Beer Birthday: Wil Turner

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Today is the 49th birthday of Wil Turner, brewer at Goose Island Brewery. Wil’s originally from California — or at least that’s where I first met him — but moved to Chicago to brew at the Clybourn Goose Island brewpub, eventually moving to the production side. Since the sale of Goose Island, Wil’s moved back over to brewpub brewing at Revolution Brewing, also in Chicago. Wil’s a great brewer, of course, and a terrific person for the industry, always a fun guy to drink with. Join me in wishing Wil a very happy birthday.

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Wil, me and Greg Hall at GABF in 2006.

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Tom Nickel with Wil at the Brewer’s Reception at Wynkoop during GABF in 2009.

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On the floor at GABF in 2007 with Andrew Mason (on left), Matt’s assistant when he was still at Flossmoor Station, and Wil.

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Wil, also at the 2006 GABF, sadly empty.

Historic Beer Birthday: Harry Shlaudeman

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Today is the birthday of Harry Shlaudeman (November 11, 1865-19??). His father Henry Shlaudeman founded what would become the Decatur Brewing Co., in Decatur, Illinois. It reopened after prohibition in 1934 under the name Macon County Beverage Co., but closed for good the same year.

Harry attended the University of Illinois, and received a B.S. in Architecture. After college he worked in the family brewery, as secretary and treasurer, and he was also president of the Citizens National Bank. Later in life, he left for California, settling in Pasadena, where he lived out his days.

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Surprisingly, I was unable to turn up even one photograph of him, and very little even of the brewery his father, and then he and his brother, owned. The City of Decatur and Macon County, subtitled “A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement,” includes a biography of Henry Shlaudeman, which also mentioned Harry and his brother Frank:

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He father also held two patents related to brewing. One was for an Improvement in safety-valves for fermented-liquor casks from 1878 and the other for a Refrigerator-building for fermenting and storing beer.

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The keg line at the Decatur Brewing Co.

Historic Beer Birthday: William A. Birk

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Today is the birthday of William A. Birk (November 11, 1861-June 11, 1916). William was the son of Jacob Birk, who co-founded Chicago’s Wacker & Birk Brewing Co. When Jacob retired, he bought the Corper & Nocklin Brewery for his sons, renaming it the Birk Bros. Brewing Co. William and his brother Edward ran the brewery through Prohibition, and it successfully reopened after repeal, and continued until 1950.

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Here’s William’s obituary from the American Brewers’ Review from the year after he died:

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Here’s some biographical info from “Historical Review of Chicago and Cook County and Selected Biography,” by A.N. Waterman:

Birk, his father having been born in Germany and being in early manhood a harnessmaker. He came to Chicago in 1854, prospered in trade and business, and for many years conducted a hotel on West Lake street. In 1881 he became associated with Fred Wacker & Son, then engaged in the malting business, and in the following year became associated with the firm in brewing operations under the firm name of the Wacker & Birk Brewing Company. In 1891 the business was sold to the English corporation, the Chicago Breweries, Limited, and Jacob Birk and his two sons, William A. and Edward J., incorporated the Birk Brothers’ Brewing Company. Since the founding of the company, at that time, William A. has been president and Edward J. Birk, secretary and treasurer. The basis of the complete and extensive plant was the Corper & Nockin brewery, purchased in 1891, and since remodeled and enlarged. The elder Birk retired from his connection with the business in 1895.

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And here’s another account, from the “History of Cook County, Illinois,” published in 1909:

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Birk Brothers Brewing Company delivery wagon on Belmont Avenue, around 1895.

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Beer Birthday: Greg Hall

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Today is also the 51st birthday of Greg Hall, former brewmaster at Goose Island Brewing. Goose Island, of course, makes some incredible beers. Founded by Greg’s father John Hall in 1988, Greg became brewmaster a few years later and has been setting high standards ever since, though he left after the family business was acquired by ABI. His new venture is Virtue Cider. Join me in wishing Greg a very happy birthday.

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Greg with Alex Puchner, head of brewing operations for BJs.

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Greg with the owners of Monk’s Kettle in San Francisco.

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Wil Turner, also with Goose Island, me and Greg at the 2006 GABF.

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Greg pulling a proper pint of English brewed Honkers Ale at the Crosse Keys in London (this last photo purloined from Facebook).

Historic Beer Birthday: John L. Hoerber

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Today is the birthday of John L. Hoerber (October 24, 1821-July 3, 1898). Hoerber was born in Germany, I believe, but founded the John L. Hoerber Brewery in 1858 of Chicago, Illinois, located at 186 Griswold Street. There was very little information I could find about him, not even a photo. But his brewery appears to have taken on a partner in 1864, and was renamed the Hoerber & Gastreich Brewery, but just one year later was hte John L. Hoerber Brewery again. But in 1865 it was sold. As far as I can tell, another John L. Hoerber Brewery was opened in 1864, located at 216/224 West 12th Street, but appears to also have been sold in 1882. Then in 1882, yet another brewery was opened at 646/662 Hinman & 22nd Streets, though it 1885 it changed its name again from brewery to the John L. Hoerber Brewing Co., which is stayed until prohibition. After prohibition, it reopened as The Hoerber Brewing Co., and remained in business until 1941, when it closed for good.

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There’s a little bit more information in this translation of “Chicago’s Breweries Statistical Items about the Most Outstanding Breweries,” from Western Brewers, 1875:

J. L. Hoerber is one of our oldest German citizens….He founded a brewery on the South Side….in 1858. He sold this brewery later and established himself at his present location, 220–222 West Twelfth Street. Evidently this was a very fortunate choice, because property values….have increased rapidly in that neighborhood.

Mr. Hoerber has had ample opportunity and means to enlarge his establishment, but 24he prefers to brew only as much beer as he requires in his own beer hall, and possibly enough to supply three or four of his old customers.

Hoerbers’s brewery and beer hall is one of the most imposing brick buildings on West Twelfth Street. The frontage, including the cigar business of the younger Hoerber, is seventy-five feet. Since the house on the east, at 218 West Twelfth Street, also belongs to Mr. Hoerber, the total frontage on Twelfth Street reaches one hundred feet….

The ground floor of the main building is used for the beer hall. It is a popular meeting place for all who like a good glass of beer.

The upper floor contains a hall, a dining room,….etc., and is used for lodge meetings by the Freemasons at present.

J. L. Hoerber brews only in winter, and his guests may rest assured that they will always receive genuine lager beer in the summer, since he serves only his own 25 product.

The business….is stable and well managed. Mr. Hoerber is superintendent…. He stored one hundred and fifty cords of ice….

As we pass the main building, walking towards Dussold Street, we notice the following arrangement: The beer hall faces Twelfth Street; at the back is the adjoining icehouse and the brewery. The yard along Dussold Street would make an excellent beer garden.

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Chicago historian and beer writer Bob Skilnik had an article in the Chicago Tribune that mentioned te Hoerber Brewery in 1997:

A population increase from a few hundred in 1833 to more than 100,000 in 1860 opened the market and made success possible for scores of brewers. In 1857, the city council ordered the grades of all existing properties to be raised to a height that would ensure proper drainage. John Hoerber used this opportunity to raise his combination saloon, store and boardinghouse and install a small brewery underneath, pumping fresh beer to his customers. By doing so, Hoerber beat the now-defunct Siebens on West Ontario by about 150 years for the title of Chicago’s first brew pub.

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Beer Birthday: Jonathan Cutler

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Today is the 44th birthday of Jonathan Cutler, brewmaster/owner of Piece Brewing in Chicago. His brewpub makes great pizza and even better beer. Plus, he’s a terrific, fun person. He even got a shout-out at the Academy Awards a couple of years ago, when Quentin Tarantino said “Piece Out” during his acceptance speech. Join me in wishing Jonathan a very happy birthday.

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Serving beer and pizza at the CBC Reception at the Field Museum.

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At Stone Brewery during CBC in San Diego in 2008. From left: Peter Schell, Eric Rose (Hollister Brewing), Ian Ward (Brewers Supply Group), Jonathan Cutler (Piece Brewing), Chad Kennedy (Laurelwood Public House) and Fal Allen (now back at Anderson Valley).

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Jonathan picking up another GABF award for Piece in 2007.

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Jonathan tearing up during Dave Keene and Jennifer Smith’s wedding during GABF a few years ago.

Historic Beer Birthday: Frederick Wacker

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

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

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

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Historic Beer Birthday: Conrad Seipp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conrad Seipp’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Historic Beer Birthday: Jacob Birk

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Today is the birthday of Jacob Birk (September 21, 1835-March 2, 1920). Birk was born in Württemberg, Germany, but made his way to Chicago, Illinois when he was 19, in 1854. He first partnered with Frederick Wacker to form Wacker & Birk Brewing Co., then later purchased the Corper & Nocklin Brewery and set it up for his sons to run when he retired as the Birk Bros. Brewing Co. Birk & Water was closed by prohibition, but Birk Bros. reopened after repeal and continued on until 1950.

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Here’s some biographical info from “Historical Review of Chicago and Cook County and Selected Biography,” by A.N. Waterman:

Birk, his father having been born in Germany and being in early manhood a harnessmaker. He came to Chicago in 1854, prospered in trade and business, and for many years conducted a hotel on West Lake street. In 1881 he became associated with Fred Wacker & Son, then engaged in the malting business, and in the following year became associated with the firm in brewing operations under the firm name of the Wacker & Birk Brewing Company. In 1891 the business was sold to the English corporation, the Chicago Breweries, Limited, and Jacob Birk and his two sons, William A. and Edward J., incorporated the Birk Brothers’ Brewing Company. Since the founding of the company, at that time, William A. has been president and Edward J. Birk, secretary and treasurer. The basis of the complete and extensive plant was the Corper & Nockin brewery, purchased in 1891, and since remodeled and enlarged. The elder Birk retired from his connection with the business in 1895.

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And here’s another account, from the “History of Cook County, Illinois,” published in 1909:

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The first brewery Birk was involved in was Wacker & Birk:

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

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And the second was Birk Bros. Brewing, though most of its history I could find was in the above accounts.

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Birk Brothers Brewing Company delivery wagon on Belmont Avenue, around 1895.

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Beer Birthday: Keith Lemcke

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Today is the 57th birthday of Keith Lemcke, who is Vice-President of the Siebel Institute of Technology, a position he’s held since 2000. He’s also the Marketing Manager for the World Brewing Academy and a founding member of the Draught Beer Guild. I’ve been running into Keith off and on for a number of years now, and it’s always a good time. Join me wishing a very happy birthday.

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Nice portrait of Keith, taken by William Boyer.

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Just before the school’s move to nearby Kendall College.

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Keith getting his teach on.

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Keith with Siebel president Lyn Kruger in Portugal.

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Brewmaster Teri Fahrendorf, with Keith and a bunch of other Siebel folks during a trip to Chicago during her Road Brewer trip in 2007.

[Note: First four photos purloined from Facebook.]