Historic Beer Birthday: Albert Braun

Today is the birthday of Albert Braun (February 27, 1863-February 27, 1895). He was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, and emigrated to the U.S. when he was 25, in 1888. He worked at several breweries, including Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, before settling in Seattle in 1889. The following year he opened the Albert Braun Brewing Association. It was in business only un 1893, when it merged with several other local breweries to become part of the Seattle Brewing and Malting Company.

The only photograph I could find of Braun is in the group shot, which in ran in a nostalgia piece in the newspaper, in 1934. Braun is apparently seated at the far left.

This biography is from “An Illustrated History of the State of Washington, by Rev. H.K. Hines, published in 1893:

ALBERT BRAUN, vice-president of the Seattle Brewing and Malting Company was born at Dusseldorf, on the Rhine, Germany, in February, 1863. He was educated in the schools of Germany and then traveled quite extensively through the European countries. His business career began under the direction of his father, who was an extensive manufacturer of preserved fruits, vegetables, meats and fancy canned goods, and was continued in the same industry, in partnership with his brother at Mainz, on the Rhine.

In 1888 Mr. Braun sold his interest and came to the United States and, upon the advice of Adolphus Busch, president of the Anheuser- Busch Association, of St. Louis, Missouri, he entered the brewery of Peter Doelger, of New York, and learned the practical workings of the business, completing his instruction in the details at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis.

In 1889 Mr. Braun made a trip through the Northwest, and, after a short visit in Seattle, he was so favorably impressed with the people and location of the city that he decided upon the city as a location for future settlement. He then returned to St. Louis and continued his studies of the brewery business up to March 1, 1890, when he again visited Seattle and at once engaged in the organization of the Albert Braun Brewing Association, which was incorporated with a capital of $250,000, he being duly elected president and general manager. The brewery was erected six miles south of Seattle, very complete in all its appointments, with a capacity of 70,000 barrels per year, the Product finding a ready market in Washington, region, Idaho and British Columbia. Continuing up to 1893, the Albert Braun Brewing Association was consolidated with the Bay View Brewing Company and the Claussen-Sweeney Brewing Company, and incorporated as the Seattle Brewing and Malting Company, with capital stock of $1,000,000. The affairs of the new association were conducted by the managers of the old breweries, the official corps being: Andrew Hemrich, President; Albert Braun, Vice-President; Edward F. Sweeney, Secretary; and Fred Kirschner, Treasurer.

The company expects to develop brewing and malting into one of the leading interests of the city of Seattle, and as their product has competed successfully with the best Eastern brands there is little doubt of an auspicious future.

Mr. Braun is also interested in various other enterprises of the city and he has perfect faith and confidence in the future of Seattle and the Sound districts.

Dorpat Albert Braun Brewery THEN

According to Brewing in Seattle, by Kurt Stream, Braun was named Vice-President of Seattle Brewing and Malting. Here’s how it went down:



The Seattle Times also has a story about what happened to Braun’s brewery:

ALBERT BRAUN arrived from Iowa soon after Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889. Within a year and a half, the young German immigrant, with financial help from local and Midwestern investors, built a brewery about 2 miles south of Georgetown.

The serpentine Duwamish River is hidden behind the brewery. Directly across the river, on its west side and also hidden, was the neighboring community of South Park. Braun’s name is emblazoned on the brewery’s east facade, and so it was best read from the ridge of Beacon Hill and from the trains on the railway tracks below.

The brewing began here December 1890, and the brewery’s primary brands, Braun’s Beer, Columbia Beer and Standard Beer, reached their markets in March 1891. The 1893 Sanborn fire insurance map for Seattle includes a footprint of the plant that is faithful to this undated photograph. The map’s legend notes that the buildings were “substantial, painted in and outside” with “electric lights and lanterns” and that a “watchman lives on the premises.” It also reveals, surprisingly, that the brewery was “not in operation” since July of that year. What happened?

The economic panic of 1893 closed many businesses and inspired a few partnerships, too. Braun’s principal shareholders partnered his plant with two other big beer producers, the Claussen Sweeney and Bay Views breweries, to form the Seattle Brewing and Malting Co. Braun’s landmark was then designated “Albert Braun’s Branch.”

Of the three partnering breweries, this was the most remote, and it was largely for that reason, it seems, that it was soon closed. The upset Braun soon resigned; sold most of his interest in the partnership; and relocated to Rock Island, Ill. There, he started work on a new brewery and fell in love, but with tragic results: Early in 1895, Braun committed suicide, reportedly “over a love affair.”

For six years after its closing, the tidy Braun brewery beside the Duwamish River stood like a museum to brewing, but without tours. Practically all the machinery was intact, from its kettles to its ice plant, until the early morning of Sept. 30, 1899. On that day, The Seattle Times reported, “the nighthawks who were just making their way home and the milkmen, butchers and other early risers were certain that the City of Tacoma was surely being burned down.” They were mistaken. It was Braun’s brewery that was reduced to smoldering embers. The plant’s watchman had failed that night to engage the sprinkler system connected to the tank at the top of the five-story brewery.

