Beer Birthday: Marc Worona

Today is also the 49th birthday of fellow Pennsylvania transplant Marc Worona. Marc used to be the brewer at Stoudt’s Brewing in Adamstown, Pennsylvania but a number of years ago moved to California and currently works with Brewers Supply Group, and is their VP of Sales and Marketing. Join me in wishing Marc a very happy birthday.

Marc goofing around at the CBC beer and chocolate event at TCHO chocolate that he co-sponsored.

Marc with Marin brewer Arne Johnson at the Anchor Christmas Party in 2007.

Marc (center) with Brendan Moylan and Denise Jones getting the top prize in the Chocolate Beer competition sponsored by Brewers Supply Group and TCHO chocolate company during CBC in San Francisco a few years ago.

Out in front of the Bistro at the Double IPA Festival in 2008. Rodger Davis’ wife Claudia (who nworks at 21st Amendment), brewster Melissa Myers (working on opening her own brewpub), Shane Aldridge (brewer at Marin & Moylan’s) and Marc.

Historic Beer Birthday: George Frey

Today is the birthday of George Frey (December 17, 1826-1872). He was born in Ober-Saulheim, Germany, but moved to Buffalo, New York when he was fourteen, in 1840, and worked for a brewery there, before moving to Erie, Pennsylvania, to build his own there. Most brewery history, especially breweriana-focused sources, claim the George Frey Brewery was only called by that name in 1855, and the following year became known as the Eagle Brewery. But “One Hundred Years of Brewing” states that Frey built the brewery in 1842 but sold it to Henry J. Kavelage in 1854, who sold it to Jackson Koehler in 1883, and in 1899 it was bought by the Erie Brewing Co. And the breweriana brewery lists say it was known as the Eagle Brewery through all of its changes in ownership, at least through prohibition. Although it appears to have also been known by “Jackson Koehler’s Eagle Brewery” after Koehler bought it.

More evidence that he was brewing in Pennsylvania long before 1855 can be found in “The Brewing Industry and the Brewery Workers’ Movement in America,” by Hermann Schlüter, which was published in 1910. In a chapter on “Lager Beer,” it casually mentions Frey’s contribution. “George Frey, who brewed the first lager beer in Erie, Pa., in 1847, had helped in the first brewing of “lager” in Buffalo in 1843.

But I also found another listing in Erie for another George Frey Brewery that opened in 1861, but was renamed the Erie City Lager Brewery two years later, in 1863, then in 1870 dropped “Lager” to become known as the Erie City Brewery. It 1872, it was renamed the Joseph F. Seelinger Brewery, which would suggest it was sold to that person, which especially makes sense since that’s the apparent year Frey died.

It seems a shame after those accomplishments, that what happened to Frey after he sold his brewery is unknown, and I even had a hard time finding out when he passed away. This is also the first instance where I could find not one piece of breweriana or photograph online of George Frey or his brewery.

Beer Birthday: Don Russell

bsm joe-sixpack
Today is fellow beer writer Don Russell’s 61st birthday. Don wrote a beer column for the Philadelphia Daily News under the nom de plume Joe Sixpack. He also writes a blog online, Beer Radar. His most recent book, What the Hell Am I Drinking?, was published last year and can still be ordered directly from the author. Don also became the first executive director of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, the trade group for New Jersey breweries. More recently, he accepted a position as the editor-in-chief of Broad Street Media, which looks like a terrific opportunity. Don is also a fellow Pennsylvanian, a crack card player, and one of my very favorite people to share a beer and discuss the issues of the day with. Join me in wishing Don a very happy birthday.

Don (center) with me and Lisa Morrison at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich during a press junket to Bavaria several years ago.

Don, with fellow Pennsylvanians Lew Bryson and Jack Curtin at GABF.

Me and Don at the kick-off for the first Philly Beer Week in 2008.

Don Russell & Pete Slosberg
Don with Pete Slosberg, signing books at GABF a couple of years ago.

Historic Beer Birthday: Peter Barbey

Today is the birthday of Peter Barbey (November 9, 1825-February 15, 1897). He was born in Bavaria, though the actual town seems to be in some dispute, and learned brewing at his uncle’s brewery there from the age of fourteen. As an adult, he worked at breweries throughout Europe, then entered military service for a four-year tour of duty. After that, at age 25 he came to the United States and found work in Philadelphia. But he found a better job in nearby Reading working at the brewery of Frederick Lauer.


He apparently liked Reading (my hometown) because he founded his own brewery there in 1857, with Abraham Peltzer, which they called the Peter Barbey & Abraham Peltzer Brewery. Barbey must have bought him out, because in 1861 it was renamed the Peter Barbey Brewery. His son John joined him at the brewery in 1880, and they called it Peter Barbey & Son after that, until it closed in 1920 because of Prohibition. But it did return in 1933 as Barbey’s Inc. In 1951, they completely rebranded it as the Sunshine Brewing Co. before closing for good in 1970.

Peter and possibly his son tapping a keg of his beer.

This is from “Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals,” by Morton Montgomery, published in 1909:

Peter Barbey, the founder of Barbey’s Brewery at Reading, Pa., was born Nov. 9, 1825, in Dierbach, Canton of Bergzabern, Rhinepfalz, Bavaria, son of Christopher Barbey. He attended the schools of his native place until he was fourteen years of age, when he entered the brewing establishment of his uncle, Peter Barbey, for the purpose of learning the business. After remaining there three years, he found employment in France and Switzerland in different brewing establishments during the next four years, in observance of a German custom to increase his knowledge of the business in this way by practical experience. He then returned home, and being twenty-one years of age, entered the army in a cavalry regiment where be served as a soldier for four years. At the expiration of his term of service, be emigrated to America, proceeding immediately to Philadelphia, and for several years he was engaged there in different breweries; he then located at Reading, and entered the employ of Frederick Lauer, also a German, who had by this time established himself in the brewing business at Third and Chestnut streets. In 1860 Mr. Barbey embarked in business for himself as a brewer, and carried his affairs on with increasing success until his decease in 1897.

Mr. Barbey was a Democrat in politics, but never inclined to fill any public offices. He assisted in organizing the Keystone National Bank in 1883 and served as a director until his decease in 1897. He was prominently identified with Teutonia Lodge, No. 368, F. & A. M., in which he was a past master, and with Germania Lodge, I. O. O. F.

Mr. Barbey married Rosina Kuntz, daughter of Philip Kuntz, of Rhenish Bavaria, and they had two children: Katrina, who died in infancy; and John, who, after arriving of age, engaged with his father in the brewing business under the name of P. Barbey & Son. Notwithstanding the decease of his father in 1897, the firm name has been continued until the present time.

The brewery building in the 1950s.

