Historic Beer Birthday: Joseph Theurer

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Today is the birthday of Joseph Theurer (May 24, 1852-May 14, 1912). Born in Philadelphia of German descent, who became a well-known brewer in both his native Pennsylvania and Illinois. After he married Emma Schoehofen, he became VP of his father-in-law’s Chicago brewery, the Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Company in 1880. After Peter passed away in 1893, Theurer became president and remained at the helm until his own death in 1912.

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Here’s a biography from Find a Grave:

Joseph Theurer, who was of German descent, was born in Philadelphia in 1852. He became one of the most knowledgeable brewers of his day. He served as Treasurer of the Illinois State Brewers Association from 1898 to 1911 and he held title of President of the United States Brewing Association from 1903 to 1905.

Joseph arrived in Chicago in the Fall of 1869 and worked as an apprentice to brewers Adam Baierle and K.G. Schmidt. In 1871, he had been working at the Huck Brewery for less than a week when the brewery was destroyed in The Great Chicago Fire.

So he returned to Philadelphia for a year to work at the brewery of Bergdoll & Psotta. And then headed back to Chicago in 1872 to work at Bartholomae & Leicht brewery until 1874. He was also employed for one season at the Clybourn Avenue Malthouse of F. Wacker & Co. before returning to Philadelphia until his marriage to Peter Schoenhofen’s daughter, Emma Schoehofen, in 1880.

Upon his marriage to Emma, he became Vice President of Schoenhofen Brewing Company in Chicago until his father in law Peter’s death in 1893. Joseph took over as President of Schoenhofen Brewing from 1893 until 1911.

In 1896, Joseph commissioned what is now known as the Theurer-Wrigley Mansion. The Mansion, built in the late Italian Renaissance style, was designed by Richard Schmidt and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The 20,000+ square foot mansion features 11 bedrooms and 6 baths. Furnished with nearly all Tiffany light fixtures, many have been removed by previous owners or sold. An original Tiffany stained glass window from the Mansion is currently on display at the Chicago History Museum. Recent reports show the Mansion being listed for 9.5 million dollars as a foreclosure in 2011, but it has since been purchased and is currently occupied by a single owner.

On May 14, 1912 Joseph died from pneumonia and was laid to rest along with Peter Schoenhofen in the magnificent Egyptian revival style tomb in Graceland Cemetery. Services were conducted on May 17th in front of the tomb and conducted in both English and German. Attendees included members of the Illinois and Cook County Brewers Associations as well as a large number of charitable organizations, family and close friends.

Joseph was survived by his widow Emma, two sons, Peter S. and Joseph Jr., and two daughters Miss Margareta Theurer and Mrs. Marie (Richard) Ostenrieder.

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The Encyclopedia of Chicago has a concise history of the Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Co.:

Peter Schoenhofen, a Prussian immigrant, was in Chicago working in the brewing trade by the 1850s. In 1861, he started a partnership with Matheus Gottfried; they were soon operating a brewery at Canalport Avenue and 18th Street where, during the early 1860s, they made about 600 barrels of lager beer a year. In 1867, Schoenhofen bought out his partner, and the company became the Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Co. By 1868, annual output had increased to about 10,000 barrels. During the 1890s, when the business was owned by the City Contract Co. of London, England, annual output reached 180,000 barrels. Around 1900, the Schoenhofen family regained control of the company, which employed about 500 people at its brewery on West 12th Street by 1910. During this time, the company was also known as the National Brewing Co. The company’s “Edelweiss” brand of beer was a big seller. Operations shut down during Prohibition, but by 1933, after the national ban on alcohol production was lifted, the company was back in business as the Schoenhofen-Edelweiss Co. After being purchased by the Atlas Brewing Co. in the late 1940s, Schoenhofen became part of Dewery’s Ltd. of South Bend, Indiana, in 1951, and thereafter assumed the Dewery’s name. By the beginning of the 1970s, there was nothing left of its Chicago operations, although Dewery’s reintroduced the famous Edelweiss brand in 1972 after nearly a decade-long hiatus.

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Today, the land where the brewery was located is known as the Schoenhofen Brewery Historic District and to see earlier photos of that area, Forgotten Chicago has a short history, with lots of pictures.

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Historic Beer Birthday: John F. Betz

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Today is the birthday of John F. Betz (April 8, 1831-January 16, 1908). He was born in Mohringer, Germany and emigrated with his family when he was an infant. His sister Elizabeth married D.G. Yuengling, and he learned brewing there from an early age. When he was 24, he bought a brewery in New York, but moved to Philadelphia in 1867, and bought what was originally the Robert Hare & J. Warren Porter Brewery when it opened in 1775. It was the William Gaul Brewery, but Betz changed it to the John F. Betz Brewery, though after his son joined the business in 1880, it became known as the John F. Betz & Son Brewery. The brewery survived prohibition, but closed for good in 1939.

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Here’s one account by Rich Wagner on The Beers and Breweries of Philadelphia in Zymurgy from 1991:

John F. Betz came to Philadelphia in 1867 from New York, where he had been brewing for fourteen years. He took a job at the Gaul Brewery until purchasing it in 1880. Prior to Betz’s ownership, only ale and porter were brewed. Betz commenced brewing lager beer as well. John F. Betz became very active in the real estate market in the city. One of his other concerns was a beer garden at Riverside above the Wissahickon Creek on the Schuylkill River. He put in a line of little steamboats to carry his patrons up the river from Fairmount Dam. Betz produced an IPA of 6.5 % a.b.v. and an East India Pale Ale at 7.5% a.b.v. Betz’s half-and-half was a mixture of two-year old ale and stout, and Betz’s Best was a lager that was said to rival Bavarian imports. The Betz brewery reopened after Prohibition and remained in business until 1939.