There is at least a hint that the brewery grounds were put to good use following the fire. The Times, on Aug. 11, 1900, reported that the teachers of the South Park Methodist Episcopalian Sunday school took their classes “out for a holiday on the banks of the beautiful Duwamish River, (and for) a pleasant ride over the river to the Albert Braun picnic grounds.”


Gary Flynn filled in the gaps about what happened to Flynn after 1893, on his page on Braun at his terrific Brewery Gems:

Albert Braun took his own life, with a gun shot to the heart, on February 27, 1895, at the young age of 32. While still holding a significant number of Seattle Brewing & Malting Co. shares, he was not considered well-to-do in the matter of ready cash. Additionally, Braun had left Seattle for Illinois, after millionair brewer, Otto Huber, indicated that he was interested in partnering with Braun in the purchase of the LaSalle Brewing Co. For what ever reason Huber went back on his promise, leaving Braun with no immediate prospects and in a state of despair.

Braun’s estate was $25,000, which would be approximately $700,000 today.

The have more about the Albert Braun Brewery, too.


Historic Beer Birthday: Alvin M. Hemrich

Today is the birthday of Alvin M. Hemrich (February 14, 1870-February 25, 1935). He was born in Wisconsin, of German-born parents, and from age 18 began working in breweries. In 1891, he moved to the Seattle, Washington area, and began working for breweries there and in Canada, including the Seattle Brewing & Malting Co. His brother Andrew bought the Bay View Brewery in Seattle, and later Alvin bought the North Pacific Brewery (also known as the old Slorah brewery), and renamed it the Alvin Hemrich Brewing Co. in 1897. Two of his brothers soon joined him in the enterprise, and it was renamed again, this time to Hemrich Brothers Brewing Company. They did well enough that he began buying out other area breweries. When prohibition closed the brewery, they were ready, having retooled their plants for near-beer and also having divested into some other businesses. They reopened when prohibition was repealed, and two of Alvin’s sons went into the family business, too, but their father died just two years later.

Alvin M. Hemrich and his eldest son, Elmer, around 1910.

As is typical for Pacific Northwest breweries, Gary Flynn has a thorough biography culled from numerous sources at his Brewery Gems website.

Hemrich Brothers Brewing around 1900.

Here’s some more history of the Hemrichs in Seattle from History Link:

Bay View Brewery

It was in 1883 that Andrew Hemrich (b. 1856) and John Kopp arrived in Seattle where they acquired a parcel of land right below Seattle’s Beacon Hill that boasted a cool, freshwater spring. It was there — just south of Seattle’s downtown (at Hanford Street — and 9th Avenue S, today’s Airport Way S) — that they constructed a small brewing facility.

Hemrich was the son of a German brewmaster who’d run a brewery in Wisconsin in the 1850s and he’d opened his own brewery in Glendale, Montana, where he met Kopp, a local baker. Once settled in Seattle, the Kopp & Hemrich company began brewing a “steam” beer and soon branched out with a lager style. Business was good: More than 2,600 barrels of beer were sold that debut year.

Increasingly impressed by the beautiful view of Elliott Bay seen from the brewery, the men renamed their operation the Bay View Brewing Company in 1885. Steady growth in business caused the firm to construct a new and vastly larger plant in 1887. At that time the waters of Duwamish delta still lapped the slopes of Beacon Hill, and the narrow-gauge Grant Street Railway (Seattle’s first “interurban” line) rode above the tideflats on a trestle along the future route of Airport Way. Hemrich erected his mansion above the brewery, in the middle of the future right-of-way for I-5.


Here’s a short biography from “Sketches of Washingtonians: Containing Brief Histories of Men of the State,” published in 1907:


The brew crew at Hemrich Brothers, with Alvin front left.

And this biography is from “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of the City of Seattle and County of King, Washington,” from 1903:

Practical industry wisely and vigorously applied never fails of success. It carries a man onward and upward, brings out his individual character and powerfully stimulates the actions of others. It is this unflagging spirit of industry that has laid the foundations and built the commercial greatness of the northwest, and the career of him whose name initiates this paragraph illustrates most forcibly the possibilities that are open to a young man who possesses sterling business qualifications, and it proves that ambitious perseverance, steadfast purpose and indefatigable industry, as combined with the observance of sound business principles, will eventuate in the attaining of a definite and worthy success. Mr. Hemrich, who is president and manager of the Hemrich Brothers Brewing Company, an important industrial enterprise in the city of Seattle, is a young man of singular force of character and one who stands representative of that insistent and well directed energy which has brought about the development of the magnificent metropolis of the northwest. That he should be accorded specific mention in a work of this nature needs not be said.

