Anheuser & Co. was the biggest financial supporter of the city’s Saengerfest, an immensely popular singing competition held between ethnically German singing groups. Anheuser was a supporter and the oldest member of the Modoc Club, a rowing club filled with German citizens who honored Anheuser by naming a barge after him and providing an expensive floral work at his funeral. He also held a position of notability and respect among the brewers in St. Louis and in the national community of brewers. When Anheuser was too ill to attend the annual convention of the United States Brewing Association in 1879, a unanimous resolution of regret was passed.


In some ways, Eberhard Anheuser seems stereotypical when compared to other German-American immigrants and entrepreneurs in the mid- to late nineteenth century. Although he was middle-aged and married upon immigrating, which was uncommon, Anheuser, like most German immigrants in this period, likely left Germany for economic reasons, and ended up settling in areas with large populations of ethnic Germans. Although he had business contacts outside of the German community, most of his business partnerships in St. Louis were with other ethnic Germans, and he depended on German immigrants for his labor pool. Anheuser’s children all married spouses of German descent, and nearly all had business ties with him. Like many of his contemporaries, Anheuser’s economic and social status made him a leading figure in the local German community.

On the other hand, Eberhard Anheuser epitomizes a time of transition in an important American industry. Anheuser made the fortuitous decision to become a brewer shortly after American consumer trends changed to embrace the product he was making. As a response to the increased demand for lager beer after 1840, several little breweries, like the one Anheuser took over, were started in German communities, which provided the workforce and the initial consumer base for the industry. While the industry’s labor force and leaders remained predominantly ethnically German, beer was changing from a niche product aimed at local ethnic consumers into a widely embraced, nationally and internationally marketed product. The industrial processes that promoted the expansion of large-scale operations in other industries altered powerfully the brewing industry during the time of Eberhard Anheuser’s career. Adolphus Busch was more personally responsible for the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association’s transition into an industrial giant, and thus is a symbol for the new era in the brewing industry. However, Eberhard Anheuser was at least part of the process, and serves as a symbol of the transition between the two eras in American brewing. His tenure as an entrepreneur is exemplary of a changing business climate, in which increased production and growing competition between firms expanding continually made it harder for smaller businesses, like the one he took over in 1860, to compete. In short, Anheuser began his American entrepreneurial career in one era and ended it in another.

An ad from 1879.

Historic Beer Birthday: Phillip Best

Today is the birthday of Phillip Best (September 26, 1814-July 17, 1869) Phillip Best was the son of Jacob Best, who 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 it was “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.


Immigrant Entrepreneurship has a lengthy article about the Bests, centered around Frederick Pabst, but with background that includes Phillip and the rest of the Best family:

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.

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

Here’s a shorter account from “American Breweries of the Past” by David G. Moyer:


And this is the main Best brewery, the original Empire Brewery.

A biography of Phillip Best from the National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, published in 1893.


A stock certificate for the Phillip Best Brewing Company from 1874.

This history is from A Spirited History of Milwaukee Brews & Booze by Martin Hintz:


The Best brewery workers in 1859.

And finally there’s this from the Industrial History of Milwaukee, published in 1886.




Historic Beer Birthday: Coletta Möritz, Die Schützenliesl

Today is the birthday of Coletta Möritz (September 19, 1860-November 30, 1953). Möritz was essentially Bavaria’s first pin-up girl, nicknamed “the beauty of Munich,” a waitress discovered by painter Friedrich August Kaulbach, who painted her on top of a barrel holding eleven mugs of beer, while the instead of wearing a cap on her head, has a target instead. That’s because after doing a sketch of Möritz in 1878, when she was 18, he painted a large banner, roughly 9 x 16 feet, which hung outside a beer tent for a national shooting competition in July of 1881, in the same spot in Munich where Oktoberfest is held. The painting was called “Die Schützenliesl,” (which means “the shooting Liesl,” which was a popular German name derived from Elizabeth, or sometimes “the Marksmen’s Lisa”) and was an immediate hit. For the rest of her life — she lived to be 93 — Coletta was known as die Schützenliesl, and was also painted by other well-known artists while continuing to work as a waitress.

The original painting by Friedrich August Kaulbach, completed in 1881.

The Schützenliesl painting has gone on to become a Bavarian cultural symbol, used on beer labels, postcards and as a logo. In 1905, an operetta, “Die Schützenliesel,” was written by Austrian composer Edmund Eysler, with the libretto by Leo Stein and Carl Lindau.


Her story appears well-known in Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe, but much less so everywhere else. You can find it all over German websites, such as the Falk Report, Über das Leben der Münchner “Schützenliesl” Coletta, Augsburger Allgemeine, two articles on Merkur — Bavaria’s First Pin-up Girl and “I am the great-grandson of Schützenliesl” — and the Croatian Pivnica.

A photograph of Coletta when she was 22.

Here’s one of the few accounts I could find in English, from a newsletter for the German-American Society of Sarasota:

Over 150 years ago, on September 19, 1860, there was born in the village of Ebenried, Bavaria, a child who was to become one of the most admired and colorful figures in the history of Bavaria and beyond. Born Colletta Möritz, she would become “die Schützenliesl” (the Marksmen’s Lisa), beloved by all who knew her, as well as by those who knew her only through pictures of her that circulated widely. Even to this day, after she is long gone from the public scene, the well-known song “Die Schützenliesl” is played – and sung heartily.

When Colletta’s unmarried mother, Marianne Möritz, found village life too confining, she moved with her child to the capital city of Munich. As soon as Colletta grew to school age, she was given over to the poor sisters in the Au (Armen Schulschwestern) for child care and schooling. These sisters had a convent, the only one in those days where girls were trained to become teachers. Colletta yearned to become a handicraft teacher (one who would teach skills such as knitting and sewing). Her mother, meantime, became independent by opening her own second-hand shop in Munich.

As Colletta was growing up she met many Munich artists who frequented her mother’s shop, looking for old costumes to use for historical paintings or for decorating their studios. It was not just at her mother’s shop, however, where Colletta met these artists, but also at her first place of employment, where she worked as a beer hall girl. (She had failed to continue her dream of becoming a teacher because of money problems.) So by age 16 she was serving beer at the Sterneckerbräu, a popular beer hall frequented by the same artists she had seen at her mother’s shop.

The beer hall proprietor observed this new beer Mädchen and was delighted with the fact that she was such a quick learner, that she could carry 12 Maβ of beer from the basement to the Gaststube, and he noted that in spite of the hard work and menial pay, she was always cheerful. (Note: one Maβ of beer is 1 liter). Colletta was so successful at her job that she became a Kellnerin (waitress) for George Probst, who owned the Brauhauskeller. Although well known and admired, Colletta’s fame was yet to grow from these early contacts. At this point she was just a likeable and pretty beer hall girl – if unusually popular with guests.

Colletta’s world began to explode in 1881, when the 7th Deutsche Bundesschieβen was organized in Munich. A Bundesschieβen is a national shooting match, and this one became a festival of huge proportions. Marksmen from far and wide attended these shooting competitions. It so happened that one of the artists who had come to know Colletta as a beer hall girl was the famous painter Friedrich August Kaulbach. One day Kaulbach was sitting in the Sterneckerbräu tent, before the festival opened, when he suddenly had an idea – he would paint Colletta on a beer tent sign. He asked Colletta to model for him; having her hold mugs of beer in her hands and having her lift a foot as though she was dancing on a barrel. To develop the theme of the “Liesl” as a “marksmen Lisa” he added a marksman’s target to the side of her head. After he made the sketch, he took it to his studio and painted it – ready for display

Positioned on the festival field, called the Theresienwiese, were placed four beer tents (really houses), with names like “Zum wilden Jäger” (to the wild hunter), “Zum blinden Schützen” (to the blind marksman, “Zum goldenen Hirschen” (to the golden stag), and “Zur Schützenliesl” (to the marksmen Lisa). This “Gastwirtschaft” – Zur Schützenliesl – displayed prominently the Kaulbach painting. There she was, the famous Kellnerin, with her swinging skirt, and carrying 11 – not the typical 12 – overflowing mugs of Sterneckerbräu beer. The Schützenliesl, dancing on a barrel, seemed to be floating through the Bavarian beer heaven. When the Schützenfest began, hordes of people tried to get a seat in the Schützenliesl Gastwirtschaft. They wanted to sit under the Schützenliesl picture and have the real Schützenliesl bring a Maβ of beer to them. Not only did the Schützenliesl conquer the hearts of the marksmen themselves, but of all the festival visitors. Whether they were Munich natives or visitors from outside Munich, they headed for the Schützenliesl Gastwirtschaft. There the beer was flowing like a river.

Later, as an old woman, Colletta recalled, “During the whole festival, our tent was packed because everyone wanted their beer served by the Schützenliesl”. The Augsburger Abendzeitung (an Augsburg newspaper, 26 July 1881) reported on that scene: “Attached to the festival tent is the Wirtschaft to the Schützenliesl of Mr. Massinger. The idyllic tower with the red-covered roof and the stork perching on top of it would have been enough to catch the eye of those looking for a Wirtschaft. But then our F.A. Kaulbach draws a ’Liesl’ on it, one so fresh, so voluptuous, so seducing as no marksman has ever seen. It is curious but this lifeless picture seems to be the main attraction. Every nook and cranny was filled with people. One day about 8 o’clock in the evening, the proprietor raced in among the masses, pale from shock, saying that the beer supply was used up to the last drop and thousands of unfortunate beer drinkers were sitting there with their tongues drooping. After a fearful hour, only a few had left their hard-won places, the rattling of a beer wagon could be heard. The steeds raced mightily toward the tent and after a 30-minute battle, the beer was back.” According to a Munich newspaper, 16,300 Maβ of beer were drunk in the Schützenliesl Wirtschaft on the last evening of the shooting contest.

The famous Kaulbach painting of the Schützenliesl hangs today in the Festsaal of the “Münchner Haupt”, short for “Königlich privilegierte Haup.”

Another painting of Möritz, entitled “Beautiful Coletta,” was done by Toni Aron in 1885, a commission by Löwenbräu.

Here’s a translation of an article entitled “‘Schützenliesl’ is symbolic figure,” from an Exhibition of the House of Bavarian History:

In Bavaria the 19th century the inn was a place dominated by men. But what would the Bavarian festival culture without the female member? For International Women’s Day on March 08, we tell the story of Schützenliesl that it has brought to successful businesswoman and advertising icon from simple Biermadl. Even today it is a well known symbolic figure.

