Historic Beer Birthday: Frank Selinger

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Today is the birthday of Frank J. Selinger (July 8, 1914-June 15, 2000). He was born in Philadelphia and was trained as a chemist and later became a brewmaster, first with the Esslinger Brewing Co. in Philadelphia, but later with the Burger Brewing Co. and Anheuser-Busch. But in 1977, he accepted the position of CEO for Schlitz Brewing and even appeared in television commercials for them in he early 1980s.

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Here’s an obituary of Sellinger, from the Williamsburg Daily Press:

Francis J. Sellinger, a former brewing executive in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Philadelphia, died Thursday, June 15, 2000, at Williamsburg Community Hospital. He was 85.

A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Sellinger graduated in 1936 with a degree in chemistry from St. Joseph’s College in Philadelphia. According to his son, Joseph Sellinger, he initially wanted to become a doctor but took a job in a brewery in order to help support his family. He began his career in the brewing industry in 1936 as chief chemist and assistant brewmaster with the Esslinger Brewing Co. in Philadelphia. In 1952, he joined the Burger Brewing Co. in Cincinnati, and he became vice president and general manager in 1956.

Mr. Sellinger joined Anheuser-Busch Inc. in St. Louis, Mo., in 1964. During his 14 years with the company, he held many senior executive positions, including vice president of engineering, and was a key figure in the company’s rapid brewery expansion during the 1970s, with the construction of breweries in Columbus, Ohio; Jacksonville, Fla.; Merrimack, N.H.; Williamsburg, Va.; and Fairfield, Calif. Mr. Sellinger was also heavily involved in the promotion of new technological advances within the company.

“He was the one that understood the direction the economics of the industry were going in,” said Patrick Stokes, president of Anheuser-Busch Inc.

He also played a key role in the development of the company’s Busch Gardens-The Old Country theme park and the Kingsmill Residential Community and Resort, both in Williamsburg.

In 1978, he became the vice chairman and chief executive officer of Schlitz Brewing Co. in Milwaukee. According to Joseph Sellinger, one of his first tasks at Schlitz was to turn the image of the company around. He worked to accomplish this by returning the company to a traditional brewing process. In addition, Mr. Sellinger appeared in the “Taste My Schlitz” television advertising campaign that began in 1978. Joseph Sellinger said that the locales for his father’s commercials ranged from barley fields to bars. Mr. Sellinger continued his career at Schlitz until his retirement in 1983 to Kingsmill in Williamsburg.

After his retirement, Mr. Sellinger became involved with the Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic, now the Michelob Golf Classic, and worked for St. Bede’s Catholic Church.

Mr. Sellinger will be remembered for his integrity, caring and generosity toward his family, friends and employees. He came from very humble beginnings, said Joseph Sellinger, yet gave so much to others.

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Frank Sellinger (left), when he was Vice-President and General Manager of Burger Brewing.

And this is from the New York time, from March 1, 1981, an article by Ray Kenny entitled “Trying to Stop the Flight from Schlitz.”

MILWAUKEE SHORTLY after Frank J. Sellinger went to work at the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Company in November 1977, he faced the first in a long list of problems.

A daughter, who then lived on the West Coast, telephoned and confessed: “Daddy, I don’t like that beer.” She had a lot of company. Schlitz, which had reformulated its flagship brand in a disastrous economy move in the 70’s, has been fighting a steady decline in sales ever since. Earnings plunged from almost $50 million five years ago to a $50.6 million loss in 1979 when it sold its newest brewery.

Said Mr. Sellinger: “I told my daughter, ‘Honey, do me a favor. Try Schlitz Malt Liquor. If you still don’t like it, go back to Budweiser.'”

After all, Mr. Sellinger said, “Anheuser-Busch put bread and butter on the Sellinger table for a lot of years.” Mr. Sellinger was an executive there all those years. Now, as vice chairman and chief executive at Schlitz charged with getting people to drink Schlitz again, he has reworked its taste, pitted it against the major beers in taste competitions televised live and gone on television commercials himself as the company’s down-to-earth pitchman. He has also pared expenses, cut excess brewing capacity and tightened quality control.