And here’s an obituary, from the “Allentown Morning Call,” from February 16, 1897:

Peter Barbey, the well-known Reading brewer, died yesterday morning at his home, aged 71 years. Mr. Barbey was a native of Dierbach, Canton of Borgzaben, Rhinepfaltz, Bavaria. He attended the schools of his native country until the age of 14, when he entered the brewery establishment of his uncle, Peter Barbey, for the purpose of learning the business. When about 23 years of age, he came to America. He entered the employ of Frederick Lauer, in Reading. Later he conducted several saloons and then started in the brewery business. Deceased was married to Rosina, daughter of Philip Kuntz, of Rhenish Bavaria. They had two children, Katrina, a daughter, deceased; and John Barbey. In politics he was a Democrat, but never was an aspirant for any office. He was a director of the Keystone National Bank, a member of Teutonia Lodge, No. 568, F. and A. M., and of Germania Lodge, I.O.O.F.


This is from an article in the January 1942 issue of the Historical Review of Berks County:

Reading naturally felt the effects of this movement as can be witnessed in the Peter Barbey Brewery establishment. Peter Barbey, the originator of this brewery, was born November 9, 1825, in Dierback, Canton of Bergzabern, Rhinepfalz, Bavaria, the son of Christopher and Katrina Barbey. Until the age of 14 Peter attended the schools there, after which he entered the brewing establishment of his uncle, where he remained three years learning the business of a brewer. At the age of thirty-two (in the year 1857), Barbey emigrated to the United States, and proceeding at once to Philadelphia engaged for two and one-half years in the pursuit of his trade. In 1859 he settled at Reading, where he entered the employ of Frederick Lauer for one year, and soon after opened a saloon. Peter Barbey began his prosperous career as a brewer here in 1869, when he established a brewing plant at River and Hockly Streets. Montgomery wrote of the Barbey Brewery: “the buildings are a three-story brewery, a six-story brick malthouse, two refrigerators and two ice houses-they cover a tract of three acres. In the malt house are five germinating floors, one storage floor, and two large drying kilns. Two engines, producing 60 horse-power, and two large duplex boilers, of 75 horse-power, are used. Thirty hands are employed.” Barbey’s son, John, became a partner in 1880, the firm henceforth trading as P. Barbey and Son. During the year 1885 twenty thousand barrels of beer and porter were manufactured and sold, although the full capacity was thirty-five thousand barrels, and the full malting capacity seventy-five thousand bushels of barley malt.

Thus by 1880 the foundation had been laid for one of Reading’s important industries. Developed as a normal, if not necessary, adjunct to the life of the German population, it brought to this community the industry and craft of the old country. As Reading grew, so did her brewing industry, and its importance was more than local. Frederick Lauer was one of the organizers, and president, of the United States Brewers’ Association, and he was also a leading citizen of Reading. As a public servant and philanthropist he was honored by his fellow citizens, and his statue now stands in our city park. There it symbolizes the social as well as the economic significance of the early industry.

Sunshine-Brewing-Co-SUNSHINE-PREMIUM-BEER-label (1)


Beer Birthday: Jack Curtin

Today is fellow Pennsylvania beer writer Jack Curtin’s birthday. You can read his writings and rantings on a variety of subjects at his Liquid Diet Online, Curtin’s Corner, I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing and The Great Disconnect. If you think I don’t know when to stop, check out Jack’s voluminous output. Plus Jack is one of my favorite people to kvetch about politics with, over a pint, of course. Join me wishing Jack a very happy birthday.

Jack, at right, with fellow Pennsylvanians Don Russell (a.k.a. Joe Sixpack) and Lew Bryson. I’m originally from Pennsylvania, too. What is it about the Commonwealth and beer writers?

Upstairs at Nodding Head with Jack Curtin
Jack and me at Nodding Head during Philly Beer Week a few years back.

Tomme Arthur & Jack Curtin
Tomme Arthur and Jack.

Jack Curtin, Sam Calagione, Ed Friedland and Curt's assistant brewer
Jack with Sam Calagione, Ed Friedland and Nodding Head’s assistant brewer.

Historic Beer Birthday: George Weisbrod

Today is the birthday of George Weisbrod (October 31, 1851-January 1, 1912). Weisbrod was born in Germany, and that’s about all I could find out about the man who co-founded, along with Christian Hess, the George Weisbrod & Christian Hess Brewery, usually shortened to just the Weisbrd & Hess Brewery, and also known as the Oriental Brewery.


Both Weisbrod and Hess were German immigrants, and originally their intention was simply to make enough beer to supply their Philadelphia saloon on Germantown Avenue. Some sources say they began as early as 1880, but most put the founding at 1882. The brewery was going strong until closed by prohibition. They managed to reopen in 1933, but closed for good in 1938.

A brewery poster from 1905.

In 1994, Yards Brewing renovated the old Weisbrod & Hess Brewery, but after the partners split, it became the Philadelphia Brewing Co., while Yards under the direction of Tom Kehoe moved to another location.

In the Philadelphia Brewing Co. tasting room upstairs, an old photo of the employees of the original brewery on the premises, Weisbrod & Hess Oriental Brewing Company.

Both Philadelphia Weekly and Hidden City Philadelphia have stories about the brewery and efforts to re-open it.

The brewery two years closing, in 1940.

The brewery was designed by famed local architect Adam C. Wagner, and this is an illustration of his design for the brewery from 1892.


An ad from 1899.

And a calendar from 1912.


Several weeks ago, while researching the birthday of Pennsylvania brewer Henry Fink, I happened upon the advertising poster below. Intrigued, because I’m fascinated with symbols, I couldn’t make out what they were because the largest image I could find is this one. All I could figure out at the time was that it had something to do with a song.


Eventually I gave up, and moved on, because if I’m not careful I’ll keep going off on tangents and down rabbit holes until I’ve gotten myself well and truly lost, not to mention wasted hours of unproductive time. But I kept coming back to it, and eventually, I had to figure out what exactly it was or go crazy. So I started taking a closer look into the poster and figured out that they’re all over the place and it’s a famous German song called the “Schnitzelbank.” And the Fink’s ad poster, or versions of it, is everywhere and has been used by breweries, restaurants and others for years. Which makes sense because, although it’s a “German-language ditty for children and popular among German Americans with an interest in learning or teaching German to their offspring,” it’s also commonly sung by adults for entertainment and nostalgia, and usually while they’re drinking beer.


In German, Schnitzelbank apparently “literally means ‘scrap bench’ or ‘chip bench’ (from Schnitzel ‘scraps / clips / cuttings (from carving)’ or the colloquial verb schnitzeln “to make scraps” or “to carve” and Bank “bench”); like the Bank, it is feminine and takes the article “die”. It is a woodworking tool used in Germany prior to the industrial revolution. It was in regular use in colonial New England, and in the Appalachian region until early in the 20th century; it is still in use by specialist artisans today. In America it is known as a shaving horse. It uses the mechanical advantage of a foot-operated lever to securely clamp the object to be carved. The shaving horse is used in combination with the drawknife or spokeshave to cut down green or seasoned wood, to accomplish jobs such as handling an ax; creating wooden rakes, hay forks, walking sticks, etc. The shaving horse was used by various trades, from farmer to basketmaker and wheelwright.”