Alvin M. Hemrich was born in the town of Alma, Buffalo county, Wisconsin, on the 14th of February, 1870, a son of John and Catherine (Koeppel) Hemrich, both of whom were born in Germany. The father was for many years engaged in the brewing business at Alma, Wisconsin, and he was seventy-three years old when he died, while his wife is still living. Alvin passed his boyhood days in Wisconsin and secured his early educational discipline in the public schools. At the age of sixteen he assumed charge of the business founded by his father in Alma and conducted the same for two years, becoming thoroughly familiar with all details pertaining thereto. At the expiration of the period noted he engaged in the brewing business on his own responsibility in the town of Durand, Wisconsin, and there he successfully continued operations until the year 1890, when he disposed of his interests and came to Seattle, where his parents had located some time previously. After his arrival in Washington Mr. Hemrich proceeded to Victoria, British Columbia, where for two years he held the position of manager of the Victoria Brewing Company. He then returned to Seattle and became foreman for the Albert Braun Brewing Association, retaining this incumbency one year, when the business was closed out, and he then took a similar position with the Bay View Brewing Association, in whose employ he continued for four years, being finally compelled to resign by reason of failing health, and he then passed some time in travel, principally in California. After recuperating his energies through this period of rest and recreation Mr. Hemrich returned to Seattle and here purchased the plant and business of the old Slorah brewery, located on Howard avenue, between Republican and Mercer streets, and there he conducted business for six months, at the expiration of which he became associated with his brother Louis of whom mention is made on another page, and with Julius Damus, in the organization of the Hemrich Brothers Brewing Company, which was duly incorporated under the laws of the state on the 4th of February, 1899, and under the effective management of these interested principals the business has been built up to a most successful standpoint, the equipment of the plant being of the most approved modern type, while every detail of manufacture receives the most careful and discriminating attention of the part of our subject and his brother, both of whom are experts in this line of industry. The result is that the products of the brewery, including lager and porter, are of exceptional excellence, thus gaining a popularity which augurs for the increasing expansion and growth of the business. From the brewery are sent forth each year about thirty-five thousand barrels, and in the prosecution of the business in its various departments employment is afforded to a corps of about seventy-five capable workmen. None but the best material is utilized in the process of manufacture, the malt being secured from Wisconsin and California, and the hops being the most select products from Bohemia and from the state of Washington, whose prestige in this line is well known. The present company have made important changes in the equipment of the plant, having installed the latest improved accessories and having greatly augmented the productive capacity.
Alvin M. Hemrich has been president of the company from the time of its organization, and the success of the enterprise is in large measure due to his able and well directed efforts. In November, 1901, Mr. Hemrich effected the purchase of the property of the Aberdeen Brewing Company at Aberdeen, this state, and he began the operation of the plant shortly afterward, having organized a stock company, which was incorporated with a capital stock of sixty thousand dollars, he himself being president of the company.

Mr. Hemrich is well and most favorably known in connection with the business activities of the city of Seattle, and is esteemed as a straightforward, capable business man. He has made judicious investments in local real estate and is one of the most loyal admirers and enthusiastic citizens of his adopted city. His beautiful residence, which he erected in 1898, is located at 503 Melrose avenue, and is one of the most attractive of the many fine homes for which Seattle is justly noted. Fraternally Mr. Hemrich is identified with the Sons of Hermann, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Red Men, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, while his wife is a member of the Rebekah lodge of the Odd Fellows. Mr. Hemrich enjoys marked popularity in both business and social circles, being a man of genial presence and unfailing courtesy in all the relations of life, and his home is one in which a refined hospitality is ever in distinctive evidence. On the 8th of May, 1890, Mr. Hemrich was united in marriage to Miss Minnie Rutschow, who was born in Germany, being the daughter of Charles and Minnie (Benecke) Rutschow, both of whom were born in Prussia. Mr. and Mrs. Hemrich have two sons, Elmer E. and Andrew L.



Historic Beer Birthday: John Weidenfeller

grand-rapids centennial olympia
Today is the birthday of John Weidenfeller (February 11, 1867-1929). He was born in Germany, but came to America with his family, who settled in Michigan and owned a farm. Weidenfeller though, defying his father’s wishes, became a brewer, working first with “Frey Bros. and Kusterer Brewing Companies. In 1892, these two breweries joined three others to form the Grand Rapids Brewing Co.” He later worked in Montana for the Centennial Brewery, before accepting a position as brewmaster of Olympia Brewing in Washington.


There’s less about brewmasters, as opposed to brewers who were also brewery founders or owners, when you go back this far, but there’s a pretty thorough biography of Weidenfeller by Gary Flynn at his wonderful Brewery Gems.

Weidenfeller around 1901, with his workers in Montana.