For all that, Schlitz is still losing sales position. In its best year, 1976, the company sold 24.2 million barrels. In 1980, shipments declined 11 percent on the year, to 15 million barrels. The company lost its fingertip hold on third place in the industry, behind the Anheuser-Busch Companies, which sold 50.2 million barrels in 1980, and the Miller Brewing Company, a subsidiary of Philip Morris Inc., which shipped 37.3 million barrels last year. Schlitz dropped to fourth place, behind its crosstown rival, Pabst, which shipped 15.1 million barrels.

“This company faced the toughest marketing problem you’ve ever seen,” an outside director said. “Beer drinkers are intensely loyal and we drove them away. Getting them to switch back is a horrendous challenge.”

Despite the continued falling sales, the company managed to show a profit last year of $27 million, or 93 cents a share, on revenues of $1 billion. Mr. Sellinger’s efforts apparently have paid off, along with gains by Schlitz’s container division and some profits attributed to nonoperating areas of the business. Clearly, corporate executives and members of the Uihlein (rhymes with E-line) family, who continue to hold the controlling interest in the company, were buoyed by the earnings swing.

“When sales are falling, the first thing you do is arrest the decline,” Mr. Sellinger said. “We’ve slowed things down but it’s too early to tell whether we’ve turned it around. Ask me again in June.”

Mr. Sellinger, 66, was named vice chairman and chief executive officer at Schlitz last April after coming on board in 1977 as president. One of the first things he did in an attempt to slow falling sales was to formulate what he calls “one helluva good brew.” He assembled technical personnel and urged them to create a flagship beer that would appeal to the eye as well as the taste.

“It has to look good,” he said. “Americans drink with their eyes. Beer has to be rich in flavor and hold its head. “There is just so much you can do. You can increase the barley malt and change the amount of hopping – the ratio of hops to corn. But the malt is the soul of the beer.

“From January of 1978 until July, we conducted test after test after test. Finally, we all agreed, and I’ll tell you, if we can get people to taste the beer, we’ll keep ’em.”

Then he sought to improve quality control. “If the quality guy at a plant says it doesn’t go, it doesn’t go,” he said. “He reports to headquarters, not to the plant manager, and if that means we dump 5,000 cans because of high air content, then we dump 5,000 cans.”

Mr. Sellinger pared the payroll to 6,100 employees, eliminating 800 to 1,000 jobs. “I believe in paying fair wages,” he said, “but I can’t afford two workers for one job. We eliminated a lot of people. We sacrificed a few for the good of the many.”

As for expenses, he said, “We had grown fat. Lax. I mean, how many WATS lines do you really need? How many copies do you have to make? There a million ways to save.”

He cut deeply into excess capacity when he closed the company’s newest brewery – a six-year-old facility in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1979. The move, together with the closing of a small brewery in Honolulu, trimmed production capacity by 5.4 million barrels. But the company is still swimming in capacity. Last year it was capable of turning out 25.6 million barrels while it sold 15 million.

A year ago, the Syracuse plant was sold to Anheuser-Busch for $100 million. The company absorbed a $44.3 million loss in the process. “That was a beautiful brewery,” Mr. Sellinger said, “but it was an albatross. That doesn’t mean the decision to build it wasn’t right at the time. If your sales trend is a plus 12 percent a year, then you know that in three and a half years – the time it takes to construct a brewery – you will need so much beer to satisfy demand. The 1974 trend told us we would have to spend $157 million for the beer we would need by 1977.”

B REWERIES are built with the wholesalers in mind, Mr. Sellinger said. “We pressure them to sell Schlitz and they want to know whether Schlitz will have the beer if the business continues. We can’t say, ‘we have no beer.’ That takes all their incentive away.”

But if the customers leave, there’s no need for a brewery. “That’s the chance business takes constantly,” Mr. Sellinger said. “Look at our friends at Miller. Their trend line has been a plus 24 percent a year, but now it’s 3 1/2 percent.” Between 1954 and 1964, no breweries were built in the United States, the Schlitz chief recalled.

