Historic Beer Birthday: John G. Schemm

Today is the birthday of John G. Schemm (January 7, 1834-March 1899). He was born in Germany, but when he was 22, in 1852, he and his father moved to the U.S., settling on a farm near Detroit. Unfortunately, after a short time, John’s Dad passed away, and he moved to Saginaw, Michigan in 1864. With business partner Christian Grueler, he started a brewery, the Schemm & Gruhler Brewery, in 1866. Three years later, Gruhler passed away and he brought on another partner, renaming the brewery the Schemm & Schoenheit Brewery in 1874. But by 1881, he bought him out, and it became the John G. Schemm Brewery. When he passed away, his son George C. Schemm took over, and incorporated it in 1899 as the J. G. Schemm Brewing Co. Inc. It closed in 1919 due to prohibition, and was sold to another business who tried reopening it as the Schemm Brewing Co. Inc., but it closed for good in 1938. While I found some information on the brewery, there was very little about Schemm himself, not even a picture of him.


This account of the brewery is from the “Industries of the Saginaws: Historical, Descriptive and Statistical,” by John W. Leonard, published in 1887.



This short account is from “100 Years of Brewing,” published in 1903.





Historic Beer Birthday: Gottlieb Heileman

Today is the birthday of Gottlieb Heileman (January 6, 1824-February 19, 1878). He was born “in Kirchheim unter Teck, Württemberg, Germany” and the founder of the G. Heileman Brewing Company in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1858


Here’s how the brewery was described in “100 Years of Brewing,” published in 1903.



And here’s a biography from Find-a-Grave:

Brewer. He founded the brewery that became the huge G. Heileman Brewing Co. Born in Kirchheim, Wurttemberg (Germany), he emigrated to the USA in 1852, working first in Philadelphia and then went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1853 where he helped Gottlieb Maier found a bakery. In 1857 he moved to La Crosse and was employed in Nicolai brewery and the C&J Michel Brewery until he formed a partnership with Johan Gund in 1858 and they established the City Brewing Co. He became sole owner in 1872 upon Gund’s retirement when production had increased to 3,000 from 500 barrels in 1860; then renamed the firm the G. Heileman Brewing Co. When Heileman died in 1878 his wife assumed ownership becoming the first chief executive of a brewery in the nation. By 1881 production increased to over 7,100 barrels. The commitment to quality paid off well and by 1902 over 160,000 barrels were brewed annually. In 1890 the sole proprietorship was incorporated making his widow, Johanna, one of the first female presidents of a corporation; she remained active until her death in 1917. Until the 1880’s, the brewery sold its beer in oak kegs but began selling in glass bottles for home consumption; as a result, production tripled in the years between 1902, when “Old Style Lager” was introduced, and 1912. Prohibition in 1920 caused the brewery to temporarily switch production to near beer, sodas and malt extract. With Repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the brewery was swamped with beer orders, recapitalized as a public company and by 1953 produced over one-half million barrels of beer. In 1959, G. Heileman Brewing Company began acquiring breweries around the country including Blatz (1969) and Schlitz (1981) and culminated with total production exceeding 17 million barrels of beer annually including 5 million barrels at the La Crosse brewery. The company was acquired by Bond Corporation of Australia in 1987. Subsequently ownership changed hands a number of times until its name and brands, but not its breweries, were sold to Pabst Brewing Company in 1999. Coming full circle to the original 1858 name, former employees and investors acquired the Lacrosse brewing facilities, returned to the City Brewery name and again use Heileman’s 1870 residence on Third Street, directly across from the original brewery, as headquarters. The largest brewery in the United States not owned by industry leaders Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors, its capacity is 5 million barrels annually.

The G, Heileman Brewery in 1889.

Here’s a much more thorough account of not only Heileman, but also his wife and business partner, from Immigrant Entrepreneurship, entitled The Best of Partners – The Best of Rivals: Gottlieb Heileman, John Gund, and the Rise of the La Crosse Brewing Industry:

The G. Heileman Brewing Company achieved national recognition in the 1960s and 1970s when it aggressively acquired a number of well-known breweries and brands including the Blatz Brewing Company, the Rainier Brewery in Seattle, and the Grain Belt brand (now owned by August Schell Brewing Company). For much of its existence, however, the La Crosse, Wisconsin, firm operated in a conservative manner by brewing for local and regional markets only. This business strategy reflected the vision of one of the firm’s German founders, Gottlieb Heileman (born January 6, 1824, in Kirchheim unter Teck, Kingdom of Württemberg; died February 19, 1878, in La Crosse, Wisconsin), who was content to grow the firm slowly and focus on quality over quantity. John Gund (born October 3, 1830, in Schwetzingen, Grand Duchy of Baden; died May 7, 1910, in La Crosse, Wisconsin), the firm’s co-founder, eventually decided that Heileman’s business practices were too restrictive and ended the partnership in 1872 in order to build a new brewery in La Crosse that could compete with cross-state rivals such as Pabst, Schlitz, and Miller. The G. Heileman Brewing Company and the John Gund Brewing Company continued to pursue separate business strategies until national Prohibition was implemented fully in 1920. Gund’s large brewery collapsed, whereas Heileman’s smaller firm subsisted by producing non-alcoholic beer and malt products until the Twenty-First Amendment was passed in 1933.

Gund’s and Heileman’s different approaches to brewing in the post-Civil War era illustrate the diversity of business strategies employed by brewers during this period. Not all ambitious German immigrant brewers sought to create national – or even large regional – shipping breweries as did the Schlitz-Uihlein family, Adolphus Busch, and a number of other German immigrant brewers. Instead, some focused on serving local and regional markets and utilized technological advances such as artificial refrigeration and pasteurization to refine their products rather than expand their markets and market share. Furthermore, following Heileman’s death in 1878, his wife, Johanna (born August 31, 1831, in the Kingdom of Württemberg; died January 5, 1917, in La Crosse, Wisconsin), served as one of the firm’s main officers until her death in 1917. As the first known female head of a brewery in the United States and as one of the first female corporate executives in any business sector, Johanna Heileman (née Bandel) put her own unique stamp on the firm founded by her husband and his business partner.

John Gund’s vision of La Crosse emerging as the brewing center of the Midwest did not come to pass, but the city’s breweries did briefly outproduce their rivals in Milwaukee during the mid-1880s. This demonstrates that Milwaukee’s emergence as the preeminent brewing center of the Midwest was far from inevitable, and, instead, was contingent on a variety of historical factors that set it apart from other Midwestern brewery cities such as La Crosse, Minneapolis, and Duluth.

Gottlieb Heileman, Johanna Heileman, and John Gund each contributed to the development of the brewing industry in La Crosse, and any study of the G. Heileman Brewing Company’s early history must take into account the commercial, social, and cultural milieu that influenced these three immigrant entrepreneurs’ decision-making after they settled in the United States in the 1850s. Their success partially reflected the growing strength of the American brewing industry after the Civil War – made possible by the waves of German settlers who arrived in the U.S. during the mid- to late nineteenth century and who served as both producers and consumers of lager beer and other malt beverages. Nevertheless, the Heilemans and Gund were ultimately responsible for their individual successes and failures during this era as this study will demonstrate.

Family and Ethnic Background

Gottlieb Heileman (originally Gottlieb Heilemann), Johanna Bandel, and John Gund (originally Johann Gund) all hailed from the southwestern German lands. Gottlieb Heileman was one of eight children born to Caspar and Frederika Heilemann (née Meyer). He was born on January 6, 1824, in Kirchheim unter Teck, a small upland community southeast of Stuttgart in the Kingdom of Württemberg. Johanna Bandel, who also hailed from Württemberg, was born to Johann Ludwig and Kathrina Bandel (née Sigel) on August 31, 1831. She had a number of brothers who later immigrated to the United States. John Gund, on the other hand, was born approximately seventy-five miles northwest of Kirchheim in the community of Schwetzingen in the Grand Duchy of Baden on October 3, 1830. Schwetzingen lay in the rich, alluvial farmland between the Rhine and Neckar Rivers approximately six miles southwest of Heidelberg. Gund was the second of eight children born to Georg Michael and Sophia Elizabeth Gund (née Eder or Edes).

Both Heileman and Gund came from established families within their respective communities. Heileman’s father and maternal grandfather were bakers and Gottlieb Heileman received training as a baker and brewer during his youth. Gund’s father was a farmer who grew hops and tobacco, but John Gund served a two-year apprenticeship as a cooper and brewer following the end of his common school education at age fifteen. He worked an additional year as a journeyman brewer after his apprenticeship ended. The two men immigrated to the United States within four years of each other. Gund arrived in New York City in May 1848 at the age of eighteen, having traveled from Schwetzingen down the Rhine River to Rotterdam and then on to Le Havre and New York. Heileman reached Philadelphia in 1852 at the age of twenty-eight. Johanna Bandel settled in New York City in either 1852 or 1855 at the age of either twenty-one or twenty-four, respectively, and lived with her brothers for a number of years.

