Historic Beer Birthday: Frederick August Poth

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Today is the birthday of Frederick August Poth (March 20, 1841-January 21, 1905). Some accounts give his birth date as March 15, and others say the year was 1840. It’s hard to know which is correct, so I’m going with the account that appears to be the most reasonably accurate, one that was provided by his family. He was born in Walhaben, part of the Rheinpfalz region of what today is the Rhenish Palatinate or Palatinate in modern Germany. He came to American when he was 20, in 1861, started working in Philadelphia breweries and by 1870 had bought the Jacob Bentz Brewery, renaming it the Frederick A. Poth Brewery. When he later incorporated in 1893, and his sons were working with him, it became known as the F. A. Poth & Sons Brewery. It reopened after prohibition briefly as the Poth Brewing Co. Inc., but closed for good three years later, in 1936.

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The Poth brewery, from an illustration done in the early 1890s.

While not too surprising from the 19th century, I couldn’t find any photographs of him, and even many websites use the photo of his son, Frederick J. Poth,

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His really short biography at Find-a-Grave consists of three sentences, one of them one word long.”Brewer. By 1875, F. A. Poth and Sons was the largest brewery in the US. Poth was also active in real estate.”

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This lengthy biography is from the “Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography,” published in 1921:

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The Poth & Sons Brewery around 1900.

From a Poth family biography pamphlet:

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Historic Beer Birthday: Frederick J. Poth

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Today is the birthday of Frederick J. Poth (March 20, 1869-October 14, 1942). Though he spent most of his brewing career with his family’s brewery that his father founded in 1870, F. A. Poth & Sons’ Brewery, he interned at the Reading Brewing Co., near where I grew up.

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Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:

Brewer. He attended the Philadelphia public schools until fourteen years, after which he entered the Nazareth Hall Academy for two years. Lastly, he attended the Pierce Business College for two years. After his formal education, he worked for a year at the Reading Brewing Company in Reading, Pennsylvania. He next went to New York working in Ebling’s Brewing Company for a year. Returning to Philadelphia he began working for his father as foreman of the plant.

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The Poth brewery, from an illustration done in the early 1890s.

Here’s his obituary from the Chester Times, on October 19, 1942:

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The Poth & Sons Brewery around 1900.

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From a Poth family biography pamphlet:

He was born here March 20, i869, and is a son of Frederick A. and Helena M. Poth, whose sketch precedes this. Spending his youthful days in his parents’ home, Frederick J. Poth attended the public schools to the age of fourteen years, after which he entered the Nazareth Hall Academy, where he also spent two years. In further preparation for life’s practical and responsible duties he entered Pierce’s Business College, in which he remained as a student for two years, after which he went to Reading, Pennsylvania, where for one year he occupied a position with the Reading Brewing Company. He next went to New York and engaged with the Eblings Brewing Company for a year. Returning on the expiration of that period to Philadelphia he joined his father in the brewing business as foreman of the plant and also had charge of the office. After his father’s death he was elected president and has been very successful in the control and management of the business, which is now of large and profitable proportions, employment being furnished to one hundred and thirty-five men, while the capacity of the plant is five hundred thousand barrels per year. Mr. Poth was married in Philadelphia to Miss Mary C. Clarke, and they have two children. Frederick Clarke, two years of age; and Gilbert Leslie, who is in his first year. In his political views Mr. Poth is an earnest republican. He belongs to various German societies, in which he is popular, and he also holds membership with the Red Men and with the Masons. In the latter organization he has attained high rank, belonging to William G. Hamilton Lodge, A. F. & A. M.; Freeman Chapter, R. A. M.; Pennsylvania Commandery, K. T., and Lu Lu Temple of the Mystic Shrine. While he entered upon a business already established he has displayed an initiative spirit in further extending its interests and his life record proves that success is not a matter of genius, as held by some, but is rather the outcome of clear judgment, experience and indefatigable energy.