“Only Anheuser-Busch and Schlitz had the guts to borrow the money at 9.2 percent interest and build new plants. We didn’t have a ‘cash cow,’ ” he said, using his favorite description for Philip Morris. “What would Miller’s profit be if they paid even 8 percent interest on that Philip Morris investment?”

Schlitz embarked on an expensive campaign featuring live taste tests on television, pitting its product, at various times, against Miller High Life and Anheuser’s Budweiser and Michelob. Half the 100 Budweiser drinkers pulled the lever for Schlitz in one test supervised by Tommy Bell, a widely recognized referee in the National Football League. Other scores were respectable. But some critics said that the nature of the tests gave Schlitz the advantage. (Since the participants in a given test were all, say, Budweiser drinkers, Schlitz could claim victory if any favored its beer.)

Concluded Joseph Doyle, a brewing industry analyst at Smith Barney Harris Upham & Company: “All the media coverage (of the taste tests) is giving Schlitz a big bang for their buck. I’d count the campaign a huge success if it arrests the decline of the brand, and it looks like it is doing that.”

The company trumpeted the results in follow-up newspaper ads, but there are no current plans to continue the live taste tests. Nevertheless, Mr. Sellinger’s desk is piled with letters and comments. “Here’s one from five students at Holy Cross – Bud drinkers – who have started a Tommy Bell/Schlitz fan club,” he said. “The young drinkers are the ones you want to win.”

The company has not disclosed sales figures related to the television campaign but some distributors reported sales gains. “We doubled our January sales in the first week,” after the commercials began, reported Jack Lewis, a distributor in Cleveland. Joe Scheurer, in Philadelphia, said his sales were up 10 percent. Other distributors reported gains.

Mr. Sellinger, who prefers the term “beer tasting” to beer guzzling, will drink to that.

Here’s one of Sellinger’s TV ads, this one from 1981.

And here’s another one.

Beer Birthday: Sebbie Buhler

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Today is Sebbie Buhler’s 61st birthday. Sebbie had been a rep. for Rogue for as long as anyone could remember. And although she no longer works for Rogue, her face still graces the label of Rogue’s Chocolate Stout. She could be found at beer festivals and other events throughout the country and throughout the year. She’s without a doubt one of the best people in the industry and sets the standard that brewery reps should adopt and emulate. She left the beer industry to help out with her parents’ business P-Stat, but continues to advocate for better beer. Join me in wishing Sebbie a very happy birthday.

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Sebbie, her chocolate stout and Phil’s rubber chicken.

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Me and Sebbie at the Falling Rock during GABF week in 2006.

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Pouring Rogue’s distilled spirits at Slow Food Nation at Fort Mason, San Francisco.

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Picking up two World beer Cup awards for Rogue in 2008.

Beer Birthday: Colin Presby

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Today is the 33rd birthday of Colin Presby, head brewer at Golden Avalanche Brewing in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. He grew up in nearby Reading, like me (although for me it was nearby Shillington) but I was very familiar with Kutztown (my first wife went to the University there and so did my great-grandfather). Colin and I haven’t met in person but were introduced online through a mutual friend — Maureen Ogle if memory serves — and have corresponded quite a few times since, and I suspect we’d be fast friends if I still lived in the area I affectionately refer to as Dutch Wonderland. Join me in wishing Colin a very happy birthday.

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Colin at the Philly Beer Geek competition in Philly in 2013.

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Colin and Peggy at the 2012 Sly Fox Goat Races.

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The wedding couple last year when Colin married Fatman Jake (presumably not the name her parents gave her).

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Colin (a.k.a. Bockman) and his wife at the Philly Beer Geek finals in 2013.

[NOTE: All photos purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Tom Kehoe

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Today is the 53rd birthday of Tom Keohe, founder of Yards Brewing, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tom’s been a fixture of the Philly beer scene as long as I can remember, at at least since 1996. He’s one of those people that you feel like you’ve known for years, even when you first meet him. And he’s a terrifically talented brewer, too. Join me in wishing Tom 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 Edelson, Bill Covaleski, Tom Kehoe, Gene Muller & Sam Calagione.