All three Germans followed a similar migration trajectory and made their way westward to Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin during the 1850s along with tens of thousands of other German immigrants, primarily from Baden, Württemberg, and the Palatinate. Gund’s parents settled in Freeport, Illinois, in the northwestern part of the state. John Gund found employment sixty miles to the west in Dubuque, Iowa, a commercial center situated on the west bank of the Mississippi River. He worked in a brewery operated by a German named Anton Heeb for two years. In June 1850, he relocated to nearby Galena, Illinois, to operate a brewery with a German named Witzel, possibly twenty-year-old Sebastian Witzel, who may have been an old friend. John Gund’s parents died of cholera the following month. After less than a year, he sold his share in the Galena brewery operation and rented another brewery in the community, known as the Cedar Brewery. About this time, he married fellow German immigrant Louise Hottman, a resident of Galena, with whom he eventually had five children. Two years after renting the Cedar Brewery, Gund decided to relocate to a larger and more prosperous community that would provide a better market for his beer. He and his wife moved approximately 180 miles northwest to the Mississippi River settlement of La Crosse, Wisconsin.

La Crosse had a population of approximately 2,000 residents in the mid-1850s. Situated on the east bank of the Mississippi River, the community had experienced rapid growth during the 1850s as settlers arrived to take advantage of the surrounding farmland and forests. The lumber industry flourished, facilitated by the community’s access to steamboats that plied the Mississippi River from St. Paul down to St. Louis and New Orleans. The city was incorporated in 1856 and benefitted further when a cross-state railroad connection was completed between La Crosse and Milwaukee in 1858

John Gund founded a brewery in La Crosse in August 1854. The small operation was located in a log cabin near the community’s waterfront. A number of other German immigrants founded breweries in the city in the months and years that followed. Gustavus Nicolai and Jacob Franz founded the Nicolai Brewery shortly after Gund founded his brewery. Due to production problems with Gund’s initial batch of beer, Nicolai and Franz were first to bring their beer to market. Charles and John Michel founded the La Crosse Brewery in 1857 after a failed attempt to strike it rich in the California gold fields in the early 1850s. After returning from the West Coast, they attempted to settle in Chicago but soon grew to dislike the community and made their way north to St. Paul. Ice on the Mississippi delayed their river journey and they eventually settled in La Crosse instead. After noting that existing breweries in the community could not meet local demand, they founded their own brewery.

Gottlieb Heileman reached La Crosse via Milwaukee the same year that the Nicolai brothers arrived in the city. He had worked for a year in Philadelphia after arriving in 1852. He then moved west to Milwaukee around 1854 and established a bakery with Gottlieb Maier in March 1856. The two men took out a $2,550 (approximately $70,000 in 2011$), three-year mortgage on the property, but paid off the balance within a year. Heileman was apparently less interested in baking than brewing, because he sold his share in the bakery for $1,525 (approximately $40,500 in 2011$) and moved west to La Crosse in October 1857. He found employment briefly as a foreman in the Nicolai Brewery but lost his job when Nicolai and Franz ended their partnership shortly thereafter. Heileman found a new position in the Michel brother’s La Crosse Brewery. In June 1858, he married Johanna Bandel, whom he had met during his three-year stay in Milwaukee. She had worked as a domestic servant in the midwestern city after leaving New York. Gottlieb Helieman returned to La Crosse with his bride and soon entered a new phase in his professional brewing career.

Business Development

Gottlieb Heileman and John Gund formed a partnership in November 1858 to operate the City Brewery in La Crosse. Their timing was propitious since the city of La Crosse continued to experience significant population growth, particularly among Northern European settlers, and the first outside railway connection had been completed to Milwaukee the previous month. The structures comprising the City Brewery were constructed at 1018 South Third Street. The location was south of the city’s commercial center near the Mississippi River waterfront. Early production figures for the brewery were modest. During the first decade of operation, production averaged around 500 barrels of lager beer per year (approximately 15,750 gallons). Originally, lager beer production had been limited to the winter months, but during the 1860s local brewers began using ice harvested from the Mississippi River to chill the beer during the critical lagering stage, which could last between six to eight weeks and produced a translucent and highly-carbonated final product. Heileman and Gund produced beer primarily for the local market and sold casks to hotels, taverns, and occasionally individuals. The partners constructed a hotel in downtown La Crosse in 1867 and named it the International Hotel. The facility likely offered an additional source of income for the partners and also provided a venue in which to sell their beer.

After nearly fifteen years in business together, Heileman and Gund dissolved their partnership in 1872. Heileman seems to have been content brewing beer primarily for the local market and this was reflected in the brewery’s modest output of approximately 3,000 barrels per year by the 1870s. By comparison, Eberhardt Anheuser and Adolphus Busch’s Bavarian Brewery in St. Louis produced approximately 100,000 barrels of beer per year during the same decade and the Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee produced 121,000 barrels annually. John Gund was far more ambitious than his partner and wished to establish La Crosse as a major center of brewing that would rival Milwaukee and St. Louis. Supposedly, the partners flipped a coin to determine which partner would receive the brewery and which would receive the International Hotel. Heileman won the City Brewery and Gund gained control of the hotel.


The G. Heileman Brewing Company

Gottlieb Heileman continued operating the City Brewery, now renamed the G. Heileman Brewing Company, following John Gund’s departure in 1872. The firm continued to produce a moderate volume of beer for local and regional consumption through the decade. Heileman died young in February 1878 at the age of fifty-four. Since his son, Henry, was only ten years old at the time, control of the enterprise passed to his forty-six-year-old widow, Johanna. She was assisted by Reinhard Wäcker (sometimes spelled Reinhart Wicker), who served as brewery foreman and dealt with technical matters. As president of the enterprise, Johanna Heileman became the first female head of a brewery in the United States, and after the business was incorporated in 1890, possibly the first female corporate executive in the nation. Of note, on the 1880 federal census, she listed her occupation as “keeping house,” whereas on the 1900 census she listed it as “owner of brewery.”

Other members of the Heileman family also participated in managing the business during the 1880s and 1890s. Emil Traugott Mueller, the husband of Johanna Heileman’s eldest daughter, Louisa, was hired in 1884 as a bookkeeper and assistant manager. As an adult, Henry Heileman served as vice president and assistant manager of the firm until his death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1895 at the age of twenty-six.

Under Johanna Heileman’s oversight, the G. Heileman Brewing Company gradually expanded its production and market reach. In 1880, the brewery produced 7,170 barrels of beer, which put it in a distant third place compared to the Gund Brewing Company and the Michel brother’s La Crosse Brewery. Five years later, the brewery produced 12,000 barrels and employed roughly thirty-five men. The firm produced a number of different beers during this period including a Vienna lager and a dark lager named Hofbrau. They also began bottling beer for regional distribution. They opened their first distribution agency in Glencoe, Minnesota, a city approximately fifty miles west of Minneapolis in 1885 and gradually expanded their reach to the Dakotas and Illinois over the next two decades. The firm also established tied houses, taverns that sold Heileman beer exclusively (i.e. they were tied to a particular producer), in various cities. One was located in downtown La Crosse and another was situated approximately thirty miles east in Cashton, Wisconsin.

The firm sought to maintain good relations with the other breweries in the community and avoid ruinous price wars. In May 1898, the major breweries of La Crosse, including Heileman, Gund, Michel, and a number of smaller facilities agreed to establish uniform prices for kegged and bottled beer. They set the rate for kegged beer at eight dollars per barrel (approximately $224 per barrel in 2011$). For bottled beer, the rate was $2.20 for two dozen quarts of export-strength lager and $1.90 for two dozen quarts of regular-strength lager. At the same time, Heileman and three other La Crosse breweries began quietly investigating the possibility of forming a trust in order to compete against Gund locally and the major Milwaukee shipping breweries regionally. The impetus for the proposed trust was Chicago accountant Otto W. Heibig. After overseeing the installation of brewing equipment at the Gund Brewery following the destructive 1897 fire, Heibig grew interested in pooling the financial resources and physical plants of the other La Crosse breweries. Heibig estimated a combined value for the Heileman, Michel, Franz Bartl, and Zeisler breweries at $930,000 (approximately $26 million dollars in 2011$). In September 1900, the brewers and Heibig filed incorporation papers for the La Crosse Brewing Company and prepared to offer $700,000 in capital stock and $500,000 in bonds. They proposed constructing a new brewery with the capacity to produce 400,000 barrels annually, which was twice Gund’s output of approximately 200,000 barrels per year. Industrial architect Otto C. Wolf of Philadelphia designed the new brewery at a proposed cost of $300,000 (approximately $8.4 million dollars in 2011$). The existing breweries of the members of the trust would be adapted to other purposes with the Heileman facility being converted into a malting plant and the other breweries becoming storehouses and a dedicated ale brewery. Despite the great potential of the project, it never progressed beyond the planning stages. Shortly after the trust was incorporated in September 1900, a brewer in Cincinnati purchased the equipment intended for the proposed facility in La Crosse. The following January, the trust announced its new slate of corporate officers, which included Emil T. Mueller of the G. Heileman Brewing Company as treasurer. Little further action occurred over the next two years and eventually the trust collapsed in 1902, apparently due to resistance from officials at the Heileman Brewery.