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Beer Birthday: Ron Barchet

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Today is the 54th birthday of Ron Barchet, a co-founder of Victory Brewing Co., along with his childhood friend Bill Covaleski. I first met Ron at the brewery doing an article on Pennsylvania breweries for the Celebrator over a decade ago. It’s been great seeing his brewery rack up victory after victory as they’ve grown and become one of Pennsylvania’s best, biggest and brightest. Join me in wishing Ron a very happy birthday.

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Ron with Bill Covaleski at the brewery when I visited them in 2002 or 2003.

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Bill Covaleski with Ron in a publicity photo supplied with a press release announcing their merger with Southern Tier.

Beer Birthday: Mark Edelson

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Today is the 53rd birthday of Mark Edelson, a co-founder and the managing partner of Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, a small brewpub chain that operates eleven brewpubs in the tri-state area of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Mark’s been a vocal and active member of the brewing community, especially around his mid-Atlantic home but also through the BA, too. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.

Toasting the Class of '96: Greg Koch, Mark Edelson, Bill Covaleski, Tom Kehoe, Gene Muller & Sam Calagione
Toasting the Class of ’96: Greg Koch, Mark, Bill Covaleski, Tom Kehoe, Gene Muller & Sam Calagione at the “Older Bud No Weiser” event during Philly Beer Week several years ago.

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Carol and Ed Stoudt with Mark at the opening event for the first Philly Beer Week.

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Mark on stage with Bob Barrar and Charlie Papazaian at the 2007 GABF.

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A great night For Mark during GABF week in the basement of the Falling Rock near the end of a very good evening.

Historic Beer Birthday: John Welde

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Today is the birthday of John Welde (March 2, 1839-August 2, 1901). He was born in Baden, Germany and came to Philadelphia in 1856, when he was seventeen. In 1884, he founded a brewery in Philadelphia, and the following year a business parter, John Thomas, joined the business, and they called it Welde & Thomas, later adding “Brewing Company” to the name. In 1904, it was consolidated with several other breweries into the Consumers Brewers Co., which remained in business until closed by prohibition in 1920. The brewery reopened after repeal in 1933 as the Trainer Brewing Co., but only lasted one year.

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Here’s a biography of Welde from the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetary:

In 1884, John Welde, a German immigrant, established a brewery in Philadelphia on the corner of Broad and Christian Streets. A year later, he formed a partnership with John Thomas, a Philadelphia native, who had been a partner in another brewery. Together they created Welde and Thomas, a brewing firm that was later reorganized into the Welde and Thomas Brewing Company. They moved to a new location and modernized the facility with innovative equipment, growing the brewing capacity of the plant to 50,000 barrels per year. In March 1897, Welde and Thomas, along with five other breweries were consolidated under the title of the Consumer’s Brewing Company. The combined breweries were able to produce approximately 300,000 barrels a year.

John Welde was married and had at least one son, Frederick, both of whom predeceased him. John died in Philadelphia in 1901 and is buried at Mount Moriah Cemetery.

Beer and brewing have held an important place in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia history. The first brewery in the City was erected in 1683. William Penn constructed a brew house on his Pennsbury Manor estate in Bucks County. In the 18th century, the drink of preference in most taverns was beer or ale. By 1793, Philadelphia was producing more beer than all the other seaports in the country. The first steam engine was installed in Francis Perot’s brewery in 1819. This was the height of technology and the first time an engine was used to produce beer. Lager beer was first introduced in 1840 by Philadelphia brewer John Wagner. At the Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876, the United States Brewers’ Association constructed the Brewers’ Building to showcase all aspects of brewing. At one time, there were more than 100 breweries operating in Philadelphia and its surrounding areas.

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This biography was printed in the “The Columbian Exposition and World’s Fair Illustrated,” from 1893:

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This description is from an Advertising Print for Welde and Thomas Brewing Co., created around 1895, and now in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

This colorful framed print, an ad for the Welde and Thomas Brewing Company, of Philadelphia, also commemorates the 1895 America’s Cup race between the American yacht Defender and the British Valkyrie III. Imagery of the yacht race dominates the print and the American vessel, the ultimate victor in the match, holds primacy of place. Defender’s full sails provide a dramatic canvas for the names of two of the company’s products: Penn and Sanitas Beers. These brands, along with Quaker, were among those brewed by Welde and Thomas.