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With Philadelphia Mayor Nutter and Tom Kehoe handing out glasses of the ceremonial beer to the assembled crowd at the opening ceremonies of the first Philly Beer Week in 2008.

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Tom explaining the beers he created for the colonial themed City Tavern.

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Tom clowning around with the Hammer of Glory during Philly Beer Week a couple of years ago.

Historic Beer Birthday: Peter Straub

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Today is the birthday of Peter P. Straub (June 28, 1850-December 17, 1913). He was born in Felldorf Starzach, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, and founded the Straub Brewery in St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania in 1872. The brewery is still owned and operated today by the Straub family.

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Here’s his biography from his Wikipedia page:

Born to Anton Straub and his wife, Anna Maria Eger. The Straub family had been brewing a local beer for generations. As expected Peter learned a trade important to the brewing art. He became a Cooper, a craftsman who makes wooden barrels. Peter aspired to be a brewer and at the age of 19 in 1869 immigrated to the United States for a better and more prosperous life. Upon his arrival in the United States he found employment at the Eberhardt and Ober Brewing Company in Pennsylvania. Peter admired his employers’ pledge to forfeit $1,000 if any adulteration was found in their beer, and as he honed his brewing skills to a sharp edge, he adhered faithfully to this promise. Eventually he tired of city life and moved north to Brookville, where he perfected his brewing process while working in the Christ and Algeir Brewery.

Peter later moved to Benzinger (St. Marys), where he met and married Sabina Sorg of Benzinger. The couple settled in Benzinger and had ten children: Francis X., Joseph A., Anthony A., Anna M., Jacob M., Peter M. (who died at two years of age), Peter P., Gerald B., Mary C., and Alphons J.

Peter’s employment in Benzinger was with the Joseph Windfelder Brewery and he worked there until he purchased the Benzinger Spring Brewery (founded by Captain Charles C. Volk in 1855) from his father-in-law, Francis Xavier Sorg. It was then that Straub Beer and the Straub Brewery was born.

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The Straub Family in 1904.

This early account of Straub’s life is from the brewery website:

Peter Straub was born on June 28, 1850 in Felldorf, Wuerttemburg, Germany, to Anton and Anna M. Eger Straub.

As a teenager, Peter was educated and worked as a cooper, which is a craftsman skilled in making and repairing wooden barrels and casks. He also became well versed in the allied trade of Brewing.

Peter honed his trade in Germany, France and Switzerland. At age 19 (in 1869), Peter Straub traveled to the United States and settled in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, working at the Eberhardt and Ober Brewing Company. He next moved to Brookville and worked at the Christ and Allegeier Brewery. He again moved to Allegheny City and then to McKeesport and Centerville (later renamed Kersey). In 1872, Peter settled in St. Marys.

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In St. Marys, Peter first worked at the Windfelder Brewery, which later became the Luhr Brewery, on Center Street. In the early 1870s, Peter was hired by Francis Sorg as brewmaster and manager for his brewery. The standard Straub Brewery founding date of 1872 reflects when Peter first moved to St. Marys and began brewing. He did not own the brewery until 1878.

Peter Straub began courting Francis Sorg’s eldest daughter, Sabina, marrying her on November 23, 1875. A few years later, Peter and Sabina, along with their eldest son Francis (one year old at the time) traveled back to Germany and then on to France, where they attended the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Peter and Sabina had 10 children: Gerard Benedict (Gerry), Peter (Sr.), Mary Crescentia (Marian, later Mrs. Daniel Curran), Alfonse James (Ponce), Peter Paul (Pete), Jacob Melchior (Fr. Gilbert), Joseph Anthony (Joe), Anna Angela (later Mrs. Frederick Luhr), Francis Xavier (Frank), Anthony Albert (Tony) and Peter Mathaeus (died at age two).