Coletta Möritz (1860-1953) was born near Pöttmes in Aichach-Friedberg, an illegitimate child of a small farmer’s daughter and worked after moving her mother at 16 years as Biermadl, ie auxiliary waitress at Sternecker Brau im Tal in Munich.

There perverted also members of the society of artists “tomfoolery”, among them Friedrich August Kaulbach (1850-1920), which struck the attractive beer girl. So he asked in 1878 Coletta Möritz to stand him for a sketch model. The motive of this sketch it was then that the young Coletta could be for advertising icon.


The “Schützenliesl” (here a Landshuter Protect disc of 1881), a dashing beer waitress, is a popular symbol of the Bavarian festival culture. For over a hundred years, it keeps popping up in beer commercials and was immortalized in the eponymous song – an early “Wiesnhit”. Behind the legendary figure hides the waitress and hostess later Coletta Möritz (1860-1953), who came from near Pöttmes. In 1878 the young “Biermadl” was none other than the Bavarian prince and painter Friedrich August von Kaulbach model. For the VII. German federal shooting, which took place in late July 1881 the Theresienwiese, painted Kaulbach the Beautiful Coletta then as “Schützenliesl”. The colossal painting served as exterior decoration of the across Bierbude, in which the young woman also availed itself. For that time the picture was a bold presentation, it excited at the festival and beyond once a stir. Logically also be seen on the few months later bombarded memory disk Landshuter fire Schützengesellschaft that invoked the spirit of the Federal shooting again the “Schützenliesl”.

And here’s a third painting she modeled for, entitled Schützenfest, created by Johann Heinrich Hasselhorst in 1887.

After World War 2, a German songwriter Gerhard Winkler wrote a song entitled “Schützenliesl” in 1952. It was the first post-war Oktoberfest hit and remains a staple of the songs sung in the tents during Oktoberfest. The version below is performed by Marianne & Michael.


Coletta was married twice, and had twelve children. She worked in restaurants and beer halls her entire life, and lived to be 93. Throughout Europe, she’s a famous figure, although especially at Oktoberfest.

Coletta in her later life.

Historic Beer Birthday: Louis X, Duke of Bavaria

Today is the birthday of Louis X, Duke of Bavaria (September 18, 1495-April 22, 1545). Louis X (or in German, German Ludwig X, Herzog von Bayern), “was Duke of Bavaria (1516–1545), together with his older brother William IV, Duke of Bavaria. His parents were Albert IV and Kunigunde of Austria, a daughter of Emperor Frederick III.”


Here’s another short account of Louis X’s life:

Ludwig (Louis) X, Duke of Bavaria (Herzog von Bayern), was conjoint ruler of Bavaria with his brother Wilhelm IV (1493-1550) from 1516 to 1545. Louis was born 18 September 1495, son of Albert IV, Duke of Bavaria (1447-1508) and Kunigunde of Austria (1465-1520), a daughter of Emperor Frederick III. When his father Albert IV died in 1508, he was succeeded by his eldest son Wilhelm IV. It was Albert’s intention to not have Bavaria divided amongst his sons as had been the practice with previous successions. However, Louis became joint ruler in 1516, arguing that he had been born before his father’s edict of the everlasting succession of the firstborn prince of 1506.


Although his brother, William IV, Duke of Bavaria, wrote and signed the Reinheitsgebot, also known as the Bavarian Beer Purity Law, and later the German Beer Purity Law, Louis X as co-ruler of Bavaria also had a hand in it, and was co-signatory on the historic document.


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


Historic Beer Birthday: John Ewald Siebel

Today is the birthday of John Ewald Siebel (September 17, 1868-December 20, 1919). Siebel was born in Germany, but relocated to Chicago, Illinois as a young man. Trained as a chemist, in 1868 he founded the Zymotechnic Institute, which was later renamed the Siebel Institute of Technology.


Here’s his obituary from the Foreign Language Press Survey:

Professor John Ewald Siebel has died after an active life devoted to science. Besides his relatives, thousands of his admirers, including many men of science, mourn at the bier of the friendly old man. He died in his home at 960 Montana Avenue.

Professor Siebel was born September 18, 1845, in Hofkamp, administrative district of Dusseldorf [Germany], as the son of Peter and Lisette Siebel; he attended high school [Real-Gymnasium] at Hagen and studied chemistry at the Berlin University. He came to the United States in 1865 and shortly afterwards obtained employment as a chemist with the Belcher Sugar Refining Company in Chicago. Already in 1868, he established a laboratory of his own, and from 1869 until 1873 he was employed as official chemist for the city and county. In 1871 he also taught chemistry and physics at the German High School. From 1873 until 1880 he was official gas inspector and city chemist. During the following six years he edited the American Chemical Review, and from 1890 until 1900 he published the Original Communications of Zymotechnic Institute. He was also in charge of the Zymotechnic Institute, which he had founded in 1901. Until two years ago he belonged to its board of directors.

Among the many scientific works published by the deceased, which frequently won international reputation, and are highly valued by the entire world of chemical science are: Newton’s Axiom Developed; Preparation of Dialized Iron; New Methods of Manufacture of Soda; New Methods of Manufacture of Phosphates; Compendium of Mechanical Refrigeration; Thermo-and Electro-Dynamics of Energy Conversion; etc. The distilling industry considered him an expert of foremost achievement.

The deceased was a member of the Lincoln Club; the old Germania Club; the local Academy of Science; the Brauer and Braumeisterverein [Brewer and Brewmaster Association]; the American Institute for Brewing; and the American Society of Brewing Technology. Professor Siebel was also well known in German circles outside the city and state.

His wife Regina, whom he married in 1870….died before him. Five sons mourn his death: Gustav, Friedrich, Ewald, Emil and Dr. John Ewald Siebel, Jr. Funeral services will be held tomorrow afternoon at Graceland Cemetery.

Professor Siebel was truly a martyr of science. He overworked himself, until a year ago he suffered a nervous breakdown. About four months ago conditions became worse. His was an easy and gentle death.


The Siebel Institute’s webpage tells their early history:

Dr. John Ewald Siebel founded the Zymotechnic Institute in 1868. He was born on September 17, 1845, near Wermelskirchen in the district of Dusseldorf, Germany. He studied physics and chemistry and earned his doctorate at the University of Berlin before moving to Chicago 1866. In 1868 he opened John E. Siebel’s Chemical Laboratory which soon developed into a research station and school for the brewing sciences.

In 1872, as the company moved into new facilities on Belden Avenue on the north side of Chicago, the name was changed to the Siebel Institute of Technology. During the next two decades, Dr. Siebel conducted extensive brewing research and wrote most of his over 200 books and scientific articles. He was also the editor of a number of technical publications including the scientific section of The Western Brewer, 100 Years of Brewing and Ice and Refrigeration.

In 1882 he started a scientific school for brewers with another progressive brewer but the partnership was short lived. Dr. Siebel did, however, continue brewing instruction at his laboratory. The business expanded in the 1890’s when two of Dr. Siebel’s sons joined the company.

The company was incorporated in 1901 and conducted brewing courses in both English and German. By 1907 there were five regular courses: a six-month Brewers’ Course, a two-month Post Graduate Course, a three-month Engineers’ Course, a two-month Maltsters’ Course and a two-month Bottlers’ Course. In 1910, the school’s name, Siebel Institute of Technology, was formally adopted. With the approach of prohibition, the Institute diversified and added courses in baking, refrigeration, engineering, milling, carbonated beverages and other related topics. On December 20, 1919, just twenty-seven days before prohibition became effective, Dr. J. E. Siebel passed away.

With the repeal of prohibition in 1933 the focus of the Institute returned to brewing under the leadership of F. P. Siebel Sr., the eldest son of Dr. J. E. Siebel. His sons, Fred and Ray, soon joined the business and worked to expand its scope. The Diploma Course in Brewing Technology was offered and all other non-brewing courses were soon eliminated. Then in October 1952, the Institute moved to its brand new, custom built facilities on Peterson Avenue where we have remained for almost 50 years.

Siebel Brewers Academy c. 1902-04.

Here’s another short account from the journal Brewery History, in an article entitled “A History of Brewing Science in the United States of America,” by Charles W. Bamforth:

Dr John Ewald Siebel (1845-1919) was born on September 17th 1845 at Hofcamp, near Düsseldorf. Upon visiting an uncle in US after the completion of his doctorate in chemistry and physics he became chief chemist at Belcher’s sugar refinery in Chicago, aged 21, but that company soon folded. Siebel stayed in Chicago to start an analytical laboratory in 1868, which metamorphosed into the Zymotechnic Institute.

With Chicago brewer Michael Brand, Siebel started in 1882 the first Scientific School for practical brewers as a division of the Zymotechnic Institute. True life was not breathed into the initiative until 1901 with Siebel’s son (one of five) Fred P. Siebel as manager. This evolved to become the Siebel Institute of Technology, which was incorporated in 1901 and conducted brewing courses in both English and German. Within 6 years five regular courses had been developed: a six-month course for brewers, a twomonth post graduate course, a threemonth course for engineers, a two-month malting course and a two-month bottling course.

Amongst Siebel’s principal contributions were work on a counter pressure racker and artificial refrigeration systems. Altogether he published more than 200 articles on brewing, notably in the Western Brewer and original Communications of the Zymotechnic Institute. Brewing wasn’t his sole focus, for instance he did significant work on blood chemistry.

Son EA Siebel founded Siebel and Co and the Bureau of Bio-technology in 1917, the year that prohibition arrived. Emil Siebel focused then on a ‘temperance beer’ that he had been working on for nine years. Courses in baking, refrigeration, engineering, milling and nonalcoholic carbonated beverages were offered.


And here’s the entry for the Siebel Institute from the Oxford Companion to Beer, written by Randy Mosher:


Historic Beer Birthday: Hildegard of Bingen

Today is apparently the birthday of Hildegard of Bingen (September 16, 1098-September 17, 1179). I say “apparently,” because record keeping from the 11th century is notoriously unreliable. Though most accounts of her life that do include a date for her birth list it as September 16, so it at least seems somewhat agreed upon despite there being no specific source cited for that date’s accuracy. So I’ll go with that, it’s better to have some reason to celebrate her life that none at all. Anyway, Hildegard of Bingen ” was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath. She is considered to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany,” and perhaps most importantly, from my point of view, is credited with one of the earliest mentions of hops in beer. As a result, she is generally considered to be the patron saint of hop-growers, although this designation appears to be largely unofficial. Her feast day is actually tomorrow, September 17 — the day of her death — which is fairly common with the Catholic Church and their saints’ feast days.


