Beer Birthday: Jim Koch

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Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Co., known primarily for their Samuel Adams beers, is celebrating his 68th birthday today. Jim was instrumental, of course, in spreading the word about craft beer, especially in the early days when Samuel Adams was often the first one to be available in many pockets of the country. Join me in wishing Jim a very happy birthday.

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Daniel Bradford and Amy Dalton, both with All About Beer, sandwiching Jim Koch, and flanked by drinks writer Rick Lyke, who writes online at Lyke 2 Drink.

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Jim and me at the annual media brunch and Longshot winner announcement at GABF in 2009.

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After judging the finals for the Longshot Homebrew Competition in Boston. From left: Jason Alstrom (from Beer Advocate), Tony Forder (from Ale Street News), Bob Townsend (a food & drinks columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), Jim Koch (founder of the Boston Beer Co.), yours truly (on assignment for Celebrator Beer News), Julie Johnson (from All About Beer magazine), and Todd Alstrom (also from Beer Advocate).

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Jack McAuliffe and Jim at Boston Beer’s annual media brunch during GABF week four years ago.

Historic Beer Birthday: Sampson Salter

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Today is the birthday of Sampson Salter (March 21, 1692-April 6, 1778) who in the early 18th century operated one of the most popular breweries in Boston. Considering it was apparently so popular, there’s very little specific information about either Salter or his brewery. Most histories seem to only mention him in passing. For example, “Historic Taverns of Boston” by Gavin Nathan, says only this:

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Boston in 1722.

Beer Birthday: Tom Acitelli

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Today is the 40th — the Big 4-0 — birthday of Tom Acitelli, author of the wonderful history of craft beer, The Audacity of Hops. Tom reached out to me while he was working on his book, and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s a great new addition to the cadre of writers chronicling the beer industry these days. Join me in wishing Tom a very happy birthday.

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Tom reading selections from his book at Anchor Brewery.

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Tom and Vinnie Cilurzo during a visit to the Russian River production brewery.

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At Lagunitas for Tom’s book release party two years ago, with Joe Tucker, Jeremy Marshall, me, Tom and Ken Weaver.

Beer Birthday: Todd Alström

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Today is the 48th birthday of Todd Alström, co-founder of Beer Advocate. With his brother Jason, Todd has created one of the killer apps of the beer world online and the only monthly beer magazine. Though we only run into one another from time to time, we always have a good time. We also shared a week in Bavaria on a press junket in 2007, and had a terrific fry crawl in Boston a number of years ago, before he relocated to Denver a couple of years ago, and more recently became a father. Join me in wishing Todd a very happy birthday.

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Todd (at right), with brother Jason and Jaime Jurado, head brewer from Gambrinus, at the 2008 GABF.

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During a trip to Bavaria in 2007, the gang of twelve plus three at the Faust Brauerei in Miltenberg, Germany. From left: Cornelius Faust, me, Lisa Morrison, Johannes Faust, Julie Bradford, Andy Crouch, Peter Reid, Horst Dornbusch, Jeannine Marois, Harry Schumacher, Tony Forder, Candice Alström, Don Russell, Jason Alström and Todd Alström.

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Todd with Rhonda Kallman at the Blue Palm in L.A., after the premiere of Beer Wars.

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Me, Todd, Jason Alström, Joe Tucker and Greg Koch showing off our sample bottles of Enjoy By 12.21.12 in San Diego four Decembers ago.

Historic Beer Birthday: James W. Kenney

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Today is the birthday of James W. Kenney (January 2, 1845-). He was born in Ireland, but followed his older brother to Boston when he was eighteen, in 1863. He was involved in starting and running several different breweries in Boston over the span of his life, starting with the Armory Brewery in 1877. Then he opened the Park Brewery, the Union Brewing Co. and finally was involved in the American Brewing Co., plus he bought the Rockland Brewery at one point. It also seems like he was involved in the Kenney & Ballou Brewery, but I wasn’t able to confirm that one. Suffice it to say, he was an busy, industrious person, involved in a lot of Boston breweries.

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Here’s a short biography from “Important Men of 1913″

Kenney, James W., born near Derry, Ireland, Jan. 2, 1845, and educated in the national schools of his native land. Came to Boston, 1863, and was placed in charge of a large grocery conducted by his brother. Became master brewer in a large brewery. In 1877 started Amory Brewery; 1881 Park Brewery; 1893 organized Union Brewing Co. Was mainly instrumental in organizing the American Brewing Co.; member of directors’ board two years. Large owner and operator in real estate, with interests in railroads, gas companies, banks, newspapers, etc. President, director and vice-president of Federal Trust Co.; director Mass. Bonding and Insurance Co. and Fauntleroy Hall Association of Roxbury; member of American Irish Historical Society and of numerous social and benevolent organizations. Married, April 24, 1876, Ellen Frances Rorke, of Roxbury. Residence: 234 Seaver St., Roxbury, Mass.