Straub Beer HistoryEarly on, Peter introduced his sons to the world of brewing. Straub used wooden kegs for his beer. He always placed a red band around his barrels to ensure that people would know they were drinking his beer and so that he would get them back. As a lasting trademark tribute to Peter, the brewery continues to place a bright red band around each of its barrels. Red has become a trademark color for the brewery.

Following Peter’s death on December 17, 1913, his sons assumed control of the brewery, renaming it the Peter Straub Sons Brewery. During this time, the brewery produced Straub Beer as well as other beer, such as the pilsner-style Straub Fine Beer and Straub Bock Beer. In 1920, the Straub Brothers Brewery purchased one half of the St. Marys Beverage Company, also called the St. Marys Brewery, where St. Marys Beer was produced. During Prohibition, which lasted from January 29, 1920, until December 5, 1933, the brewery produced nonalcoholic near-beer. On July 19, 1940 they purchased the remaining common stock and outstanding bonds of the St. Marys Beverage Company.

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The Benzinger Spring Brewery in 1895.

And this account is by Erin L. Gavlock, from 2009, at the Pennsylvania Center for the Book at Penn State:

High in the Allegheny Mountains of Elk County, a tradition has been brewing for nearly a hundred and forty years. Straub (pronounced Strawb, not Strowb) Beer, the local brewery on Sorg Street in St. Marys, has not tampered with its recipe since Peter Straub crafted the lager’s signature taste in 1872. This sixth generation brewery is dedicated to preserving the original German formula and sticking in its original location, a difficult task for an old-time establishment in the modern era. For the descendents of Peter Straub, keeping the Straub custom is what makes the company a “brewery, not a beer factory.”

The tradition of Straub Beer began in the small village of Felldorf, Germany where Peter Straub was born into an lager-making family on June 28, 1850. He grew up in Germany learning the brewing business and eventually becoming a cooper, a maker of the wooden barrels used to hold beer. Like many other artisans of the time, Straub was unhappy with life as a cooper and dreamed of greater success. He wanted to participate in the family trade, to become a brewer of his own beer. Unable to rise above his economic status in Germany, Peter Straub took his vision and immigrated to the United States at the age of 19, arriving in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania in 1869.

In Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh’s north side), Straub went to work for Eberhardt and Ober, (the current Penn Brewery). At Eberhardt and Ober, Peter Straub became a student of his employer, John N. Straub (no relation) and quickly took to John’s administrative principles. The company promised to serve completely pure beer, untainted by additives such as salt or sugar, to its customers and backed that promise with a $1,000 refund to any contaminated sale. This code of law conduct rang true to Peter Straub and it became a principle he swore to brew by.

While perfecting his brewing technique in the city, Straub grew homesick for his quaint, German village. He decided to escape the loud, crowded streets of Allegheny City and retreated to the quietude of Elk County. He settled in St. Marys, marrying Sabina Sorg and working for various local breweries until Sabina’s father, Francis Xavier Sorg, sold his Benzinger Spring Brewery to him in 1872. Peter Straub finally got his long-awaited start as a brewer. Straub owned and operated the Benzinger Spring Brewery until he died in 1912 and left the company to his son, Anthony. Anthony Straub changed the name of the brewery to “Peter Straub Sons’ Brewery,” the only alteration he would make to his father’s business. From there, Peter Straub’s beer would become a Pennsylvania legend.