During the first decade of the twentieth century, G. Heileman Brewing introduced their best-known beer brand and went through a reorganization. The firm had acquired the trademark for a light lager, Golden Leaf, from a Milwaukee brewery in 1899 and a year later introduced a new heavier lager, Old Times Lager. In 1902, they renamed the beer Old Style Lager following a complaint from another brewery producing a similarly named beer. They also ended production of Golden Leaf to free up capacity for Old Style, which the firm produced exclusively in bottled format, as it was intended for distribution to regional markets. Emil T. Mueller played a key role in promoting the beer brand extensively over the following decade. Johanna Heilemann and the other brewery executives also expanded the firm’s capitalization to $350,000 from the original capitalization of $75,000 and used the funds to increase production to approximately 175,000 barrels per year. The firm’s brewery workers organized themselves around the same time and the firm signed a contract with Local 81 of the International Brotherhood of Brewery Workers, thus avoiding labor conflict.

By the 1910s, Heileman was shipping cases of bottled Old Style Lager to thirty-four states and had entered the lucrative Chicago market with more than fifty saloons and a number of distribution agents. Firm president Johanna Heileman passed away in January 1917, setting in motion a gradual transition from family to professional management at the firm. Johanna Heileman’s son-in-law, Emil T. Mueller, assumed the presidency of the firm, a position he held until his death in 1929. After Mueller died, another son-in-law, George Zeisler Jr., took over as president of G. Heileman Brewing until 1933, when the firm was reincorporated and non-family members assumed the presidency and key positions on the board of directors.

Unlike Gund Brewing, Heileman weathered the storm of Prohibition. Rather than risk producing low alcohol beer in 1919 and 1920, the firm began brewing a new, non-alcoholic beer called New Style Lager in May 1919 when the Wartime Prohibition Act went into effect. Like other breweries around the nation, the firm also produced a variety of hopped malt syrups and extracts that could be used by home brewers to produce beer and a line of soft drinks. Such measures helped the firm eke out an existence during the 1920s and early 1930s. In 1931, a major fire destroyed a number of warehouses and nearly bankrupted the firm, since the brewery had not insured the structures. Brewery officials warned that the firm was unlikely to survive much longer given the prohibition on alcohol sales and the general business disruption caused by the Great Depression. Fortunately, the gradual repeal of Prohibition beginning on April 7, 1933, gave G. Heileman Brewing a second lease on life. In the weeks leading up to April 7, the firm began brewing 3.2 percent beer permitted under the repeal act around the clock and released truck- and trainloads of the beer shortly after midnight on the seventh. Demand was so great that the firm could not fill all its orders and was forced to return numerous checks uncashed. Following the firm’s reincorporation, professional managers sought to update the brewery’s physical plant, improve quality control, which had slipped during the 1930s and 1940s, and expand production and distribution. This process continued into the 1950s and 1960s.


Personality and Social Standing

Both the Gund and Heileman families participated in the German institutions of La Crosse, Wisconsin, as well as in the local and regional brewing community. Little information survives about their specific involvement in the secular and religious institutions of La Crosse, but records show that John Gund’s eldest son, George, was a member of the local Turnverein in the 1870s. The physical education society had its origins in the post-Napoleonic German lands and was first introduced unsuccessfully to the United States in the 1820s. German 48rs reintroduced the Turner movement at the end of the 1840s and within a few years, Turner societies had emerged in major American cities with German populations. The La Crosse Turnverein was organized in October 1855 and John Gund granted the group permission to practice in the yard of his small brewery in 1856. They may have continued using the space through 1858, when Gund sold the property following his partnership with Heileman.

Gund and Heileman were members of the Lutheran Church and Heileman’s 1878 funeral at the local Lutheran church in La Crosse was considered to be one of the largest funerals in the history of the city to that date. More than 160 carriages belonging to mourners participated in the funeral procession from the church to the nearby Oak Grove Cemetery. Six prominent brewers in the community served as Heileman’s pallbearers, however, John Gund was not among them. This may have reflected lingering animosity between the former partners. When Gund died in 1910, members of the local Liederkranz Society, which was affiliated with the Turnverein as part of the local Deutscher Verein von La Crosse, attended his funeral along with members of the Brewer’s Union.

Politically, John Gund’s party affiliation reflected broader shifts in German immigrant political participation during the second half of the nineteenth century. He supported the Whig ticket shortly after his arrival in the United States and voted Republican in the 1860s and 1870s, but his allegiance shifted to the Democratic Party in his later years. This may have been linked to the Democrats’ opposition to the growing prohibitionist movement in the United States and the support they enjoyed from populist, agrarian elements in Midwestern states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. No information exists on Gottlieb Heileman’s political views.


Members of both families were active in professional and personal networks of largely German-American composition both at the local and national levels. These networks often overlapped, particularly in the case of marriage. John Gund’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Louisa, married La Crosse brewer Charles Michel in 1872. This cemented a bond between the two families who operated the largest and second largest breweries in La Crosse, respectively, throughout the closing decades of the nineteenth century. Similarly, Gottlieb and Johanna Heileman’s daughters married men who would later play key roles in the management of their family firm in the twentieth century.

Family members also participated in professional associations related to the brewing industry. The Heileman family joined the United States Brewers’ Association in 1886 and members of the Gund family participated in the association’s lobbying efforts on behalf of the American brewing industry. The Heileman’s son-in-law, Emil T. Mueller, served as secretary of the Personal Liberty League’s La Crosse chapter. Supported by the U.S. Brewer’s Association, the League lobbied against prohibitionist policies at the local and state levels and worked to protect the business interests of breweries in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Lastly, family members were active in local civic associations and enterprises in La Crosse. John Gund’s eldest son, George, served on the city’s Board of Trade as its first treasurer. Later, he was selected as president of the La Crosse Baseball Association in the late 1880s. He was also among the original investors in the city’s Street Railway Company in 1879, a position that gave him influence over the city’s economic development.

Immigrant Entrepreneurship

John Gund and Gottlieb and Johanna Heileman participated in the introduction of European lager beer and German beer culture to the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century. They initially served kegged beer to a largely German local clientele. Advertisements for their products appeared in German in local periodicals such as the Nord Stern. Labels for their early bottled products also contained German phrases and in the Heileman’s case listed the producer as “Heilemann City Brauerei.” Over time, though, John Gund and later Johanna Heileman expanded the scope of their respective breweries’ operations in order to provide bottled beer to a broader, regional consumer market that was less directly tied to German ethnicity. Their success in the lucrative Chicago market through tied houses helped to make both Peerless and Old Style well known among regional beer brands, and their advertising and bottle art embraced European iconography but typically avoided explicitly German references.

John Gund and Gottlieb Heileman acquired knowledge and experience in German brewing practices through apprenticeships, and they brought this knowledge with them to the United States. Both men entered the brewing trade on a limited scale after they immigrated and settled in the Midwest. No evidence exists that either man received remittances from family members in the German lands, so they likely had to accumulate slowly the necessary capital in order to open their brewery in 1858. Gund worked in a number of breweries in Iowa and Illinois before moving to La Crosse. Similarly, Heileman worked as a baker in Milwaukee before gaining experience as a foreman at two breweries in La Crosse. Once the partners founded the City Brewery, they pursued a conservative business strategy and likely reinvested their profits in the operation. Rather than trying to grow the business quickly and expand into distant markets, they found plenty of consumers in La Crosse and its hinterlands during the 1860s and 1870s.

Gund returned to Germany in 1873, shortly after he ended his partnership with Heileman. The purpose of the visit was social, but it is likely that he also surveyed the brewing landscape in Germany and brought back knowledge with him that he employed in founding the John Gund Brewery. It is unknown if Heileman returned to German at any point before his death in 1878.


The firms founded by German immigrants John Gund and Gottlieb Heileman reflected the broader fate of the American brewing industry in the twentieth century. Like hundreds of other breweries, the John Gund Brewing Company did not survive Prohibition. The family shut down the operation and eventually sold off the firm’s assets piecemeal over the next two decades. G. Heileman Brewing survived the turmoil of Prohibition and its professional managers eventually determined that the firm had to expand or fall victim to industry consolidation in the 1960s. Consequently, the corporation purchased breweries across the nation during the 1970s, while also fending off challenges from the other major brewing firms of the era, including Pabst, Miller, and Anheuser-Busch. At the same time, publicly-traded Heileman stock became a target for speculators. The firm fended off hostile takeover attempts successfully in the 1980s, but eventually sunk into bankruptcy and was acquired by Stroh in 1996.