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Norman Miller’s “Boston Beer: A History of Brewing in the Hub,” has a few paragraphs on several of Kenney’s businesses.

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Here’s a rundown of his breweries:

Armory Brewing Co., 71 Amory Street: 1877-1902

This was his first brewery, but it was only known by that name until 1880, and I think he may have then sold it to a Mr. Robinson, who called it the Robinson Brewing Co., although some accounts indicate it was called the Rockland Brewery, which was his nickname. Their flagship was Elmo Ale, named for Robinson’s son, and not for the beloved Sesame Street Muppet. Other sources seem to suggest it was then bought back by Kenney at some point.

Park Brewery, 94 Terrace Street: 1881-1918

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Four years later he opened the Park Brewery, which apparently produced only Irish Ales.

American Brewing Co., 249-249A Heath Street: 1891-1918

This was a larger brewery than his other ventures, and he was merely one of the investors in the business, and was on the Board of Directors, though he did hired all Jamaica Plain brewmasters. Apparently it survived the dry years by operating a “laundry” (wink, wink). After repeal, the Haffenreffer family bought it and used it briefly as a second brewery, before closing for good in 1934.

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The Jamaica Plain Gazette described their neighborhood American Brewing Co.:

The most “handsome” of all the remaining Boston breweries, the American Brewing Company was active from 1891 to 1918, and then again from 1933-34. Owned by James W. Kenney, who also owned the nearby Park and Union breweries, the Queen Anne style building stands out architecturally with beautiful granite arches and a distinctive rounded corner, topped by a turret.

Historically, one of the most unique features of this brewery was the “customer” room in the basement. Customers were entertained here in a room with walls, ceiling and floor painted with German drinking slogans, flowers and other reminders of the source of the Lager recipes.

The Jamaica Plain Historical Society has even more information on it in their piece about Boston’s Lost Breweries:

The brewmasters were Gottlieb, Gustav and Gottlieb F. Rothfuss, all of Jamaica Plain.

This is undoubtedly the most handsome of all the remaining breweries in Boston and once can see at a glance the pride the owners had in the place, the process and the product. The architect was Frederick Footman of Cambridge. It was built in three phases, with the oldest part on the left, the second one with the American Brewing Company name came next and then the third wing with the beautiful granite arches and terra cotta heads which was the office complex emblazoned with the initials ABC. The granite was probably either Chelmsford or the slightly grayer Quincy.

Still visible in the main, or brewing, building is the large overhead access shaft where the malted barley and water were lifted to the top floor with hoists and pumps. The barley was stored in cedar-lined rooms in the top two stories of the main building to prevent insect infestation. The brewing process was started there as the grain was cooked. The cooked mash then flowed to the floor below where the grain was removed as waste and hops and other ingredients were added to the residual brew, along with the yeast that triggered the fermentation that produced the alcohol. The final product was then stored in temperature-controlled areas at the lowest level. Also still visible in the lower level is the capped wellhead that had delivered countless thousands of gallons of pure Mission Hill spring water to the process.

A wonderful touch of the spirit of the times is the “customer” room in the basement. Customers were entertained here in a room with walls, ceiling and floor painted with German drinking slogans, flowers and other reminders of the source of the Lager recipes. The offices had beautiful arched, semi-circular windows with stained glass. The tower is rounded and has a clock fixed at seven and five, the workers’ starting and quitting times. It also has granite carriage blocks to protect carriage wheels from breaking if too tight a turn were attempted when entering or exiting.

During Prohibition it was used as a laundry. After 1934, Mr. Haffenreffer used it for a time as a second brewery. Most recently it was used by a fine arts crating and shipping company, the Fine Arts Express Co. It is presently being converted to housing units.

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The American Brewing Co.

Union Brewery, 103 Terrace Street: 1893-1911

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Next was the Union Brewery, this time to brew German Lager beer exclusively. Here’s a brief description of the Union Brewery from the Jamaica Plain Historical Society, detailing it in Boston’s Lost Breweries:

The Stony Brook culvert sits very close to the surface of Terrace Street, the home of two very productive breweries. The Union Brewery, active from 1893 to 1911, was located at 103 Terrace Street. It produced only German Lager beer. It had a large six story, arched, main building and two smaller buildings housing a stable and a powerhouse. The two smaller buildings and the mural-decorated smokestack, which now also does duty as a cell phone tower remain. The former stable is now Mississippi’s Restaurant.