The Bavarian Man, a long-time image of the Straub Brewery that recalls its German roots.
Fast-forward over a hundred years from Straub’s humble beginnings to today and one will find the Straub Brewing pledge remains unchanged. The company still serves only unadulterated beer to its customers, proclaiming to be “The Natural Choice.” “Our all grain beer is brewed from Pennsylvania Mountain Spring water and we don’t add any sugar, salt, or preservatives to our recipes,” brew master Tom Straub told St. Marys’ Daily Press. “You can say our beer is a fresher, healthier choice than many of the selections in the marketplace.” Although time and technology have forced a transformation in brewing techniques and standards, the taste, ingredients, and the location of Straub have remained constant. Still located in St. Marys, the brewery depends upon the same mountain water from the Laurel Run Reservoir to blend with all-natural ingredients of cornflakes (used to produce fermentable sugars), barley and hops. “Our brewing process is virtually unchanged since our great, great, grandfather, Peter Straub, perfected it in 1872,” Straub’s promises. The reason behind sticking to the fresh taste of the original recipe is simple: people like it. Through the century, Straub has grown a dedicated patronage in western Pennsylvania with its traditional flavor. “Our style of brewing has pretty much stayed the same over the years, but what is interesting is that our popularity has grown and the reputation of our hand-crafted beer has increased,” Straub CEO Bill Brock said. “It is nice to know that we are becoming increasingly popular not for something we’ve changed, but rather for something we’ve always done well.”

The choice to protect and maintain the brewing customs has kept Straub a small, family owned brewery. “We’ve always thought small. We’re more about quality than quantity,” Dan Straub, former CEO, told Fredericksburg, Virginia’s Free-Lance Star. Until June 2009, Straub Beer was only distributed in glass bottles throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio. Now Straub is being brewed and distributed in aluminum cans in Rochester, New York at the High Falls Brewery. The recipe and method have not changed in the new setting and are under the careful watch of brew master Tom Straub. Despite the recent company growth, Straub still only produces about 45,000 barrels of beer per year. “We are unique; we are much larger than a micro brewery yet far, far smaller than some of the leading national brands,” said Bill Brock. In the middle ground, the brewery has managed to survive beer tycoons, economic depression, and cultural trends—a tough maneuver for a company exporting from Pennsylvania’s least populated region. “I believe the brewery has survived because of the fact that it is family owned; it is steeped in tradition and we have an absolute passion for making beer and our products,” said Brock. “From my perspective, the company and our traditions are a huge legacy and there is a clear obligation to continue these traditions.” Keeping to the family legacy has allowed Straub to persevere through the years to become the second oldest brewery in Pennsylvania after Yuengling.

Staying small and faithful to the company’s founding principles has enabled Straub to keep traditions that other larger breweries have been forced to abandon. The returnable bottle, an eco-friendly service that allows customers to send glass bottles back to the brewery for recycling, is still offered at Straub. “We stayed with the returnable bottles first of all, and I think this is really important, because we have a really strong customer base and they like the returnables,” Bill Brock said during a 2009 radio broadcast. “Over the years we maintained it while other breweries slowly fazed them out.” For Straub, a successful regional brewery, shipping bottles back to the factory is feasible, where it would create more pollution for national brands to do the same. In the future, Straub hopes to go greener and offer more returnables to customers. “We’d love for it to grow,” Brock said. “We think it is the right thing to do and if we can blend the right thing to do with making our customers happy that’s almost a perfect world.”

Another Peter Straub tradition kept to make customers happy is the Eternal Tap, an oasis for Elk County beer drinkers. The Eternal Tap, established long before any of the brewery’s current chief operators were born, is a “thank you” gesture for patrons, daily providing two mugs of complimentary, fresh cold beer to anyone of legal drinking age. “The roots of it go as far back as the brewery itself and I am sure that my great, great, grandfather, his workers and their friends would spend time at the end of the week enjoying a few pints of freshly brewed beer,” Brock said. According to Bloomington, Illinois’ Pantagraph, the Eternal Tap sprang up shortly after Peter Straub received the Benzinger Spring Brewery from his father-in-law as a way to draw beer enthusiasts to the taste of Straub. Since the marketing gimmick started in 1872, the Eternal Tap has not been turned off, giving free beer to customers in good times and bad.

Although Straub has been in operation for more than a century since its founder’s death, if Peter Straub were able to return to his brewery today, he might feel as if he still ran it. The original recipe, the customer appreciation, and the environmental concerns he founded his business upon are still principal brewing laws at Straub today. For the descendents of Peter Straub, keeping the tradition was second nature. “For me, being President/CEO, my job is to be faithful to the traditions and it is really not that difficult,” Brock said. “I have one of the best jobs in the world and I have been given the opportunity to continue an important tradition and legacy.”