A traditional shaving horse around 200 years old.

And that’s also why the posters always include a Schnitzelbank, because in addition to it being the title, it’s also how the song begins.


Here’s one description of the Schnitzelbank song:

A Schnitzelbank is also a short rhyming verse or song with humorous content, often but not always sung with instrumental accompaniment. Each verse in a Schnitzelbank introduces a topic and ends with a comedic twist. This meaning of the word is mainly used in Switzerland and southwestern Germany; it is masculine and takes the article “der”. It is a main element of the Fasnacht celebrations in the city of Basel, where it is also written Schnitzelbangg. Schnitzelbänke (pl.) are also sung at weddings and other festivities by the Schitzelbänkler, a single person or small group. Often the Schnitzelbänkler will display posters called Helgen [which is “hello” in German] during some verses that depict the topic but do not give away the joke.

Often the songleader uses the poster to lead people in the song, pointing to the symbols as they come up in the lyrics, as this photo from the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Lodge illustrates.


The song uses call and response, with the leader singing one lyric, and the chorus repeating it back as it goes along. So here’s what the traditional version of the song sounds like:

Some Sauerkraut with Your Schnitzelbank? has an interesting reminiscence of a visit to a Fasching Sonntag in the St. Louis area around 1982, and includes his experience taking part in the singing of the Schnitzelbank song.

In the evening, everyone moved upstairs to the parish hall, which was the typical multipurpose gymnasium with a stage at one end. Set up with long tables in parallel rows on both sides, the band in place on the stage, and the large crowd ready for the music to begin, the hall had lost its bland, bare, everyday atmosphere. On the stage, off to one side, was a large easel with a poster on it. I didn’t pay much attention to it, thinking it was for announcements later in the evening. The band started, and the dancing began in the clear space down the middle of the hall, mostly polkas and waltzes, with a few variety numbers like the dreaded Duck Dance, which explained the need for pitchers of beer. Finally, when the crowd was well exercised and well lubricated, someone approached the easel with a pointer in his hand. People started shouting “Schnitzelbank! Schnitzelbank!” The music began, and the person with the pointer called “Ist das nicht ein Schnitzelbank?” and the crowd heartily responded “Ja, das ist ein Schnitzelbank!” Then came a chorus of music, to which everyone sang, “O Die Schoenheit un der Vand, da das ist ein Schnitzelbank.” And so it continued for several verses, the person on stage pointing to another object on the poster with “Ist das nicht ein.…?” and the crowd responding at the top of their voices. I was puzzled at first, but eventually joined in and didn’t think much more about it. I’m pretty sure that only a few people knew all the German words, and that some had memorized it over the years, while the ones in front were close enough to the poster to read the words under the pictures—everyone else just shouted a cheerful approximation of what they thought their neighbor was saying.


The Schnitzelbank, or Schnitzel Bank, is a song with short verses, meant to be sung the way it was at the Fasching Sonntag, with a leader and group response. It is sung in some areas of Germany for Fasching, Fastnacht, or Karnival, and also during Oktoberfest, and other occasions where there is a happy, celebratory crowd. In America, the posters are displayed at a few German restaurants and some tourist attractions with a German American heritage, such as the Amana Colonies in Iowa and some Pennsylvania Dutch locations. Singing the Schnitzelbank in America dates at least to the turn of the 20th century, which is when the John Bardenheier Wine and Liquor Company printed its version on an advertising poster.

According to “The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk,” first published in 1966, the melody first appeared in 1761 by a French composer and lyrics were written a few years later, n 1765, and it was known as “Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman,” but it became far more well-known as “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep” in subsequent years. Apparently it first appeared as “Schnitzelbank” in 1830.


This is the most common version of the poster, and as far as I can tell the symbols have become more or less fixed sometime in the mid-20th century. Perhaps it’s because one company is licensing the imagery to various purposes, or the song has simply evolved to its modern form, made easier by recordings and a growing number of shared experiences.


So let’s break down the most common version of the song:


            Symbol Translation
schnitzelbank1 Is this not a Schnitzelbank?

(“Yes this is a Schnitzelbank”)

schnitzelbank17 Short and Long
schnitzelbank2 Him and Her
schnitzelbank3 Criss and Cross
schnitzelbank6 Shooting Gun
schnitzelbank18 Wagon Wheel
schnitzelbank4 Crooked and Straight
schnitzelbank5 Big Glass
schnitzelbank7 Oxen Bladder
schnitzelbank19 Heap of Manure
schnitzelbank9 Cantankerous Boy
schnitzelbank10 Heavy Woman
schnitzelbank8 Fat Sow
schnitzelbank11 Tall Man
schnitzelbank12 Fir Tree
schnitzelbank14 Wedding Ring
schnitzelbank15 Dangerous Thing



schnitzelbank-frankenmuth-clockFrom Mader’s Famous Restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Here’s another band performing the song. This is the Gootman Sauerkraut Band at the Bravarian Pretzel Factory 2014.

As I mentioned, this all started because a brewery used the Schnitzelbank poster as an advertisement. Apparently that was not unique, and I’ve find a number of others who did likewise. Here’s a few of them:

The Eastside Brewery of Los Angeles, California, from the 1930s.

Drewery’s, the Canadian brewery, from the 1940s.

The Huebner Brewery of Toldeo, Ohio, from sometime prior to prohibition.

This one, though not for a specific brewery, was for Sitter’s Beverages, a distributor of beer, wine, liquor and cordials in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It’s undated, but given that the telephone number is “1917” (yes, just those four numbers) I suspect it’s pre-prohibition. One source puts the date between 1912 and 1919.

A promotional towel, from Koerber’s Brewery, also from Toledo, Ohio.

The Pearl Brewery of San Antonio, Texas


Jacob Ruppert’s Brewery of New York City, 1907. Though notice that the almost uniform symbols were changed for Ruppert’s ad, substituting his own beer and brewery, along with other more beer-friendly items into the song list.


Although it’s possible that the symbols weren’t quite as settled in the early 20th century, as this postcard, also from 1907, has several that deviate from the standard symbols, including some also in the Ruppert’s poster, but also some that are not in that one.


Yuengling Brewery also apparently had their own Schnitzelbank poster, based on the Ruppert’s design. This one is a linen towel being used as a window shade, though it’s too small for me to read the date.


Though the Ruppert’s design appears to be copyrighted again in 1934, based on this generic one found by someone in an antique store.