Beer Birthday: Ralph Olson

Today is Ralph Olson’s 66th birthday. Ralph was the general manager/co-owner of HopUnion, a co-op that supplies hops to many of the craft breweries. Ralph’s pretty much retired but can still be seen at occasional beer events throughout the country. He’s been a good friend to and very supportive of the craft beer industry. Join me in wishing Ralph a very happy birthday.

Ralph Olson, the Big Cheese from HopUnion. If you look carefully in between his “Sponsor” and “Exhibitor” badge you can see his title really is officially “the Big Cheese.

Ralph and me at the end of the brewer’s reception at GABF in 2007.

Dave Keene, from the Toronado, Dave Pyle, Ralph and Becky Pyle, who are also with HopUnion, along with my friend Dave Suurballe.

Ralph sandwiched between Jessica, the former event coordinator for the AOB and Chad Kennedy, brewer at Laurelwood Public House & Brewery in Portland, Oregon at GABF in 2006.

With Natalie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing, who’s accepting an award at the Alpha King Hop Challenge in 2006. If you look closely, you can find the award money.

Ralph with the other HopUnion Ralph, Ralph Woodall, and Rob Widmer, the younger half of Widmer Brothers Brewing, at the 15th Anniversary Party for the Celebrator Beer News.

Historic Beer Birthday: Leopold Schmidt

Today is the birthday of Leopold F. Schmidt (January 23, 1846-September 24, 1914) who founded the Olympia Brewing Co. in Tumwater, Washington in 1896. Although it was originally called the Capital Brewing Company, but changed it in 1902 to reflect its flagship Olympia Beer, and also began using the slogan “It’s the Water.”


Gary Flynn from Brewery Gems has the best biography of Schmidt. He also has a shorter piece about Schmidt’s first brewery in Montana, the Centennial Brewing Co., which he sold in 1896, before moving to Washington to scout locations for his next venture. He settled on Tumwater, and built a brewery “at Tumwater Falls on the Deschutes River, near the south end of Puget Sound. He built a four-story wooden brewhouse, a five-story cellar building, a one-story ice factory powered by the lower falls, and a bottling and keg plant and in 1896, began brewing and selling Olympia Beer.”


The Olympia Tumwater Foundation picks up Schmidt’s story through his home, the Schmidt House:

The Schmidt House, set high on a wooded bluff at the mouth of the Deschutes River, was built at the turn of the 20th Century for local brewery owner Leopold Schmidt and his wife Johanna. Mr. Schmidt already owned a successful brewing operation in Montana when a business trip first brought him to the Tumwater area in the early 1890s. Discovering that the artesian springs here were perfect for brewing beer, Schmidt sold his Montana holdings and built a new brewery at the foot of Tumwater Falls which shipped its first beer in 1896.

At first the Schmidt’s moved into an existing house on the slope above the brewery, a home that the family affectionately nicknamed “Hillside Inn.” As his brewing business prospered, Mr. Schmidt began planning a larger, more elegant residence that would stand at the top of the hill. In 1904 the couple moved into the new house with their daughter, the youngest of six children. Their five sons continued to live at Hillside Inn and work in the family business. For reasons lost to posterity, the Schmidt’s called the new house “Three Meter.”


Leopold and his wife Johanna, posing with their six children in a portrait taken in the late 1890s.

Another portrait of Leopold Schmidt.

Here’s more on Olympia, again from Flynn:

In October 1896, after issuing $125,000 in capital stock, he established the Capital Brewing Company, nucleus of what would become the highly successful Olympia Brewing Company. The brewery was an unqualified success, its product outselling competing beers from Seattle and Tacoma. The pure artesian water and Schmidt’s brewing skills were a perfect match. The enterprise steadily grew in production in the following years, reaching peak production of 100,000 barrels of beer in 1914, just in time for statewide prohibition. This not only shut down the Olympia plant but also the other two plants in the state, the Bellingham Bay Brewery and the Port Townsend Brewery. Oregon also voted to go “dry” in 1914, five years before national prohibition, which ended the Salem Brewery Association. Only the two Acme Brewery plants in San Francisco were spared, albeit temporarily.

The Olympia brewhouse around 1906.

After prohibition was repealed, Leopold’s son Peter Schmidt ordered the construction of larger brewery buildings upriver from the 1906 building, rather than repurchasing and retrofitting the aging structure.


Olympia’s brewery in 1933.

There’s quite a lot on the history of Olympia Brewing, and here are a few good sources. The Cooperpoint Journal has Water to Beer: A Timeline of Industry and Drinking and the Seattle Weekly wrote Olympia Beer: The Water and the History. But Brewery Gems again has a thorough History of the Olympia Brewing Company, and the Olympia Tumwater Foundation had a concise history. Even cooler, the Foundation has some great old photos online, in Images of the Old Brewhouse : A Pictorial Exhibit from the Archives of the Olympia Tumwater Foundation.