Although she was beatified in 1326 by Pope John XXII, she was not actually canonized until May of 2012. At that time, Pope Benedict XVI also named her a Doctor of the Church, only the fourth woman to receive that designation. None of the catholic sources I looked at online reveal any patronages for her, apart from the town of Eibingen, where her abbey was located, who made her their patron saint in 1900. And a few sources, though again all non-catholic, mention her as being a patron saint of gardeners, too, and a single source saying she was a patron of musicians, artists and even human potential. All of the sources for her being the patron of hop-growers appear to be from beer-related sources, so I have to conclude that like Gambrinus, her patronage is more symbolic than official.


She did mention hops in her writings, though not in 1079 (31 years before being born) as a well-known quote insists, despite being debunked as long ago as 1911. Here’s what she did say, best explained by Martyn Cornell in his article, A short history of hops:

About 1150, Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), mystical philosopher and healer, published a book called Physica Sacra, which translates best as “The Natural World”. Book I, Chapter 61, “De Hoppho”, or “Concerning the hop”, says of the plant: “It is warm and dry, and has a moderate moisture, and is not very useful in benefiting man, because it makes melancholy grow in man and makes the soul of man sad, and weighs down his inner organs. But yet as a result of its own bitterness it keeps some putrefactions from drinks, to which it may be added, so that they may last so much longer.”


By itself this does not prove hops were used in beer, just “in drinks” (in potibus in Hildegard’s original Latin). But in a later chapter, on the ash tree, the abbess wrote: “If you also wish to make beer from oats without hops, but just with grusz [gruit], you should boil it after adding a very large number of ash leaves. That type of beer purges the stomach of the drinker, and renders his heart [literally ‘chest’ or ‘breast’] light and joyous.” Clearly Hildegard knew about brewing beer with hops. The passage also suggests that Hildegard knew about boiling wort, without which just adding hops is not much help in keeping away “putrefactions”.


Here’s her profile, from Catholic Saints:

At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard produced major works of theology and visionary writings. When few women were respected, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and the medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first musical composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent, where her musical plays were performed. Interest in this extraordinary woman was initiated by musicologists and historians of science and religion. Unfortunately, Hildegard’s visions and music have been hijacked by the New Age movement; New Age music bears some resemblance to Hildegard’s ethereal airs. Her story is important to students of medieval history and culture, and an inspirational account of an irresistible spirit and vibrant intellect overcoming social, physical, cultural, gender barriers to achieve timeless transcendence.

Hildegard was the tenth child born to a noble family. As was customary with the tenth child, which the family could not count on feeding, and who could be considered a tithe, she was dedicated at birth to the Church. The girl started to have visions of luminous objects at the age of three, but soon realized she was unique in this ability and hid this gift for many years.

At age eight her family sent Hildegard to an anchoress named Jutta to receive a religious education. Jutta was born into a wealthy and prominent family, and by all accounts was a young woman of great beauty who had spurned the world for a life decided to God as an anchoress. Hildegard’s education was very rudimentary, and she never escaped feelings of inadequacy over her lack of schooling. She learned to read Psalter in Latin, but her grasp of Latin grammar was never complete (she had secretaries help her write down her visions), but she had a good intuitive feel for the intricacies of the language, constructing complicated sentences with meanings on many levels and which are still a challenge to students of her writing. The proximity of the Jutta’s anchorage to the church of the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenberg exposed Hildegard to religious services which were the basis for her own musical compositions. After Jutta’s death, when Hildegard was 38 years of age, she was elected the head of the budding convent that had grown up around the anchorage.

During the years with Jutta, Hildegard confided of her visions only to Jutta and a monk named Volmar, who was to become her lifelong secretary. However, in 1141 a vision of God gave Hildegard instant understanding of the meaning of religious texts. He commanded her to write down everything she would observe in her visions.

And it came to pass…when I was 42 years and 7 months old, that the heavens were opened and a blinding light of exceptional brilliance flowed through my entire brain. And so it kindled my whole heart and breast like a flame, not burning but warming…and suddenly I understood of the meaning of expositions of the books…

Yet Hildegard was also overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy and hesitated to act.

But although I heard and saw these things, because of doubt and low opinion of myself and because of diverse sayings of men, I refused for a long time a call to write, not out of stubbornness but out of humility, until weighed down by a scourge of god, I fell onto a bed of sickness.

Though she never doubted the divine origin of her visions, Hildegard wanted them to be approved by the Church. She wrote to Saint Bernard who took the matter to Pope Eugenius who exhorted Hildegard to finish her writings. With papal imprimatur, Hildegard finished her first visionary work Scivias (“Know the Ways of the Lord“) and her fame began to spread through Germany and beyond.

The 12th century was also the time of schisms and religious confusion when anyone preaching any outlandish doctrine could attract a large following. Hildegard was critical of schismatics, and preached against them her whole life, working especially against the Cathari.


Franciscan Media has yet another account:

Abbess, artist, author, composer, mystic, pharmacist, poet, preacher, theologian—where to begin describing this remarkable woman?

Born into a noble family, she was instructed for ten years by the holy woman Blessed Jutta. When Hildegard was 18, she became a Benedictine nun at the Monastery of Saint Disibodenberg. Ordered by her confessor to write down the visions that she had received since the age of three, Hildegard took ten years to write her Scivias (Know the Ways). Pope Eugene III read it and in 1147 encouraged her to continue writing. Her Book of the Merits of Life and Book of Divine Works followed. She wrote over 300 letters to people who sought her advice; she also composed short works on medicine and physiology, and sought advice from contemporaries such as Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

Hildegard’s visions caused her to see humans as “living sparks” of God’s love, coming from God as daylight comes from the sun. Sin destroyed the original harmony of creation; Christ’s redeeming death and resurrection opened up new possibilities. Virtuous living reduces the estrangement from God and others that sin causes.

Like all mystics, she saw the harmony of God’s creation and the place of women and men in that. This unity was not apparent to many of her contemporaries.

Hildegard was no stranger to controversy. The monks near her original foundation protested vigorously when she moved her monastery to Bingen, overlooking the Rhine River. She confronted Emperor Frederick Barbarossa for supporting at least three antipopes. Hildegard challenged the Cathars, who rejected the Catholic Church claiming to follow a more pure Christianity.

Between 1152 and 1162, Hildegard often preached in the Rhineland. Her monastery was placed under interdict because she had permitted the burial of a young man who had been excommunicated. She insisted that he had been reconciled with the Church and had received its sacraments before dying. Hildegard protested bitterly when the local bishop forbade the celebration of or reception of the Eucharist at the Bingen monastery, a sanction that was lifted only a few months before her death.

In 2012, Hildegard was canonized and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Emeritus Benedict spoke about Hildegard of Bingen during two of his general audiences in September 2010. He praised the humility with which she received God’s gifts and the obedience she gave Church authorities. He praised the “rich theological content” of her mystical visions that sum up the history of salvation from creation to the end of time.

During his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI said, “Let us always invoke the Holy Spirit, so that he may inspire in the Church holy and courageous women like Saint Hildegard of Bingen, who, developing the gifts they have received from God, make their own special and valuable contribution to the spiritual development of our communities and of the Church in our time.”


And finally, Women’s History Month chose her as their woman of Day 29, with this irreverent take on her life:

Hildegard was born to middle-class German parents somewhere around 1098, and was the youngest of many children. Despite the fact that she was a sickly child, she claimed to have visions from God. Due to this (and probably also for political reasons), her family put her into a monastery as a child and she became a nun. There, she learned to read, write, and transcribe music, and quickly became a respected member of the nuns’ community.

When the Magistra of the nuns died, Hildegard was unanimously elected to replace her. The Abbott of the monastery asked her to be Prioress, but she knew this would mean she would be directly under his jurisdiction and control. So, she told him she would, if the women could branch off and have their own monastery in the nearby town of Rupertsberg. She told him this idea came to her in one of her visions from God. He refused, so she went into a state of paralysis, and it was determined that paralysis was a sign of anger from God because of the Abbott’s refusal. Only when the Abbott himself tried and failed to move Hildegard’s frozen body did he grant her request. Hildegard ran her monastery like a boss and was soon able to open a second monastery in Eibingen.

As Hildegard became more and more educated, she began writing pretty much everything you can think of. Illuminated texts, historical chronicles, two volumes on medicine, scientific texts, plays, anthologies of songs, and more. She also kept all of her correspondence, which is now one of the largest sets of letters still in existence in the middle ages, and wrote detailed accounts of her divine visions that were approved by Pope Eugenius.

Most importantly, around 1151 she wrote the first known morality play (with music!): Ordo Virtutum. It tells the story of a Soul, and the Soul’s struggle between accepting the 17 Virtues and going to heaven, or being tempted by the Devil and going to hell. It’s the only Medieval musical manuscript to survive history with both its text and music intact. The Soul (strong female lead, am I right?) and 17 Virtues are all played by women, and the only male role is the Devil, who can only communicate in grunts and screams. Hildegard says that he’s not capable of divine harmony. Coincidence, or early feminism?

As if that wasn’t enough, she then invented her own alphabet and language for her nuns to use with each other. Just because she’s awesome.

All the while, she claimed that she was unlearned and unintelligent. That way, men would take her interactions with divine spirit seriously, because they believed her to be too dumb to make them up on her own. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

When she died in 1179, her sisters swore that two beams of light shot down from the sky.

Her Sainthood status was debated for hundreds of years, but in 2012, Pope Benedict XVI made it official. Out of 35 Saints, only 4 women have ever been granted the title “Doctor of the Church” by the Pope.

Oh, and she has a plant genus named after her, thanks to her contributions to herbal medicine – Hildegardia. And a planet. A fucking planet. See you all on Planet 898 Hildegard where we start our new feminist colony.

She was an amazing artist as well, and her books were all illustrated with drawings and art that looks a lot like Indian mandalas, like this one about “the Cycle of the Seaons” from the Scivas, a book describing 26 religious visions she experienced.