While for those breweries, it’s certain they were owned by James Kenney, I’m less sure about a couple of others. From either 1878-1880 or 1898-1903 (sources differ) there was a Kenney & Ballou Brewery. It’s seems at least like that James Kenney may have been the Kenney in the name, although it could have been his older brother Neil Kenney, who James worked for when he first arrive in America. That seems even more plausible when you look another brewery founded in 1874, the Shawmont Brewery. In 1877, it became known as the Neil Kenney Brewery, but in 1884 it changed names again, this time to the James W. Kenney Brewery. It apparently closed in 1888, but it appears pretty clear that he and his brother worked together on one, if not both of these breweries. Unfortunately, except for listings in Breweriana databases, I couldn’t find any information whatsoever about either brewery, and they’re not mentioned in any accounts I found of Kenney, either.

Historic Beer Birthday: Henry H. Rueter

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Today is the birthday of Henry Hermann Rueter (December 9, 1832-November 27, 1899). He was born in Westphalia, Germany, but moved to Boston, Massachusetts. In 1867, along with Irishman John R. Alley, founded the Highland Spring Brewery. By 1885, they had moved to Heath & 165 Terrace Streets, but was known after that as Rueter & Co., Inc., although their trade name continued to be the Highland Spring Brewery. After prohibition ended, they were known as the The Croft Brewing Co., but in 1952 were bought by the Narragansett Brewing Co., who closed them for good the following year.

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Here is a biography from the Boston Landmarks Commission when the property where the brewery was located applied for historic status, researched by Angelica Coleman and Marcia Butman:

Henry Rueter was born in 1832 I the province of Westphalia, Germany. He immigrated to the US in 1851 and after a short stay in New York came to Boston and worked for the Roxbury brewer G. F Burkhardt. With John D. Alley he established Highland Springs Brewery. After Alley withdrew to form his own company, the firm reorganized as Rueter and Co. After Rueter’s death (1899) his sons retained control of the company.

Another source discusses the family background. “The family was founded in this country by the late Henry H. Rueter, who came to Boston in 1831, at 18, from Gutersloh, Westphalia, his birthplace. He was of honorable ancestry, uniting the blood of the Rueters and the Von Eickens.”

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From “The Men of Boston and New England, The Boston American,” 1913

Henry H. Rueter founded the Highland Spring Brewery in 1869, and in three years had made it the largest brewery in the United States and today it still maintains its place as the greatest ale brewery of America.

The present head of the family is Henry A. Rueter, born in Boston, educated in Germany, and now in his fifty-fourth year. He is president of Rueter & Company; and of its affiliated lager beer interest the A J. Houghton Companv; and is a director in the National Rockland Bank, the American Trust Co., the Roxbury Institution for Savings, and the Mass. Bonding and Ins. Co. He was one of the incorporators ot the Mass. Automobile Club, and has served it in various capacities. The Country Club and the Algonquin Club count him among their members as does the Boston Chamber of Commerce. Mrs. Rueter was Miss Bertha Glover, only daughter of the late William H. Glover of Rockland, Me. They have two children,-William G. Rueter, now in his final year at Harvard, and Miss Martha Von Eicken Rueter.

A graduate of Harvard, and later a student at Boston Univ. Law School and Bonn University, Germany, Conrad J. Rueter is a recognized authority on the technical and practical application of the liquor law. He has served his city for upwards of seventeen years as trustee of the Boston City Hospital having been reappointed in 1913 for another five vear term. He belongs to the Boston Art Club, the Puritan Club, and the Harvard Club; and is a member of the Liederkrantz Club of New York. In his fiftieth year, his pleasure in outdoor sport is evidenced bv his membership in the Mass. Automobile Club, the Brae Burn Country Club and the Wollaston Golf Club Mrs. Conrad J. Rueter was Miss Ramseyer. There is one son.-John Conrad Rueter.

At the head of the sales staff is Frederick T. Rueter. and the brewing department itself is in direct charge of Ernest L Rueter. youngest of the four brothers, as general manager and master-brewer. Both names appear on the rolls of the Boston Athletic Assn. Ernest L. Rueter is also a member of the Country Club. Frederick T. Rueter is unmarried. Mrs. Ernest L. Rueter was Miss Myra Chevalier, and there is one daughter-Miss Jeanette.