The brewery around 1989, a few years before I first visited it on my honeymoon.

Leopold posing on his lawn overlooking the brewery in the early 1900s.

Beer Birthday: Matt Bonney

Today is the 43rd birthday of Matt Bonney, formerly of Brouwer’s and Bottleworks, both in Seattle, Washington, and now proprietor of Toronado Seattle. Bonney’s one of my favorite people in the industry. You’d be hard-pressed to find a person more passionate about good beer. He also knows how to throw a party and is always a gracious host. He does still need some work on his Washoe playing, but I’ll let that slide. Join me in wishing Bonney a very happy birthday.

Matt with Chris Black, from Falling Rock Taphouse in Denver, pouring candy sugar to create Publication at Russian River Brewing in May of 2008.

Matt (3rd from left) with the final judges at the 2009 Hard Liver Barleywine Festival at Brouwer’s.

Matt with Dave Keene, from the Toronado, at the A Night of Ales beer dinner during SF Beer Week.

Dr. Bill with Matt at Slow Food Nation 2008.

Historic Beer Birthday: Hans Johann Claussen

Today is the birthday of Hans Johann Claussen (November 13, 1861-March 20, 1940). He was born in Germany, but moved to California to work at the Fredericksburg Brewery in San Jose. In 1888, he moved to Seattle, Washington to take a job as the brewmaster of the Rule & Sweeney Brewing Co., but the brewery was in danger of going out of business and late the same year, Claussen and Edward Francis Sweeney re-incorporated it as the Claussen-Sweeney Brewing Co. Just a few years later, in 1891, Claussen sold his interest in the brewery. In 1901 he opened a new brewery in Seattle, the Claussen Brewing Association. It was in business until closed by prohibition, and by the time it was repealed, Claussen decided he was old enough to stay retired.


Here’s a biography of Claussen is from “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of the City of Seattle and County of King, Washington,” published in 1903:

Mr. Claussen holds prestige as one of the essentially representative business men of Seattle, being prominently concerned in industrial enterprises of marked scope and importance and having shown that inflexible integrity and honorable business policy which invariably be- get objective confidence and esteem. Progressive, wide-awake and discriminating in his methods, he has achieved a notable success through normal channels of industry and today is president, treasurer and manager of the Claussen Brewing Association at Interbay, a suburban district of Seattle, and also vice-president of the Diamond Ice & Storage Company, whose business has likewise extensive ramifications.

Mr. Claussen is a native of the province of Holstein, Germany, where he was born on the 13th of November, 1861, being son of Caecilia M. and Peter Jacob Claussen, representative of staunch old German stock. Our subject prosecuted his studies in the schools of his native province until he had attained the age of ten years, when he accompanied his parents on their emigration to America, the family locating in the city of San Francisco, California, where he continued his educational work , as did he later in Dixon, that state, the family home having been on a farm for the greater portion of his youth. After completing the curriculum of the high school he entered a business college where be finished a thorough commercial course and thus amply fortified himself for taking up the active duties of life. In 1882 Mr. Claussen took a position as bookkeeper for the Fredericksburg Brewing Company in San Jose California. In 1884 he began learning the details of the brewing business, and later he passed about two years in the employ of the National Brewing Company of San Francisco, gaining a thorough experience in all branches of the industry and thus equipping himself in an admirable way for the management of the important enterprise in which he is now an interested principal. In 1888, in company with E. F. Sweeney, Mr. Claussen effected the organization of the Claussen, Sweeney Brewing Company in Seattle, and the business was conducted under that title until 1893, when the company disposed of the plant and business. In 1892 Mr. Claussen associated himself with Messrs. Charles E. Crane and George E. Sackett in the organization of the Diamond Ice & Storage Company, of which our subject became vice-president at the time of its inception and in that office he has since served, the enterprise having grown to be one of importance and extensive operations. In March, 1901, was formed a stock company which was incorporated under the title the Claussen Brewing Association, with a capital of fifty thousand dollars, which was later increased to two hundred and fifty thousand, and the company erected a fine brewing plant at Interbay and have here engaged in the manufacture of a very superior lager beer, the excellence of the product and the effective methods of introduction having gained to the concern high reputation and a most gratifying supporting patronage, which extends throughout Washington and contiguous states. The equipment of the plant is of the most modern and approved type and in every process and detail of manufacture the most scrupulous care is given, insuring absolute purity, requisite age and proper flavor, so that the popularity of the brands of beer manufactured is certain to increase. The annual capacity of the brewery is sixty thousand barrels, and the plant is one of the best in the northwest, the enterprise being a credit to the executive ability and progressive ideas of the gentlemen who inaugurated the same.