If you made it through all of the accounts of her life, including her Wikipedia page, one thing you’ll notice is that none of them mention her contribution to the brewing sciences, or indeed anything about her mention of hops. That appears to be a more modern interpretation, though I’m not sure of its origin. One thing seems clear, however, and that it’s an association that here to stay.

Naughty Hildegard ESB from the Driftwood Brewery in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada


In addition to her writing on many subjects, she also wrote liturgical music. Here is one of the works she composed, “Antiphon; O quam mirabilis est,” which is essential a hymn entitled “Oh, how wonderful.”

Historic Beer Birthday: Christian Heurich

Today is the birthday of Christian Heurich (September 12, 1842-March 7, 1945). He was born in Hildburghausener Landkreis district in Thüringen, Germany (though some sources say it was Haina, in Waldeck-Frankenberg located in northwest Hesse, Germany). He came to the U.S. when he was 24, in 1866. A few years later, in 1873, he founded the Chr. Heurich Brewing Co. in the Dictrict of Columbia, and it became D.C.’s longest-operating brewery, and by the 1940s, it “was second only to the U.S. federal government in the amount of land owned in Washington, DC, and the number of people [Heurich] employed.”

A portrait published in Western Brewer Magazine, 1883, from the Collection of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

Here’s his biography from Wikipedia’s entry for the Christian Heurich Mansion, or Brewmaster’s Castle:

Born in 1842 in the village of Haina, near the town of Römhild, Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen (in the region of Thuringia), Christian was the third of four children born to Casper and Marguerite (née Fuchs) Heurich. Christian’s father, was the local innkeeper which included being a butcher and brewer. Christian learned the trade from his father, in addition to several apprenticeships in his youth. By the time Christian was fourteen years both of his parents died, leaving him orphaned. He traveled throughout Europe until his older sister, Elizabeth Jacobsen, who was living in Baltimore, Maryland, convinced him to emigrate to the United States, where he would have a better chance of fulfilling his dream of starting his own brewery; he arrived in June 1866, initially joining his sister in Baltimore. In 1872, Christian went into a partnership with a man named Paul Ritter. Together, they leased a brewery from George Schnell at 1219 20th Street, NW Washington, D.C. Within a year, Mr. Schnell had died and the partnership between the two men had dissolved. In his 1934 autobiography, Aus meinem Leben Heurich writes that he was the one that did most of the labor of brewing, while Schnell entertained customers. Christian married the widow of Mr. Schnell, Amelia Mueller Schnell on September 9, 1873. In 1884, Amelia died of pneumonia.

in 1887, Christian married for the second time to Mathilde Daetz. It was with Mathilde that he built their lavish mansion at 1307 New Hampshire Avenue NW Mathilde worked very closely with the interior designers of the house, The Huber Brothers, NYC. Sadly, due to miscarriage and a carriage accident, Mathilde died in 1895, leaving Christian a widower once again. Christian threw himself into his work, creating an empire in the capital city. In 1894 he opened his new, fireproof brewery which had a capacity for 500,000 barrels of beer a year. The brewery, which rested on the Potomac River is now the site of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Christian Heurich Brewing Company was the second largest employer in Washington D.C. during this time, apart from the Federal Government. In 1899, Christian married Amelia Louise Keyser, the niece and namesake of his first wife. Twenty-nine years her senior, together they had four children, three of whom survived into adulthood, Christian Heurich Jr, Anna Marguerite (died as infant), Anita Augusta and Karla Louise. Together, they had a long marriage until Christian Heurich Sr died in 1945 at the age of 102.

Photo from the Heurich House Museum.

This is a lengthier biography from Immigrant Entrepreneurship, written by Mark Benbow:

Family Background

Christian Heurich Sr. was born on September 12, 1842, in the small farming village of Haina in the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen. He was the third of four children, two boys and two girls. His parents, Casper and Margarete Fuchs Heurich, ran an inn in the village. At the time of his birth, they were tenants in what he later described as “an old castle” belonging to the University of Würzburg. As a boy, Heurich attended a school where one teacher taught several dozen students ranging from six to fourteen years of age. When he was twelve, his family moved a few kilometers away to Römhild, where his father purchased another inn and Heurich attended a new school, excelling in mathematics. In 1857, he graduated at the top of his class. At the time, he was almost fifteen, the age when adolescent males usually began their apprenticeships.

The year before Heurich finished school, his mother died and his father fell ill. Management of the inn “passed into other hands” and, although Casper Heinrich had arranged for the family to continue living there, the children began to depart one by one. Heurich’s older sister, Elisabeth Adelipa, emigrated to the United States with family friends; his older brother, August Friedrich, married and took in Heurich and his younger sister. After graduating, Heurich was apprenticed to an innkeeper in the town of Themar, about fifteen kilometers to the north. There he learned not only how to brew beer but also how to butcher – two essential skills for innkeepers. Since lighter-colored lager beers developed in Bavaria and Vienna in the early nineteenth century were quite popular at the time, these beers may have been among the first he learned to make. In any event, it was a type of beer that he would later brew to his great advantage in the U.S.

After two years as an apprentice, Heurich went on his journeyman trip, or Wanderjahre, and spent two years traveling and learning from master brewers. During his trip, Heurich put his training as a butcher and a brewer to good use: he worked as a butcher in Basel for several weeks and then walked to Munich. From there, he traveled down the Danube by raft to Vienna, where he found work as a brewer. He worked in Vienna for two years and then traveled through Graz, Trieste, Venice, and Milan. By the time he was done, he had walked, ridden, and rafted through what is now Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and Slovenia, and had worked in numerous breweries along the way. In April 1863, he returned home to Römhild, where he reported for mandatory military service. “Faulty vision” prevented him from enlisting, and he resumed his travels, working his way through Germany, France, and Switzerland before returning to Vienna on what he would later call “the poor man’s ‘grand tour’.”

Of all the cities he visited, Heurich loved Vienna the most. He later wrote of that “wonderful city” and said he “warmed to its beauty, its leisure, its culture.” He had, he noted, “passed ‘the most beautiful time of my life in Vienna.’” Heurich worked in several Viennese breweries as a brewer and a cellarer. He continued to learn different ways to make beer and planned to eventually open his own brewery. It was this dream, in fact, that prompted him to leave Vienna in the end. Elisabeth, his sister in America, explained that whereas he might never be able to open a new brewery in Vienna, there was ample opportunity to start his own business in America.

After immigrating to the United States in 1859, Elisabeth met and married Hermann Jacobsen in Baltimore. From there, she wrote to Heurich often, trying to persuade him to move to the U.S. to start his own brewery. After the American Civil War ended in 1865, Elisabeth “became more insistent,” noting that “Germans … were opening breweries all over the country. Americans were … going in for the lighter, healthier and more sustaining beverages introduced and almost daily being improved on by my own countrymen.” In other words, Americans were drinking more lager beer. Elisabeth’s letters to Heurich were typical of the “America letters” that immigrants sent home for generations. She praised her new country, stressed that the new world offered greater opportunity than the old, and she undoubtedly promised him help in starting a new life.

In 1866, Heurich followed his sister’s advice and left for America. With his savings, a bit over $200 in gold (approximately $2,830 in 2010), he traveled to Hamburg to catch a freight steamer to Great Britain. From there, he booked passage on the passenger ship Helvetia, which made regular trips between Liverpool and New York. The ship departed on April 2, 1866, and was beset by rumors of cholera that very same day. Unfortunately, the rumors quickly proved true. On the third day, the ship turned back toward Liverpool because several people had died and, in Heurich’s words, “most of the passengers were completely beside themselves.” The ship remained in quarantine in Liverpool for seven weeks, and over 300 passengers died of the disease. Heurich avoided illness because he remembered a story about a cholera outbreak in Vienna in 1855, when brewery workers survived by drinking beer instead of water. During his stay in Liverpool, he limited himself to beer and made it through the outbreak. For the record, however, he was not overly fond of English beer and later wrote that it “didn’t do me any harm except to almost persuade me to remain in that country to teach them how to make good German lager.”

The Helvetia left Liverpool the second time at the end of May and arrived in New York on June 11, 1866.[Heurich did a little sightseeing and then took a train to Baltimore to find Elisabeth and her husband Captain Jacobsen, the master of a small sailing ship that carried grain and fruit between Baltimore and the West Indies. The couple lived on Canton Avenue near Fells Point by the waterfront. This area had been home to mariners and those who built, repaired, and supplied ships since the eighteenth century. Back then, a quarter of the city’s 200,000 residents were either German immigrants or of German ancestry, and the area around Fells Point was one of the wards with the heaviest German population.

After arriving in Baltimore, Heurich found that Elisabeth and her husband were at sea. Fortunately, she had left a letter with her housekeeper in case he arrived while they were gone and gave him free reign of their home. Heurich settled in and began to learn English. Although Heurich undoubtedly heard a great deal of German in Fells Point, he was determined to learn English. He signed up for English classes at a local language school and attended three classes a day. When his sister returned with her husband, Heurich was able to greet them in “grammatical though somewhat stilted English, much to their surprise and gratification.”

Baltimore was a good place for Heurich to refine his brewing skills. In 1867, the U.S. had an estimated 3,700 breweries, and Baltimore was home to forty-five. The number was in constant flux as breweries opened, merged, closed, and reopened. Then the fourth largest city in the country, Baltimore had a large and growing population of German immigrants who were well represented in the local brewing industry. By the late 1860s, Americans had begun to acquire a taste for lighter German lager beers, which had been introduced in the U.S. in the 1840s, and newly arrived German immigrants with brewing industry experience quickly found a niche in satisfying this new taste. Heurich was one of many to take advantage of this opportunity.

The German community took an active role in greeting new arrivals. For example, the Baltimore German Society, established in 1783, distributed food and clothing to new German immigrants, and helped them find housing and doctors. Additionally, its employment agency, founded in 1845, helped thousands of newcomers find jobs. Heurich quickly found a job at Röst’s brewery, one of the first lager breweries. Its owner, the Bavarian-born George Röst, was an established member of Baltimore’s German community. He hosted traditional German immigrant societies, including a shooting society [Schützenverein], and held various events at the picnic grounds and beer garden adjacent to the brewery. Though no records exist to confirm this, it could very well be that Heurich found the position at Röst’s through the Baltimore German Society.