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And here’s another short history of the brewery from the Wikipedia page about the Highland Spring Brewery Bottling and Storage Buildings:

The Highland Spring Brewery was founded in 1867 by a pair of immigrants, one Irish and the other German. The enterprise was a significant success, producing lagers, ales, and porters, and eventually gaining a nationwide reputation. In part for legal reasons, the two buildings built by the company (one for production, the other for storage and bottling) were connected by a tunnel and piping. The brewer ceased operations when Prohibition began in 1920. One of the company’s brewmasters opened the Croft Brewery in the 1892 building in 1933 after Prohibition ended, the storage building having been sold to the Ditson Company and significantly altered for its use. Croft was acquired by Narragansett Brewing Company in the 1952, and operated on the premises for just one year before closing the plant and moving production to their Rhode Island Brewery until 1981 when it too closed.

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The Highland Spring Brewery around 1920.

Beer Birthday: Jason Alström

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Today is the 45th birthday of Jason Alström, co-founder of Beer Advocate headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, but found worldwide over that series of tubes known as the interwebs. Though Started as a hobby, Beer Advocate has gone on to be one of the internet’s killer apps of beer, which has successfully branched out into publishing and putting on beer festivals. Join me in wishing Jason a very happy birthday.

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Jason with Jaime Jurado, then-Director of Brewing Operations for the Gambrinus Company, and his brother Todd at GABF in 2008.

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After judging the finals for the 2009 Longshot Homebrew Competition in Boston. From left: Jason, Tony Forder (from Ale Street News), Bob Townsend, Jim Koch (founder of the Boston Beer Co.), yours truly, Julie Johnson (from All About Beer magazine), and Jason’s brother Todd Alström.

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Jason, standing far left, toasting at Munich’s Hofbrauhaus.

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During a trip to Bavaria in 2007, the gang of twelve plus three at the Faust Brauerei in Miltenberg, Germany. From left: Cornelius Faust, me, Lisa Morrison, Johannes Faust, Julie Bradford, Andy Crouch, Peter Reid, Horst Dornbusch, Jeannine Marois, Harry Schumacher, Tony Forder, Candice Alström, Don Russell, Jason and Todd Alström.

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The day after we tried all of Stone’s Vertical Epic’s in San Diego a few years ago; with Steve Wagner, me, Joe, Jason and Todd Alström and Greg Koch.

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At last year’s Longshot judging in Boston, Don Russell, Jim Koch, Tony Forder, John Holl, Bob Townsend, Lisa Morrison, Jason and me.

Beer Birthday: Megan Parisi

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Today is the birthday of Megan Parisi, who’s currently a brewery for the Boston Beer Company. Before that she brewed at Wormtown Brewery, Bluejacket and Cambridge Brewing. And coincidentally, we both once played clarinet in a military band, Megan for the US Navy, whereas I was in an Army band. Megan’s a terrific brewer and a great addition to the Samuel Adams Brewery in Boston. Join me in wishing Megan a very happy birthday.

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John Harris, from Ecliptic Brewing, Megan, and John Holl, from All About Beer magazine at the GABF judges’ reception at Epic Brewing in 2015.

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Megan at her new job at the Samuel Adams brewery in Boston a few Julys ago when I was there judging the finals for the Longshot Homebrew Competition.

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Will Meyers (whose birthday is also today) and Kevin both from Cambridge Brewing with Megan, then also with Cambridge, at GABF in 2009.

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During CBC in Washington, D.C. in 2013. Bobby Bump: assistant brewer, at Bluejacket, Megan, when she was lead brewer at Bluejacket and John Wampler, brewmaster at Legend Brewing in Richmond, Virginia. [Photo by Thomas Cizauskas.]

Beer Birthday: Will Meyers

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Today is the birthday of Will Meyers, brewmaster of Cambridge Brewing near Boston, Massachusetts. Will’s a great brewer and an even better human being, one of the nicest in the industry. We judged together again just last week, in an incredibly difficult medal round, that might have killed or injured a lesser person. But we made it through intact. Join me in wishing Will a very happy birthday.

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Will, with Kevin and Megan Parisi (whose birthday is also today), then also from Cambridge Brewing, at GABF in 2009.

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Accepting the award as Grand U.S. Champion from the Great British Beer Festival at GABF.

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Showing off his barrel room under the brewpub during CBC when it was in Boston.

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Will with his lovely bride Cindy Lou.

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Will shortly before he began his career as a brewer.

Historic Beer Birthday: Jacob Gimlich

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Today is the birthday of Jacob Gimlich (October 4, 1845-January 21, 1912). He was born in Weisenheim, Bavaria, but came to Massachusetts and bought the M. Benson Brewery of Pittsfield, with business partner John White, in 1868, only one year after it opened. They renamed it the unimaginative Jacob Gimlich & John White Brewery. In 1891, they changed its name to the Berkshire Brewing Association, and that remained its name until it closed due to prohibition in 1918 or 1919. “The brewery produced beers such as Greylock Ale, Mannheimer Lager, Lenox Half Stock Ale, Berkshire Lager, Berkshire Ale, and Superior Old Porter. In addition to beer, Mineral Water, Soda, and Malt Extracts were also produced. The brewery was a great success producing 75,000 barrels a year and distributed all over the northeast and as far south as the Carolinas.”