Three detailed insets border the print. One shows “Penn’s Brewery of 1682” in Pennsbury, Buck’s County; another shows the Welde and Thomas buildings at Juniper and Fitzwater Streets in Philadelphia; and the third is an image of William Penn holding a bottle of beer. The ad deftly aligns Welde and Thomas beer to icons of American success: the very founding of Philadelphia and its early embrace of brewing as well as an American yacht’s triumphant defense of the America’s Cup.

German immigrant John Welde established a brewery in Philadelphia in 1884, forming a partnership with Philadelphia businessman John Thomas the following year. In 1886, they moved to the Juniper and Fitzwater Streets location and invested in new equipment, increasing their capacity dramatically. In 1897, Welde and Thomas consolidated operations with five other breweries, organizing under the name Consumer’s Brewing Company. Thomas died in 1899 and Welde in 1901.

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Historic Birthday: David G. Yuengling

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Today is the birthday of David G. Yuengling (March 2, 1808-September 27, 1877) who founded the Eagle Brewing Co. in 1829, and today it’s “America’s oldest brewery.” The name was changed in 1873 to D. G. Yuengling and Son when David’s son Frederick joined the company. He was born in Aldingen in what today is Germany — but then was the Kingdom of Württemberg. He was born David Gottlob Jüngling, but anglicized his name after emigrating the United States in 1828.

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100 Years of Brewing has a short summary of D.G. and the brewery’s early years.

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Immigrant Entrepreneurship, under German-American Business Biographies, has a lengthy one of David Gottlob Yuengling.

David Gottlob Jüngling was born in the village of Aldingen (today part of the town of Remseck in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg) into a family that is listed as operating Aldingen’s first brewery by 1816. A passport application from 1862 describes the 56-year old David Gottlob as having blue eyes and black hair and standing five feet six inches (168 cm) tall. His father, Friedrich Jüngling, operated Aldingen’s brewery in the Neues Schloss (“New Palace”), a baroque manor of which he owned one quarter, including the brewery and livestock pens. Prior to starting the brewery in Aldingen, Friedrich Jüngling’s profession is listed as butcher, and he served on the town council. Both positions reflected a degree of wealth and social status within the community. Although Friedrich Jüngling was born in nearby Erdmannhausen, his wife Anna Maria Jüngling (née Wildermuth) was born in Aldingen. D.G. Yuengling had three brothers and four sisters, one of whom, Christiane, also immigrated to Pennsylvania. D.G. Yuengling may have apprenticed in his father’s brewery during his youth, or he may have acquired skills as a brewer through an apprenticeship at another brewery in the region. However, his older brother, Jakob, inherited their father’s brewery and reportedly continued operating it until his death in 1878. With Jakob in charge of the Jüngling family brewery, and economic opportunities in the 1820s somewhat limited, particularly in Württemberg, D. G. Yuengling chose to immigrate to Pennsylvania in 1829 via Rotterdam. Yuengling landed in Baltimore and quickly moved on to the towns of Lancaster and Reading in Pennsylvania, both of which were at the time heavily populated by German immigrants and Pennsylvania Germans whose demand for beer was already served by local entrepreneurs. Yuengling likely sought a location with fewer brewers and a steady demand for fresh, locally produced beer.

The boomtown of Pottsville, deep in the anthracite coal belt of Eastern Pennsylvania, offered one such location. The town had been named for John Potts, who founded it after purchasing the first anthracite furnace along the Schuylkill River in 1806. The furnace had been in use since 1795. The demand for hard coal in Philadelphia and the surrounding region led to skyrocketing prices for anthracite coal land, with one parcel selling for $33,000 more than it had been purchased for five years earlier, and another increasing by $15,000 within months. Yuengling arrived in this rapidly-changing community in 1829 and set up a brewery shortly thereafter.