Likewise, this one for Falstaff Beer uses the traditional symbols, but adds two more, one for “Gutes Bier” (good beer) and “Falstaff Here.”


This one’s also not from a brewery, but the Alpine Village Inn in Las Vegas, Nevada. This one’s newer, as it opened in 1950, became somewhat famous, but then closed in 1970.


This one is labeled as being a “Pennsylvania Dutch Schnitzelbank” and has 20 symbols rather than the standard sixteen. And only eight of those are the usual ones. I don’t know how I missed it growing up (I grew up near Pennsylvania Dutch country in Pennsylvania, and in fact my grandparents grew up on Mennonite farms, but were the first generation to leave them).


Apparently it’s also a big deal in Amana, Iowa, where there’s a gift and toy store called the “Schnitzelbank” and where, in 1973, the Amana Society created this Schnitzelbank poster.


The Schnitzelbank Restaurant in Jasper, Indiana, uses the poster as their placemats.

This random German poster, which translates as “Oh you beautiful Schnitzelbank” has only about half of the standard symbols on it. I’m not sure when this one was created but it’s available on Polka Time as an “Oktoberfest Poster.”

Also more modern, the New Paltz Band has their own version of the song using non-standard symbols.


And speaking of music, Marv Herzog used the poster on an album cover. The album, of course, included the Schnitzelbank song.

And lastly, the Animanics did their own version of the Schnitzelbank song in episode 56 entitled “Schnitzelbank,” which aired in 1994. It’s described as “a traditional German song that the Warners learn in German from Prof. Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeyer. The lyrics were adapted by Randy Rogel.”

From Henry Sticht’s “Schnitzelbank Two-Step,” 1907.

Historic Beer Birthday: William Anderton

Today is the birthday of William H. Anderton (October 23, 1866-January 27, 1928). He was the son of James Anderton, who founded the Spring Water Brewery, later renaming it the Anderton Brewery. After his father died in 1905, William “took over management of the firm and it was merged in 1905 to become part of the Pittsburgh-based Independent Brewery Company (1905-1933). The local facility was closed in 1920 (like many other breweries) with the enactment of nationwide prohibition.”


Here’s a biography of Anderton, from “Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, published in 1899:

WILLIAM HENRY ANDERTON, secretary, treasurer and general business manager of the Anderton Brewing Company of Beaver Falls, Pa., whose portrait we present on the preceding page, received his primary education in the Beaver Falls schools,-taking a collegiate course at the Iron City Business College of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1883, he entered the employ of the Hartman Steel Co., of Beaver Falls, in the capacity of clerk, remaining in their employ until 1889. He was a prime mover in, the organization of the Union Drawn Steel Co., and was secretary and treasurer of that company, until December, 1890. At that date, Mr. Anderton became secretary, treasurer and general business manager of the Anderton Brewing Co., which position he still holds. He assisted in organizing the People’s Water Company in 1897, and is its vice president. He is a believer in the principles of Democracy, and an active worker for that party. Socially, he is a member of the Ma-sonic fraternity, being included among the members of Beaver Valley Lodge, No. 478; he is also treasurer of the B. P. O. E. lodge, No. 348.

William Henry Anderton is one of a family of five children. He was born October 23, 1866, is a son of James and Betty (Green-wood) Anderton, and grandson of James and Sarah (Morris) Anderton. His grandparents came to America from England in 1856, accompanied by their son James, and settled at Fallston, Beaver county, Pa., where their two sons, John and Joseph, had located a few months previously. There father and sons worked in the mines for some years. John died at Fallston, in February, 1899, but Joseph now resides in Rochester, Pa. The be-loved father departed this life in May, 1879, at the age of seventy-nine years, and was preceded to the grave by his faithful wife and companion, who died in March, 1878, in her eighty-fifth year.

James Anderton, the father of William Henry, was born in Streetbridge, Royston, Lancastershire, England, June 26, 1830. He worked for eighteen years in the mines in his native place, beginning at the early age of eight years. In his youth he had no educational advantages whatever,-his only mental training being a night school organized by himself and his fellow miners, known as the “Youth’s Seminary.” There the boys taught each other, being too poor to afford an experienced teacher. The school organized by these lads has grown into a famous institution of learning, and is now known as the Literary Institute of Oldham, England.

James Anderton accompanied his parents to America when twenty-six years of age, worked in the mines at Fallston, until 1866, and then removed to New Brighton, Pennsylvania. He continued to follow this occupation at the latter place until March, 1868, when he removed to Beaver Falls, purchased his present residence, and engaged in the hotel business. The following year (1869), he went into the brewing business in a small frame building, situated quite near the elegant structure in which he at present officiates. The first brewing was made November 30, of the same year, and consisted of only nine barrels. In 1875, Mr. Anderton built the old part of the present structure, and with a much increased capacity, he continued to brew ale and porter until 1895, when he built a large brick addition, with all the modern improvements, and began brewing beer. The Anderton Brewery is now one of the most complete up-to-date breweries in Pennsylvania, and has a capacity of 30,000 barrels per year. There are many larger breweries in the Keystone State, but none more complete.

While, still in his native land, James Anderton was united in marriage with Betty Green-wood, a daughter of Joseph and Mary Greenwood. This event took place in 1852, and their union is blessed with five children, viz.: Jonathan ; Mary G.; William H. ; William H., second ; and Sarah A. Jonathan was born June 2,2, 1853; he is vice president of the Anderton Brewing Company. He wedded Margaret Hart, a daughter of Hilton and Ann Hart, and their home is made happy by the presence of four sons: James, Hilton, Jonathan, Jr., and William H. Mary G. was born February 1, 1858. She became the wife of C. W. Rohrkaste, who is now superintendent of the Anderton Brewery. They have three children: James A.; Mary A.; and Florence E. William H., the third child, died at the tender age of five years, and the same name was given to the next child. William H., the fourth child, is the subject of this brief sketch. Sarah A., the fifth child, was born October 14, 1869, and died in early childhood, aged three years.

James Anderton is a fine illustration of a self-made man, which in a great measure is due to his progressiveness, reliability and integrity. He ranks among the most esteemed citizens of Beaver Falls, and takes an active interest in fraternal organizations, being a member of Lone Rock Lodge, K. of P.; Valley Echo Lodge, I. O. O. F.; Mechanics Lodge, A. O. U. W.; and Beaver Valley Lodge, F. & A. M., of which he has been treasurer for the past nineteen years. He was one of the organizers and original stockholders of the Union Drawn Steel Co., and is one of the stockholders of the People’s Water Co., of Beaver Falls. In his religious convictions, the elder Mr. Anderton is an Episcopalian, of which denomination he and his family are members. Politically, he is a stanch Democrat, but could never be persuaded to seek or accept public office.