Heurich spent a little over a year in Baltimore. In the spring of 1867, he received his first citizenship papers, which declared his intention to become a U.S. citizen. Soon thereafter, he began working as the foreman of the malt house at Seegar’s Brewery. He believed that he owed this job largely to his “good grasp” of English. He worked there briefly and then headed west in search of better opportunities and a chance to move outside the immigrant community that, in his mind, was preventing him from perfecting his English. His first stop was Chicago, where he worked briefly for Seipp and Lehmann, a rapidly growing brewery that produced about 300,000 barrels a year in 1867. But Chicago, with is large German-American population, was not the best place to move out of the German community. Taking this step was important to Heurich, because he wanted to perfect his English skills before starting his own business, so by 1868 he was living with a cousin near Topeka, Kansas.

Heurich’s cousin and his family had been living in Kansas since the mid 1850s. They had been supported, Heurich claimed, by a New England abolitionist group during the struggle to determine whether Kansas would be a free or a slave state. The family had prospered and Heurich enjoyed living there, although he was a farm worker and not a brewer. Most of the people in the area were native English speakers and his language skills improved. Heurich liked to tell the story of how, during his Kansas stay, he cast his one and only vote for president – that vote being for Ulysses S. Grant in the election of 1868. At the time, immigrants were often allowed to vote if they swore that they intended to become citizens. Because Heurich spent most of the rest of his life as a resident of Washington, DC, he was unable to cast another vote in a presidential election, because residents of the “federal city” were excluded from voting in presidential elections until 1964.

Heurich moved back east in the spring of 1869 and complained of a recurring fever. He lived for a time with family members in Illinois but did not show any improvement. He also spent time in nearby St. Louis, Missouri, where he heard a young Joseph Pulitzer speak at a rally. Heurich was so impressed that he decided to translate Pulitzer’s articles from the Westliche Post into English for practice. He also found a job at a local brewery. Heurich’s health did not improve, however, and, as he put it, he “reluctantly” returned to Baltimore in the summer of 1869. By then, he had spent three years in the U.S., had worked in several breweries, had seen several major cities in the eastern half of the country, but had not yet found a chance to open his own brewery.

Back in Maryland, his brother-in-law suggested that he might regain his health at sea, so Heurich signed on as a common seaman, a “banana roustabout,” on his brother-in-law’s small ship. He suffered severe seasickness, but kept at his work. By the time the ship returned from its Caribbean run, Heurich‘s fever was gone and he had visited several new places, including Jamaica. Still, he gladly abandoned his brief career as a sailor to restart his interrupted career as a brewer. He accepted a position as brewmaster at a new brewery in Ripley, Ohio. The brewery only operated for a few months because it was, in Heurich’s words, “not run properly and came to a ‘blow-up.’” After returning to Baltimore, he went back to work at Seegar’s Brewery as the foreman of the malt house.

While at Seegar’s, Heurich was approached by its brewmaster, Paul Ritter, who suggested that they go into business together and buy a brewery. Heurich agreed. He had already been scouring the mid-Atlantic area for a suitable location, and had settled on Washington, DC. Washington’s population had increased dramatically during the Civil War and boasted 131,000 residents in 1870. The city was also undergoing a burst of new development sparked by the creation of a territorial government in 1871. The most important member of this new government was vice-chair of the DC Board of Public Works, Alexander Shepherd. During his tenure as vice-chair (1871-73) and his subsequent term as Washington’s second governor (1873-74), Shepherd rebuilt the city, paving roads, adding sewer and gas lines, installing street lights, and filling in the old canal that had become a fetid sewer. He established the city’s first public transportation system (horse-drawn trolleys) and planted 60,000 trees. The city also began creating parks and filling the swampland south of Pennsylvania Avenue. As a result, early 1870s Washington must have looked like the perfect place to establish a new business. Moreover, there was the added bonus of not having to compete with powerful established competitors.

In his memoirs, Heurich referred to Shepherd as “God’s gift to Washington at a sorely needed time,” and a 1942 Heurich beer advertisement called him one of “Washington History’s Heroes” for developing neighborhoods that were home to the city’s full-time residents and businesses. Although Washington’s founders had wanted the city to be a place for both government and business, the former predominated, and Washington lagged far behind nearby Baltimore economically. But with the infrastructure built by Shepherd, it seemed as though the city might finally become an industrial center. Heurich was one of many business leaders who wanted to make this a reality and thus fulfill the founders’ vision for Washington, DC.

The city must have appealed to many men with similar skills, because over a dozen new breweries besides Heurich’s opened in Washington in the 1870s. Some failed quickly and others sprang up to replace them. Additionally, there were two breweries across the river in Alexandria, Virginia, one of which, Robert Portner’s, eventually became one of the largest breweries in the South. Breweries in Baltimore and Cumberland, Maryland, were too far away to compete with those in the District, but Heurich and Ritter still had more than enough local competitors to contend with.

Washington had a small, but lively, German-American population of about 5,000 residents, or about three percent of the population. There were a number of active German-American organizations, such as the Columbia-Turn-Verein (a gymnastics club), which hosted balls, theater productions, English classes, and other courses. There was also a Sängerbund, or singing club, and two Schützen-Vereine (shooting clubs), each of which owned a park. In addition, the German-American community supported boating clubs, a fishing club, and other organizations that entertained the general public as well. Washington, DC, was also home to two German newspapers and numerous Catholic and Protestant churches as well as a Jewish synagogue. Thus, Heurich and Ritter were moving to a city where they would find an established immigrant community.


Business Development

In September 1872, the two partners put up about $1,000 each (approximately $18,400 in 2010) to form Ritter and Heurich. They rented the Schnell Brewery and Tavern on 20th Street NW between M and N Streets for $1,600 a year (approximately $29,500 in 2010). Founded by George Schnell in 1864, the brewery produced about 500 barrels of wheat (or weiss) beer per year, much of which was sold at its adjacent tavern and beer garden. According to Heurich, the brewery was “run-down,” so they purchased new equipment. They were brewing a month later. Ritter worked as a salesman and bookkeeper, and Heurich brewed the beer. In his memoirs, Heurich noted that “Frank,” described as an “aged colored man,” was kept on as deliveryman and porter. The two partners lived in an attached house on 20th Street, and Ritter’s wife tended to a small nearby barroom where their beer was sold.

Heurich switched the brewery from weiss beer to the barley-based, light lager he had learned to brew as a journeyman in Europe. The brewery began to catch on, but the partnership quickly dissolved. Heurich never specified why the break occurred, but he noted in his memoirs that “right was on my side.” It is possible that Heurich may have thought that Ritter was taking too much credit for the brewery’s excellent beer, since Heurich always stayed behind to work in the brew house while Ritter went out to sell the product. Whatever the reason for the break, Heurich bought out Ritter and started running the business by himself. At the time, he was producing two beers, “Senate,” a light lager, and Maerzen, “a full bodied dark brew.” He often worked eighteen-hour days to meet the demand for his beer, which proved so popular that he had to put customers on a waiting list. But who were these customers?

At the time, Washington society was divided along lines of class and status. The “cave dwellers” were the old, mostly southern, families who could trace their origins back to the city’s founding under presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. More transient was official Washington society, which centered on elected officials, especially the president, cabinet members, congressional leaders, high-ranking military officers as well as diplomats. Heurich noted that these two elite classes preferred wine and whiskey to beer. Accordingly, his very first customers came not from the city’s elite, but rather from the working and middle classes who, along with African-Americans, comprised the city’s permanent, full-time population. They included lower-ranking government functionaries, such as clerks and secretaries, as well as those who worked in the normal day-to-day occupations that keep any city running. As Heurich later noted, “It was mighty good beer and the Washington of that day, full of workmen on the projects initiated by … Shepherd, needed good German lager.”

The Washington elite tended to live and work near Pennsylvania Avenue and in expensive nearby neighborhoods such as Georgetown. Heurich’s brewery was slightly north of the area where the wealthy and powerful lived in 1872, and his customers came from the local neighborhood. Heurich noted that the “lower [classes] when their day of toil was done, clung closely to the little beer taverns and restaurants of their neighborhoods.” Historian Jon Kingsdale noted how saloons acted as a “poor man’s club.” “In its most encompassing function,” he explained, “the saloon served many workingmen as a second home [and the] middle-class male [could retire] to the corner saloon to meet his friends….” Heurich tapped into this market in what was a rapidly growing urban area. He also tapped into the growing restaurant and hotel scene, which was expanding along with the city.

With Ritter and his wife out of the picture, Heurich had to run the brewery himself. Elisabeth came down from Baltimore to help and encouraged Heurich to find a wife. Heurich told his sister that he had a girl in mind but thought he was too busy to be married. Elisabeth suggested that he ask the girl anyway. Heurich agreed, mustered his courage, and, after being literally pushed out of his house by Elisabeth, “dashed” to his next-door neighbor, August Mueller, who farmed the land by Dupont Circle next to Heurich’s brewery. Heurich proposed to Mueller’s daughter, Amelia, who immediately accepted. Amelia was not only Heurich’s neighbor, she also was the widow of George Schnell, who had leased the brewery to Heurich. Schnell had died in November 1872, leaving everything to his wife. Heurich and Amelia were married on September 9, 1873. Heurich was a few days shy of his thirty-first birthday, and his bride was almost a year older.

September 1873 was a month of both personal and historical turning points; it saw not only Heurich’s wedding but also the beginning of a global depression. Changes in the worldwide silver market had already weakened the U.S. economy when American financier Jay Cooke’s Northern Pacific Railway was forced to declare bankruptcy that month. Cooke’s bank was subsequently forced to close, then more banks failed, and the New York stock market collapsed. Throughout the nation, businesses went bankrupt and closed. Heurich noted in his memoirs that his business did not seem to suffer: he continued selling about eight barrels a week and making about $100 weekly (approximately $1,880 in 2010), one third of which was profit. That translated into an average a profit of about $1,700 a year (approximately $32,000 in 2010) at a time when the average annual wage for a U.S. worker was about $384 a year (approximately $7,220 in 2010). So Heurich’s business – still small-scale and local in nature – was doing very well. He continued to do most of the work himself, acting as brewer, salesman, and deliveryman. He lived at his 20th Street brewery with Amelia, a female servant, and several workers. In his second year of business, Heurich added six more employees, who, in the German craft tradition, lived with the family. As his business expanded, Heurich not only hired more workers but also brought relatives and others over from Germany. They sometimes paid their passage with their labor upon arrival.

