Historic Beer Birthday: Jacob Paul Rettenmayer

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Today is the birthday of Jacob Paul Rettenmayer (June 29, 1881-February 24, 1927). He was born in Ellwanger, Württenberg, Germany, and came to the U.S. when he was 20, in 1901. He settled on the West Coast, and bounced back and forth between California and Washington, working at various breweries. He eventually settled in San Francisco, helping to start Acme Brewery, becoming its first brewmaster and president. His little brother Franz, or Frank, Rettenmayer became brewmaster a few years later, and JP opened a second Acme brewery in Los Angeles. Just before, and during, prohibition he diversified into several other businesses.

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This biography was written by Rettenmayer himself later in his life:

“Served apprenticeship as Brewer and Maltster at the plants of Minneapolis Brewing Company, Minneapolis Minnesota, under Mr. Armin L. Neubert who was then Master Brewer and superintendent of that company. Upon the completion of my apprenticeship I worked in that plant for six months as a journeyman, and then went to Los Angeles where I found employment with the Los Angeles Brewing Company. I worked in various departments of that plant for six months and then secured employment at the plant of Maier and Zobelein. I was employed by that firm from 1903 to 1905 when I left to attend Wahl-Henius Institute in Chicago. The course I took was the first six months duration and the first course given in the new Institute building. I was the honor graduate with a record of 99 in thirteen studies. Upon the completion of my course I returned to Maier and Zobelein in Los Angeles, remaining there until July 1, 1906.

Upon obtaining my citizen papers in Los Angeles I went to Tacoma, Washington where I was employed by the Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. for a period of six weeks. Mr. Peter G. Schmidt, now President of the Olympia Brewing Company, invited me to go to Salem and I was affiliated with Salem Brewery Association for a period of four months. In the meantime the late Leopold M. Schmidt returned from Europe and he asked me to go to San Francisco to become associated with him in the Acme Brewing Company. Upon the organization of that company I became vice-president and a year later was elected to the presidency. I served in that capacity, as well as Master Brewer, from 1907 to 1917, when the Acme Brewing Company merged with five other breweries under the name California Brewing Association. I was elected President and General Manager of the consolidated enterprise and served until the advent of prohibition. Before the formation of California Brewing Association I was instrumental in organizing the Cereal Products Refining Corporation and planned and developed the syrup and compressed yeast business to the manufacture of which a part of the plant of California Brewing Association was converted.

In the latter part of 1924 I turned in my resignation as president and General Manager of California Brewing Association and its affiliated enterprises to engage in other activities. In the Fall of 1934 Mr. Armin K. Neubert prevailed upon me to become associated with Salinas Brewing & Ice Company and on the first of December, 1934 I assumed the position of General Manager of the enterprise. In October of 1935, in cooperation with Armin K. Neubert, Mr. Wm. Voss, and others associated with us, we acquired the interests of Mr. Armin L. Neubert. Upon the consummation of the deal Mr. Armin L. Neubert resigned as president of Salinas Brewing and I succeeded him in that capacity.”

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At Brewery Gems, Gary Flynn has a fuller account of the life of Jacob Paul Rettenmayer, and it’s worth reading in its entirety.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Peter Straub

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Today is the birthday of Peter P. Straub (June 28, 1850-December 17, 1913). He was born in Felldorf Starzach, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, and founded the Straub Brewery in St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania in 1872. The brewery is still owned and operated today by the Straub family.

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Here’s his biography from his Wikipedia page:

Born to Anton Straub and his wife, Anna Maria Eger. The Straub family had been brewing a local beer for generations. As expected Peter learned a trade important to the brewing art. He became a Cooper, a craftsman who makes wooden barrels. Peter aspired to be a brewer and at the age of 19 in 1869 immigrated to the United States for a better and more prosperous life. Upon his arrival in the United States he found employment at the Eberhardt and Ober Brewing Company in Pennsylvania. Peter admired his employers’ pledge to forfeit $1,000 if any adulteration was found in their beer, and as he honed his brewing skills to a sharp edge, he adhered faithfully to this promise. Eventually he tired of city life and moved north to Brookville, where he perfected his brewing process while working in the Christ and Algeir Brewery.

Peter later moved to Benzinger (St. Marys), where he met and married Sabina Sorg of Benzinger. The couple settled in Benzinger and had ten children: Francis X., Joseph A., Anthony A., Anna M., Jacob M., Peter M. (who died at two years of age), Peter P., Gerald B., Mary C., and Alphons J.

Peter’s employment in Benzinger was with the Joseph Windfelder Brewery and he worked there until he purchased the Benzinger Spring Brewery (founded by Captain Charles C. Volk in 1855) from his father-in-law, Francis Xavier Sorg. It was then that Straub Beer and the Straub Brewery was born.

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The Straub Family in 1904.

This early account of Straub’s life is from the brewery website:

Peter Straub was born on June 28, 1850 in Felldorf, Wuerttemburg, Germany, to Anton and Anna M. Eger Straub.

As a teenager, Peter was educated and worked as a cooper, which is a craftsman skilled in making and repairing wooden barrels and casks. He also became well versed in the allied trade of Brewing.

Peter honed his trade in Germany, France and Switzerland. At age 19 (in 1869), Peter Straub traveled to the United States and settled in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, working at the Eberhardt and Ober Brewing Company. He next moved to Brookville and worked at the Christ and Allegeier Brewery. He again moved to Allegheny City and then to McKeesport and Centerville (later renamed Kersey). In 1872, Peter settled in St. Marys.

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In St. Marys, Peter first worked at the Windfelder Brewery, which later became the Luhr Brewery, on Center Street. In the early 1870s, Peter was hired by Francis Sorg as brewmaster and manager for his brewery. The standard Straub Brewery founding date of 1872 reflects when Peter first moved to St. Marys and began brewing. He did not own the brewery until 1878.

Peter Straub began courting Francis Sorg’s eldest daughter, Sabina, marrying her on November 23, 1875. A few years later, Peter and Sabina, along with their eldest son Francis (one year old at the time) traveled back to Germany and then on to France, where they attended the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Peter and Sabina had 10 children: Gerard Benedict (Gerry), Peter (Sr.), Mary Crescentia (Marian, later Mrs. Daniel Curran), Alfonse James (Ponce), Peter Paul (Pete), Jacob Melchior (Fr. Gilbert), Joseph Anthony (Joe), Anna Angela (later Mrs. Frederick Luhr), Francis Xavier (Frank), Anthony Albert (Tony) and Peter Mathaeus (died at age two).