William Henry Anderton chose for his wife Emma J. Bailey, a daughter of James and Emma Bailey. In his business ventures he has met with success and, like his father, he is known to be an upright, honorable man. His home bears evidence of comfort in all its surroundings, and he always lends his aid and influence to the support of measures which he believes will be conducive to the general good.

The Anderton Brewing Co. was located in Beaver Falls, between 23rd and 24th streets near the railroad tracks. The local owners would sell their company in 1905, but the brewery remained in Beaver Falls producing beer until 1922.

And here’s Anderton’s obituary, from Western Brewer, an industry trade newsletter.



Historic Beer Birthday: William G. Ruske

Today is the birthday of William G. Ruske (October 21, 1842-May 2, 1915). Ruske was born in Germany and came to Western Pennsylvania, co-founding the Keystone Brewing Co. 1886, and was its president. In 1899, Keystone became part of a regional trust known as the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, which was formed by the merging together of thirteen Allegheny County breweries. Ruske was initially secretary of the trust, but became president when his predecessor died. The brewery survived prohibition and today is known as the Iron City Brewing Co.


This is his obituary, from the American Brewers’ Review the year he passed away:


Pittsburgh brewery around 1919.

And here’s part of another history of Iron City Brewing, from the merger through the end of prohibition, from PA’s Big House:

As the century came to a close, breweries in the Pittsburgh area merged to form the Pittsburgh Brewing Company (PBC). The twelve local breweries included: Wainwright; Phoenix; Keystone; Winter Brothers; Phillip Lauer; John H. Nusser; Eberhardt & Ober; Hippely & Sons; Ober; J. Seiferth Brothers; Straub; and Iron City. In addition to these initial twelve breweries, nine more were included in the merger. Now, Pittsburgh Brewing Company was Pennsylvania’s largest brewery and third largest in the nation with combined assets worth an estimated $11 million. For the next three decades, PBC boasted a brewing capacity of more than one million barrels per year.

The onset of Prohibition in 1920 brought serious strain to breweries across the nation. Pittsburgh Brewing Company, however, was able to survive by using its facilities to produce ice cream, soft drinks, and non-alcoholic “near-beers.” When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, PBC was one of only 725 breweries in the U.S. still operating.

After Prohibition, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company regained market share and produced the same products it had made prior to the act. The president of the company at that time also created a new subsidiary and reinstated the original name: the Iron City Brewing Company (ICBC). ICBC’s products included Iron City Pilsner, Iron City Lager, Tech Beer, and Blue Label Beer. In 1947, the company again expanded and Iron City Brewing Company continued to grow in the market. By the mid-1950’s, ICBC became the best selling beer in Pittsburgh.


I really couldn’t find very much information on Ruske, or even his original Keystone Brewery. But one curiosity I came across was this undated tintype. But since tintypes were popular for around twenty years, from the 1860s through the 1870s, I think it’s safe to conclude that’s what this one was created. The two beer bottles on the posts are from the Keystone Brewery and the label apparently reads Cabinet Export Beer.


Historic Beer Birthday: Frederick Lauer

Today is the birthday of Frederick Lauer (October 14, 1810-September 12, 1883). He was a brewer in Reading, Pennsylvania, and the first president of the United States Brewers Association. Lauer “was born on October 14, 1810 in Gleisweiler, Bavaria. He emigrated to Baltimore in 1822 and the family moved to Reading, Pennsylvania.” His father founded the George Lauer Brewing Co. in 1826, first in Womelsdorf, and then Reading. In 1847, he took over for hi father and renamed it the Frederick Lauer Brewery. “His two sons were Frank P. Lauer and George F. Lauer; he turned the business over to them in 1882, and it was again renamed the Lauer Brewing Co. He died on September 12, 1883.” His sons ran brewery until Prohibition, when it was closed for good in 1920.


This is from “Reading’s Philanthropic Brewer,” by Andrew T. Kuhn, from the Fall 1992 issue of the Historical Review of Berks County:

The first statue erected in Reading was that of Frederick Lauer, the pioneering Reading brewer. In 1885, the United States Brewers’ Association hired Henri Stephens to create the Lauer statue, and, with the consent of City Council, placed it in City Park. The physical structure is quite tall, and consists of two parts. Memorial sculptures are “generally portraiture,” and this one is as well. The top part of the monument is a life-size likeness of Lauer, cast in bronze. He is portrayed wearing a suit which is covered by a long overcoat. The statue stands on a four-sided cement pedestal, with each side contain- ing a plaque. These plaques serve as a guide to investigating Frederick Lauer as a brewer and a citizen, which in turn, reveals more about the nineteenth-century Reading community. Lauer successfully produced and sold alcohol throughout his entire life, even though a large portion of the country was calling for the abolition of it. He did his best to legitimize the use of alcohol, and he served the Reading community untiringly. Justifiably, Frederick Lauer was represented in the first monument erected in Reading because he embodied the ideals of a large part of his community.

The front plaque establishes who the statue commemorates, who erected it, and for what reason. It states: “To Frederick Lauer of Reading, Pa. The United States Brewers’ Association of which he was the first president has erected this monument in grateful remembrance of his unselfish labor for the welfare of the brewing trade in this country. Charles Elliot Norton, in 1865, wrote, “Peculiar difficulties will surround and hinder [the building of monuments], because nearly all these proposed memorials will be built, if at all, by associations; few by private persons.” and such was the case for Reading’s first monument. Just two years following Lauer’s death, the monument was constructed and stood on public grounds.


Lauer was a prominent leader in the beer industry. During the Civil War, the need for financial support to sustain the Union’s war effort resulted in the first federal tax on malt beverages. This tax prompted the eventual founding of the U.S. Brewers Association. It seems logical for the brewers to organize a protest against the tax, however, they did not pursue lauerthis course of action. Lauer and other established brewers believed that the tax was advantageous to the industry, as a whole, because it would discourage unsanitary practices and crooked manufacturers, which cut into the trade of reliable brewers. Lauer toured European breweries to study their manufacturing, and their tax situation. During his trips abroad, he wrote several letters to the Reading Gazette, which were published in German, as well as in English. He returned with recommendations to establish a permanent tax, but to keep it at the affordable price of $1 per barrel. The tax must be kept down to allow the brewers to continue to sell their product at a low price. Due to his experience and success, Lauer “quite naturally became the first president of the national association upon its organization in 1870.”

The plaque that faces west also addresses Lauer’s close association with the brewing industry. It reads, “Let his example tell the brewers of this country to maintain good fellowship to preserve their association, and to defend their rights.” Through the U.S. Brewers’ Association, he maintained his ties with other brewers around the country, but his relationship with the brewing industry began long before 1870. Lauer was born on Oct. 14, 1810 in Gleisweiler, Germany. At the age of 12, his family immigrated to the United States, settling in Womelsdorf, PA. Under his father’s tutelage he quickly learned the brewing process. Their small brewing practice grew, so they moved into a larger building in Reading, and by age 16, Fred was foreman and accountant of the brewery. He was a dedicated worker, arising daily at 2 a.m., so that deliveries could be made by breakfast. In 1835, at age 25, he became proprietor of the new plant on North Street, and remained there until his retirement in 1883.