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D.G. Yuengling (front and center) with the brewery employees in 1873.

Upon his arrival in the United States, David Gottlieb Yuengling carried with him his skills as a brewer, as well as possibly some startup money (Startkapital). In 1829, when Yuengling established the Eagle Brewery in Pottsville, the town was experiencing a building boom related to land speculation and increasing anthracite coal production. The daytime population, including mine workers, had jumped to over 3,700. In 1832, some twenty-five taverns prospered in Pottsville and, along with numerous inns and hotel, served the drinking needs of the growing population. By comparison, in 1825, “Pottsville [had] contained only fifteen houses, three taverns, three stores, a printer’s shop, a post office, and the shops of a few craftsmen.”

In addition to its increasing population, Pottsville formed an important node in an expanding regional transportation network. Trails, roads, and turnpikes linked it with other nearby communities including Schuylkill Haven, which lay along the Schuylkill River. The Schuylkill flowed in a southwesterly direction and met the Delaware River at Philadelphia. It offered an early means of waterborne transportation between interior Pennsylvania and the port of Philadelphia. The discovery of coal in Schuylkill County in 1790 spurred the construction of the Schuylkill Canal and subsequently the founding of the influential Philadelphia & Reading Railroad. Both of these enterprises transported anthracite coal from Pottsville and the surrounding coal fields to Philadelphia and later New York City and improved access to materials produced outside the region. While these new transportation facilities played little to no role in beer distribution at the time due to the highly localized nature of unpasteurized beer consumption, they brought about an increase in demand for labor in the region and supported local business activities, which provided fertile ground for Yuengling’s new brewery venture.

Yuengling’s 1829 Eagle Brewery was located on Centre Street near the Schuylkill County Courthouse, which during the economic depression of the 1870s became known for the trial of striking coal miners who were decried as Molly Maguires and executed for murder. During the brewery’s early years of operation, Yuengling likely produced beer almost exclusively for the local market. Yuengling started brewing on a small scale, perhaps due to limited financial resources and access to credit, or possibly because he did not want to risk overextending himself. The brewery’s production totals reflect the precarious nature of his small business. Furthermore, he likely performed most, if not all, of the brewing and distribution process himself. His beer would have been made in open kettles and vats and the production process would have been physically arduous. Brewing involved boiling a mash of grain and water to convert complex starches into simple sugars. Boiled grains would then be sparged (i.e. rinsed) with hot water in order to extract all the sugars from the grain. The resulting sweet and sticky wort would be boiled with hops and then cooled so that yeast could be added to ferment the sugars and produce alcohol. Depending on the type of beer produced, primary fermentation could take one or more weeks. In all, the demanding process required heating water, lifting heavy supplies, pumping hot liquids between vats, and transporting barrels of finished beer via hand truck or horse cart to nearby taverns and inns.

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After a fire destroyed the original brewery in 1832, Yuengling quickly rebuilt his enterprise at its present location on Mahantongo Street. His new Eagle Brewery was situated in a location that took advantage of both natural geography and manmade features. The site at the intersection of Fifth and Mahantongo Streets lay near a freshwater spring that provided water for the community of Pottsville. The new brewery made use of this water for all brewing operations. Yuengling contracted with local laborers, possibly coal miners, to build tunnels into a mountain behind the new facility. The tunnels extended underneath the brewery and kept finished beer cool, though not cold enough to prevent spoilage without the addition of ice. When Yuengling began brewing lager, the tunnels provided an ideal area for lagering the beer during cooler months. The site’s location near the local road and canal system facilitated shipment of brewing supplies to the brewery. Malt deliveries arrived from Philadelphia by horse and cart, as well as via canal boats, and Yuengling obtained ice shipments in a similar manner. By 1842, the company was receiving malt shipments by railroad, and it began distributing its beer the same way as the rail network improved during the 1850s and 1860s. These transportation facilities also enabled beer to be transported to nearby communities, many of which contained large numbers of German immigrants among their beer-drinking populations.