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Historic Beer Birthday: James Anderton

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Today is the birthday of James Anderton (June 26, 1830-December 28, 1905). Anderton was born in Lancashire, England (some accounts say Streetbridge, Royston, while others say Haslingden), but came to America with his parents when he was 26 and made his way to Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. He worked as a miner for several years, before shifting to the hotel business. In 1869, he started the Spring Water Brewery. After modest success, he built a larger brewery, renaming it the Anderton Brewery, which continued in business until closed by prohibition.

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Here’s a summary of James and his Anderton Brewery from Lawrence County Memoirs:

James Anderton (1830-1905), born in England, came to the United States in 1856 and eventually made his way to Beaver Falls. Along with his brother Jonathan Anderton he founded the Spring Water Brewery Company in 1869. The company, located next to the railroad station at 24th Street (and Ninth Avenue), was reorganized and modernized in about 1891 as the Anderton Brewery Company. James Anderton’s son William H. Anderton later 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.

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While I could find only a couple of photographs of the brewery, and only one of Anderton himself, there are a number of biographies detailing his life. For example, here’s another one from “Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens of Beaver County, Pennsylvania,” published in 1899.

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, 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.

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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.

Here’s another biography from the “Book of Biographies.”

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The year Anderton died, the brewery merged into the Pittsburgh entity known as Independent Brewing Co., a conglomerate of breweries formed by the merger of fifteen Pittsburgh and the surrounding area breweries in 1905. But James’ son William continued in a management role with the brewery until it was closed by prohibition.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Christian Schmidt

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Today is the birthday of Christian Schmidt (June 24, 1833-September 6, 1894). Schmidt was born in Magstadt, Wurtemberg, Germany but moved to Philadelphia as a young man. In 1859, he became a partner with the Robert Coutrennay Brewery but bought him out the following year, renaming the brewery the Christian Schmidt Brewing Company until his sons joined the brewery in 1892, when it became known as C. Schmidt & Sons.

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Here’s a biography of both Schmidt and his brewery from Workshop of the World — Philadelphia:

Christian Schmidt, an immigrant from Wurtemberg, Germany, purchased the Robert Courtenay brewery which primarily produced ale at this site in 1860. The acquisition of other breweries, such as Peter Schemm, in addition to the production of lager beer, boosted output to 100,000 barrels by 1892. A marked expansion of the physical plant kept pace with the brewery’s growth.

The last quarter of the nineteenth century was Philadelphia’s shining era for large and small breweries. Bergner and Engel (120,000 barrels), and William Massey and Company (75,000 barrels), were the third largest and eleventh largest breweries respectively in the U. S. in 1877. By 1895, Bergner and Engel with 250,000-300,000 barrels had fallen to 15th place; the largest local brewery. Other major companies were Engels and Wolf, Betz and Bergdoll. Christian Schmidt was succeeded by his son Edward who headed the company from 1895 until 1944. There were 421 employees at Schmidt’s in 1943. It had survived and thrived through new technologies—refrigeration, and political impediments, even Prohibition, which decimated other breweries both locally and nationally. Only 26 breweries operated in Pennsylvania in 1960. Philadelphia lost brands such as Esslinger, Poth, Gretz and Class and Nachod.

Schmidt family ownership ceased in 1976 with the sale of the brewery to William H. Pflaumer. By the late 1970s Schmidt’s was the tenth-largest American brewery. It operated a plant in Cleveland, Ohio which facilitated mid-west regional sales. Valley Forge Brewing Company was acquired in the 1960s, Duquesne Brewing Company (Pittsburgh) in 1972, and label and brewing rights to Reading and Bergheim were purchased in 1976, Rheingold in 1977, Erie Brewing Company, with its Koehler brands in 1978. In 1981, Ortlieb, the only other Philadelphia brewery, was purchased by Pflaumer. Schmidt’s, unable to cope with the marketing muscle of the giant national brewers even though it employed 1,400 and produced three million barrels of beer as recently as 1984, sold its brands to G. Heileman Brewing Company of La Crosse, Wisconsin, in April 1987. Production of the Schmidt’s labels slumped to about $1.6 million barrels in 1986, less than one percent of the total U. S. Market. The demise of Schmidt’s marked the end of the large brewery in Philadelphia.