Lauer felt a very close association with his German heritage and the Democratic party, the two groups who (often overlapping) comprised an overwhelming majority of his customers. The majority of Berks County citizens were German immigrants, and Lauer employed many of them (Hoch). Peter Barby, who by 1860 had established his own small Reading brewery, began as an employee of Lauer. John Roehrich, a proprietor of ice and cold storage, was first employed in Reading as Lauer’s errand boy. Lauer brought Lewis Bloom, who had learned the cooper’s trade in his native land, from Philadelphia to Reading to make barrels and casks for the brewery. John Bachover, proprietor of a hotel and cafe in Reading, worked for the brewery for 22 years, and John Stocker worked for him 17 years before opening his own small brewery in Schuylkill County. All these men were born in Germany, and came to America with great uncertainty. Lauer, a German immigrant himself, had compassion for these men; he employed them in his brewery, giving them an opportunity to advance in their new community. The “melting pot” image was nothing but a myth in nineteenth-century Reading. He maintained close contact with this old country and its language. He returned to Germany several times, and had his two sons receive their higher education in Germany. One son studied the scientific study of beer, porter, and ale, so that he might carry on the family’s German tradition.

Lauer was a stout Democrat, and he was quite active in the political arena. One of his sons was named Franklin Pierce Lauer because he was born on Nov. 8, 1852, the day that the Democrat Pierce was elected President of the United States. Frederick represented the Berks district at the National Convention of 1860 which met in Charleston, S.C., but he voted for Stephen Douglas to oppose Lincoln, and when secession broke out the next year, his popularity sagged. He quickly took other actions to prove his loyalty to the Union. One of these was “to invite Reading soldiers in every volunteer company and drafted group, and all troops passing through Reading, to a free lunch at his garden at 3rd and Chestnut streets.” Although Lauer showed special kindness towards Germans and Democrats, he was also a philanthropist for the community as a whole.

The plaque on the back of the monument, which faces north, states: “The city of Reading commemorates the public and private virtues of an honored citizen by the grant of this location. Erected 1885, the year of the Twenty-fifth convention of the United States Brewers’ Association.” Lauer was instrumental in changing Reading from the status of a borough to that of a city in 1847. He was a member of Select Council from 1865-7 1, serving as its president during the 1867-68 year. He assisted in organizing the Berks County Agricultural Society and the Board of Trade, serving presidential terms for both organizations. Lauer also helped finance the Reading and Columbia Railroad, and he was a member of several charity groups: the Reading Dispensary, the Reading Relief Society, and the Reading Benevolent Society. Lauer’s untiring civic involvement created great respect for him within the community.

Other community investments more directly benefited his workers, which in turn helped his business. He was one of the organizers of St. John’s German Lutheran Church in his early years in Reading. He wanted to establish a place of worship for his fellow Germans, as well as instill nobleness in his workers. Later, he had part of his seven acre lot landscaped into a park for community recreation. Following Lauer’s death, at the turn of the century, the park was converted into a baseball park where semi-professional teams played games. The Reading community that Lauer helped foster followed the national trend, providing communal parks in mid-century, and then catering to organized sports toward the turn of the century. The establishment of Lauer’s Park, like many other reform movements of the nineteenth century, tried to provide virtuous activities for the community, particularly for the workers of the brewery. However, although Lauer offered very much to his community, the nature of the brewing industry was held in discredit by many advocates of prohibition during this time, and it was always in danger of legal restrictions caused by the temperance movement.

The fourth and final plaque that is part of the Lauer monument is contradictory. It states: “His zeal sprang from his firm conviction that in striving to advance the brewing trade he was working for the cause of national temperance.” This statement is written about a man who at a Brewers’ Congress meeting, ascribed the defeat of the Turks due to the fact that “they are a nation of water drinkers, and hence have become a stagnant morass – an offence to civilization – so that the Russians, good, solid drinkers, naturally proved conquerors.” Although the temperance movement was not as powerful in the German-dominated Berks County region as it was in other parts of the country, the ominous temperance movement forced American brewers to be selective in their word choice, especially in the public sphere, so as to create a positive image for their trade.

The temperance movement posed a constant threat to Lauer and his brewery. In 1826, the American Temperance Society was formed in Boston, and a decade later, the organization redefined the word “temperance” to mean abstinence. This society headed a movement that lobbied for legal prohibition of alcohol. The movement was overwhelmingly led by American-born, Protestant, non-urban Republicans. In 1846, Maine became the first state to pass statewide Prohibition laws. In assessing the effectiveness of Maine’s laws, Lauer wrote, “It is a complete failure. It can be shown by statistics that almost every town in Maine has MORE DRUNKENNESS now than when before the prohibitory law was in place.” By 1865, thirteen states had similar Prohibition laws, but Pennsylvania never adopted state Prohibition laws because like most “urban, industrial northern states, with large immigrant populations, the majority were wet.” Still, the danger was ever-present.

Lauer fought against Prohibition with more vigor than any other endeavor he embraced. Despite all of his noble civic efforts and political involvement, in the height of his career, he wrote, “I am a brewer first and a politician afterwards, or in other words, I do not intend to sacrifice my brewery and the accumulations of a long life for any empty honor of political predilections.” Lauer used the newspaper as a public forum for his views; whenever a minister would preach in favor of Prohibition, “the following day would find Lauer with a challenging statement to the newspapers.” He argued that intemperance was a medical problem, and that it could never be contained through legal means. In 1881, in response to the growing number of Prohibitionists, an association called the Liquor Men was organized in Reading. At the first meeting, one member expressed the grievances of all alcohol producers when he professed, “We pay our taxes; we pay our license; we are friends to everybody; we are willing to let them alone and they must let us alone We cannot all be ministers, lawyers or doctors. It is my trade and I intend to follow it up as best I can, honestly and as becomes a good citizen.” Lauer, like other men in his profession, like those who erected his statue, tried to establish respectability in his profession during a time when it was unfashionable.