In 1841, thirty-three-year-old David Yuengling married seventeen-year-old Elizabeth, daughter of John George and Rosine Elizabeth Betz from nearby Schuylkill Haven. Census records hint that John G. Betz, like his son-in-law, may have been a brewer by trade and the family may also have operated an inn in Schuylkill Haven. Also like Yuengling, the Betz family had emigrated from the Kingdom of Württemberg. Elizabeth had been born in Stuttgart, fewer than ten miles from David Yuengling’s family home in Aldingen, on September 26, 1823. Perhaps the two families had known each other in the Old World. By 1850, federal census records show that David and his then twenty-seven-year-old wife Elizabeth had five children: Elizabeth (age 6), David (age 8), Mary (age 5), Teresia (age 4), and Frederick (age 2). Eventually, the couple had a total of three sons and seven daughters.

David Yuengling dealt with numerous challenges during the early decades that his business was in operation. He faced competition from fellow brewers in Pottsville. At least three other breweries operated in the city in 1830. The Orchard Brewery opened around 1831 and brewed beer in Pottsville and later nearby Port Carbon until the late 1870s. Likewise, the Rettig Brewery opened at the end of the Civil War and survived until the Prohibition era. Numerous other breweries opened, brewed beer briefly, and then folded due to fires and financial difficulties. Yuengling also faced a threat from prohibitionist forces in Pennsylvania. Following the passage of prohibition legislation in Maine in 1851, “dry” advocates secured the passage of a law in Pennsylvania banning Sunday sales of alcohol in 1852. Two years later, a full ban went before state voters and was narrowly defeated, in large part due to heavy turnout by beer-drinking voters, including substantial numbers of German immigrants.

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As David Yuengling’s three sons came of age in the 1850s and 1860s, he introduced them to the craft of brewing and put them to work in the brewery. His oldest son David Jr. apprenticed under his father and later served as a foreman for his uncle, John Frederick Betz, at Betz’s brewery in New York City. He also visited the German lands and studied the brewing craft in Munich, Stuttgart, and Klein-Schwechat, a town near Vienna in the Austrian Empire. Middle son Frederick obtained a college education and studied business at the Eastman Business School in Poughkeepsie. He later studied brewing in the German lands and Austria, as well as at the Berger and Engel Brewing Company in Philadelphia, and eventually went to work in his father’s brewery. Less is known about the education of William Yuengling, who died at the age of thirty-six in 1898.

After the Civil War, David Jr. decided to strike out on his own and established a new brewing enterprise in Richmond, Virginia, in 1866. Startup capital for the new Betz, Yuengling & Beyer Brewery (later James River Brewery, D.G. Yuengling and Company) came from the Yuengling family and John Betz, David Jr.’s uncle, as well as another brewer, Louis Beyer. This small expansion project was presumably planned with input from the elder Yuengling and is typical of a careful venture into secondary markets. The Richmond brewery remained under David Jr.’s oversight until it was sold in 1878.

As the senior David Yuengling neared his mid-60s, he chose to make middle-son Frederick a minority partner in the business. The legal foundation for the future of the family firm was solidified when the brewery became D.G. Yuengling and Son in 1873. That year also marked a high point in the number of breweries in the United States with over 4,000 in operation. Following the 1873 financial panic, however, the industry began to consolidate as the resulting business depression put numerous local and regional breweries out of business and ambitious and well-capitalized breweries such as Anheuser-Busch began to make inroads in regional markets outside the Midwest by taking advantage of railroad transportation and new technologies for keeping beer fresh such as pasteurization and refrigeration, both of which required significant capital investments. Consequently, the number of breweries fell by over a thousand by the mid-1870s and continued a precipitous decline through the beginning of the twentieth century, when about 1,500 remained in operation.