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Here’s a history of Gimlich, from “Historic homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of Berkshire County, Massachusetts,” published in 1906:

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Here’s a story of the brewery iBerkshires.com:

One can only wonder what John White and Jacob Gimlich would have thought as federal officers poured 15,000 gallons of locally crafted beer into the sewer on an early May morning in 1922.

Gimlich and his brother-in-law White had first purchased a small brewery on Columbus Street in 1868 from Michael Benson. First called simply “Jacob Gimlich & John White,” the business began at an output of just six barrels a day, but would grow to be a major manufacturer in the West Side Pittsfield neighborhood.

Both men had immigrated to the country from Germany in their youth, and both served tours in the Civil War. Gimlich worked briefly for the Taconic Woolen Mills before going into the beer business with his sister Rachel’s husband.

By 1880, operating as Gimlich, White & Co., the brewers erected a much larger facility in a five-story brick building measuring 40 by 80 feet. The expanded plant employed from 15 to 20 men and was shipping about 16,000 barrels a year.

Gimlich and White built houses directly across the road from their plant on John Street, and as their fortunes grew became increasingly prominent members of the community. Gimlich in particular became enmeshed in a variety of financial and civic affairs. From 1884-1885, he served as the city’s representative in the Legislature, and was one of the organizers and directors of City Savings Bank. Gimlich likewise served on the board of the Berkshire Loan and Trust Co. and of the Co-Operative Bank, was a past chancellor of the local lodge, Knights of Pythias, and member of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and of the local Sons of Veterans.

“Pittsfield has been pleased with the success of Gimlich & White and they are counted among the town’s leading, liberal, and most public spirited citizens,” states one Pittsfield Sun editorial of the time.

By the early 1890s the torch was being passed to the next generation, with sons David Gimlich along with Fred and George White taking on more leadership of the company when it reincorporated as Berkshire Brewing Association in 1892. An additional four-story building was added, with the brewing complex now taking up the full block along Columbus Avenue between Onota and John Street to Gilbert Avenue.

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Among Berkshire Brewing’s most popular products were Mannheimer Lager Beer, Berkshire Pure Malt Extract, Lenox Half Stock Ale, and Berkshire Pale Ale, considered to be one of the finest India pale ales then on the market. The plant also churned out bottled mineral waters, ginger ale and other soft drinks.

The elder Gimlich and White passed away in 1912 and 1916, respectively, but the enterprise they founded continued to see steady growth. The only brewery of the kind within 50 miles of Pittsfield, Berkshire Brewing Association had something of a monopoly in the region, along with a thriving distribution throughout the east coast as far south as the Carolinas. At its peak, it employed 150 workers and put out 75,000 to 100,000 barrels worth of beer annually. Records indicate between 1910 and 1920, Berkshire Brewing Association paid $1 million in federal taxes, in addition to state and local taxes and fees, including $1,200 a year for a brewer’s license and $800 for an annual bottling license.

The company was not without its occasional hiccups, such as a lengthy strike in the fall of 1911 by the Pittsfield Brewers Union, culminating in the reinstatement of a dismissed employee.

Real crisis came at the end of the decade, as increasing restrictions on alcohol grew into total national prohibition. They first ceased brewing beer temporarily in December 1918, after a directive from the National Food Administration following the passage of the the Wartime Prohibition Act. Even after the passage of the Volstead Act the following fall, BBA voted to remain in business, focusing on bottled soft drinks while hoping the ban to be a brief legislative phase.

They also continued to brew beer, as did several major brewers throughout the country at first, seeing the government’s lack of resources tasked to enforce the rule. Finally in spring 1922, federal officers arrived to turn off the taps, disposing of 15,000 gallons worth and estimated $15,000 to $20,000 at the time.

Ironically, the company waited it out until nearly the end of the failed domestic policy, the board of directors voting to close down in January 1929.

The brewery building was dismantled soon after; for a time, the Siegel Furniture Co. operated out of the former bottling building, which later became the Warehouse Furniture Co. In 1975, this, too, was cleared as the land passed to the Pittsfield Housing Authority, which developed the Christopher Arms housing project that occupies the former site of the brewery today.

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A brewery delivery truck around 1905.

And here’s Gimlich’s obituary:

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