The Lauer monument was erected in 1885, and just 36 years later, in 1919, nationwide Prohibition became law as the Eighteenth Amendment was passed. In the face of such difficult times for brewers such as Lauer, why was the monument allowed to be erected on the public grounds of City Park? Primarily, because the U.S. Brewers’ Association absorbed all costs incurred by the monument, but more important- ly, because of the many contributions that Lauer made to the Reading community as a citizen, the honor bestowed on him, according to most people, was justified. When Lauer had a celebration commemorating his fiftieth anniversary in Reading, the mayor printed an apology to him in the local paper because he could not attend due to prior commitments. Late in his career, Lauer spread his capital thin, and when he tried to save his brother’s Pottsville brewery from bankruptcy, he came on hard times. However, even the president of the Law and Order League, I. C. Detweiler, upon hearing of Lauer’s financial woes, was compassionate. He stated, “as a man, I feel very sorry for Mr. Lauer; but for the business it was a God-send The failure was not more than could be expected, as all brewers and distillers would come to just such an end” (Reading Eagle). As a citizen, Lauer was well respected, but there was still objection to a statue of a brewer being raised on city ground. Ministers and churches lead the objection, but their protest was in vain. Advocates of the monument “said it was well that it stand at the head of Penn street where everyone could recall his unselfish public career and service. The opposition favored the site too . . . They said they favored the site because the Lauer monument would stand in front of the county jail and look over toward the almshouse in Shillington.” The Prohibitionists felt that it was proper that the brewer be in such lowly company. The proposal passed City Council, and in May of 1885, Reading’s first monument was erected, to a brewer no less.


This is the description of the illustration of the Lauer Brewing from the National Archives:

Image of an elevated landscape view of the Lauer Brewing Company brewery in Reading, Pennsylvania; a large industrial complex of factory buildings is pictured including the breweries, smokestacks, ice plant, boiler house, hop storage, office, malt house, band stand, hotel, garden, and several others including a bowling alley in Lauer’s Park; railroad cars labeled “Refrigerator Line. Ale Porter and Lager Beer” a Philadelphia & Reading Railroad passenger train, cable car, and horse-drawn vehicles are visible along the street in the foreground; small inset image at bottom right features an earlier view of the much-smaller brewery captioned “Lauer’s brewery in 1866″; a Greek sphinx is pictured in a circular ivy-bordered frame captioned by the words “Trade mark” at bottom center.

The brewery was also known as the Park Beer Brewery.

Here’s another biography, from Americantom:

FREDERICK LAUER was born in the Province of Palatine, now Rhenish Bavaria, October 14th, 1810. He attended school (German) until he was twelve years of age, and during this period learned the French language. His father had been one of the largest property holders and taxpayers in the country, and was the man who raised the first liberty-pole on the French borders. On account of his liberal and patriotic sentiments he had to suffer, and for nine years was unable to gather any crops owing to the presence of the army. Finding himself getting more and more impoverished, he concluded to immigrate to America, and with his family landed in Baltimore in August 1823. He at once started for Reading, where his married daughter was then living. Here Frederick became, for the first four months of his residence, a butcher boy, assisting his brother-in-law. But he left this employment when his father commenced the brewing business at Womelsdorf, Berks County, where he assisted him until he removed to Reading, and continued his calling there. It was in the spring of 1826 that his father returned to Reading, where he established a small brewery in an old log house, which had been erected many years before by Read, the founder and owner of the town. Frederick, who was then not quite sixteen years old, was made foreman and clerk, and with one assistant did all the brewing. He built up his first kettle with a capacity of five barrels, which in two months time was increased to ten. He rose at 2 A. M., finished the brewing by daylight, and after breakfast would deliver the beer to customers in town. In 1835 he became the proprietor of the brewery, enlarged it, and by the aid of more assistants extended the business. During the first five years nothing was made but what was known as ” strong beer.” The brewing of ale and porter was begun in 1831, and of lager beer in 1844. The wonderful improvements, which have since sprung up by means of his industry and tact, and without capital, have resulted in a town of itself. In 1849, he commenced buying up vacant lots, and therein-quarried extensive vaults in the solid limestone rock for the storage of lager beer. In 1866, he erected a large brewery on this locality, containing all the latest improvements, and complete in every respect. In connection with this brewery is (1874) a fine park of seven acres, planted with shade trees, a park house with porticos, etc. During the war of the Rebellion he espoused the Union cause, and gave freely of his means to sustain it. He literally gave thousands upon thousands of dollars. Whole regiments were regaled by him at a time, and he had words of encouragement for all. He is neither politician nor office-seeker; he has been tendered, more than once, the Congressional nomination; but his business interests would not permit him to serve in the National Legislature. He always has taken a deep interest in the government and prosperity of Reading, and has been a member of the Town and City Councils for many years. He has always been an active member of the Berks County Agricultural Society, and at one time was its President. He was one of the incorporators and original stockholders of the Reading & Columbia Railroad. He has made the acquaintance of all the prominent members of Congress, of both houses, during the past thirty years, to which may be added all the Presidents of the Nation in the same period. His efforts in connection with the Internal Revenue tax on fermented liquors have invariably been crowned with success, and as President of the Brewers’ Congress he has been indefatigable in his services to the trade. Personally, he is of a frank, hearty, cordial disposition, with an abrupt good humor, which inspires friendship and confidence. He is quick and nervously active in his movements, and will go any length to serve a friend. Shrewd, far seeing and industrious, he has made his establishment one of the most successful in the United States.


This account is from Go Reading Berks:

George Lauer immigrated to America in 1823. Upon landing at Baltimore, Md., he was poor, having just had enough money to pay the passage across the ocean for him and family. The journey was made in a sailing vessel and required three months. He immediately proceeded to Reading, Berks County, where a married daughter, Mrs. Sprenger, resided; and shortly afterward he settled at Womelsdorf and started the business of manufacturing beer in limited quantities. He carried on the business for three years and then located at Reading, where he established a small brewery on Chestnut street near Third, on a rented lot (which he afterward purchased from Marks John Biddle, the attorney for the Penn’s, in 1833), similar to the brewery at Womelsdorf, which had a capacity of five barrels, and was soon increased to ten barrels on account of the increasing demand for his product. There were other breweries at Reading at this time, but the product was of a different character. In 1831 he added the manufacture of porter and ale; and he carried on the enlarged plant until 1835, when his two sons, George and Frederick, became his successors.

Frederick Lauer was the principal brewer at Reading for nearly fifty years from 1835 to 1882. He was born in the town of Gleisweiler, Rhenish Bavaria, Germany, Oct. 14, 1810, and while a boy accompanied his father to America in 1823. He was educated in pay schools at Womelsdorf and Reading, and while growing to manhood learned the business of brewing under the tutoring of his father. He assisted his father until 1835, when he and his brother George became the owners of the plant. The brothers continued as partners for several years, when his brother George retired and removed to Pottsville, where he carried on the same business. The younger brother, as the sole owner, enlarged the brewery and extended the business gradually until he came to send his beer, porter and ale throughout the county and into the adjoining counties. The brewery was situated on Chestnut Street below Third. He established a second plant on North Third Street, beyond Walnut, in 1866; also constructing a large vault in a solid bed of limestone, and sinking an artesian well to the depth of 2,200 feet, which for many years were considered great curiosities at Reading, and the well was then one of the few deep wells in the United States. He was engaged in the business until shortly before his death. He died in 1883, at the age of seventy-three years. He was married to Mary Reiff Guldin, daughter of Peter Guldin, in 1838, and they had two sons, George Frederick and Franklin Pierce. The mother died in October, 1891. After her death 1891, George Frederick Lauer, one of Mary’s sons and chairman of the Lauer Brewing Co., erected an elegant mansion which fronted on South Third, at Chestnut. Not long after the turn of the century, the mansion passed to George’s brother, Franklin Pierce Lauer (born the day President Franklin Pierce was elected).