Mr. Claussen has been a resident of Seattle since 1888, and from the start he has maintained a lively interest in all that concerns the progress and material prosperity of the city, being known as an alert and public spirited citizen and able business man, and holding unqualified confidence and esteem in the community. He has been an active factor in the councils of the Democratic party, but in local affairs maintains a somewhat independent attitude, rather then manifesting a pronounced partisan spirit. In 1901, he was the Democratic nominee for member of the lower house of the state legislature, but as the district in which he was thus placed in nomination is overwhelmingly Republican in its political complexion he met defeat, together with the other candidates on the ticket. Fraternally he is prominently identified with the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Seattle Turnverein society and the German Benevolent society, in each of which he has held office. He was also one of the organizers of the Mutual Heat & Light Company in 1902, and is ever stood ready to lend his influence and definite co-operation in support of legitimate business undertakings and worthy projects for the general good. In 1892 he erected his fine residence on Boren Avenue, and this he still owns, though he now makes his home in at Interbay, in order that he may be more accessible to the brewery, over which he maintains a general supervision. He is a young man of forceful individuality and the success which has been his indicates most clearly his facility in the practical application of the talents and power which are his. In the city of Seattle, on October 10, 1891, Mr. Claussen was united in marriage to Miss Emma Meyer, who was born in Hamburg, Germany.


To learn more about Claussen’s first brewery, the Claussen-Sweeney Brewing Co., there’s a thorough history of is at Gary Flynn’s Brewery Gems.


Likewise, Brewery Gems has a longer history of the Claussen Brewing Association.



Historic Beer Birthday: Jacob Betz

Today is the birthday of Jacob Betz (November 10, 1843-November 16, 1912). Betz was born in Bavaria, but moved to America when he five years old. When he was 32, he bought a brewery in Walla Walla, Washington, renaming it the Star Brewery (though some sources say 1874, when he would have been 31). It was also known as the Jacob Betz Brewing Co. From 1904, when a “syndicate of local saloonkeepers and capitalists” bought the brewery, with Betz retaining an interest in it, it was then called the Jacob Betz Brewing and Malting Co. In 1910, it merged with another Walla Walla brewery, the Stahl Brewing Co., and was then known as the Walla Walla Brewing Co. until closing for good in 1910.



Here’s a profile of Betz published in “Washington, West of the Cascades” from 1917:

Jacob Betz, ever a good citizen, active in support and furtherance of Tacoma’s best interests, was born on the l0th of November, 1843, in the Rhine province of Bavaria, Germany, and his life record spanned the intervening years to the 10th of November, 1912. He was educated in the schools of Germany and America, having been brought to this country in 1848 when a little lad of but five summers. He arrived in California before the Civil war and there engaged in mining until 1870, when he removed to Walla Walla, Washington, where he erected a brewery which he operated for a long period. During his residence in eastern Washington his interests became extensive but at length he disposed of all of his holdings in that part of the state and in 1904 established his home in Tacoma. Here he purchased the Sprague block on Pacific avenue and at once began to remodel the building, which he improved in every way. He converted it into two hotels and also changed the store buildings and he installed therein the largest heating plant in the city. He also purchased the Hosmer residence at 610 Broadway and remodeled it into a most beautiful and attractive home. Since his death his family have carried out his plans and have erected an addition to the Sprague block on Fifteenth street. This property affords an excellent income to his heirs.

Mr. Betz was married in Walla Walla to Miss Augusta Wilson, who removed from California to Washington in 1866. To them were born five children, namely: Katherine; Jacob, Jr., who is deceased; Eleanor; Harry; and Augustus.

Mr. Betz was appreciative of the social amenities of life and found pleasant companionship in the Union and Country Clubs, of both of which he was a member. He also belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he filled all of the chairs. In politics he was a republican, ever active in support of the party, working earnestly for its interests. Five times he was honored with election to the mayoralty of Walla Walla and five times to the city council and it was during his administration that the waterworks fight in Walla Walla was on. He won the case for the city in the United States supreme court and thus gave to the city one of its most important public utilities. In business and in public affairs his judgment was keen and penetrating and his opinions sound and logical. What he accomplished represented the fit utilization of his innate powers and talents.


Gary Flynn, in his always terrific Brewery Gems, points out that the profile above concerns itself primarily with his time in Tacoma, rather then Walla Walla, and adds the following:

[A]t the age of sixteen, Jacob returned to Germany to learn the brewing trade. Seven years later, Jacob departed Hamburg on the “Germanic” arriving back in the U.S. on August 6, 1866. It is unclear what he did next. The above account suggests that he tried his hand at mining, but another, more plausible account has him working in a couple of eastern breweries in the late 1860’s.