La Crosse, Wisconsin, failed to emerge as a major center of brewing comparable to Milwaukee. It simply lacked the population and financial resources of its cross-state rival. By the beginning of the 1960s, Heileman was the only brewery left in the city, whereas Milwaukee was home to major national shipping breweries including Miller, Pabst, and Schlitz. These firms had the financial resources that Heileman lacked and were better able to weather the storm of industry consolidation in the 1970s.

Over multiple generations, the Gund and Heileman families left their mark on the economic and physical landscape of La Crosse. Both Heileman and Gund’s names remain part of the city fabric. One of the old Gund Brewery buildings now houses loft apartments and the former G. Heileman Brewery is currently operated as a contract brewery for a number of brands. Surrounded by busy brewery buildings, Gottlieb and Johanna Heileman’s large brick home still reflects the conservative values of the company’s German immigrant founder.

John Gund and Gottlieb Heileman found success by selling beer to their fellow immigrants. Over time, this success translated into greater business opportunities. Though neither firm exists today, both left a legacy that is felt within the local La Crosse community and the national brewing industry.


The Brothers Grimm & Fairy Tale Beer

Today is the birthday of Jacob Grimm, who along with his brother Wilhelm Grimm, created numerous fairy tales under the name the Brothers Grimm. Their best known stories are classics, tales like “Cinderella,”, “The Frog Prince,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Rapunzel,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” and “Snow White.” We usually think of these old fairy tales as being strictly for kids, probably because of how Disney and others have sanitized them, but the originals are often genuinely frightening, and their moral and purpose was to scare children, the original “scared straight” stories. In a few lesser-known stories, beer is mentioned and in a few cases is actually an important factor in the tale. Here’s a few of these Grimm’s fairy tales involving beer to read to your kids or just enjoy yourself.

Clever Elsie


There was once a man who had a daughter who was called Clever Elsie. And when she had grown up her father said: ‘We will get her married.’ ‘Yes,’ said the mother, ‘if only someone would come who would have her.’ At length a man came from a distance and wooed her, who was called Hans; but he stipulated that Clever Elsie should be really smart. ‘Oh,’ said the father, ‘she has plenty of good sense'; and the mother said: ‘Oh, she can see the wind coming up the street, and hear the flies coughing.’ ‘Well,’ said Hans, ‘if she is not really smart, I won’t have her.’ When they were sitting at dinner and had eaten, the mother said: ‘Elsie, go into the cellar and fetch some beer.’ Then Clever Elsie took the pitcher from the wall, went into the cellar, and tapped the lid briskly as she went, so that the time might not appear long. When she was below she fetched herself a chair, and set it before the barrel so that she had no need to stoop, and did not hurt her back or do herself any unexpected injury. Then she placed the can before her, and turned the tap, and while the beer was running she would not let her eyes be idle, but looked up at the wall, and after much peering here and there, saw a pick-axe exactly above her, which the masons had accidentally left there.

Then Clever Elsie began to weep and said: ‘If I get Hans, and we have a child, and he grows big, and we send him into the cellar here to draw beer, then the pick-axe will fall on his head and kill him.’ Then she sat and wept and screamed with all the strength of her body, over the misfortune which lay before her. Those upstairs waited for the drink, but Clever Elsie still did not come. Then the woman said to the servant: ‘Just go down into the cellar and see where Elsie is.’ The maid went and found her sitting in front of the barrel, screaming loudly. ‘Elsie why do you weep?’ asked the maid. ‘Ah,’ she answered, ‘have I not reason to weep? If I get Hans, and we have a child, and he grows big, and has to draw beer here, the pick-axe will perhaps fall on his head, and kill him.’ Then said the maid: ‘What a clever Elsie we have!’ and sat down beside her and began loudly to weep over the misfortune. After a while, as the maid did not come back, and those upstairs were thirsty for the beer, the man said to the boy: ‘Just go down into the cellar and see where Elsie and the girl are.’ The boy went down, and there sat Clever Elsie and the girl both weeping together. Then he asked: ‘Why are you weeping?’ ‘Ah,’ said Elsie, ‘have I not reason to weep? If I get Hans, and we have a child, and he grows big, and has to draw beer here, the pick-axe will fall on his head and kill him.’ Then said the boy: ‘What a clever Elsie we have!’ and sat down by her, and likewise began to howl loudly. Upstairs they waited for the boy, but as he still did not return, the man said to the woman: ‘Just go down into the cellar and see where Elsie is!’ The woman went down, and found all three in the midst of their lamentations, and inquired what was the cause; then Elsie told her also that her future child was to be killed by the pick-axe, when it grew big and had to draw beer, and the pick-axe fell down. Then said the mother likewise: ‘What a clever Elsie we have!’ and sat down and wept with them. The man upstairs waited a short time, but as his wife did not come back and his thirst grew ever greater, he said: ‘I must go into the cellar myself and see where Elsie is.’ But when he got into the cellar, and they were all sitting together crying, and he heard the reason, and that Elsie’s child was the cause, and the Elsie might perhaps bring one into the world some day, and that he might be killed by the pick-axe, if he should happen to be sitting beneath it, drawing beer just at the very time when it fell down, he cried: ‘Oh, what a clever Elsie!’ and sat down, and likewise wept with them. The bridegroom stayed upstairs alone for a long time; then as no one would come back he thought: ‘They must be waiting for me below: I too must go there and see what they are about.’ When he got down, the five of them were sitting screaming and lamenting quite piteously, each out-doing the other. ‘What misfortune has happened then?’ asked he. ‘Ah, dear Hans,’ said Elsie, ‘if we marry each other and have a child, and he is big, and we perhaps send him here to draw something to drink, then the pick-axe which has been left up there might dash his brains out if it were to fall down, so have we not reason to weep?’ ‘Come,’ said Hans, ‘more understanding than that is not needed for my household, as you are such a clever Elsie, I will have you,’ and seized her hand, took her upstairs with him, and married her.

After Hans had had her some time, he said: ‘Wife, I am going out to work and earn some money for us; go into the field and cut the corn that we may have some bread.’ ‘Yes, dear Hans, I will do that.’ After Hans had gone away, she cooked herself some good broth and took it into the field with her. When she came to the field she said to herself: ‘What shall I do; shall I cut first, or shall I eat first? Oh, I will eat first.’ Then she drank her cup of broth and when she was fully satisfied, she once more said: ‘What shall I do? Shall I cut first, or shall I sleep first? I will sleep first.’ Then she lay down among the corn and fell asleep. Hans had been at home for a long time, but Elsie did not come; then said he: ‘What a clever Elsie I have; she is so industrious that she does not even come home to eat.’ But when evening came and she still stayed away, Hans went out to see what she had cut, but nothing was cut, and she was lying among the corn asleep. Then Hans hastened home and brought a fowler’s net with little bells and hung it round about her, and she still went on sleeping. Then he ran home, shut the house-door, and sat down in his chair and worked. At length, when it was quite dark, Clever Elsie awoke and when she got up there was a jingling all round about her, and the bells rang at each step which she took. Then she was alarmed, and became uncertain whether she really was Clever Elsie or not, and said: ‘Is it I, or is it not I?’ But she knew not what answer to make to this, and stood for a time in doubt; at length she thought: ‘I will go home and ask if it be I, or if it be not I, they will be sure to know.’ She ran to the door of her own house, but it was shut; then she knocked at the window and cried: ‘Hans, is Elsie within?’ ‘Yes,’ answered Hans, ‘she is within.’ Hereupon she was terrified, and said: ‘Ah, heavens! Then it is not I,’ and went to another door; but when the people heard the jingling of the bells they would not open it, and she could get in nowhere. Then she ran out of the village, and no one has seen her since.

Frederick and Catherine


There was once a man called Frederick: he had a wife whose name was Catherine, and they had not long been married. One day Frederick said. ‘Kate! I am going to work in the fields; when I come back I shall be hungry so let me have something nice cooked, and a good draught of ale.’ ‘Very well,’ said she, ‘it shall all be ready.’ When dinner-time drew nigh, Catherine took a nice steak, which was all the meat she had, and put it on the fire to fry. The steak soon began to look brown, and to crackle in the pan; and Catherine stood by with a fork and turned it: then she said to herself, ‘The steak is almost ready, I may as well go to the cellar for the ale.’ So she left the pan on the fire and took a large jug and went into the cellar and tapped the ale cask. The beer ran into the jug and Catherine stood looking on. At last it popped into her head, ‘The dog is not shut up—he may be running away with the steak; that’s well thought of.’ So up she ran from the cellar; and sure enough the rascally cur had got the steak in his mouth, and was making off with it.