In early 1878, Heurich was invited to join the board of directors of Washington’s German-American National Savings Bank, which had been founded the year before. He was exceptionally proud of the fact that, after only a few years in business, he had entered the ranks of the city’s leading businessmen. In letters to his family back in Germany, he bragged of his success, not only as a brewer, but also as a bank director. On this last point, he might very well have overstated his success, given that it was a small bank.

Whatever the case, his good fortune was fleeting, as the bank collapsed in autumn of that same year. Heurich and another board member, Christian Ruppert, assumed responsibility for covering the bank’s losses to its depositors. The bank president and a cashier were tried on embezzlement charges and, although convicted, were released on account of mistakes made by the prosecution. In his memoirs, Heurich claims they were acquitted, but hints that he disagreed with the verdict. Nevertheless, many major shareholders had already lost their fortunes in the depression of the 1870s. Heurich took out insurance on his businesses, borrowed from the insurance company to pay off creditors, and then worked even harder to expand his business to pay back the loans from the insurance company. Heurich bragged in his memoirs that he “literally saved that bank with a tidal wave of beer.” Throughout the rest of his long life, Heurich refused to serve on another bank board, and he invested in local real estate instead. One of the area’s largest landowners, second only to the federal government, he capitalized on the city’s growth by purchasing scattered plots of land, including several in the southwest quadrant, where he built his brewery in the 1890s. He also bought enough land in Maryland, just outside the DC border, to build a dairy farm and a second home.

Despite the economic strain of the Long Depression that had started in 1873, Heurich continued to expand his brewery. The White House had begun to buy his beer, and his customer base was growing. On a warm summer night in July 1878, he celebrated the opening of an expanded brewery on 20th Street with a party for 1,000 guests. He had twenty men working for him, a half-dozen delivery teams, and he had built an addition next to his home and the brewery to house the extra workers. Heurich’s hard work paid off as his brewing business and real estate investments continued to grow.

At the same time, however, all of the work began to take a toll on his health, and he suffered from unspecified breakdowns and “dizzy” spells. On these occasions, he chose to retreat to health spas in Germany rather than ones in the U.S. While Heurich may have preferred German spas on account of personal biases, it is also possible that he was motivated by a desire to see family and old friends, and to visit the haunts of his youth. In addition, traveling to distant Germany had another practical advantage: it meant taking a break from day-to-day involvement in the operation of his business, and it forced him to relax. Heurich continued to return to Germany regularly throughout his life. Before he died he made seventy-three trips across the Atlantic. Sometimes he went for health reasons, like in 1902, when he visited Lahmann’s Sanitarium in Dresden after suffering dizzy spells. Sometimes it was a simple vacation, e.g., his trip to the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900. Many of his trips, however, were to his birthplace and hometown. In the summer of 1902, he visited Römhild to dedicate a monument to his old teacher at his former school. Over the decades, Heurich returned to Römhild and Haina numerous times, often engaging in philanthropy: providing money for reconstruction after a fire or building a new public bathhouse, supporting a fire department, or building a children’s home. In 1912, he was made an honorary citizen of Römhild and was later elected an honorary member of the city’s Red Cross. Twice, however, Heurich declined a knighthood offered by a local aristocrat, which, he noted, “as a good American citizen I gladly renounce.”

Heurich’s wife, Amelia, also began to suffer from poor health and a long series of illnesses, and she went to Baltimore to stay with his family. In September 1884, Amelia died of pneumonia at age forty-four. A distraught Heurich buried himself in his work and, on doctor’s orders, made another trip to Germany to take the “cold water cure” at Elgersburg, in Saxe-Gotha. His Washington doctor suggested that Heurich purchase a farm so he could enjoy fresh air while still remaining close enough to the District to keep an eye on his business. He ended up purchasing land near Hyattsville, Maryland, only eight miles from his brewery on 20th street. Heurich named the farm Bellevue, and it remained his country home for the rest of his life. Heurich had the farm’s silos – a long-time fire threat in farms of that era – built out of concrete to make them fireproof. At the time, building with concrete was still relatively new. In the early 1890s, he would take a similar approach when he built a new home in the city and a new brewery.

In 1887, Heurich married a second time, to Mathilde Daetz, sister of August Daetz, the brewery’s secretary and treasurer. Mathilde had moved to the U.S. from Germany in 1886. The marriage was generally happy, although it was marred by the death of their unborn child in 1889. To recuperate from the ordeal, the Heurichs traveled to Germany in 1889 and 1890 where Mathilde tried to regain her health. Then, in 1893, she was seriously injured after being thrown from a horse-drawn carriage. She never fully recovered and died at age thirty-three in January 1895, leaving Heurich a widower for a second time. Heurich again lost himself in his work. In January 1899, he married his third wife, Amelia Louise Keyser, the niece of his first wife, whom he had known since she was a child. A native of Richmond, Virginia, she lived and worked in Washington. Twenty-one years Heurich’s junior, she had to remember not to call her new husband “uncle” at first. They had four children, a son and three daughters. One daughter died as an infant, but the others survived to adulthood, and their son, Christian Heurich Jr., born in 1901, took over the brewery when his father died in 1945.

Despite the loss of his first and second wives, Heurich’s business continued to prosper. In the late 1880s, the District of Columbia had five established breweries (as well as some smaller ones that came and went). Additionally, there were two more across the river in Rosslyn and Alexandria. But Heurich’s remained one of the largest in the area, along with Portner’s in Alexandria. Bottlers for Pabst and Anheuser-Busch also established themselves in Washington, so competition was plentiful. In 1887, the Department of Agriculture ran tests for chemical adulterants and impurities in beer sold in Washington. The report announced that some of the beers included salicylic acid, bicarbonate of soda, and sulphite. The report named no specific beers, but Heurich knew that his beer did not contain these additives or other “impurities.” Still, it took the intervention of a friendly congressman, Jacob Romeis (R-Ohio), to force the Department of Agriculture to release the results for Heurich’s beer. They had tested two bottles and neither contained any impurities or malt substitutes. Beginning in 1891, Heurich ran advertisements boasting that his beer had “a record of purity that challenges the world.” The campaign continued for several years. Heurich also tried to distance himself from saloons that served distilled liquor. The saloon attached to Heurich’s brewery served only his own products and no hard liquor. And, unlike many bars in the area, Heurich’s saloon was furnished with tables and chairs. In this respect, it more closely resembled a traditional German beer hall than an American saloon, since many of the latter did not provide seating for customers.

Photo from the Heurich House Museum.

Social Status

By 1890, Heurich and his family were a part of the Washington business elite. He was active as a businessman and a philanthropist in both the German immigrant community and in Washington society as a whole. He served on the Board of Directors of both the German Orphan Asylum and the Eleanor Ruppert Home for the Aged and Indigent Residents. He was also active in the Chamber of Commerce and the DC Board of Trade. These latter two are of particular importance because, in the absence of an elected District government, these businessmen’s organizations acted as unofficial lobbyists for Washington in Congress by promoting the city’s financial and business interests.

Heurich’s rise was surely aided by the nature of Washington society, which was more open than that of New York, Boston, or other major cities. Newly successful businessmen moved to Washington as newly elected Congressmen or newly appointed officials, and this fluidity made high society more open to new members. Heurich commented on this in his memoirs, “The city was practically invaded by well-to-do midwesterners and westerners of the millionaire type [who had] just about nothing to do but spend [money] . . . in some fashion it became known that ‘society’ could be reached and climbed aboard easier in Washington than anywhere else in these United States.”

Heurich decided to build a new home and a new brewery. The new home would remain near 20th Street and would occupy the two New Hampshire Avenue lots (just off Dupont Circle) that his first wife had bought in 1879. Several factors prompted Heurich to move his brewery to a new location. Growing prohibitionist sentiment within the anti-saloon movement meant that Heurich was under greater pressure to close his 20th Street brewery, which was in a fast-growing residential area. Moreover, Pacific Circle (renamed Dupont Circle in 1882) was becoming a neighborhood of expensive homes, making industry even less welcome in the immediate vicinity. As Heurich later noted, “There were neighbors all around me who declared they objected to the healthy smell of good hops and barley.” Additionally, a series of fires had damaged the brewery, making expensive repairs necessary. In 1892, a fire caused by an explosion in the malt mill swept through the structure, destroying most of the brewery. It even damaged some of the beer in storage. The loss to the stored malt alone, not to mention the rest of the brewery, totaled approximately $20,000 (approximately $494,000 in 2010), enough to put the survival of the business in doubt. This was the third fire since 1875, the previous ones having been started by a chimney spark and a worker smoking in the stables. Recurring fires and the changing neighborhood prompted Heurich to build a fireproof facility in a different part of the city.

In 1894, workers started construction on a new, larger brewery by the Potomac River at 26th and D Streets. The new brewery was completed in 1895; it offered room to expand to a possible capacity of 500,000 barrels annually, up from 30,000 at his 20th Street facility, and it housed an ice plant that could produce 150 tons a day. His business did not take immediate advantage of the extra capacity, but Heurich was evidently prepared for greater sales volume in the future. While the new brewery buildings were being built, the old facility was used to age the beer previously brewed until it was ready for sale, thus reducing the disruption in business. Once the new brewery was ready, the original one was abandoned. Three years later, Heurich added a bottling operation to the new plant, and this made it easier for him to sell his beers a bit further from the city. In 1914, the old ice plant was turned into storage and a new ice plant was constructed that could produce 250 tons a day. Heurich produced “can ice” intended for ice company delivery to homes, and “plate ice” which was meant for large commercial refrigerators. He also added bottling plants in Norfolk and Baltimore, which expanded his customer base beyond DC and into much of Virginia and Maryland as well. However, he did not expand beyond the states neighboring Washington. This was not unusual. Only a few breweries were successful at expanding their market beyond a day’s trip by rail. Beer was still commonly shipped in barrels and was often bottled at the destination by a local bottler. Moreover, shipping beer required use of expensive refrigeration cars. Although Alexandria’s Robert Portner expanded throughout the South, most brewers had all the business they could handle serving their local area.

At the same time that Heurich built his new brewery, he also had a large mansion built in Dupont Circle. Made of concrete and steel, it was Washington’s first fireproof house. Heurich lived in the thirty-one-room house with his third wife, their children, and their servants. The unmarried female servants, all German, lived on the top (fourth) floor. Heurich tapped into the local community of German craftsmen for the woodwork, masonry, and ironwork that decorated the home. His fear of losing another building to fire prevented him from using any of the mansion’s many fireplaces. Heurich even went so far as to have a sculpture of a salamander placed atop the mansion’s roof, because, according to classical Greek literature, salamanders were resistant to fire.