The above account also leaves out the period of 1870 to 1874, since he didn’t arrive in Walla Walla in 1870. He was in San Francisco for the 1870 Census, and his occupation was given as a maltster. The 1871 S.F. city directory also lists him as a maltster with the Lyon Brewery, and according to a later census, Jacob stated that he was naturalized in S.F. in 1871. Then the S.F. city directory for 1872 has Jacob employed as a brewer with the Jackson Brewery, and that is the last reference to him prior to arriving in Walla Walla.

We next find Betz in 1875 when he purchases the Star Brewery. It is commonly reported that Betz arrived in Walla Walla in ’74, so if that’s accurate, it’s safe to assume that a person with his experience was immediately placed in charge of the struggling brewery, and then sold to him by Seisser the following year.

The brewery prospered and in 1882 Betz purchased a wooden, frame building that had been the county court house, and added a new two-story, brick building adjacent to it. Then seven years later, an additional structure was built. This was a four-story, brick building erected on the other side of their corner saloon.

This served well until 1902, when additional plant capacity was needed, and Betz razed the frame structure, erecting a five-story, brick and stone building in its place.

In November 1903, Jacob’s 19 year old son (Jacob, jr.) died suddenly of pneumonia. The previous year Jacob was quoted as saying that the erection of his new, five story structure for his Star Brewery was to provide a legacy for his son. He was so distraught over his son’s death that within months the brewery was sold to a syndicate of Walla Walla saloon owners and capitalists.

In memory of his son he purchased a huge block of granite from Vermont and at tremendous cost had it shipped to Scotland to he shaped into an obelisk, hand polished, and returned to Walla Walla where it would mark the Betz family plot in the Mountain View Cemetery. He also established a scholarship in his sons name at Whitman College where his son was studying.

He then left Walla Wall for Tacoma where he remained until his death from heart failure on November 16, 1912.

Fire Dept parade, Alder St; Denny, Drumheller, Betz Brewery

And this was the brewery in 1909.





Historic Beer Birthday: Henry Schupp

Today is the birthday of Henry Schupp (November 1, 1868-September 27, 1936). Schupp was born in Germany, and helped found the Bellingham Bay Brewery, which was owned by Leopold F. Schmidt, who’s best known for owning the Olympia Brewery. After its completion in 1902, Schupp was the secretary, manager and brewmaster of the brewery. He had worked for Schmidt in several other capacities prior to that, including at Olympia Brewery and in the hotel business.


This account of Schupp is from the “History of Whatcom County,” by Lottie Roeder Roth, published in 1926:

Depending upon his own resources for advancement, Henry Schupp has achieved noteworthy success as a hotel operator and belongs to that select company of aggressive, farsighted business men who have made Bellingham what it is today, one of the most enterprising and prosperous cities in the state. He is a native of Germany but has lived in the United States since young manhood and is thoroughly American in thought, spirit and interest. He was educated in the public schools of his native country and in the night schools of Cincinnati, Ohio, and in 1889 he sought his fortune in the mines of Montana. He was also connected with the hotel business in that state. In 1900 he came to Washington. He spent two years in Olympia, associated with Leopold F. Schmidt, and in 1902 arrived in Bellingham. He at once entered prominently into the business life of the city, and with Mr. L. F. Schmidt built the Bellingham Brewery, which proved a successful venture. He is now secretary, treasurer and manager of Hotel Leopold, of which F. M. Kenny is vice president. It was opened May 25, 1913, and was named in honor of Leopold F. Schmidt, president of the company controlling the business. The building was erected in 1912 and 1913 by the Byron Hotel Company and the business was founded by Captain Byron, who constructed the Byron Hotel in 1906.

Hotel Leopold is centrally located and its furnishings, accommodations and service are modern and up-to-date in every respect. It is the largest hotel in northwestern Washington, containing two hundred rooms, one hundred of which are provided with private baths, and there are twenty-five sample rooms. The hotel is noted for the excellence of its cuisine and the main dining room has accommodations for two hundred guests. The tulip room will seat two hundred and fifty persons, and the hotel is thus able to accommodate some five hundred diners. Hotel Henry, under the same management, was established by Mr. Schupp at Bellingham in 1923 and has also found favor with the traveling public. It contains one hundred rooms and fifty baths and is the newest and most progressive hotel on Puget Sound. It reflects an atmosphere of refinement but not exclusiveness, for here “you can come as you are.” The hostelry is comfortable, homelike and unequaled in many ways. This is the only hotel known to serve its guests in their rooms with a complimentary breakfast, consisting of a pot of coffee, toast, marmalade, butter and cream, the the polite request: “Don’t tip the boy.” That Mr. schupp has thoroughly grasped the art of modern hotel keeping is indicated by the high degree of efficiency maintained in the operation of the business, which reflects his foresight, capacity for detail and administrative power. He puts forth every effort to promote the comfort and well being of those who are his guests, and an ever increasing clientele is evidence of the prestige enjoyed by Hotel Leopold and Henry.