Unlike a few of the wealthy, American “beer barons” of the late nineteenth century, Yuengling did not retire to his native Germany, not even part time. His was a privately-held, midsize business (Mittelstand), and conditions may not have allowed him to retire abroad. He may simply have decided against withdrawing too much capital from his life’s work, or perhaps he also felt a strong sense of allegiance to his community. David Gottlieb Yuengling passed away after falling on the stairs of his home after a day of working in his brewery’s office on 29 September 1877, at the age of 70. Hundreds of Pottsville residents and brewery workers gathered to pay their final respects. The responsibility for continuing the Yuengling brewery legacy rested with D.G. Yuengling’s sons, because women typically did not own and lead businesses enterprises. Nevertheless, the founder’s widow, Elizabeth, who lived until 1894, inherited his shares in the firm and Frederick acted as minority owner.

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The brewery in 1855.

Throughout his life in the United States, David G. Yuengling was an active member of the Pottsville community. He was the first president of the Pottsville Gas Company and later a director of the Pottsville Water Company. Yuengling also supported the German Lutheran Church in Pottsville and contributed $10,000 for the construction of the church building, and served as a vestryman (council member). His posts with the gas and water companies illustrate Yuengling’s concern with encouraging progress in Pottsville, as well as securing the supply of resources necessary for his brewing business. Unlike the Forty-Eighters, German immigrants who had escaped reactionary monarchies in Europe and who tended to vote Republican, Yuengling was a Democrat. Whereas the Democratic Party had embraced the nativist and anti-immigrant cause by 1848, the Republican Party and its rising star Abraham Lincoln had been founded by anti-slavery Whigs and Free Soilers. Yuengling, however, had immigrated to America twenty years prior, during the era of Jacksonian democracy with President Andrew Jackson, a Democrat, at the helm in the White House. Jackson’s message had been one of economic opportunity and democracy for the common, white man, as well as the preservation of the Union. At the same time, though he was a Democrat, David Yuengling also belonged to two secret societies, the Masons and the German Order of the Harugari (Der Deutsche Orden der Harugari), a mutual aid society founded in response to nativist actions against German immigrants. Like his father, Frederick Yuengling also served the community of Pottsville as president of the Pottsville Gas Company, as well as a “director of the Safe Deposit Bank and of the Pottsville Water Company.”

In addition to his engagement in the Pottsville community, which served the development of the town as well as his own business interests, David Yuengling committed time, skills, and experience to establish and further the brewing careers of a number of fellow German immigrants. His brother-in-law, John F. Betz, himself the son of a brewer, served an apprenticeship in the Yuengling brewery before participating in a grand brewing tour in Europe and establishing a brewery in New York City and later Philadelphia. Betz went on to build a brewing empire in the City of Brotherly Love and later, as previously noted, helped bail out David Yuengling Jr.’s failing brewery in New York City in the late 1890s. Henry C. Clausen Sr. was a second prominent brewer who started as a Yuengling apprentice. Clausen and John Betz co-owned a brewery in New York City and the former founded the H. Clausen and Son Brewery in the 1870s, which was for a time one of the largest breweries by production total in the nation. His son, Henry C. Clausen Jr., later founded and served as president of the U.S. Brewers’ Association.

As an immigrant entrepreneur, David Yuengling Sr. drew on his background in the Old Country while embracing new opportunities available in the U.S. His participation in the local Lutheran community and his membership in the German Order of the Harugari attest to his desire to sustain elements of his German ethnic heritage even after living in the United States for many years. His craft training in the German lands provided him with the technical skills necessary to produce quality beer in a new environment. He began brewing English-style beers, both because they were popular with the local drinking public in Pennsylvania and also because his training in the 1820s would have involved brewing ales. He proved open to new innovations in brewing, however, and began working with lager beer as the style became popular both in Central Europe and in the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century. Today, D.G. Yuengling & Son’s flagship beer harkens back to the lager beers brewed by David Yuengling during the Civil War era.

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There are also a couple of books on the Yuengling family and brewery. There’s Yuengling: A History of America’s Oldest Brewery and D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., part of the Images of America series. And there’s also a Yuengling Fan website with quite a lot of information.

Historic Beer Birthday: John Emmerling

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Today is the birthday of John Emmerling (February 21, 1851-May 24, 1912). He was born in Philadelphia, but moved to Johnston in Western Pennsylvania, where he founded the Empire Brewery in 1878. It was concurrently also known as the Emmerling Brewing Co. the entire time it was in business, until it was closed by Prohibition in 1920.

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Here’s a biography of Emmerling, written in 1896 from the Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Cambria County:

JOHN EMMERLING, proprietor of the Empire Brewery, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was born in Philadelphia, this State, February 22, 1851. His education was acquired in the public schools of his native city, upon the completion of which he learned the business of brewing. Subsequently, he traveled extensively, visiting many of the more important cities of the West, and finally, located in Pittsburg, where he married. In 1878 he came to Johnstown, and immediately embarked in the brewing business on his own account. Starting in the humble building now known as the Eintracht Hall, the brewery of John Emmerling prospered so well that in one year it was moved to the larger building now occupied by the bottling house of William Thomas. Six years more saw the business grow until it became necessary to build and remove to the large and commodious brick structure which occupies nearly half a square, fronting on Horner street. The plant is two hundred by one hundred and eighty feet, three stories high, and has an annual output of eight thousand barrels, and contains all the latest improved machinery known to the brewer’s art, including engines, two ten-ton refrigerators, seven pumps for various purposes, and bottling apparatus. A visit to the vault in which the beer is stored, gives to the uninitiated a genuine surprise. Following the guide, one wanders in and out among the huge hogsheads, some of which contain forty, and others as high as eighty barrels of the amber fluid, surrounded on all sides by pipes covered to the depth of several times their own thickness with white frost, produced by the intense cold of the ammonia and brine which they contain, one can but express astonishment at the wonderful advance made since the time when nature alone supplied the cooling substance. So large is the local demand for the beer brewed at this establishment, that very little is shipped out of the city. Two wagons are kept going constantly, and two others are used when the demand requires. The present force consists of fourteen men, to which several others are added when increased business makes demand. On September 26, 1872, Mr. Emmerling married Miss Phil. Houch, a daughter of Earnest Houch, a prominent citizen of Pittsburg, and to them have been born ten children. Mr. Emmerling was one of the organizers of the board of trade, in which he takes an active interest.

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And this is his obituary from the Western Brewer, June 1912

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John Emmerling at the wheel of a 1908 Maxwell that he drove round-trip between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in a race with a $20,000 prize at stake (around $532,258 today’s money). Emmerling (who owned Emmerling Brewery) came out on top.

This is John Emmerling’s brewery, also known as the Empire Brewery in Johnston, Pennsylvania, which also served as the family’s residence.
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Beer Birthday: Lew Bryson

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Today is my friend and fellow beer writer Lew Bryson’s 58th birthday. You used to be able read his writings at his website, lewbryson.com, Seen Through a Glass, and his Session Beer Project, and for awhile there was less there because he became the managing editor of Whiskey Advocate and wasn’t writing about beer, although he’s still kept up with his political Why the PLCB Should Be Abolished. His latest book is also about Tasting Whiskey. But he’s back, baby, and is once again also writing about beer at his websites and other places. Lew is my favorite big galoot and the brother I never had. Join me is raising a glass of beer or whiskey and wishing Lew a very happy birthday.

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Award-winning beer writer Lew with Pete Slosberg at GABF several years ago.

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Lew and Rick Lyke at the World Beer Festival in Durham in 2008.

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Birthday boy Lew (middle) flanked by fellow Pennsylvanians Don Russell (a.k.a. Joe Sixpack) and Jack Curtin. I’m originally from Pennsylvania, too. What is it about the Commonwealth and beer writers?

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Me and Lew at Triple Rock a few years ago.