Heurich and his family lived in a mansion in a wealthy section of the city, but all of his children attended Washington’s public schools, and their home life was a mixture of American and German customs. The children’s governess was German, but the entire family spoke both German and English at home. Heurich spoke German with his family up until World War One, at which point he switched entirely to English. Near the end of Heurich’s life, however, his family switched back to German. He was hard of hearing, and found it easier to understand his native language. The family followed the old German custom of erecting a Christmas tree, but by 1900 many wealthy and middle-class American families did so as well. The family also kept dachshunds as family pets, even though the breed fell out of favor among Americans during the First World War. They were not only a German breed but also a known favorite of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and this made them doubly unpopular. The Heurichs’ pets slept at the top of the stairs at night, watching over the family.

When World War I broke out in August 1914, Heurich and his family were on their way to Germany for a vacation. Like thousands of other American citizens, they found themselves neutrals in a war zone with no easy way to get back home. The U.S. embassy in Berlin was swamped with Americans needing money, tickets, and even passports, which had not been needed to travel during peacetime, but which became necessary once war broke out. Like other Americans, Heurich found himself strapped for cash as banks refused to cash checks from foreigners, and Heurich was no longer a German citizen. Heurich was still, however, a favorite son of Römhild, and the city government guaranteed any money Heurich needed. Friends in Berlin promised to help and he was able to book passage on a Dutch ship leaving Amsterdam. Other Americans also trapped in Nuremberg formed committees to deal with the German government and often relied on Heurich to use whatever influence he might have as a German native. Finally, he managed to arrange for a train to take the Americans from Munich to Rotterdam.

Once there, Heurich found that “we had no reservations although we had been given reservations.” A ship, the New Amsterdam, was scheduled to leave in two weeks, and they managed to book passage. Heurich was forced to reserve an “evil smelling little cabin” and complained that the price “was out of all proportion to prevailing steamship passage costs.” Still, Heurich later noted, “I would have chartered a ship for myself and my family if necessary – and would have told them to take the brewery in exchange if I had to.” “I was going,” he remembered, “to get away from here and get home . . . . ” The ship was stopped more than once by British navy ships and inspected. When the British boarded, Heurich recalled, “I came in for their particular attention as my passport showed plainly that though an American citizen in good standing, I was nevertheless a native of the country with which their country was at war.” After a ten-day trip, Heurich and his family reached New York.

From Left: Charles F. Jacobsen, Christian Heurich Sr., Karla Jacobsen, Charles P. Jacobsen, Christian Jacobsen taken at the Heurich Family Farm around 1940. Photo from the Heurich House Museum.

The Prohibition Movement

Once back in the U.S., Heurich had to deal with the growing prohibition movement, which was gaining strength throughout most of the nation. In 1914, Virginia voted to go dry beginning in November 1916, thus cutting off a large part of Heurich’s market. Even worse, Washington, DC, went dry soon thereafter.[46] The lame duck 64th Congress (1915-17) met for a final time at the end of 1916 and early 1917, and passed several prohibition laws. One of the first was the Sheppard Act – named after dry Senator John Morris Sheppard of Texas – which made Washington totally dry, banning any alcoholic beverage outside of the home. Opponents tried to derail the law by asking for a referendum to allow the citizens of Washington to vote for or against the law. Congress refused to allow such a referendum, and President Woodrow Wilson sided with Congress, noting that there was no mechanism for such a vote. In his January 15, 1917, press conference he told a reporter: “You see, there is no voting machinery in the District of Columbia. It would have to be created. There are some practical difficulties about it.” The drys continued lobbying and the bill finally passed.

Once the Sheppard Bill passed, opponents began lobbying President Wilson to veto the law. American Federation of Labor President (and Wilson political ally) Samuel Gompers visited Wilson and pressed him to kill the bill noting that beer was the working man’s beverage. However, on March 3, 1917, Wilson signed the bill, saying that Congress had been given police powers for the District so the law fell within Congressional responsibilities. Disappointed wets did not give up, however, and seven saloon-keepers filed suit with the District Supreme Court. The plaintiffs claimed that by selling them licenses the District government had recognized the saloon-keepers’ right to sell liquor and that the Sheppard Act therefore violated their property rights. The District of Columbia Supreme Court refused to consider the claim stating that the internal revenue license was, in fact, a tax, and did not actually guarantee the right to sell intoxicants. The ruling judge noted that the U.S. Supreme Court earlier had ruled that there were no rights to property involved in selling liquor, and that public health and safety rights took precedence. By 1917, the Prohibition movement had so much political influence in both major parties that even the politically influential German-American community could not influence Congress.

At midnight on October 31, 1917, Washington, DC, joined the dry ranks without a great deal of fanfare. Many restaurants had already run out of liquor and were serving ice water. Private clubs had sold their remaining stock to their members because private stashes of liquor for personal use were still allowed. A few areas remained crowded with drinkers as midnight approached. Ninth Street from Pennsylvania Avenue to K Street was crowded until after 1 a.m. with people celebrating, or mourning the end of John Barleycorn. M Street between Rock Creek and the Aqueduct Bridge, another saloon-heavy area, ended up closing before midnight as stocks of alcohol were exhausted. Heurich noted that “my brewery business was wiped out in that single gesture . . . an investment of over a million dollars was hamstrung.”

Washington’s German community opposed the measure, but it came at a time when they had little political influence and larger problems due to the impending U.S. entry into World War I. Germany declared unrestricted submarine warfare on January 31, 1917, and President Wilson asked Congress to declare war on April 2. The two intervening months were marked by anti-German hysteria in the District of Columbia, as German immigrants were subject to numerous rumors of spying and sabotage. Moreover, Washington’s business leaders were handicapped when it came to influencing policy, as the city had no representation in Congress and thus little clout. While they could lobby members of the House and Senate committees that oversaw the federal city, Congress had long been accustomed to treating Washington as its personal fiefdom. With no votes to promise or withhold, the District’s business leaders had nothing to offer members of Congress.

Not one to wait for events to overtake him, Heurich attempted to prepare for the coming of Prohibition and kept his business running and his workers employed as long as he could. In August 1917, a few months before the law took effect, he tried making a non-alcoholic fruit drink. He purchased $100,000 worth of apples (approximately $1,700,000 in 2010) and stored the mash in sterilized beer barrels. After adding some hops the drink was ready for sale. Like many Americans, Heurich was eager to show support for the wartime effort and gave his product an “American” name as opposed to a German one. Just as sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage,” Heurich’s new drink was named “Liberty Apple Champagne.” To the brewer’s chagrin, however, his new beverage fermented and he was unable to keep it on the market as a non-alcoholic beverage. He placed it in storage in the hopes that someday he could sell it.[50] In January 1920, shortly before national prohibition started, Heurich was given permission to sell as much of his stock of Liberty Apple Champagne as he could. He sold about one-third of his supply even though customers had to come to the brewery to pick it up. Some of it went to the White House.

The other looming problem for Heurich between 1914 and 1919 was growing anti-German sentiment in the U.S. during the First World War. Heurich noted that when the war began his “sympathies were with Germany, as were the sympathies of thousands of German-born people in this country who were loyal Americans, but who could never forget that Germany was the land of their birth.” In early 1917, as the U.S. prepared to enter the war against Germany, Heurich became the target of frequent, and often ludicrous, rumors. The New York Times reported that Heurich was involved, along with other prominent members of Washington’s German immigrant community, in treasonous activities. In a front-page story, the Times noted:

According to report (sic) around Washington, it was found that the principal man (Heurich) concerned had built concrete foundations for German siege guns on his country estate outside the city, placed to enable them to demolish the Capitol and disguised as fish ponds or similar landscape gardening, and that a secret wireless outfit was found on the estate, with which he had secured valuable information and conveyed it to the enemy.

The Times article continued by stating that an “officer of the Secret Service” said he “paid no attention” to this and similar reports. In reality, the “concrete foundations” were the burial vault for Heurich’s second wife, Mathilde, who had died in 1895.

Heurich noted in a statement to the press that his “loyalty as a citizen was so far beyond question that he regarded the sensational rumors as being beneath his notice.” This did not quell the rumors. In his memoirs, Heurich wrote that stories of his disloyalty were rife during the war. “I was,” he wrote, “in the opinion of these people, a master spy, an intriguer, a German propagandist, a fearful and dangerous person.” Besides the rumors of the gun emplacements, Heurich recounted inviting writers at a newspaper that claimed he had built a wireless station to transmit secret messages to Germany to inspect his property for such a facility, an offer the paper failed to accept. The same paper later reported erroneously that the brewer had committed suicide, insinuating guilt. When Heurich contacted the paper to protest, the editor offered to print a retraction but Heurich told him to “let me remain dead. Leave me in my grave where you have got me for the remainder of the war, and I won’t sue you.” In the end, Heurich spent the rest of the war on his nearby Maryland farm, Bellevue.

Although it was adversely affected, Washington’s German-American community did not suffer the violence witnessed in other parts of the U.S. during the war. Non-naturalized German immigrants were deemed “enemy aliens” and deported from Washington to cities in the Midwest to distance them from the capital. Several local churches stopped giving sermons in German. The local Sängerbund first replaced German songs with English ones and then suspended all of its activities in 1918. It went bankrupt after the war. Washington schools eliminated German language courses in 1918 after enrollment dropped. Heurich’s ten-year-old daughter complained that her friends would no longer play with her, and that they taunted her with the slur “Hun.” Heurich later wrote that, being of German birth, he had to beware of “people intent on witch-burning.” He was careful not to “express opinions of any sort” and was mindful of how he spoke.

During the First World War, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which banned “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States” passed Congress. It was ratified in January 1919 and went into effect a year after ratification when the Volstead Act defined “intoxicating” as 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. However, wartime prohibition limited the amount of material available to brewers, and made much of the country dry even before the Eighteenth Amendment took effect. Heurich, now in his mid-seventies, remained in semi-retirement after the District went dry in 1917, but his real estate investments more than sufficed to provide a comfortable living.