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

Brewer. He started as an apprentice in a brewery in 1844, and in 1855 he established his own brewery. John F. Betz then came to Philadelphia in 1867, working at the Gaul Brewery. He bought it in 1880. In that same year he built a state of the art brewery. Gaul had only brewed ale and porter; Betz introduced lager beer. He also invested in Philadelphia real estate. His beer garden at Riverside above the Wissahickon Creek on the Schuylkill River was so popular that steamboats brought patrons up the Schuylkill from Fairmount Dam. His contemporaries claimed that Betz’s Best was a lager that rivaled Bavarian imports. His brewery at Fourth and Callowhill Streets was one of the nation’s largest breweries until it closed during Prohibition. The Betz brewery reopened after Prohibition and remained in business until 1939. Though a Lutheran throughout his life, he was made a Chevalier of the Order of St. Gregory by Pope Leo XIII. His first wife was Sybilla Caroline Betz. He was later married to Anna Helene Berroldinger. Before his death he disposed of his property among his wife, two adult sons, and two minor children to avoid the any conflicts over his will.

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This mention of Betz and his brewery in New York is from “Yuengling: A History of America’s Oldest Brewery,” by Mark A. Noon:

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D.G. Yuengling’s son David Jr., who would have been Betz’s nephew, worked at the New York brewery, too. In 1884, the name was changed to the Star Brewery, but it closed for good in 1891.

Betz also started a brewery in Jersey City, New Jersey with Henry Lembeck named The Lembeck and Betz Eagle Brewing Company. “The company was incorporated in May 1890. Since 1869, the brewery grew to become the fourth-largest brewery in New Jersey,” but closed due to prohibition.

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The Betz brewery in Philadelphia.

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This much longer account is from “Philadelphia and Popular Philadelphians,” published in 1891:

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The Philadelphia brewery.

I’m not sure if this was a newspaper advertisement or some very favorable coverage, but this was a page from The Times—Philadelphia on May 28, 1893.

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Historic Beer Birthday: John Welde

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John-Welde-bio-2

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

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

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

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

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Historic Beer Birthday: John Thomas

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

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

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

John Thomas
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John-Thomas-bio-2

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

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

welde-thomas-stock

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

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

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

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

welde-and-thomas-poster

Historic Beer Birthday: Christian Hess

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Today is the birthday of Christian Hess (January 30, 1848-July 27, 1912). Hess was born in Germany, and that’s about all I could find out about the man who co-founded, along with George Weisbrod, the George Weisbrod & Christian Hess Brewery, usually shortened to just the Weisbrd & Hess Brewery, and also known as the Oriental Brewery.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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An ad from 1899.

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And a calendar from 1912.

Beer Birthday: Don Russell

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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.

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

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

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

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

Beer Birthday: Jack Curtin

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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.

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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?

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

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Tomme Arthur and Jack.

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

Historic Beer Birthday: George Weisbrod

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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.

george-weisbrod-cartoon

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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OrientalBreweryPhila1899
An ad from 1899.

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And a calendar from 1912.

Beer Birthday: Tom Peters

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My good friend Tom Peters, one of the owners of Monk’s Cafe and Belgian Beer Emporium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, turns 62 today. His enthusiasm for and promotion of Belgian beer has few equals. A couple of years ago, I was privileged to travel through France and Belgium with Tom, which was amazing. And he throws perhaps the best late night parties of anyone I’ve ever known. Join me in wishing Tom a very happy birthday.

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Tom Peters with Dave Keene, owners of the best two Belgian beer bars on both coasts.

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Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment, Fergie Carey, co-owner of Monk’s, Lucy Saunders, the beer cook, and Tom Peters.

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Tom Peters, with Rob Tod from Allagash in Portland, Maine, at GABF.

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Me and Tom after the Great Lambic Summit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology & Anthropology during last year’s Philly Beer Week.

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In Belgium, with a perfectly poured Orval, with Daniel Neuner, William Reed and Justin Low.

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Also in Belgium, with a Fanta and Frites sandwich.

Beer Birthday: Fergus Carey

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Today is the 53rd birthday of Fergus Carey, better known simply as Fergie. Fergie owns Fergie’s Pub in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is co-owner of Monk’s Cafe with Tom Peters and is also a partner in Nodding Head Brewery. Fergie’s always a fun person to have around and he’s as kind as soul as ever I’ve met in the beer world. Join me in wishing Fergie a very happy birthday.

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Fergie huddling up with Tom Dalldorf and his Monk’s Cafe partner Tom Peters at 2st Amendment in San Francisco.

Tom Peters, Frank Boon, Jean Van Roy, Fergie Carey and Armand Debelder
Tom Peters, Frank Boon, Jean Van Roy, Fergie and Armand Debelder at a Lambic Beer Dinner last month at Mon’s Cafe during Philly Beer Week.

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Outside Monk’s cafe: Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment, Fergie, Lucy Saunders, the beer cook, and Tom Peters, after the Canned Beer Dinner in 2007.