Straub Beer HistoryEarly on, Peter introduced his sons to the world of brewing. Straub used wooden kegs for his beer. He always placed a red band around his barrels to ensure that people would know they were drinking his beer and so that he would get them back. As a lasting trademark tribute to Peter, the brewery continues to place a bright red band around each of its barrels. Red has become a trademark color for the brewery.

Following Peter’s death on December 17, 1913, his sons assumed control of the brewery, renaming it the Peter Straub Sons Brewery. During this time, the brewery produced Straub Beer as well as other beer, such as the pilsner-style Straub Fine Beer and Straub Bock Beer. In 1920, the Straub Brothers Brewery purchased one half of the St. Marys Beverage Company, also called the St. Marys Brewery, where St. Marys Beer was produced. During Prohibition, which lasted from January 29, 1920, until December 5, 1933, the brewery produced nonalcoholic near-beer. On July 19, 1940 they purchased the remaining common stock and outstanding bonds of the St. Marys Beverage Company.

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The Benzinger Spring Brewery in 1895.

And this account is by Erin L. Gavlock, from 2009, at the Pennsylvania Center for the Book at Penn State:

High in the Allegheny Mountains of Elk County, a tradition has been brewing for nearly a hundred and forty years. Straub (pronounced Strawb, not Strowb) Beer, the local brewery on Sorg Street in St. Marys, has not tampered with its recipe since Peter Straub crafted the lager’s signature taste in 1872. This sixth generation brewery is dedicated to preserving the original German formula and sticking in its original location, a difficult task for an old-time establishment in the modern era. For the descendents of Peter Straub, keeping the Straub custom is what makes the company a “brewery, not a beer factory.”

The tradition of Straub Beer began in the small village of Felldorf, Germany where Peter Straub was born into an lager-making family on June 28, 1850. He grew up in Germany learning the brewing business and eventually becoming a cooper, a maker of the wooden barrels used to hold beer. Like many other artisans of the time, Straub was unhappy with life as a cooper and dreamed of greater success. He wanted to participate in the family trade, to become a brewer of his own beer. Unable to rise above his economic status in Germany, Peter Straub took his vision and immigrated to the United States at the age of 19, arriving in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania in 1869.

In Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh’s north side), Straub went to work for Eberhardt and Ober, (the current Penn Brewery). At Eberhardt and Ober, Peter Straub became a student of his employer, John N. Straub (no relation) and quickly took to John’s administrative principles. The company promised to serve completely pure beer, untainted by additives such as salt or sugar, to its customers and backed that promise with a $1,000 refund to any contaminated sale. This code of law conduct rang true to Peter Straub and it became a principle he swore to brew by.

While perfecting his brewing technique in the city, Straub grew homesick for his quaint, German village. He decided to escape the loud, crowded streets of Allegheny City and retreated to the quietude of Elk County. He settled in St. Marys, marrying Sabina Sorg and working for various local breweries until Sabina’s father, Francis Xavier Sorg, sold his Benzinger Spring Brewery to him in 1872. Peter Straub finally got his long-awaited start as a brewer. Straub owned and operated the Benzinger Spring Brewery until he died in 1912 and left the company to his son, Anthony. Anthony Straub changed the name of the brewery to “Peter Straub Sons’ Brewery,” the only alteration he would make to his father’s business. From there, Peter Straub’s beer would become a Pennsylvania legend.

The Bavarian Man, a long-time image of the Straub Brewery that recalls its German roots.
Fast-forward over a hundred years from Straub’s humble beginnings to today and one will find the Straub Brewing pledge remains unchanged. The company still serves only unadulterated beer to its customers, proclaiming to be “The Natural Choice.” “Our all grain beer is brewed from Pennsylvania Mountain Spring water and we don’t add any sugar, salt, or preservatives to our recipes,” brew master Tom Straub told St. Marys’ Daily Press. “You can say our beer is a fresher, healthier choice than many of the selections in the marketplace.” Although time and technology have forced a transformation in brewing techniques and standards, the taste, ingredients, and the location of Straub have remained constant. Still located in St. Marys, the brewery depends upon the same mountain water from the Laurel Run Reservoir to blend with all-natural ingredients of cornflakes (used to produce fermentable sugars), barley and hops. “Our brewing process is virtually unchanged since our great, great, grandfather, Peter Straub, perfected it in 1872,” Straub’s promises. The reason behind sticking to the fresh taste of the original recipe is simple: people like it. Through the century, Straub has grown a dedicated patronage in western Pennsylvania with its traditional flavor. “Our style of brewing has pretty much stayed the same over the years, but what is interesting is that our popularity has grown and the reputation of our hand-crafted beer has increased,” Straub CEO Bill Brock said. “It is nice to know that we are becoming increasingly popular not for something we’ve changed, but rather for something we’ve always done well.”

The choice to protect and maintain the brewing customs has kept Straub a small, family owned brewery. “We’ve always thought small. We’re more about quality than quantity,” Dan Straub, former CEO, told Fredericksburg, Virginia’s Free-Lance Star. Until June 2009, Straub Beer was only distributed in glass bottles throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio. Now Straub is being brewed and distributed in aluminum cans in Rochester, New York at the High Falls Brewery. The recipe and method have not changed in the new setting and are under the careful watch of brew master Tom Straub. Despite the recent company growth, Straub still only produces about 45,000 barrels of beer per year. “We are unique; we are much larger than a micro brewery yet far, far smaller than some of the leading national brands,” said Bill Brock. In the middle ground, the brewery has managed to survive beer tycoons, economic depression, and cultural trends—a tough maneuver for a company exporting from Pennsylvania’s least populated region. “I believe the brewery has survived because of the fact that it is family owned; it is steeped in tradition and we have an absolute passion for making beer and our products,” said Brock. “From my perspective, the company and our traditions are a huge legacy and there is a clear obligation to continue these traditions.” Keeping to the family legacy has allowed Straub to persevere through the years to become the second oldest brewery in Pennsylvania after Yuengling.

Staying small and faithful to the company’s founding principles has enabled Straub to keep traditions that other larger breweries have been forced to abandon. The returnable bottle, an eco-friendly service that allows customers to send glass bottles back to the brewery for recycling, is still offered at Straub. “We stayed with the returnable bottles first of all, and I think this is really important, because we have a really strong customer base and they like the returnables,” Bill Brock said during a 2009 radio broadcast. “Over the years we maintained it while other breweries slowly fazed them out.” For Straub, a successful regional brewery, shipping bottles back to the factory is feasible, where it would create more pollution for national brands to do the same. In the future, Straub hopes to go greener and offer more returnables to customers. “We’d love for it to grow,” Brock said. “We think it is the right thing to do and if we can blend the right thing to do with making our customers happy that’s almost a perfect world.”

Another Peter Straub tradition kept to make customers happy is the Eternal Tap, an oasis for Elk County beer drinkers. The Eternal Tap, established long before any of the brewery’s current chief operators were born, is a “thank you” gesture for patrons, daily providing two mugs of complimentary, fresh cold beer to anyone of legal drinking age. “The roots of it go as far back as the brewery itself and I am sure that my great, great, grandfather, his workers and their friends would spend time at the end of the week enjoying a few pints of freshly brewed beer,” Brock said. According to Bloomington, Illinois’ Pantagraph, the Eternal Tap sprang up shortly after Peter Straub received the Benzinger Spring Brewery from his father-in-law as a way to draw beer enthusiasts to the taste of Straub. Since the marketing gimmick started in 1872, the Eternal Tap has not been turned off, giving free beer to customers in good times and bad.

Although Straub has been in operation for more than a century since its founder’s death, if Peter Straub were able to return to his brewery today, he might feel as if he still ran it. The original recipe, the customer appreciation, and the environmental concerns he founded his business upon are still principal brewing laws at Straub today. For the descendents of Peter Straub, keeping the tradition was second nature. “For me, being President/CEO, my job is to be faithful to the traditions and it is really not that difficult,” Brock said. “I have one of the best jobs in the world and I have been given the opportunity to continue an important tradition and legacy.”

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Historic Beer Birthday: Leo Ebert

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Today is the birthday of Leo Ebert (June 28, 1837-February 22, 1908). Ebert was born in Bavaria into a family of brewers, and emigrated to the U.S. and opened the Leo Ebert Brewing Co. in 1863, which also traded under the name the Eagle Brewery, at least until prohibition, when it closed for good.

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Here’s a biography from Ohio Breweriana;

Leo Ebert, of Ironton, Ohio, founder and still president of the company of that name, was born in Klingenbergon-the-Main, Bavaria, June 28, 1837. The descendant of a family of brewers, he learned his trade at his father’s establishment, and began his career as a journeyman brewer in September, 1854. He worked at his trade in different places in Bavaria, Baden and Hanover, returning home in 1857, to accept a position as brewmaster in the plant of Jos. Amreihn, at Lohr, Bavaria. He remained there until May, 1859, and then left for the United States, arriving in New York July 16, of that year. He secured employment at Gillig’s brewery, remaining there until May, 1860, and then left for Cincinnati, Ohio. Unable to find work in a brewery, he labored in a brickyard at $1 per day. In the fall of 1860 he went to work at Joseph Schaller’s brewery, Cincinnati, being advanced in a short time to the position of cellarman. The foremanship of F. Beck’s brewery, in that city, being offered him, he accepted it and managed the plant until the Christmas of 1861, at which time a brewery at Ironton, Ohio, was offered for rent. Of this opportunity Mr. Ebert took advantage, and with the assistance promised and freely given by the big-hearted and generous Michael Goepper (the well-remembered father of Herman and Edward Goepper) he rented the little common-beer brewery at Ironton and started with a capital of $20; malt and hops, on credit, of Mr. Goepper.

Ironton being on the border of Kentucky and near the State of Virginia, became a very lively place during the war, and the brewery prospered. Beer was brewed Sunday and every day and sold when often not over three days old. The brewery not being well located, however, was abandoned and Mr. Ebert erected a new plant at the present site, in 1863, and began to brew lager beer. From time to time he enlarged his plant according to the wants of the trade in Ironton. He never meddled with the shipping trade, and to-day is glad that he did not, doing a nice business at home and fully enjoying the fruits of an active life.

Mr. Ebert has taken an active part in all questions pertaining to the welfare and protection of the brewing trade of the country. He joined the United States Brewers Association at the convention held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1863, and has been acquainted with all the old veterans of the trade. He was elected the first president of the Ohio State Brewers Association, serving from 1883 to 1887, and again after the reorganization in 1894. There has not been a legislature in session for the past thirty years in Ohio which has not found Mr. Ebert on hand whenever the trade was endangered or some relief wanted from obnoxious laws. In view of this record the United States Brewers Association did him the honor of electing him its president at the Milwaukee convention of 1895.

Mr. Ebert can say that he has been an active force in the development of the brewing industry of this country, from the so-called small or common beer for quick consumption, to the present export beers which are shipped all over the world. He remembers the time when the output of all the breweries in the United States did not equal the present output of some of our cities. He made beer in this country when there was no tax on it, while the 1900 tax on beer was three and one-half times the amount the United States paid Spain for the Philippine islands.

Mr. Ebert was married in Germany, in 1858, to Mathilde Uihlein, of Trennfurt, Bavaria. His family consists of six children five daughters, and one son (Otto) who is now manager of the brewery and is highly respected by the trade and community.

Mr. Ebert has always taken an active part in the development of the city of Ironton and has served in the capacity of president of the city council, member of the school board and board of health, his activities in this direction covering a period of seventeen years.

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Here’s Ebert’s obituary from “A Standing History of the Hanging Rock Iron Region of Ohio” by Eugene B. Willard, Daniel W. Williams, George O. Newman and Charles B. Taylor, published in 1916

The late Leo Ebert, who died at his home in the City of Ironton, Lawrence County, on the 22d of February, 1908, was a man of strong and upright character and marked business ability, his influence having long been potent in connection with civic and material progress in Ironton and his prominence and enterprise in the business activities involved in the operation of the extensive and modern brewery that perpetuates his name having made him one of the leading business men of this section of the Buckeye State, even as he was a loyal and progressive citizen who held inviolable place in popular confidence and esteem.

Leo Ebert was born at Kingenberg, Kingdom of Bavaria, Germany, near the City of Frankfort, and the date of his nativity was June 28, 1837, so that he was nearly seventy-one years of age at the time of his death. He was a son of Theodore and Barbara (Krutzman) Ebert, and the family name has been identified with the representative brewing enterprise of Bavaria for many generations, Theodore Ebert, father of the subject of this memoir, having fully upheld the prestige of the patronymic in this field of industry, and both he and his wife having remained in Bavaria until their death. Leo Ebert, the eldest in a family of four children, attended the excellent schools of his home town until he had attained to the age of twelve years, when he was placed by his father in the latter’s brewery, to be initiated into the mysteries of the business. For several years he was acquiring scientific and practical experience in the brewing business,—at Mannheim, Bremen and other places,—and he finally returned to the parental home and stood his chances in the conscription for the army. He was successful, however, in drawing a high number and thus was relieved of the military service.

At the age of twenty-one years Mr. Ebert wedded Miss Mathilda Urhlein, and in 1859, shortly after this important event, he immigrated with his young wife to the United States. Landing in the port of New York City, he there worked at his trade of brewer for nine months, and at the expiration of this period he came to Ohio and established his residence in the City of Cincinnati. Not being able to find immediate employment at his trade, he was compelled to work one summer in a brick yard, and finally he obtained a position as laborer in a Cincinnati brewery, his ability and fine technical knowledge leading to his promotion from his humble capacity to that of foreman within the ensuing two months. After serving for foreman of the brewery for sixteen months Mr. Ebert came to Ironton, Lawrence County, in 1861. Here he established a brewery on a modest scale, and from that time forward his success became cumulative and substantial. He continued as the executive head of the Ebert Brewing Company until his death and was one of the thoroughly loyal and liberal citizens of the Lawrence County metropolis, to the development and upbuilding of which he contributed in generous measure. He became financially interested in various other local enterprises and was known and honored as one of the prominent and influential citizens of this section of the state.

In politics Mr. Ebert originally was aligned with the republican party, but in 1872 he followed his sincere convictions and transferred his allegiance to the democratic party, with which he continued to In actively allied during the residue of his long and useful life. He was influential in the councils of his party and, as a convincing and effective public speaker, he “took the stump” in numerous campaigns. For more than seventeen years Mr. Ebert held official preferment in Ironton, where he served as a member of the city council, the board of education and the board of health. The fine intellectual ken and practical ability of Mr. Ebert marked him as eligible for office of distinguished order, and twice he received the democratic nomination for representative of his district in the United States Congress. While he was unable to overcome the large and normal republican majorities in the district, he brought out the full vote of his party and greatly reduced the natural majority of his opponents.

In the most significant and worthy interpretation of the expression, Mr. Ebert was essentially a self-made man, and he had the sagacity and judgment to make the best of the opportunities afforded in the land of his adoption, with the result that he won large and substantial success, the while he so ordered his course as to merit and receive the high esteem of all who knew him. He was a man of commanding presence, brilliant intellect and broad human tolerance and sympathy. His kindliness and generosity were unfailing, but he never permitted his benevolences to come into publicity if this could be avoided, having been one of those who “do good by stealth and blush to find it fame.” Genial and companionable, Mr. Ebert was not only an interesting conversationalist but also had remarkable gifts as an orator. For eight years Mr. Ebert served as president of the Ohio Brewers’ Association, and for two years was president of the national organization of brewers. He was affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and the Knights of Pythias. The death of Mr. Ebert caused deep and sincere sorrow in his home city, and both business and social circles manifested their sense of irreparable loss. The noble character of Mr. Ebert found its most perfect exemplification in the relations of his ideal home life, and his widow and children find their greatest measure of consolation and compensation in the memory of his devotion and abiding love and tenderness,—the gentleness of a strong and loyal nature.

Of the six children of Leo and Mathilda (Urhlein) Ebert the eldest is Fannie, who is now the wife of Henry Geiger, identified with the brewing business in Ironton, and they have seven children,—Mathilda, Leo, Henry. Frederick, Charles, Otto, and Bertha. Gretchen, the second daughter, first wedded Michael Rauch, who is survived by two children, Otto and Walter. After the death of her first husband Mr. Rauch became the wife of August Ebert, a brewer by vocation, and they now reside in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, no children having been born of this union. Tillie is the wife of Charles Jones, engaged in the undertaking business in Ironton; Otto N., the only son, is more specifically mentioned on other pages of this publication. Emma is the wife of Frederick Wagner, a representative farmer near Pedro, Lawrence County, and they have eight children,—Leona, Frederick, Walter, Henrietta, Harold, Ironton, Roy, and Franklin. Bertha is the wife of Dr. William C. Miller, engaged in the practice of dentistry in Ironton, and they have one son, William C, Jr.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Charles von Buddenbrock

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Today is the birthday of Charles von Buddenbrock (June 27, 1878-1948). He was born in Marianwewrder, Germany and served in the Germany army during World War I. He was taken prisoner and brought to an interment camp in Colorado. After his release when the war ended, he decided to stay in Colorado and worked for the Schneider Brewery in Trinidad, Colorado for over 35 years. In 1920 he was listed as the Chief Engineer, but that would have been only shortly after he started working there. I’m not sure about the math, since he died in 1948 and the war ended in 1918. Also known as the Ph. Schneider Brewing Co., it survived prohibition by obtaining a license to brew non-alcoholic beverages, and later received brewery permit COL-U-1001 in 1933, the first in the state to get back to making beer. After prohibition ended, it went through a few owners, and name changes, before closing for good in 1957 as the Bohemian Brewery of Colorado.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Peter Ganser

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Today is the birthday of Peter Ganser (June 24, 1836-August 5, 1915). He was born in Germany, but settled in Steele County, Minnesota, buying the Knobloch & Mannheim brewery and founding the Peter Ganser brewery in Owatonna, along with his brother Adam. It was generally known as the Peter Ganser, City Brewery, off and on from 1865, before it finally closed a few years into prohibition.

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Here’s his obituary, from the American Brewers Review:

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Local brewer Peter Ganser sits on an ornate chair, holding two of his daughters. On the left is Adeline, who later became Mrs. William Zamboni; on the right is his daughter, Catherine, who later married Harry Brown (from the Steele County Historical Society).

And here’s another account from the “History of Rice & Steele Counties, Minnesota, Illustrated, Vol. II,” and published in 1910:

Peter Ganser, proprietor of the Owatonna City Brewery, is one of those substantial citizens, who, in building the foundations for their own fortunes, find the time to take an interest in all worthy causes that tend toward the development of the community. He combines liberality with shrewd common sense and business ability and from his first settlement here he has had an unbounded faith in Owatonna’s future. Mr. Ganser was born in Prussia, Germany, June 24, 1836. He received his early education in the public schools and remained in his native country until 1854, when he came to America and located in Dane county, Wisconsin, where he lived for a time and then went to California. In 1863 he returned to Wisconsin and there remained until 1865 when he came to Owatonna and, together with his brother, Adam, purchased the city brewery, which they continued together until 1872, at which time the brother died. The subject of this sketch then became the sole owner and proprietor. In 1878 the brewery was destroyed by fire, entailing a loss of about $12,000. Undaunted by this loss, Mr. Ganser rebuilt, but in 1884 again suffered a similar disaster. The present building, to which additions and improvements have been made from time to time, was erected in 1884. In 1879, Mr. Ganser, in company with Jacob Glaeser, erected the building then known as the Germania Hall. Mr. Glaeser has carried on a large and increasing business from year to year. In 1894 he sold out his business for six years lived a retired life. In 1900 he again came into possession of the brewery, which he has since conducted. Mr. Ganser was married in 1867 to Mary Knight, who was born in Indiana. The fruit of this union was three children, viz: Margaret, now the wife of William Fleckenstein of the Fleckenstein Brewery at Faribault; Adeline, now Mrs. W. C. Zamboni; Kate, now Mrs. H. D. Brown, of Owatonna. Mr. Ganser is a Democrat in political faith. He takes an active interest in public affairs, and served as a mayor of Owatonna one term, and alderman of the fourth ward for two years. Mr. Ganser is a self-made man, enterprising in business, and has won his position by persevering efforts. He lives in a very find residence at 508 South Oak street.

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Ganser Brau Near Beer.

And this is from Land of Amber Waters: The History of Brewing in Minnesota:

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Historic Beer Birthday: Christian Schmidt

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Today is the birthday of Christian Schmidt (June 24, 1833-September 6, 1894). Schmidt was born in Magstadt, Wurtemberg, Germany but moved to Philadelphia as a young man. In 1859, he became a partner with the Robert Coutrennay Brewery but bought him out the following year, renaming the brewery the Christian Schmidt Brewing Company until his sons joined the brewery in 1892, when it became known as C. Schmidt & Sons.

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Here’s a biography of both Schmidt and his brewery from Workshop of the World — Philadelphia:

Christian Schmidt, an immigrant from Wurtemberg, Germany, purchased the Robert Courtenay brewery which primarily produced ale at this site in 1860. The acquisition of other breweries, such as Peter Schemm, in addition to the production of lager beer, boosted output to 100,000 barrels by 1892. A marked expansion of the physical plant kept pace with the brewery’s growth.

The last quarter of the nineteenth century was Philadelphia’s shining era for large and small breweries. Bergner and Engel (120,000 barrels), and William Massey and Company (75,000 barrels), were the third largest and eleventh largest breweries respectively in the U. S. in 1877. By 1895, Bergner and Engel with 250,000-300,000 barrels had fallen to 15th place; the largest local brewery. Other major companies were Engels and Wolf, Betz and Bergdoll. Christian Schmidt was succeeded by his son Edward who headed the company from 1895 until 1944. There were 421 employees at Schmidt’s in 1943. It had survived and thrived through new technologies—refrigeration, and political impediments, even Prohibition, which decimated other breweries both locally and nationally. Only 26 breweries operated in Pennsylvania in 1960. Philadelphia lost brands such as Esslinger, Poth, Gretz and Class and Nachod.

Schmidt family ownership ceased in 1976 with the sale of the brewery to William H. Pflaumer. By the late 1970s Schmidt’s was the tenth-largest American brewery. It operated a plant in Cleveland, Ohio which facilitated mid-west regional sales. Valley Forge Brewing Company was acquired in the 1960s, Duquesne Brewing Company (Pittsburgh) in 1972, and label and brewing rights to Reading and Bergheim were purchased in 1976, Rheingold in 1977, Erie Brewing Company, with its Koehler brands in 1978. In 1981, Ortlieb, the only other Philadelphia brewery, was purchased by Pflaumer. Schmidt’s, unable to cope with the marketing muscle of the giant national brewers even though it employed 1,400 and produced three million barrels of beer as recently as 1984, sold its brands to G. Heileman Brewing Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin, in April 1987. Production of the Schmidt’s labels slumped to about $1.6 million barrels in 1986, less than one percent of the total U. S. Market. The demise of Schmidt’s marked the end of the large brewery in Philadelphia.

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In Rich Wagner’s Philadelphia Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Cradle of Liberty, he has this to say about Christian Schmidt:

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The Schmidt’s brewery in the 1930s.

And in One Hundred Years of Brewing, published in 1903, this was the entry for C. Schmidt & Sons.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Henry Foss

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Today is the birthday of Henry Foss, a.k.a. John Henry Foss (June 23, 1817-August 13, 1879). Foss was born in Hanover, Germany but emigrated to Ohio. In 1842, he married Elizabeth Rumpeing, but she passed away in 1854 after twelve years of marriage. He then married Adelaide Foss later the same year, and they had 13 children together. In 1867, he became involved with the Louis Schneider Brewery in Cincinnati, Ohio, becoming a partner and it eventually became known as the Foss-Schneider Brewing Co. It closed during prohibition, but reopened when it was repealed in 1933, though closed for good in 1939.

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Here’s a biography of Foss, from the “History of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio: Their Past and Present Including Early Development, Antiquarian Researches, Their Aboriginal History, Pioneer History, Political Organization, Agricultural, Mining and Manufacturing Interests, A History of the City, Villages and Townships, Religious, Educational, Biographies, and Portraits of Pioneers and Representative Citizens, Etc.,” which was published in 1894.

Henry Foss was born in Germany, June 23, 1817, and died in Cincinnati August 13, 1879. After attending the common schools until he was between thirteen and fourteen years of age he was given to understand that from that time he would be expected to “paddle his own canoe,” so he at once commenced the life of a farm laborer, and, to the credit of his industrious habits, it is said that he followed this kind of work faithfully until he was nearly twenty years old. But at that time he somehow or other began to get dissatisfied with the result of his six years’ hard work, so he thought he would “take stock” to see how much he had made, and calculated how much he would be worth in forty years, if he continued at the same business at the same wages — about twelve or fourteen dollars a year. He had nothing at the start; he had wasted no money; had only kept himself clothed, and still he had nothing to show for all his labor but a few dollars, barely sufficient to take him over the sea to the New World. Yet, nevertheless, he was determined to go with a party that was about to leave the village for America. Leaving home on the tenth day of May 1837, the party, consisting of himself and three others, traveled by wagon to Bremen, where they took passage on the ship “Richmond” bound for Richmond, Va. After paying his passage money he had but five cents left, so that it was no trouble for him to conclude to rely solely upon his efforts in the New World of the West — in fact, there was no choice in the matter. After being at sea for several days they encountered a storm of great severity, during which they lost their mainmast and much of their rigging, and were driven back so far that the distance lost was not regained for fourteen days. Besides the above disasters the cook’s galley, with all the cooking apparatus, was swept clean overboard, so that it was three days after before they had a particle of anything warm to eat or drink. At last, however, after twenty-two days. they landed safely at Richmond, Va., our subject having, we suspect, had enough of “life on the ocean wave” to satisfy him, as he never re-crossed it.

After looking around for a day or two, Mr. Foss went to work on the James River canal, at seventeen dollars per month and board. At this he continued for about seven months, when, having saved something like one hundred dollars, he thought he was rich at once, and would soon buy all the land he wanted. Like thousands of his countrymen he judged that the West was the place for him; so he joined a party of twenty-two possessed of the same idea. Clubbing together, the party procured a large team, and started over the mountains to the Kanawha canal, by which they arrived at Wheeling, where they took steamer for Pittsburgh, and at once proceeded down the river to Cincinnati. On landing here Mr. Foss found things so dull that he determined to proceed to St. Louis. Finding matters much the same there, he began to think he had made a mistake in coming west; but he passed over into Illinois with the expectation of going to work on a turnpike at Belleville. It was so swampy there, however, that almost every one who worked there was seized with fever and ague. In this emergency he returned to St. Louis, and from there again came to Cincinnati, where he was advised by his friends to go to work on the Whitewater canal, at Brookville, some forty miles from the city. He walked this distance with his knapsack on his back, and at once began to work at seventeen dollars per month and board. At the end of three months he went to Cincinnati. and sent fifty dollars home to his parents to help smooth the path of life for them. After working on the canal two months longer he was made foreman of a squad of quarry men; while at this work he conceived the idea of learning the stone-cutting trade, and after instructing another in his duties, he went to the yard to learn the trade. In nine mouths the locks of the canal were completed, at the end of which time Mr. Foss came to the city, and was employed at dressing stone until he saw an opening at the locks of the Licking canal, Kentucky. After working there about six mouths he commenced as a stone mason, and having a good eye for mechanics he soon proved an efficient workman, and thereafter could either cut or lay stone. After continuing in this way two years, during which he had sent $500 home to bring out the whole family, and saved $500 besides, on the arrival of his parents and his brothers and sisters they found that Henrv had rented and furnished a house complete for them to go into.

With the $500 in hand he commenced business for himself on a small scale, which he gradually increased from year to year until he employed from fifty to sixty journeymen, and nearly as many laborers. In 1848-49, in connection with Henry Atlemeier, he built the House of Refuge; and while thus engaged the cholera was raging so fearfully that the funerals moving from the city to the cemetery formed a constant procession. The architect of their job. Henry Walters, and many of their workmen fell victims to the epidemic. In 1851 he built the foundations of the Hamilton and Dayton depot, which consumed some 5,000 perches of stone, and completed the job in about three months. He built the church on the corner of Mound and Barr, and adjoining gymnasium in 1857-58, also the foundations of St. Philomena church on Congress and Butler streets; St. Joseph’s, on Linn; Holy Trinity, on Fifth; likewise that of the large block on the corner of Ninth and Walnut; and the church of the Holy Angels (all of stone), Fulton; and the south wing of Bishop Purcell’s seminary, besides a vast number of dwelling houses. He continued this business until 1856, when he sold off his teams and building apparatus generally, and built a distillery on the Plank road, now Gest street, for himself and his partner, with a capacity of 900 bushels per day. After its completion his partner was somewhat alarmed at their great undertaking, so, to make the matter lighter, sold a quarter interest to two other gentlemen, retaining a quarter himself. After conducting the business together for about three months, hard times came upon them, and Mr. Foss’ original partner again became alarmed for fear all would be lost; but not so Mr. Foss, who at once bought the interest of that gentleman, and continued the business with the owner of the fourth interest. The scale soon turned in their favor, and, after eight years of success, having considerable surplus money, Mr. Foss bought the interest of his partners, and carried on the business alone for about two years, then sold out to Mr. John Pfeffer, concluding that he would work a little in his garden, and take things easy the rest of his life. But to his surprise he did not know what to do with himself, and, after laying off about two months, he came to the conclusion that doing nothing was the hardest work in the world. He then formed a partnership with Adam Heitbrink for the purpose of building the foundation of the city Work House. After this was finished he formed a partnership with William P. Snyder and John Brenner, and went into the manufacture of. lager beer, ‘ the capacity of their works at the commencement being about sixty-five barrels per day. This was in December, 1867; in the spring of 1868 it became necessary to enlarge their works, and their business continued to increase. The further connection of Mr. Foss with the great brewing establishment, now known as the Foss-Schneider Brewing Company, is contained in the personal history of his son and successor, John H. Foss, president of that company, and which is contained in this volume.

Mr. Henry Foss was married in 1842, to Miss Elizabeth Rumpeing, a German lady, who was every way worthy to be his wife. Of this union five children were born, all of whom, together with their mother, have died, the latter in 1854. Mr. Foss was married again, during the same year, to Miss Adelaide TeVeluwe, of Zutfen Lechtenforde, Holland, and by her eight children were born to him, seven of whom—John H., William, Edward, Philomena, Lizzy, Rosey and Bernidena—are still living, as is also Mrs. Foss.

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Here’s a short history of the brewery, from “100 Years of Brewing:”

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Historic Beer Birthday: Frank Shlaudeman

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Today is the birthday of Frank Shlaudeman (June 17, 1862-after 1934). His father founded what would become the Decatur Brewing Co., in Decatur, Illinois, which is where he was born and raised.

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Frank’s father Henry Shlaudeman joined the Edward Harpstrite Brewery (which was originally the John Koehler & Adam Keck Brewery when it opened in 1855). Within a few years, he’d made enough of an impact that it became the Harpstrite & Shlaudeman Brewery, and two years after that, in 1884, he bought out his partner and it became the Henry Shlaudeman Brewery. In 1888, it was again renamed, this time the Decatur Brewing Co. It reopened after prohibition in 1934 under the name Macon County Beverage Co., but closed for good the same year.

Surprising, I was unable to turn up even one photograph of him, and very little at all about him. He took over the brewery after his father retired in 1903. I found a record of him taking a trip in 1934 to California, but no other biographical information.

Historic Beer Birthday: Max Delbrück

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Today is the birthday of Max Emil Julius Delbrück (June 16, 1850-May 4, 1919). He was a German chemist who spent most of his career exploring the fermentation sciences.

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His Wikipedia entry is short:

Delbrück was born in Bergen auf Rügen. He studied chemistry in Berlin and in Greifswald. In 1872 he was made assistant at the Academy of Trades in Berlin; in 1887 he was appointed instructor at the Agricultural College, and in 1899 was given a full professorship. The researches, carried out in part by Delbrück himself, in part under his guidance, resulted in technical contributions of the highest value to the fermentation industries. He was one of the editors of the Zeitschrift für Spiritusindustrie (1867), and of the Wochenschrift für Brauerei. He died in Berlin, aged 68.

And here’s his entry from Today in Science:

Max Emil Julius Delbrück was a German chemist who spent a forty-five year career leading development in the fermentation industry. He established a school for distillation workers, a glass factory for the manufacture of reliable apparatus and instruments, and an experimental distillery. Giving attention to the raw resources, he founded teaching and experimental institutions to improve cultivation of potatoes and hops. He researched physiology of yeast and application in the process of fermentation, production of pure cultures, and the action of enzymes. He started the journals Zeitschrift fur Spiritus-Industrie (1867) and Wochenschrift für Brauerei, for the alcohol and brewery industries, which he co-edited.

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Over the years, I’ve found a few great Delbrück quotes:

Yeast is a machine.

          — Max Delbrück, from an 1884 lecture

With the sword of science and the armor of Practice, German beer will encircle the world.

          — Max Delbrück, from an address about yeast and fermentation in the
               brewery, to the German Brewing Congress as Director of the Experimental
               and Teaching Institute for Brewing in Berlin, June 1884

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Historic Beer Birthday: Carl von Linde

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Today is the birthday of Carl Paul Gottfried Linde (June 11, 1842–November 16, 1934). He “was a German scientist, engineer, and businessman. He discovered a refrigeration cycle and invented the first industrial-scale air separation and gas liquefaction processes. These breakthroughs laid the backbone for the 1913 Nobel Prize in Physics. Linde was a member of scientific and engineering associations, including being on the board of trustees of the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Linde was also the founder of what is now known as The Linde Group, the world’s largest industrial gases company, and ushered the creation of the supply chain of industrial gases as a profitable line of businesses. He was knighted in 1897 as Ritter von Linde.”

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His importance to brewing, especially yo lager beers, is undeniable. His first refrigerating machines were built for breweries. This is situation prior to his inventions, from the University of Chicago:

Before the development of mechanical refrigeration technologies, brewers were reliant on ice harvested from lakes and ponds and stored in ice-houses. The invention of mechanical refrigeration machines provided commercial brewers with the technology necessary to keep beer for longer periods of time. Refrigeration technology was also used in special railroad boxcars, permitting brewers to ship their product over longer distances. One of the most successful early designs for a mechanical refrigeration system was invented by Carl von Linde (a professor at Munich Polytechnic School) and was an ammonia-based vapor-compression system.

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One of the drawing from his first patent, in 1873.

This history of the development of Linde’s refrigeration machines is from a brochure prepared by his the company he founded, The Linde Group.

Initial contacts with breweries

After von Linde had published his ideas in 1870 and 1871 in the Polytechnic Association’s “Bavarian Industry and Trade Journal,” which he also edited, a development was set in motion that would determine the direction of the entire rest of his life. His articles on refrigeration technology had aroused the interest of brewers who had been looking for a reliable year-round method of refrigeration for the fermentation and storage of their beer. In the summer of 1871 an agreement was made between von Linde, Austrian brewer August Deiglmayr (Dreher Brewery) and Munich brewer Gabriel Sedlmayr to build a test machine according to Linde’s design at the Spaten Brewery. With their help, Linde’s ideas would be put into practice, so that a refrigeration unit could then be installed at the Dreher Brewery, the largest brewery in Austria, in the hot, humid city of Trieste (now part of Italy).

Building the first Linde ice machine

The construction plans were finally completed in January 1873 and the patent applied for. The Bavarian patent required, however, that the machine be in operation within one year. Therefore von Linde and Sedlmayr placed an order with Maschinenfabrik Augsburg that same month to build it. And with some effort they succeeded in starting operation by the important patent deadline in January 1874. Of course, the first machine did have its difficulties.

The main problem was that von Linde’s mercury seal did not work properly so that the methyl ether used as the refrigerant leaked out of the compressor. In Linde’s words, “This design was not a suitable solution for the requirements of practical use. So it seemed imperative to build a second machine.”

In order to finance it, von Linde assigned part of the patent rights to Sedlmayr, to locomotive builder Georg Krauss and to the director of Maschinenfabrik Augsburg, Heinrich von Buz. In return, they provided the funds needed for the development, building and testing of a new refrigeration machine.

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Building the second refrigeration machine

With his student and assistant Friedrich Schipper, von Linde designed a new compressor, which had a significantly simpler and more effective seal. The sealing material used in the newly designed gland construction was glycerin and the more efficient ammonia was used as the refrigerant. The new machine weighed and cost only half as much as its predecessor.

In the spring of 1875 Linde ordered the new compressor from Maschinenfabrik Augsburg and submitted it for a Bavarian patent, which was awarded on March 25, 1876 for ten years. He received the German Reichspatent in August 1877.

“The very first trials with this second compressor yielded fully satisfactory results,” said von Linde, not without pride. The machine was sold to the Dreher Brewery in September 1876, erected under Schipper’s supervision and started up in spring 1877. It ran until 1908, providing refrigeration and dehumidification

Technical breakthrough

But despite this success, Linde created a third design immediately after the second machine was installed at Dreher, turning his attention to gas pumps, which were already widely used. This third, horizontal design proved to be the best cold vapor machine on the market in terms of its price/performance ratio and became the standard type of Linde compressor for decades to come. During the more than six-year development and experimentation phase, a reliable solution also had to be found for distributing the generated cold. After long trials, in executing an order for the Heineken Brewery in Rotterdam, von Linde developed a method of circulating cold saltwater brine in a pipe cooling system (natural convection cooling), which was installed on the ceiling of the refrigeration rooms.

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And this inset is about the company’s “First customers and partners: brewers.”

In 1840, many continental European breweries switched to bottom fermented lager production (in contrast to the “English” top-fermented brown beers or ales) because the beer remained fresh longer and customers preferred the taste. The ice machine described by von Linde seemed ideal for achieving the required lower temperatures and to ensure precise cooling control. So it is no wonder that some major brewers showed great interest in this invention.

Gabriel Sedlmayr of the Munich Spaten Brewerey was willing to let von Linde experiment with an early refrigeration machine in his brewery in the early 1870s. The first unit functioned passably well, but was too large and had numerous flaws. The drawings submitted for the patent showed that Sedlmayr himself had a hand in the second version, which was significantly smaller in size and worked well. This unit was sold to the Trieste Dreher Brewery for air cooling.

With Sedlmayr as an intermediary, the Rotterdam Heineken Brewery under its director Feldmann ordered an ice machine in 1877 for ice production. In his collaboration with the Heineken Brewery, Linde developed “natural convection cooling” with a system of cooling pipes under the ceiling of the cellar. Feldmann in turn put von Linde in contact with J. C. Jacobsen, head of the Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen, who ordered a large refrigeration unit in 1878.

Karl Lang, technical adviser and supervisory board member of several Rhineland breweries, also played a significant role during the founding period of the “Gesellschaft für Linde’s Eismaschinen.” He introduced Linde to brewery director Gustav Jung, who not only ordered a refrigeration unit but also became, with Lang and banker Moritz von Hirsch, a shareholder and Supervisory Board member of the Linde Company.

The connection between the Linde Company and brewery directors was maintained to some extent over several generations. After the death of Karl Lang in 1894 his position as chairman of the Supervisory Board was taken over by Gustav Jung, followed by his son Adolf Jung in 1886. Carl Sedlmayr took over for his father Gabriel on the Supervisory Board and in 1915, the third generation of this family followed with Anton Sedlmayr. The Jung and Sedlmayr families held their Supervisory Board seats until after the Second World War.

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Here’s Linde’s entry from the Oxford Companion to Beer, written by Horst Dornbush.

Linde, Carl von
was a 19th-century German engineer and one of the world’s major inventors of refrigeration technology. See refrigeration. Starting in the middle of the 18th century, many people before Linde had tinkered with artificial refrigeration contraptions, but Linde was the first to develop a practical refrigeration system that was specifically designed for keeping fermenting and maturing beer cool—in Linde’s case, Bavarian lagers—during the hot summer months. Linde was born in the village of Berndorf, in Franconia, in 1842, at a time when warm-weather brewing was strictly forbidden in his native Bavaria; no one was allowed to brew beer between Saint George’s Day (April 23) and Michael’s Day (September 29). This was to avoid warm fermentations, which provided ideal habitats for noxious airborne bacteria to proliferate and caused yeasts to produce undesirable fermentation flavors. Both made summer beers often unpalatable. Summer brewing prohibition had been in force since 1553 and was only lifted in 1850, by which time Bavarian brewers had learned to pack their fermentation cellars with ice they had laboriously harvested in the winter from frozen ponds and lakes. There had to be a better way to keep beer cold…and that was just the challenge for a budding mechanical engineering professor like Linde, who had joined Munich’s Technical University in 1868. See weihenstephan. The basic principle of refrigeration had been understood for centuries. Because cold is merely the absence of heat, to make things cold, one must withdraw heat. Compressing a medium generates heat; subsequently decompressing or evaporating it quickly absorbs heat from its environment. Devices based on this principle are now generally known as vapor-compression refrigeration systems; apply this to a fermenting or lagering vessel, and it becomes a beer-cooling system. For Linde, the next question was the choice of refrigerant. Initially he experimented with dimethyl ether but eventually settled on ammonia because of its rapid expansion (and thus cooling) properties. He called his invention an “ammonia cold machine.” Linde had received much of the funding for this development from the Spaten Brewery in Munich, which was also the first customer to install the new device—then still driven by dimethyl ether—in 1873. By 1879, Linde had quit his professorship and formed his own “Ice Machine Company,” which is still in operation today as Linde AG, headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany. By 1890, Linde had sold 747 refrigeration units machines to various breweries and cold storage facilities. He continued to innovate and invented new devices most of his life, including equipment for liquefying air, and for the production of pure oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen. In 1897 he was knighted, and from then on could append the honorific “von” to his surname. He died a prosperous industrialist in Munich in 1934, at the age of 92, and today Linde AG is a leading gases and engineering company with almost 48,000 employees working in more than 100 countries worldwide. For all his many accomplishments, Linde’s pioneering work in artificial beer cooling technology is perhaps his most enduring legacy.

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