Even though Heurich was wealthy and could have retired comfortably, the brewery continued making ice, which Heurich sold to both Congress and the Supreme Court. Given the hostility shown to him during the First World War, this was a remarkable turnaround. Heurich had, however, spent several decades building a solid reputation as a local businessman in Washington, and once the hysteria of 1917-18 had subsided, he quickly reclaimed his place among the leading businessmen of the community. Of course, there was no longer any advantage for the local press in stirring up hostility against Heurich to sell papers. By 1919, anti-Communist panic had taken the place of anti-German hysteria when it came to selling papers and winning votes, and as a longtime conservative business owner, Heurich was a very unconvincing “red.”

The ice business was not a big moneymaker, but it did allow Heurich to continue providing employment to his workers. Moreover, Heurich had been active his entire life, and he seemed to prefer work to a leisurely retirement. Unlike many other brewers, Heurich did not try to survive by making “near beer” or by making beer and then “forgetting” to remove the alcohol, in effect bootlegging. It appeared that he had made the last batch of Senate beer ever.

In March 1933, the Volstead Act was replaced by the Cullen-Harrison Act, which redefined “intoxicating,” making 3.2% beer and wine legal. Heurich, then ninety years old, was welcomed at the White House, where he thanked President Franklin Roosevelt for signing the bill, a far cry from his treatment as an enemy alien in 1917. In December 1933, the Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, and it became legal to make and sell higher alcohol content beverages again. Heurich originally planned not to return to the beer business, but the tremendous demand for beer convinced him otherwise. Five breweries had been in operation in Washington when Prohibition began, but only Heurich’s and the Abner-Drury Brewery reopened; the latter only lasted a few years, however. Apparently, the Abner-Drury brewery rushed their beer to market while it was still “green” and acquired a reputation for selling bad beer. Heurich dumped the rest of the hard apple cider he had stored through the dry years in order to free up space for 3.2% beer. He had hoped to sell it, but the only offers he had received were from vinegar companies, and Heurich had too much pride to see some of his product, even cider, turned into vinegar. Heurich sold his beer only after it had aged properly, finally putting it on the market in August 1933. He began selling Senate Beer as his flagship brand, along with Senate Ale, Senate Bock, Heurich Lager, and Maerzen Beer.

By 1939 Heurich was the only brewer left in Washington, DC. He sold his beer in Maryland, the District, and in northern Virginia, although Washington and its suburbs accounted for most of his business. That year he began canning his beer; canning allowed beer to be cheaply shipped further than before and Heurich found himself in competition not with other local breweries, but with breweries from Baltimore, eastern Pennsylvania, and from the big national breweries Anheuser-Busch, Schlitz, and Pabst. Heurich’s marketing emphasized the traditional skill that went into making his beer rather than local pride – perhaps a reflection of the transient nature of the District’s population, for which local pride did not have as much meaning.

In September 1939, Heurich was again in Germany on what would prove to be his final trip. Once again, he found himself in Europe when war broke out. The Heurichs made their way to still neutral Denmark and then to Sweden to catch a ship for home. Heurich passed away before the war was over, so he was never able to travel to Germany again.

In June 1940, the ninety-seven year old Heurich celebrated his 75th anniversary as a brewer in the United States (this included his time working in Baltimore). Even though Germany was increasingly unpopular in the U.S., Heurich was treated as a grand old man of DC. Over 4,000 people came to the brewery for the celebration, which featured a “mild variety” of Senate Beer. Newspapers ran congratulatory messages on his anniversary and the Times-Herald, the city’s major newspaper, printed a special section on Heurich’s history. It was filled with well wishes from local businesses and civic leaders. When Heurich turned 100 in 1942, local papers covered the celebration, as they did every year. The brewery continued to do well. In 1945, sales reached a peak of 200,000 barrels with about two hundred employees, in part due to the massive influx of servicemen and workers that flooded the capital during the war. The brewery also sponsored company baseball and basketball teams that participated in local leagues.

Heurich also made certain that his brewery was overt in its patriotism. In 1940, the brewery closed on October 16th to allow its employees to participate in National Registration Day for the first peacetime draft in American history. During the war, he made the brewery’s gymnasium available for volunteer work, such as mailing ration books. His wartime ads featured symbols of American democracy, such as the Lincoln Memorial. Heurich was not hounded by rumors disparaging his patriotism as he had been during the First World War, but such paranoia was not as evident as it had been in 1917-18. Of course, remembering how Prohibitionists had used the First World War to win support, the brewing industry as a whole was careful to emphasize its patriotism and support of the war.

In February 1945, Heurich fell ill with bronchitis. He died in his home on March 7, 1945, at age 102. His funeral service was held at his home, conducted by a local Lutheran minister, and he was buried at Bellevue Farm. The value of Heurich’s estate was set at $3,550,471 at probate (approximately $43,000,000 in 2010), most of which was in the form of property, including the brewery and Bellevue.



After Heurich’s death, his son, Christian Heurich, Jr., took over the operation of the brewery. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance, he started his career in banking and real estate, but had been involved in the family brewery since its reopening in 1933, when he assumed the role of treasurer. Christian Heurich, Jr., knew the brewery business from his father, but had not trained as a brewer, since he entered college just as Prohibition began. Despite his best efforts, sales began to drop after the Second World War. A bad batch of Senate beer tarnished the brand’s reputation, and the brewery’s switch to a new brand, Old Georgetown, only restored some of the business it had lost. In 1955, the brewery launched another new brand, Heurich’s Lager, which was advertised as being made from Heurich’s original recipe. It was well-received, but its success could not stop the loss of customers to other brands. Heurich’s brewery faced the same problem as hundreds of other small and regional breweries. Competition from large brewers such as Anheuser-Busch, Pabst, and Schlitz, which could afford nationwide advertising campaigns and more efficient modern facilities, plus the growing trend towards blander, more generic-tasting beers, forced over a hundred breweries out of business between 1945 and 1960. Heurich’s board of directors decided to close the company before it began to lose money. The last of Heurich’s beer was sold in early 1956. Thereafter, the brewery was used mainly for storage. A theater group used part of it for a stage, which was nicknamed “The Old Vat,” a pun on London’s “Old Vic.” In 1962, the brewery was demolished to make room for the Kennedy Center. It apparently proved exceptionally difficult to knock down, as its thick insulated walls offered considerable resistance to the wrecking ball. Heurich’s home on New Hampshire Avenue was donated to the Columbia Historical Society, which used the house as their headquarters until they put it up for sale in 2001. The Heurich family then repurchased the home to preserve it as a museum. The museum, which is open for tours, is a beautifully preserved Victorian-era mansion with clear German accents, including a beer room with German drinking proverbs on the wall such as “Never let yourself be pained by thirst, there is many a keg left in the cellar.”

Christian Heurich, Sr., was one of many German immigrants who succeeded in the brewing industry. Unlike many of the others, however, he was based in an area that did not have a large customer base of either German immigrants or industrial workers. While Heurich was able to tap into an existing German immigrant community, and while he certainly used this community as a source of support, it was too small to support his business singlehandedly. Heurich’s success was only possible because his product appealed to a wide variety of customers – white and black, native-born and immigrant, white-color government clerks and blue-color workers alike.

Heurich also benefited from the fact that Washington was a city of transients built around a small, but rapidly growing permanent population. Fellow immigrants, new federal workers, elected officials, African-Americans migrating from the South, and even a growing diplomatic corps flowed into the District at such a rate that the population quintupled from 131,000 in 1870 to approximately 800,000 when Heurich died in 1945. Moreover, Washington was a place where comparatively recent immigrants could move into the ranks of city leaders. In Washington, DC, earning money through industry did not disqualify one from entering elite society, as was often the case in cities with an older, established society, such as New York or Philadelphia. In 1872, Heurich made the decision to move to Washington, as he felt that the city promised certain opportunities. His instincts obviously proved correct. Washington, DC, was indeed an excellent place for a recent immigrant to start a new business and move up in society.


Benbow also has a lengthy article on Rusty Cans that’s more focused on the Heurich brewery:

Christian Heurich emigrated to American from Germany in 1866 having learned the brewing trade as an apprentice to innkeepers. After coming to the US, he worked in several breweries and spent time on a ship captained by his brother-in-law, all the while learning English. In 1872, he and a partner purchased the old Schnell Brewery and Tavern in Washington on 20th Street NW between M and N Streets. Heurich soon bought out his partner’s share in the business and expanded the facility, often working 18 hour days to fill the demand for his beer. It was so popular he was forced to use a waiting list for his customers. Initially Heurich lived at his 20th Street brewery with his first wife (he was widowed twice before his third marriage), a female servant, a nephew and assorted brewery employees. It was common in the period for factories to have living quarters for the owner and the owner’s family as well as for unmarried employees.

Heurich on his 100th birthday. Photo from the Heurich House Museum.


Historic Beer Birthday: Henry Fink

Today is the birthday of Henry Fink (September 7, 1835-January 10, 1898). He was born in Hesse-Cassel, Germany, but settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1862, along with a business partner, Christian Boyer, he bought the Barnitz Brewery (which had been founded around 1854), changing the name to Fink & Boyer, although it was also known as the Keystone Brewery. Later on, it was called the Henry Fink Brewery, then Henry Fink’s Sons and finally Fink Brewing Co., before prohibition shut it down. It reopened briefly in 1933, but closed for good the following year.


According to Otto’s Pub & Brewery:

The Barnitz brewery was started on Forster Street in Harrisburg in 1854, becoming the Fink & Boyer brewery eight years later. The brewery was producing about 4,000 barrels of ale and porter per year. In 1875 Henry Fink became sole proprietor, and in 1881 he built a large modern plant with a capacity of 20,000 barrels of lager beer, ale, and porter annually which he called Fink’s Keystone Brewery. The brewery survived Prohibition and introduced Purple Ribbon Pilsner, Wurzburger Lager, and Derby Ale, but went out of business the following year. Ironically, the building was sold to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and today the building which was subsequently built on the site houses the PLCB.


Harrisburg’s Fink brewery was one of many brewers that capitalized on Pennsylvania’s German or “Pennsylvania Dutch” heritage with this “Distlefink Song” that surely inspired many tavern-goers to break into song. Made like a sampler to teach youngsters the alphabet, it presented Pennsylvania German culture in a novel way. Many Pennsylvania brewers issued similar posters.


In “Notes and Queries: Historical, Biographical and Genealogical Relating Chiefly to Interior Pennsylvania,” edited by William Henry Engle, published in 1898, has the obituary of Henry Fink: