Historic Beer Birthday: Frank Reisch

Today is the birthday of Frank Reisch (January 19, 1842-May 22, 1896), who at one time was involved in the management of the Reisch Brewing Co. He was the son of the founder, Franz Sales Reisch, who established the family brewery in 1849, in the city of Springfield, Illinois. According to Wikipedia, “the brewery operated until 1920 when it was forced to close because of Prohibition. It reopened in 1933 and stayed open until it shut its doors permanently in 1966.” During that time it changed names seven times.


Find A Grave has a short biography, taken from the “Portrait & Biographical Album of Sangamon County, IL:

Son of Frank and Susannah Reisch. In 1863, he was admitted into partnership of the Reisch Brewery in Springfield, IL, founded by his father Frank. In 1868 they built a mammoth structure in which Frank carried on the business after the death of his father in 1875.

From the time that he entered into partnership with his father, the business steadily increased and was one of the leading industries of the city. The brewery was finely fitted up with all the best machinery for carrying on the manufacture of beer. The capacity of the brewery was one hundred barrels a day, and gave employment to fifty-five men and to eight teams.

Mr. Reisch was a thorough business man who took a keen interest in everything calculated to promote the growth and development of Springfield. He was a strong man in financial circles, was a Director in the Illinois National Bank and a stockholder in the street railway system.

The brewery in Springfield (date unknown).

The 1910 book 100 Years of Brewing has a short entry about the brewery:


Here’s the letterhead for the company from shortly after they incorporated in 1903.


The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Sangamon County doesn’t have an entry for Frank Reisch though he is mentioned in his father’s entry.


The brewery slightly closer (date unknown).

Tony White, who’s the great-great grandson of Reisch brewery founder Franz Sales Resich, is working on a book about his family’s brewing legacy. He also has a great webpage with lots of information about Reisch Brewing, including photographs and interviews with other family members.

A stylized postcard of the brewery c. 1930s.

Here’s part of an entry of Frank Reisch from the Encyclopaedia of Biography of Illinois, though I clipped the second half, which discusses his involvement in local banking.


A Resich Brewery delivery truck from around 1915. You can see many more photos from Springfield Breweries in a slideshow by the Reisch Brew Crew.


Additional information can be found at the Springfield Journal Register and Manic Publishing’s Ghost of brewing past.

Lester Jones, of the Beer Institute & George Reisch, of Anheuser-Busch @ GABF Saturday
Lester Jones, currently with the NBWA, and George Reisch at GABF in 2009.

George Reisch is currently the Brewmaster and Director of Brewmaster Outreach at Anheuser-Busch, and has been there since 1979. He’s a fifth generation with Franz Sales Resich, Frank’s father, being first. His 96-year old father Edward is 4th generation (and will be 97 on March 1). His son Patrick Reisch brews for Goose Island and is 6th Generation.

One of their best-selling beers, Gold Top.

Historic Beer Birthday: Joseph Junk

Today is the birthday of German-born Joseph Junk (January 15, 1841-1887) who emigrated to the U.S. in 1868, and in 1883 opened the eponymous Joseph Junk Brewery in Chicago, Illinois. Unfortunately, he died just a few years later, in 1887, and his widow, Magdalena Junk, took over management of the brewery, renaming it Junk’s Brewery and then the Jos. Junk Brewery, which it remained until 1909. She increased production from around 4,000 barrels to 45,000 barrels of lager beer.

It then became the South Side Brewing Co. until prohibition, and afterwards reopened under that same name. But in 1937 in became the more fancifully named Ambrosia Brewing Co., then changed again one final time, to the Atlantic Brewing Co., before closing for good in 1965. It was located at 3700/3710 South Halstead and 37th Streets. According to Tavern Trove, “the brewery has been torn down. What was the Ambrosia Brewery is now the parking lot for Schaller’s Pump, a tavern located at 3714 S. Halsted, Chicago.”

Here’s a short article from the Western Brewer (Brewer’s Journal) from August 1909 reporting on the transition from Jos. Junk to South Side Brewing.