Away ran Catherine, and away ran the dog across the field: but he ran faster than she, and stuck close to the steak. ‘It’s all gone, and “what can’t be cured must be endured”,’ said Catherine. So she turned round; and as she had run a good way and was tired, she walked home leisurely to cool herself.

Now all this time the ale was running too, for Catherine had not turned the cock; and when the jug was full the liquor ran upon the floor till the cask was empty. When she got to the cellar stairs she saw what had happened. ‘My stars!’ said she, ‘what shall I do to keep Frederick from seeing all this slopping about?’ So she thought a while; and at last remembered that there was a sack of fine meal bought at the last fair, and that if she sprinkled this over the floor it would suck up the ale nicely. ‘What a lucky thing,’ said she, ‘that we kept that meal! we have now a good use for it.’ So away she went for it: but she managed to set it down just upon the great jug full of beer, and upset it; and thus all the ale that had been saved was set swimming on the floor also. ‘Ah! well,’ said she, ‘when one goes another may as well follow.’ Then she strewed the meal all about the cellar, and was quite pleased with her cleverness, and said, ‘How very neat and clean it looks!’

At noon Frederick came home. ‘Now, wife,’ cried he, ‘what have you for dinner?’ ‘O Frederick!’ answered she, ‘I was cooking you a steak; but while I went down to draw the ale, the dog ran away with it; and while I ran after him, the ale ran out; and when I went to dry up the ale with the sack of meal that we got at the fair, I upset the jug: but the cellar is now quite dry, and looks so clean!’ ‘Kate, Kate,’ said he, ‘how could you do all this?’ Why did you leave the steak to fry, and the ale to run, and then spoil all the meal?’ ‘Why, Frederick,’ said she, ‘I did not know I was doing wrong; you should have told me before.’

The husband thought to himself, ‘If my wife manages matters thus, I must look sharp myself.’ Now he had a good deal of gold in the house: so he said to Catherine, ‘What pretty yellow buttons these are! I shall put them into a box and bury them in the garden; but take care that you never go near or meddle with them.’ ‘No, Frederick,’ said she, ‘that I never will.’ As soon as he was gone, there came by some peddlers with earthenware plates and dishes, and they asked her whether she would buy. ‘Oh dear me, I should like to buy very much, but I have no money: if you had any use for yellow buttons, I might deal with you.’ ‘Yellow buttons!’ said they: ‘let us have a look at them.’ ‘Go into the garden and dig where I tell you, and you will find the yellow buttons: I dare not go myself.’ So the rogues went: and when they found what these yellow buttons were, they took them all away, and left her plenty of plates and dishes. Then she set them all about the house for a show: and when Frederick came back, he cried out, ‘Kate, what have you been doing?’ ‘See,’ said she, ‘I have bought all these with your yellow buttons: but I did not touch them myself; the pedlars went themselves and dug them up.’ ‘Wife, wife,’ said Frederick, ‘what a pretty piece of work you have made! those yellow buttons were all my money: how came you to do such a thing?’ ‘Why,’ answered she, ‘I did not know there was any harm in it; you should have told me.’

Catherine stood musing for a while, and at last said to her husband, ‘Hark ye, Frederick, we will soon get the gold back: let us run after the thieves.’ ‘Well, we will try,’ answered he; ‘but take some butter and cheese with you, that we may have something to eat by the way.’ ‘Very well,’ said she; and they set out: and as Frederick walked the fastest, he left his wife some way behind. ‘It does not matter,’ thought she: ‘when we turn back, I shall be so much nearer home than he.’

Presently she came to the top of a hill, down the side of which there was a road so narrow that the cart wheels always chafed the trees on each side as they passed. ‘Ah, see now,’ said she, ‘how they have bruised and wounded those poor trees; they will never get well.’ So she took pity on them, and made use of the butter to grease them all, so that the wheels might not hurt them so much. While she was doing this kind office one of her cheeses fell out of the basket, and rolled down the hill. Catherine looked, but could not see where it had gone; so she said, ‘Well, I suppose the other will go the same way and find you; he has younger legs than I have.’ Then she rolled the other cheese after it; and away it went, nobody knows where, down the hill. But she said she supposed that they knew the road, and would follow her, and she could not stay there all day waiting for them.

At last she overtook Frederick, who desired her to give him something to eat. Then she gave him the dry bread. ‘Where are the butter and cheese?’ said he. ‘Oh!’ answered she, ‘I used the butter to grease those poor trees that the wheels chafed so: and one of the cheeses ran away so I sent the other after it to find it, and I suppose they are both on the road together somewhere.’ ‘What a goose you are to do such silly things!’ said the husband. ‘How can you say so?’ said she; ‘I am sure you never told me not.’

They ate the dry bread together; and Frederick said, ‘Kate, I hope you locked the door safe when you came away.’ ‘No,’ answered she, ‘you did not tell me.’ ‘Then go home, and do it now before we go any farther,’ said Frederick, ‘and bring with you something to eat.’

Catherine did as he told her, and thought to herself by the way, ‘Frederick wants something to eat; but I don’t think he is very fond of butter and cheese: I’ll bring him a bag of fine nuts, and the vinegar, for I have often seen him take some.’

When she reached home, she bolted the back door, but the front door she took off the hinges, and said, ‘Frederick told me to lock the door, but surely it can nowhere be so safe if I take it with me.’ So she took her time by the way; and when she overtook her husband she cried out, ‘There, Frederick, there is the door itself, you may watch it as carefully as you please.’ ‘Alas! alas!’ said he, ‘what a clever wife I have! I sent you to make the house fast, and you take the door away, so that everybody may go in and out as they please—however, as you have brought the door, you shall carry it about with you for your pains.’ ‘Very well,’ answered she, ‘I’ll carry the door; but I’ll not carry the nuts and vinegar bottle also—that would be too much of a load; so if you please, I’ll fasten them to the door.’

Frederick of course made no objection to that plan, and they set off into the wood to look for the thieves; but they could not find them: and when it grew dark, they climbed up into a tree to spend the night there. Scarcely were they up, than who should come by but the very rogues they were looking for. They were in truth great rascals, and belonged to that class of people who find things before they are lost; they were tired; so they sat down and made a fire under the very tree where Frederick and Catherine were. Frederick slipped down on the other side, and picked up some stones. Then he climbed up again, and tried to hit the thieves on the head with them: but they only said, ‘It must be near morning, for the wind shakes the fir-apples down.’

Catherine, who had the door on her shoulder, began to be very tired; but she thought it was the nuts upon it that were so heavy: so she said softly, ‘Frederick, I must let the nuts go.’ ‘No,’ answered he, ‘not now, they will discover us.’ ‘I can’t help that: they must go.’ ‘Well, then, make haste and throw them down, if you will.’ Then away rattled the nuts down among the boughs and one of the thieves cried, ‘Bless me, it is hailing.’

A little while after, Catherine thought the door was still very heavy: so she whispered to Frederick, ‘I must throw the vinegar down.’ ‘Pray don’t,’ answered he, ‘it will discover us.’ ‘I can’t help that,’ said she, ‘go it must.’ So she poured all the vinegar down; and the thieves said, ‘What a heavy dew there is!’

At last it popped into Catherine’s head that it was the door itself that was so heavy all the time: so she whispered, ‘Frederick, I must throw the door down soon.’ But he begged and prayed her not to do so, for he was sure it would betray them. ‘Here goes, however,’ said she: and down went the door with such a clatter upon the thieves, that they cried out ‘Murder!’ and not knowing what was coming, ran away as fast as they could, and left all the gold. So when Frederick and Catherine came down, there they found all their money safe and sound.

The Golden Goose


There was a man who had three sons, the youngest of whom was called Dummling,[*] and was despised, mocked, and sneered at on every occasion.

It happened that the eldest wanted to go into the forest to hew wood, and before he went his mother gave him a beautiful sweet cake and a bottle of wine in order that he might not suffer from hunger or thirst.

When he entered the forest he met a little grey-haired old man who bade him good day, and said: ‘Do give me a piece of cake out of your pocket, and let me have a draught of your wine; I am so hungry and thirsty.’ But the clever son answered: ‘If I give you my cake and wine, I shall have none for myself; be off with you,’ and he left the little man standing and went on.

But when he began to hew down a tree, it was not long before he made a false stroke, and the axe cut him in the arm, so that he had to go home and have it bound up. And this was the little grey man’s doing.

After this the second son went into the forest, and his mother gave him, like the eldest, a cake and a bottle of wine. The little old grey man met him likewise, and asked him for a piece of cake and a drink of wine. But the second son, too, said sensibly enough: ‘What I give you will be taken away from myself; be off!’ and he left the little man standing and went on. His punishment, however, was not delayed; when he had made a few blows at the tree he struck himself in the leg, so that he had to be carried home.

Then Dummling said: ‘Father, do let me go and cut wood.’ The father answered: ‘Your brothers have hurt themselves with it, leave it alone, you do not understand anything about it.’ But Dummling begged so long that at last he said: ‘Just go then, you will get wiser by hurting yourself.’ His mother gave him a cake made with water and baked in the cinders, and with it a bottle of sour beer.

When he came to the forest the little old grey man met him likewise, and greeting him, said: ‘Give me a piece of your cake and a drink out of your bottle; I am so hungry and thirsty.’ Dummling answered: ‘I have only cinder-cake and sour beer; if that pleases you, we will sit down and eat.’ So they sat down, and when Dummling pulled out his cinder-cake, it was a fine sweet cake, and the sour beer had become good wine. So they ate and drank, and after that the little man said: ‘Since you have a good heart, and are willing to divide what you have, I will give you good luck. There stands an old tree, cut it down, and you will find something at the roots.’ Then the little man took leave of him.

Dummling went and cut down the tree, and when it fell there was a goose sitting in the roots with feathers of pure gold. He lifted her up, and taking her with him, went to an inn where he thought he would stay the night. Now the host had three daughters, who saw the goose and were curious to know what such a wonderful bird might be, and would have liked to have one of its golden feathers.

The eldest thought: ‘I shall soon find an opportunity of pulling out a feather,’ and as soon as Dummling had gone out she seized the goose by the wing, but her finger and hand remained sticking fast to it.

The second came soon afterwards, thinking only of how she might get a feather for herself, but she had scarcely touched her sister than she was held fast.

At last the third also came with the like intent, and the others screamed out: ‘Keep away; for goodness’ sake keep away!’ But she did not understand why she was to keep away. ‘The others are there,’ she thought, ‘I may as well be there too,’ and ran to them; but as soon as she had touched her sister, she remained sticking fast to her. So they had to spend the night with the goose.

The next morning Dummling took the goose under his arm and set out, without troubling himself about the three girls who were hanging on to it. They were obliged to run after him continually, now left, now right, wherever his legs took him.

In the middle of the fields the parson met them, and when he saw the procession he said: ‘For shame, you good-for-nothing girls, why are you running across the fields after this young man? Is that seemly?’ At the same time he seized the youngest by the hand in order to pull her away, but as soon as he touched her he likewise stuck fast, and was himself obliged to run behind.

Before long the sexton came by and saw his master, the parson, running behind three girls. He was astonished at this and called out: ‘Hi! your reverence, whither away so quickly? Do not forget that we have a christening today!’ and running after him he took him by the sleeve, but was also held fast to it.

Whilst the five were trotting thus one behind the other, two labourers came with their hoes from the fields; the parson called out to them and begged that they would set him and the sexton free. But they had scarcely touched the sexton when they were held fast, and now there were seven of them running behind Dummling and the goose.
Soon afterwards he came to a city, where a king ruled who had a daughter who was so serious that no one could make her laugh. So he had put forth a decree that whosoever should be able to make her laugh should marry her. When Dummling heard this, he went with his goose and all her train before the king’s daughter, and as soon as she saw the seven people running on and on, one behind the other, she began to laugh quite loudly, and as if she would never stop. Thereupon Dummling asked to have her for his wife; but the king did not like the son-in-law, and made all manner of excuses and said he must first produce a man who could drink a cellarful of wine. Dummling thought of the little grey man, who could certainly help him; so he went into the forest, and in the same place where he had felled the tree, he saw a man sitting, who had a very sorrowful face. Dummling asked him what he was taking to heart so sorely, and he answered: ‘I have such a great thirst and cannot quench it; cold water I cannot stand, a barrel of wine I have just emptied, but that to me is like a drop on a hot stone!’

‘There, I can help you,’ said Dummling, ‘just come with me and you shall be satisfied.’

He led him into the king’s cellar, and the man bent over the huge barrels, and drank and drank till his loins hurt, and before the day was out he had emptied all the barrels. Then Dummling asked once more for his bride, but the king was vexed that such an ugly fellow, whom everyone called Dummling, should take away his daughter, and he made a new condition; he must first find a man who could eat a whole mountain of bread. Dummling did not think long, but went straight into the forest, where in the same place there sat a man who was tying up his body with a strap, and making an awful face, and saying: ‘I have eaten a whole ovenful of rolls, but what good is that when one has such a hunger as I? My stomach remains empty, and I must tie myself up if I am not to die of hunger.’
At this Dummling was glad, and said: ‘Get up and come with me; you shall eat yourself full.’ He led him to the king’s palace where all the flour in the whole Kingdom was collected, and from it he caused a huge mountain of bread to be baked. The man from the forest stood before it, began to eat, and by the end of one day the whole mountain had vanished. Then Dummling for the third time asked for his bride; but the king again sought a way out, and ordered a ship which could sail on land and on water. ‘As soon as you come sailing back in it,’ said he, ‘you shall have my daughter for wife.’

Dummling went straight into the forest, and there sat the little grey man to whom he had given his cake. When he heard what Dummling wanted, he said: ‘Since you have given me to eat and to drink, I will give you the ship; and I do all this because you once were kind to me.’ Then he gave him the ship which could sail on land and water, and when the king saw that, he could no longer prevent him from having his daughter. The wedding was celebrated, and after the king’s death, Dummling inherited his kingdom and lived for a long time contentedly with his wife.

Historic Beer Birthday: Peter Schoenhofen

Today is the birthday of Peter Schoenhofen (January 2, 1827-January 2, 1893). He owned a brewery in Chicago that was called the Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Co.


Portrait from “100 Years of Brewing,” originally published in 1901.


And here’s another portrait that included this text: “German-born Peter Schoenhofer (1827-1893) came penniless to America in 1851 and took jobs in various breweries around Chicago. Eventually he and a partner, Matheus Gottfried, opened a brewery. Schoenhofen bought out Gottfried in 1867 and the company became the Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Company. Ads bragged that the beer’s clean taste came from the artesian spring located under the brewery. Their Edelweiss brand was the best known.”


Here’s an entry about Schoenhofen from the Encyclopedia of Chicago:

Peter Schoenhofen, a Prussian immigrant, was in Chicago working in the brewing trade by the 1850s. In 1861, he started a partnership with Matheus Gottfried; they were soon operating a brewery at Canalport Avenue and 18th Street where, during the early 1860s, they made about 600 barrels of lager beer a year. In 1867, Schoenhofen bought out his partner, and the company became the Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Co. By 1868, annual output had increased to about 10,000 barrels. During the 1890s, when the business was owned by the City Contract Co. of London, England, annual output reached 180,000 barrels. Around 1900, the Schoenhofen family regained control of the company, which employed about 500 people at its brewery on West 12th Street by 1910. During this time, the company was also known as the National Brewing Co. The company’s “Edelweiss” brand of beer was a big seller. Operations shut down during Prohibition, but by 1933, after the national ban on alcohol production was lifted, the company was back in business as the Schoenhofen-Edelweiss Co. After being purchased by the Atlas Brewing Co. in the late 1940s, Schoenhofen became part of Dewery’s Ltd. of South Bend, Indiana, in 1951, and thereafter assumed the Dewery’s name. By the beginning of the 1970s, there was nothing left of its Chicago operations, although Dewery’s reintroduced the famous Edelweiss brand in 1972 after nearly a decade-long hiatus.


Forgotten Chicago has a nice photo gallery about the Schoenhofen Brewery and what remains of it today, saying that what is left “of the Schoenhofen Brewery are still the most impressive pre-Prohibition era brewery structures in Chicago. Buildings were first erected at 18th and Canalport in 1862 when the brewery relocated here from 12th and Jefferson. The last buildings were built in 1912, and the brewery remained in business until 1924, a casualty of prohibition.”


The area where the brewery operated are today known as the Schoenhofen Brewery Historic District.


I love their ad copy: “A case of good judgment,” which they used extensively. And this beer was a “secret brew,” whatever that means.

Historic Beer Birthday: Gottfried Piel

Today is the birthday of Gottfried Piel (December 31, 1852-May 1, 1935) who along with his brothers Michael and Wilhelm Piel founded Piel Bros. Beer in New York, more commonly known as Piels Beer in 1883. Gottfried Piel was more on the business side among his brothers, whereas his older brother Michael was the brewer.


Here’s a short biography of Piel from a website highlighting his highly collectible personal corkscrew:

Gottfried Piel was the founder of the Piel Brothers Brewing Company of Brooklyn, New York. Piel left his home in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1882 at the age of 29 to emigrate to the United States. In 1883 he convinced his brothers Michael and Wilhelm to join him in the purchase of the Landzer Brewery.

Piel’s first year beer production was 850 barrels and in ensuing years, Piel Bros. continue to grow rapidly. It became a Brooklyn tradition and, although the brewery closed after some rough years in the 1960s and 1970s, the brand name is still in use. The Piel name was purchased by the Schaefer Brewing Company in 1973.

Gottfried Piel died in 1935 and his corkscrew was left to his daughter Sophia, widow of Pinckney and wife of Peter William Dawson. The corkscrew passed to Peter William Dawson upon the death of Sophia. In 1980 Dawson died and the corkscrew passed to his nephew Jim Lowry. Jim Lowry sold the corkscrew to Don Bull.


This is a description of Gottfried from Beer of Broadway Fame: The Piel Family and Their Brooklyn Brewery by Alfred W. McCoy:



And here’s a biography of his brother Michael from the Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited to keep the portions where Gottfried is mentioned:

PIEL, Michael, brewer, b. in Stoffeln, Düsseldorf am Rhein, Germany, 29 March, 1849; d. at Lake Parlin, Me., 12 June, 1915, son of Heinrich Hubert and Gertrud (Gispé) Piel. He was descended from an old Rhenish stock of farmers of singular attachment, whose members successively aimed to expand their patrimony of tillable lands. To the original and extensive Stoffeln Farm his father and uncles added the great Mörsenbroich-Düsseldorf tillages, which now border the residential section of the Lower Rhenish financial capitol. Michael was born in an environment of industry, thrift, and enterprise. His early youth was devoted to the farm at Mörsenbroich-Düsseldorf. At the age of eighteen, he began his military service in the Kaiser Alexander II Regiment of the Imperial Guards at Berlin. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 broke out just as he had completed this duty. As he was not, therefore, subject to the call of the Fatherland, his family sought to hold him back. He promptly volunteered, however, and served throughout the war, participating with his regiment in several engagements, the battle of Gravelotte and the siege of Paris. The impressions on the country boy of his years of service at Berlin, which had already begun to modernize its industries, lingered and served constantly to stimulate his natural gifts of invention. While for several years after the war, true to the family tradition, he worked at Mörsenbroich with his elder brother, he continually sought expression for his native talents. The arduous discipline of farm-labor from sun-up to sun-down, — valuable preparation though it was for the early trials of his later life career — could not check his inventive spirit. Gradually, making the most of his opportunities on the farm, his successes won him away from the family calling. In the creation of new rose-cultures and, particularly, in the perfection of a new and highly productive breed of bees, for both of which, after but two years of experimentation, he was voted the government’s highest awards, he found the encouragement he needed for the growing determination to carve out his own future. It was, however, his invention of a centrifuge for the extraction of honey, awarded special governmental recognition and immediately adopted into general use, that decided him. As the protégé of a machine manufacturer, he visited the industrial centers of the progressive Rhineland and soon chose the ancient German industry of brewing as the one offering the best opportunity for his talent of applying machinery to natural processes. He found a fertile field. The new science of modern refrigeration had just come into practice, and the suggestions which it offered in his chosen field fascinated him. He began his novitiate in the old-style subterranean cellars at the breweries of Dortmund, Westphalia. In 1883, his apprenticeship ended, he welcomed the call of a younger brother, Gottfried, then already established as an export merchant in New York, to found with him in East New York, at its present site, a typically German brewery, to be conceived on modern and scientific principles. The brothers, as a partnership, secured title to a small old-style brewing plant, then in disuse, and found the problem to convert it to newer ideas a fight against tremendous odds. At the outset, Michael was its brewer, superintendent, and engineer, his accumulated experience fitting him admirably for the multiplicity of his duties. In the early days of the converted plant, Michael found that his hours were from four o’clock in the morning till ten at night. At last, in 1888, the ability of his brother as the financial head of the firm and the excellence of his own products assured success and the long struggle was won. The country which had offered him his opportunity for success he gladly and promptly adopted as his own, being admitted to citizenship in 1888. The enterprise prospered and the partnership became a corporation in 1898, with an established business of national reputation.



Historic Beer Birthday: Rudolph Rheinboldt

Today is the birthday of Rudolph Rheinboldt (December 27, 1827-October 30, 1916). He was born in Germany, came to Cincinnati, Ohio, and was involved with helping to found what would become the John Kaufman Brewing Co., though for a short time, from 1856-58, it was known as the John Kaufman Rudolph Rheinboldt Brewery. It’s possible he was related to Kaufman, though it’s unclear how, although Rheinboldt did marry Magdalena Kauffman in Cincinnati, Ohio, on August 13, 1859, when he was 31 years old.

Here’s the letterhead from the John Kaufamn Brewing Co.

Since he appears to have been involved for only a short time, I was unable to find very much about him, no photos, and almost nothing after he left the brewing industry.

Here’s part of the John Kaufman Brewing Co. that involves Rheinboldt, from Cincinnati Brewing History:

In 1856 John Kauffman, George F. Eichenlaub, and Rudolf Rheinboldt purchased the Franklin Brewery on Lebanon Road near the Deer Creek from Kauffman’s aunt. Her husband, John Kauffman, estabished the brewery in 1844. He died in 1845. In 1859 under the name Kauffman and Company, they began to build a new brewery on Vine Street and soon left the Deer Creek location. The first structure on Vine was completed in 1860.

In 1871 the Kauffman Brewery was the city’s fourth largest with sales amounting to $30,930. It was located on both the west and east sides of Vine north of Liberty and south of Green Street.

In 1860 Kauffman also bought the Schneider grist mill on Walnut Street near Hamilton Road (McMicken Avenue), but leased it out before long to another company.

In its first year on Vine Street, the brewery produced only about 1000 barrels. By 1877 the number grew to 50,000 barrels of beer. Kauffman’s beer was sold in Nashville, Montgomery, Atlanta, Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans.

In 1865 Eichenlaub retired from the business and he was followed by Rheinboldt in 1877. John Kauffman then took over the leadership by himself. After his oldest son Johnn studied brewing in Augsburg, Germany, he went to work at the family brewery. Emil Schmidt, Kauffman’s son-in-law, was superintendent by 1877.

In 1882 the brewery was incorporated as the John Kauffman Brewing Company with a paid-in capital stock of $700,000. In 1888 the brewery building at 1622 Vine was enlarged. Note it is occupied by the Schuerman Company today. The office and family residence was at 1625-27 Vine, which was razed and replaced about 75 years ago.


Historic Beer Birthday: Stephan Moninger

Today is the birthday of Stephan Moninger (December 25, 1827-1875). He was born in Württemberg, Germany, and on December 16, 1856, was granted a license to brew commercially and founded the Brauerei Moninger in Karlsruhe, Germany. It was the same brewery he had previously worked at as brewmaster, then known as the Brauerei Ludwig Kaufmann. When his boss died in 1852, he married his widow, Marie Kaufmann, and Moniger assumed control of the brewery then but had to wait until two years later to be inspected and permitted to join the local brewers’ and coopers’ guilds, even though he’d become a citizen of Baden and had acquired the “master’s rights.”


Here’s the Google translation from the German Stadtwiki Karlsruhe:

As Stephan Moninger from Upper Unterschneidheim at Ellwangen in 1854 to Karlsruhe came, wanted the local brewers guild not accept his master’s certificate. No wonder he had bought himself in Stuttgart. When then 27 breweries and 25,000 residents, there was a great competition. Moninger then worked initially as managing director of Ludwig Kaufmann brewery in Waldhornstraße 23 died as a merchant, married Moninger 1856 his widow Marie born Hermann . However, before that same year the brewery under the name brewery S. Moninger could lead, he had to take a new master inspection before Bierbrauer- and coopers’ guild.

After Moninger 1866 in the former brewery of his brother Josef Hack in the Long Road 142 (later Emperor Street ) moved, the company began to flourish soon. 1875 , the company was by his widow Marie and from 1881 by the sons Karl and Stefan Moninger continued as a general partnership.

From Josef Hack Moninger also had a beer cellar in summer bar (at the Kriegsstraße acquired). On the local terrain in the Kriegsstraße 128-130 (. Later No. 210-216) established the brothers Moninger – after 1884 a brewery fire the malt kiln in the Kaiserstraße had destroyed – after a new brewery.

With the commissioning of the new brewery investments in 1888 , the change occurred to one of the first industrial companies in this hitherto craft-oriented industry. At the same time, the conversion into a corporation under the name carried Brewery Company vorm. S. Moninger AG (since 1938 only Brauerei Moninger AG). 1898 a beer output of 100,000 hectoliters was reached. Thus she could in the subsequent period as now largest brewery establish bathing. 1905 was a bottling plant in operation.

The First World War the supernatant Moninger AG better than most other Karlsruher breweries . Through the buying of brewery Kammerer ( 1920 ), the Eglau brewery ( 1921 ) and the Union Brewery ( 1922 ) she held the top position among the Karlsruher Breweries (beer production in 1928 : 200,000 hl.). From 1923 , the production of soft drinks and mineral was added.

The Moninger brewery in 1906.

And here’s another translation of their history, this one from Karlsruhe Culture & Tourism:

In December 1856 originating from Württemberg took Stefan Moninger the brewery of the late Ludwig Kaufmann in Waldhornstraße 23, in which he worked as a brewmaster since. 1854 After Kaufmann’s death in June of the year, he had acquired Baden citizenship and the master’s rights, and married the widow Marie Kaufmann. Since Waldhornstraße the flourishing brewery Stefan Moninger offered little space, acquired Moninger 1866 for sale Brauerei his brother Josef Hack in Long Street (today Kaiserstraße ) 142 to the four acres of farmland including a beer cellar in summer line included. When Moninger passed away in 1875, his wife first handed over the management of the brewery to her oldest son, Ludwig Kaufmann junior. 1881 then took over the two elder sons from his second marriage, Charles Moninger (Kaufmann) and Stefan Moninger (brewer), the company for sale of her mother and made her a general partnership (OHG). In 1887, the youngest son Theodor Moninger joined the company as a third party, which developed into a major industrial company in the 1880s.

From 1886-1888 originated in the Kriegsstraße 128-130 (today Kriegsstraße 210-216), the site of the former summer line, according to plans by Hermann Walder modern brewery plant, which has been continuously expanded to 1900’s. On June 12, 1889, the family business was transformed into the company Bremerige Gesellschaftsgesellschaft S. Moninger. With a beer output of more than 100,000 hectoliters in the business year 1897/98 the enterprise rose to the largest Karlsruher brewery. 1898 the brothers from the town acquired a 12,800 square meter area at Westbahnhof as a storage and distribution center for growing freight traffic on rails. 1901 she opened in the Imperial Road 144, next to the former brewery, the also designed by Walder main places to Moninger . From 1906-1908 was on the brewery premises in Kriegstrasse modern Flaschenabfüllerei and on the adjacent corner plot war and border road (today Moningerstraße ) built a fountain.

The outbreak of the First World War led to a production Depression. 1920 took over the brewery, the brewery Karl Kammerer in Kriegstrasse 113 and the brewery Eglau Aktiengesellschaft (AG) in Durlach and 1922, the Union Brewery Aktiengesellschaft AG in Sophienstraße 101. In 1923 she expanded the production by making lemonade and mineral water. After ups and downs in the 1920s and 1930s led World War II in turn to a drop in production of in 1938 operating under the name and brewery Moninger AG company. The two houses in the Imperial Road were in airstrikes hit the brewery plant in Kriegstrasse spared.


Today the brewery is part of a merger, and is known as the Hatz-Moninger Brauhaus.

On May 1, 2010, the merger of Moninger AG brewery was with the court brewery Hatz AG from my Betriebspacht- and purchase agreement Rastatt sealed, which was there for the 1863rd Since then the brewery has been transferred to Hatz-Moninger Brauhaus GmbH. The Hatzfeld brewhouse was dismantled and installed the Brew vessels in a new brewhouse. This cost 3.4 million euros and was built within eight months at the Zentralgesitz Grünwinkel.

Brauerei Moninger circa 1935.



Historic Beer Birthday: Philipp Jung

Today is the birthday of Philipp Jung (December 23, 1845–July 10, 1911). He was born “in Dorn-Assenheim, Hesse-Darmstadt, which today is a part of Reichelsheim in Wetteraukreis, Hesse, Germany,” but came to the U.S. when he was 25, in 1870. He came first to New York City, then Cincinnati before settling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “Jung married Anna D. Best, daughter of the brewer Jacob Best, and they had six children.”


Here’s a history of his career, from his Wikipedia page:

After his arrival in the United States, Jung was employed by Rogge and Feigenhaln Brewing Company in New York. He also worked as the maltster for the Foss, Schneider and Bremer Brewing Company in Cincinnati. After moving to Milwaukee in 1873, Jung became second foreman for the Phillip Best Brewing Company, then first foreman, and finally superintendent of the company’s south side plant. In 1879, he left Best to form a partnership with Ernst Borchert, founding the Jung & Borchert Brewing Company. In 1888 this became the Falk, Jung & Borchert Brewing Company in one of the earliest mergers involving Milwaukee breweries. The company became a rival to the Philip Best Brewery, which was operated by Frederick Pabst and later became the Pabst Brewing Company. Jung was considered “an important factor both as a manufacturer of large quantities and also as one who gave a distinctive quality to the goods sent out from his plant.”

In 1896, Jung purchased the Obermann Brewing Company at Fifth and Cherry Streets in Milwaukee, where he established The Jung Brewing Company. This firm grew and outlived its founder, finally closing because of Prohibition.

The Falk, Jung & Borchert Brewing Company.

This biography is from 100 Years of Brewing, published in 1903.


MJS Jung employees - compressed.jpg
I think this is the Jung Brewing Co. employees, but it’s hard to tell. There were actually at least four Jung’s who brewed commercially in the U.S. One in Ohio, one in Texas, and two in Wisconsin. But seated in front, second from our left looks like Philipp’s mustache, so think this is the right one.


Historic Beer Birthday: Frederick Krug

Today is the birthday of Frederick “Fred” Krug (December 22, 1833-November 18, 1919). He “was the German-immigrant founder of the Frederick Krug Brewing Company of Omaha, Nebraska. Krug is often cited as one of the early settlers of Omaha. In addition to operating the brewery for almost the entire duration of his life, Krug operated Krug Park in the Benson community and was the president of the Home Fire Insurance Company, which was founded in Omaha in 1884.”


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

Born in Germany. Married Anna. Came to Omaha in 1859 and became the pioneer brewer of Omaha with a brewery on Farnham between 10th and 11th Streets. Partnered with Rudolph Selzer to form Krug & Selzer, and by 1860 became sole proprietor. In 1867 he moved it to 11th and Jackson and in the 1890’s he built a new brewery at 24th and Vinton Streets. Was on the Board of Directors of the German Savings Bank. Krug Park at 52nd and Maple Street and the Krug Theater were both named in his honor. Lived at 813 S. 20th Street and was a member of St. John’s german Evangelical Church.


And here’s his biography from Wikipedia:

Fred Krug was born in Niederzwehren near Kassel in Germany on December 22, 1833. He lived in Niederzwehren until 19 years of age where he was trained as a brewer. He then emigrated to the U.S. in 1852, settling in St. Louis, Missouri. In St. Louis, he met his wife Anna and had a son, William. In 1858, he moved to Council Bluffs where he worked in a small brewery. Later the same year, he moved to Omaha with his wife and son. He established his first small brewery on Farnam Street. Later, his business moved to Jackson Street between 10th and 11th streets. On October 17, 1893, he and his family celebrated the grand opening of the new Fred Krug Brewery. At the time this new brewery was one of the largest and most modern of its kind. Its capacity was reported to be 150,000 barrels per year and they employed approximately 500 men.

Krug led his company in Omaha for almost 50 years, and was responsible for founding Omaha’s Krug Park in 1904. The city of Omaha named a street after him. Frederick’s sons, including William, Frederick H., Jacob and Albert all worked at the brewery in a variety of capacities. Krug, a German immigrant, served on the State of Nebraska’s Board of Immigration.

This is a commemorative plate created for the brewery’s 50th anniversary.


And this is the back of the plate.

Below is a more thorough biography from the “Illustrated History of Nebraska, Volume 1,” by Julius Sterling Morton, published in 1911:



“The Fred Krug Brewery was located at 2435 Deer Park Boulevard in Omaha, Nebraska. Founded in 1859, Krug Brewery was the first brewery in the city. Krug was one of the “Big 4″ brewers located in Omaha, which also included the Storz, Willow Springs and Metz breweries. Later sold to Falstaff in 1936, the facility closed in 1987.

The brewery in 1920.

And in its heyday.

This is a short history of the brewery.

In 1859 Frederick Krug established the Krug Brewery with an original output of one and a half barrels a day. In 1878 the brewery was located on Farnam between 10th & 11th Streets in Downtown Omaha, and by 1880 it was brewing approximately 25,000 barrels a year. In 1894 the brewery moved to 29th & Vinton Street near South Omaha. It cost $750,000 and was reportedly one of the best equipped breweries in the country. Omaha’s historic Anheuser-Busch Beer Depot is the only remaining building from the original Krug Brewery.

You wouldn’t believe there was such difference in beers until you use one Krug’s popular brands. They are uniform perfectly brewed and well-aged absolutely pure and leave no bad after effects. The kind of beer that acts as a tonic and a system builder. Order a trial case and begin to enjoy. – Text from a 1910 advertisement by Fred Krug Brewing Company.

Krug brewed beer under several labels: Fred Krug, Cabinet, and Luxus. Krug supported an amateur baseball team called Luxus, taking them as far as the Amateur Baseball World Championship in 1915.




Beer Birthday: Denise Jones

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

With Ralph Woodall of HopUnion at GABF in 2006.

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

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

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