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In Rich Wagner’s Philadelphia Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Cradle of Liberty, he has this to say about Christian Schmidt:

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The Schmidt’s brewery in the 1930s.

And in One Hundred Years of Brewing, published in 1903, this was the entry for C. Schmidt & Sons.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Joseph Seelinger

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Today is the birthday of Joseph Seelinger (June 23, 1863-October 17, 1939). He was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph F. Seelinger, who owned the Erie City Brewery for a time. Originally founded in 1861 by George Frey, Seelinger bought in 1870, renamed it the Joseph F. Seelinger Brewery in 1872, but closed it for good the same year, and relocated to Norfolk, Virginia and opened the Onyx Saloon.

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This short obit is from Find-a-Grave:

Joseph Seelinger aged 76, operator of one of Norfolk’s Bygone popular restaurants, and who entertained such prominent personages as President Grover Cleveland, when the latter came to Norfolk on duck hunting trips, died yesterday afternoon at 4:30 at his residence, 318 Mowbray Arch.

Mr. Seelinger came to Norfolk in his early life from Erie Penn. and became widely know throughout the city by the fastidious diners with whom cost was not a factor. In the gay days of Norfolk his place was the center of fashionable gatherings, especially around the holiday seasons.

Mr Seelinger was an active member of Norfolk Lodge No. 38, BPOE. He was the son of F Joseph and Elizabeth Stemmer Seelinger, he is survived by his sons Sherman E and Joseph P Seelinger and two daughters Mrs. C J Aydlette and Mrs C C Dixon.

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The family never looked back and found success with the restaurant saloon in Virginia. There’s also an entertaining account of the time Saloon Owner “Joe” Went Gunning with Grover Cleveland. That may be Seelinger in the trade card below, but nobody seems to be able to confirm it.

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Beer Birthday: Ed Stoudt

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Today is the 77th birthday of Ed Stoudt, co-founder along with his wife Carol of Stoudt’s Brewing in Adamstown, Pennsylvania. Growing up near there, in Shillington, Ed operated the Black Angus Steakhouse for as long as I can remember (1962 in reality, but I was three then), and we ate there from time to time growing up, in part because Ed’s aunt was married to my grandfather Harry, who after he retired worked part time doing maintenance at the brewery. The brewery opened in 1987, one of the earliest new microbreweries in the state. Because of Pennsylvania’s famously arcane alcohol laws, the brewery was owned by Ed’s wife Carol (who was also its first brewmaster) who then sold it to the Black Angus Restaurant, delivering it next door. After high school I’d lost touch with the Stoudt’s until the early Nineties, shortly after I published by first beer book, when during a trip to GABF I discovered that we were both in the beer world. Since then, of course, I see the Stoudts more frequently at beer events throughout the calendar. Join me in wishing Ed a very happy birthday.

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Ed and me at GABF around 1992, after not having seen one another in quite a few years.

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Carol and Ed bookending Mark Edelson from Iron Hill at the opening of the first Philly Beer Week.

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Carol and Ed with Greg Koch from Stone Brewing at the opening brewer’s reception at Wynkoop for GABF in 2009.

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Ed, Carol and Brian Dunn from Great Divide Brewing.

Beer Birthday: John Hansell

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Today is the 56th birthday of John Hansell, publisher of Malt Advocate, the whisky magazine in America, which also puts on WhiskyFest in several cities, including San Francisco. John’s a terrific person I don’t see nearly often enough. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

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John with All About Beer’s Julie Johnson at the beer bistro in Toronto.

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John and Lew Bryson.

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Toasting Stephen & Maggie Beaumont’s wedding, with Tom Peters, from Monk’s Cafe, and Stephen Beaumont.

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John in a publicity shot with his wife Amy.