I was unable to find any photos of any of the Junk family, and in fact very little of anything, which I guess makes sense since they were the Junk Brewery, or some variation, for a relatively short time a very long time ago. Here’s what I did find.

A rare Junk bottle.

This is a South Side delivery truck taken around 1936.

The website where I found this claims it was from 1930, but American Breweries II states that it wasn’t called Ambrosia Brewing until 1937, so it’s probably from the late 1930s at the earliest. But another source says it’s from the 1950s, and indeed it as known as Ambrosia through 1959, so that’s perhaps more likely given the look of the postcard.

This is in the collection of the Chicago History Museum, but they appear to have no idea when it was taken.


This is the brewery around 1952, taken by Ernie Oest and featured at beer can history.

But by far, this is the most interesting bit of history on Joseph Junk I turned up. This is a newspaper article from the Chicago Tribune for March 29, 1902. It concerns what I can only assume is Joe and Magdalena’s son, since they refer to him as a “young man” and “member of the Chicago Brewery” rather then saying “owner.” Seems the young man went on a bender in San Francisco and ended up marrying some floozy he’d just met. But here’s the best bit. “The trouble began when the young man’s family learned that Lottie (is that not a floozy’s name?) had done a song-and-dance turn in abbreviated skirts.” Oh, the horror. It sounds like they could live with or tolerate the “song-and dance turn,” but not, I repeat not, if there were “abbreviated skirts” involved. That was the deal breaker, so they sent him off on “a Southern tour” and her packing back to Frisco, eventually settling on a payoff on $10,000, which in today’s money is over a quarter-million dollars, or roughly $276,150. It must have been the talk of polite society for months afterwards, bringing shame down on the Junk family.


Historic Beer Birthday: Henry Shlaudeman

Today is the birthday of Henry Shlaudeman (January 13, 1834-February 24, 1923), who founded what would become the Decatur Brewing Co., in Decatur, Illinois. Shlaudeman was born in Wildeshausen, Grossherzogtum Oldenburg, in what today is part of Germany. He emigrated to America in 1846. After a short stint in the cigar trade, he 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 even of the brewery he owned. The City of Decatur and Macon County, subtitled “A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement,” includes a biography of Henry Shlaudeman:


And while there’s not much about him, his house has an entire webpage, all about the Henry Shlaudeman House


He 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.

Historic Beer Birthday: Frederick Sehring

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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



Historic Beer Birthday: George K. Schmidt

Today is the birthday of George K. Schmidt (December 18, 1869-January 1, 1939). He was the son of Kasper George Schmidt, who founded the K.G. Schmidt Brewery. He and his father also founded a bank and he opened a branch brewery in Logansport, Indiana.


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

President of Chicago’s Prudential State Savings Bank, Vice-President of Chicago’s Board of Local Improvements, member of Chicago’s Board of Assessors, City Controller of Chicago.

Ran for Mayor of Chicago as the Republican candidate in 1931 against encumbent Mayor “Big Bill” Thompson.

Owned the K G Brewery in Chicago, and the K G Brewery in Logansport, IN which operated until 1951.

County Assessor and City Council Member for Logansport, IN.

A noted outdoorsman whose now famous, pristine duck decoy hunting rig produced by Charles Perdew, the Mason Decoy Factory and Robert Elliston is highly sought after by collectors.

The brewery Schmidt built in Indiana.



Beer Birthday: Wil Turner

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.

Wil, me and Greg Hall at GABF in 2006.

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

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

Wil, also at the 2006 GABF, sadly empty.

Historic Beer Birthday: Harry Shlaudeman

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.


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:



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.

The keg line at the Decatur Brewing Co.

Historic Beer Birthday: William A. Birk

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.


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



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.


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


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



Beer Birthday: Greg Hall

virtue goose-island
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.

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

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

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

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

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 the 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.


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.


Chicago historian and beer writer Bob Skilnik had an article in the Chicago Tribune that mentioned the 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.