Brewhog Determines 6 More Weeks Of Winter Beers For 2017

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Over in Gobbler’s Knob, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Phil the Groundhog — a.k.a. the Brewhog — raised up his head this morning and looked around, and this year and saw his shadow. You know what that means? It’s six more weeks of drinking winter beers this year. Or something about a late spring, I can’t keep it straight. You can see a video of Punxsutawney Phil here. And there’s more information about Groundhog Day at the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

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But this year, I suppose given how the year is going isn’t too surprising, not every groundhog agrees on what the future hold. For example, both Staten Island Chuck along with General Beau Lee in Georgia have predicted an early spring. And so did Shubenacadie Sam in Canada.

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Although another Canadian groundhog, Balzac Billy, from Alberta, Canada, did see his shadow and so is predicting six more weeks of winter, as did Buckeye Chuck of Ohio and Essex Ed of Orange, New Jersey. And so did Big Al, a 14-foot, 1,000-pound alligator, from Texas, who is given KFC chicken each February 2. If he eats the chicken, it’s an early spring, if he passes, then it’s more winter. This year, he didn’t eat.

So it’s up in the air whether, I mean weather, we’ll have an early spring or more winter. I tend to go with the original, Punxsutawney Phil, but for no better reason then I’m from Pennsylvania. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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In Alaska, they celebrate Marmot Day.

Fingers crossed. And if you don’t have time to watch all of the deliciously wonderful Groundhog Day film today, here it is in a slightly shorter version just over three minutes.

Historic Beer Birthday: John Thomas

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Today is the birthday of John Thomas (February 1, 1847-January 4, 1899). In 1884, his later business parter founded a brewery in Philadelphia, the following year Thomas joined the business, and they called in Welde & Thomas, later adding “Brewing Company” to the name. In 1904, it was consolidated with several other breweries into the Consumers Brewers Co., which remained in business until closed by prohibition in 1920. The brewery reopened after repeal in 1933 as the Trainer Brewing Co., but only lasted one year.

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Here’s Thomas’ obituary from the American Brewers Review in 1899:

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This biography was printed in the “The Columbian Exposition and World’s Fair Illustrated,” from 1893:

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In a biography of his partner John Welde, Thomas naturally gets more than a mention:

In 1884, John Welde, a German immigrant, established a brewery in Philadelphia on the corner of Broad and Christian Streets. A year later, he formed a partnership with John Thomas, a Philadelphia native, who had been a partner in another brewery. Together they created Welde and Thomas, a brewing firm that was later reorganized into the Welde and Thomas Brewing Company. They moved to a new location and modernized the facility with innovative equipment, growing the brewing capacity of the plant to 50,000 barrels per year. In March 1897, Welde and Thomas, along with five other breweries were consolidated under the title of the Consumer’s Brewing Company. The combined breweries were able to produce approximately 300,000 barrels a year.

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This description is from an Advertising Print for Welde and Thomas Brewing Co., created around 1895, and now in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

This colorful framed print, an ad for the Welde and Thomas Brewing Company, of Philadelphia, also commemorates the 1895 America’s Cup race between the American yacht Defender and the British Valkyrie III. Imagery of the yacht race dominates the print and the American vessel, the ultimate victor in the match, holds primacy of place. Defender’s full sails provide a dramatic canvas for the names of two of the company’s products: Penn and Sanitas Beers. These brands, along with Quaker, were among those brewed by Welde and Thomas.

Three detailed insets border the print. One shows “Penn’s Brewery of 1682” in Pennsbury, Buck’s County; another shows the Welde and Thomas buildings at Juniper and Fitzwater Streets in Philadelphia; and the third is an image of William Penn holding a bottle of beer. The ad deftly aligns Welde and Thomas beer to icons of American success: the very founding of Philadelphia and its early embrace of brewing as well as an American yacht’s triumphant defense of the America’s Cup.

German immigrant John Welde established a brewery in Philadelphia in 1884, forming a partnership with Philadelphia businessman John Thomas the following year. In 1886, they moved to the Juniper and Fitzwater Streets location and invested in new equipment, increasing their capacity dramatically. In 1897, Welde and Thomas consolidated operations with five other breweries, organizing under the name Consumer’s Brewing Company. Thomas died in 1899 and Welde in 1901.

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