Franklin Pierce Lauer was born in Reading Nov. 2, 1852. He received his preliminary education in the common schools, which he attended until 1866, when he and his brother were sent to Germany for their advanced education, and they remained three years, spending two years in the institutions at Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart, Germany, and one year at Lausanne, Switzerland. He directed his studies more especially toward the scientific manufacture of beer, porter and ale for the purpose of qualifying himself to take charge of his father’s breweries upon his return home. While at Lausanne he showed great proficiency in music, and though still a boy the vestry of the French Lutheran Church elected him as the organist, which position he filled.

Upon returning home his father placed him in charge of the two breweries as brew master and he displayed great skill in the production of malt liquors of a superior character. He discharged the duties of this responsible position with increasing success for twelve years, until 1882, when his father retired, and he organized the Lauer Brewing Company, of which he became the manager and principal owner. In August, 1891, he made an extended tour of three months through the principal countries of Europe. In 1874 Mr. Lauer married Amelia Dora Heberle (daughter of William Heberle), by whom he had six children: Florence, who married William Y. Landis, of Reading; Carl Franklin; and four who died in youth.

Franklin remained at the mansion until 1923 at which time his daughter, Florence (Mrs. William) Landis, moved in who remained there until around 1923 at which time Around 1929, Peter Lysczek bought the property. A year later, while the family was away, fire broke out in the tower. Severe damage resulted, much of it from water. At this time it was decided to convert the 28-room mansion to an apartment complex. Mr. Lysczek erected a structure at the rear of the home to accommodate his Reading Bottling Works. By 1960, Peter Lysczek’s bottling works had outgrown the facilities at 3rd and Chestnut, so the property was sold to an auto-renting agency and very soon thereafter, the mansion disappeared.


Franklin Pierce operated the brewery for many years. The brewery survived the the prohibition years but eventually succumbed to the wrecking ball. In October, 1942, the brewery at the Northwest corner of Third and Walnut Streets was demolished. TThe only structure remaining from the former Lauer complex at (and near) Third and Walnut is the old Lauer mansion at 235-237 Walnut St.


This is a more genealogical story from “Historical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families,” compiled by Morton Montgomery, and published in 1909:

Frederick Lauer, father of Franklin Pierce Lauer, was the principal brewer at Reading for nearly fifty years from 1835 to 1882. He was born in the town of Gleisweiler, Rhenish Bavaria, Germany, Oct. 14, 1810, and whilst a boy accompanied his father to America in 1823. He was educated in pay schools at Womelsdorf and Reading, and while growing to manhood learned the business of brewing under the tutelage of his father, who was an expert brewer; and he assisted his father until 1835, when he and his brother George became the owners of the plant. The brothers continued as partners for several years, when his brother George retired and removed to Pottsville, where he carried on the same business. The younger brother, as the sole owner, enlarged the brewery and extended the business gradually until he came to send his beer, porter and ale throughout the county and into the adjoining counties. The brewery was situated on Chestnut street below Third. He established a second plant on North Third street, beyond Walnut, in 1866; also constructing a large vault in a solid bed of limestone, and sinking an artesian well to the depth of 2,200 feet, which for many years were considered great curiosities at Reading, and the well was then one of the few deep wells in the United States. He was engaged in the business until shortly before his decease. He died in 1883, at the age of seventy-three years. He was married to Mary Reiff Guldin, daughter of Peter Guldin, in 1838, and they had two sons, George Frederick and Franklin Pierce. The mother died in October, 1891.

Frederick Lauer was a public-spirited man and labored assiduously for the development and prosperity of Reading. He co-operated heartily in the advancement of the place from a borough into a city in 1847; and under the amended charter of 1864 he represented the Fifth ward in the select council from 1865 to 1871, serving as president of that body in 1867. He was a devoted adherent of the Democratic party, and active in behalf of its success for many years. He represented the Berks district as a delegate to the National Convention which met at Charleston, S. C., in 1860, and notwithstanding the platform and the defeat of the party nominee for President, when the Civil war broke out, in 1861, he espoused the cause of the Union in a most earnest and patriotic manner. He assisted materially in organizing the Berks County Agricultural Society in 1852, and officiated as president for a number of years; also in projecting the construction of the railroad from Reading to Lancaster and Columbia, serving as a director for twenty years until his decease; and by special appointment of the governor he served for several terms as trustee of the Keystone State Normal School. He gave liberal support to local charities by aiding the Dispensary and the Relief Society.


Lauer Monument — Mr. Lauer’s great experience and success in the brewing business brought him into national prominence before the brewers of the United States, and he quite naturally became the first president of the national association upon its organization in 1870, which evidences his great popularity and influence at that time; and in May, 1885, the association erected a fine bronze statue to his memory on Penn Common, near Perkiomen avenue, on a small plot of ground set apart and dedicated by the city councils, the first public honor of the kind in the community. The inscriptions on the four sides of the base are as follows:

(North Side)

“The city of Reading commemorates the public and private virtues of an honored citizen by the grant of this location. Erected 1885, the year of the Twenty-fifth convention of the United States Brewers’ Association.”

(South Side)

“To Frederick Lauer of Reading. The United States Brewers’ Association of which he was the first president has erected this monument in grateful remembrance of his unselfish labor for the welfare of the brewing trade in this country.”


(East Side)

“His zeal sprang from his firm conviction that in striving to advance the brewing trade he was working for the cause of national temperance.”

(West Side)

“Let his example tell the brewers of this country to maintain good fellowship, to preserve their association, and to defend their rights.”


I grew up just outside of Reading, and made frequent trips to the park in Reading where Lauer’s statue was located, and it was near the bandshell, which fascinated me as a kid. I confess I didn’t really know anything about who Frederick Lauer was as a child, and it wasn’t until I moved away that I began to understand who he was and why there was a statue of him in my hometown.

Last year, asshole vandals trashed the statue and “stole bronze plaques that were at the base of the statue.” Happily, the BA helped with the funds needed for its restoration and it was rededicated earlier this year while much of the brewing industry was in nearby Philadelphia for the Craft Brewers Conference. I wish I could have been there, but unfortunately I was judging the World Beer Cup, and couldn’t get away.