In 1888 Mr. Schupp married Miss Katherine Sengenberger, of Cincinnati, Ohio, and they have three adopted children: Katherine, who is the wife of Briggs Burpee, of Bellingham; Henry, a student in the State College, where he is taking a course in civil engineering; and Margaret, a high school student. Mr. Schupp is a stanch republican and a citizen who loses no opportunity to exploit the many resources and attractions of his community and state. He is a director of the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce and served for several years on the board of park commissioners. He is a member of the Rotary and Country Clubs and the Washington Hotel Men’s Association. He is also connected with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, the Fraternal Order of Eagles and the United Commercial Travelers. Mr. Schupp has a wife acquaintance among the tourists who visit this region each season in large numbers, attracted by its scenic grandeur. He is a gentleman of courteous bearing, genial nature and much personal magnetism, exceptionally well fitted for the business in which he is engaged, and numbers his friends by the thousands. His success is the merited reward of a life of well directed industry and his labors have been of signal service to Bellingham, in which he is highly esteemed.


And here’s his obituary, published in The Bellingham Herald, September 28, 1936:

Henry Schupp, one of Bellingham’s most civic-minded citizens, whom many regarded as an ideal hotel host, died early Monday morning at his home, 6 Garden Terrace. He had been in ill health several years, suffering from heart disease. Recently he had been taking short walks almost daily and he was seen by friends Sunday strolling along High street. For many years, and until his retirement a few years ago from active participation in the hotel business. Mr. Schupp was one of Washington’s most widely known and popular hotel men. He was 67 years of age and had lived at Bellingham thirty-four years. His business and other affiliations were numerous and probably no one has been more active in behalf of Bellingham than Mr. Schupp. He was a charter member of the Rotary club and at his death held membership in Elks lodge No. 194 and the Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Schupp is survived by his widow, Mrs. Katherine Schupp; two daughters, Katherine McIntee, Waldport, Oregon, and Margaret K. Rogers, Bellingham; one son, Henry E. Schupp; one half-sister, Mrs. Julius Kappel, and a cousin, Henry Meissner, all of Bellingham.

A man who always had a smile, and at heart a community booster, Mr. Schupp’s interests, business and social, were diversified. He for years managed the Hotel Leopold and was one of the moving spirits behind the erection of the $500,000 New Leopold, which was opened in November, 1929. He was one of the most active members of the Chamber of Commerce. In 1924 he headed the Tulip Festival association. He represented the Chamber as director of the Puget Sounders, which he was instrumental, with others, in organizing. Among other positions he held was director of the Pacific Highway association; director of the Mount Baker Development company, which built the Mount Baker lodge, and he was president of the Puget Sound Hotels. At his death he held part interest in the Henry hotel. When the New Hotel Leopold was opened, Mr. Schupp was managing director of the Leopold and the Henry. He was familiar with the hotel business long before he came to Bellingham. His introduction to it came when he was a boy, when his father, Carl Frederick Schupp, operated the Green Tree Tavern at Lollar, Germany, where Mr. Schupp was born in November, 1868.

Henry Schupp left Germany for American when 14 years of age. For a time he lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he attended night school. Later he removed to Montana, but before he did so he married on November 22, 1888, Katherine Sengenberger. In 1890 Mr. Schupp located at Basin, Montana, a silver mining camp, where life was rough and free and guns were conspicuous. At Basin, Mr. Schupp and his friend, Leopold Schmidt, who died many years ago, established the Merchants hotel. It was made of logs and had two stories. The partners operated a lodging house for overflows. While Mr. Schupp was at Basin, he and Mr. Schmidt, then living in Butte, formed a partnership to build a waterworks system at Basin.

After ten years at Basin, Schupp came to Puget Sound. Settling at Olympia, he became secretary-treasurer of the Olympia Brewing Company. Nine years later he became secretary-treasurer of the Byron hotel in Bellingham. Four years later the Leopold was opened and he became its manager. Mr. Schupp’s hotel interests gradually expanded until, when the New Leopold was opened, with one of the biggest banquets Bellingham has ever known, he was general manager of a chain of hotels that operated in five cities. He also was president of the New Washington Hotel company, Seattle. Mr. Schupp’s creed, as a hotel man, was: “Hail, guest! If friend, we welcome thee. If stranger, same no longer be. If foe, our love shall conquer thee.” Neatly framed, this creed hung in Mr. Schupp’s office throughout his hotel career in Bellingham.


Both can be found at the wonderful Brewery Gems, who also has a lengthy page about the Bellingham Bay Brewery itself.


Beer Birthday: Charles Finkel

Today is the 72nd birthday of Charles Finkel, one of the pioneers of the better beer movement. He founded Merchant du Vin in 1978, the company responsible for importing a number of word-class beers to the U.S., including a a few favorites of mind: Traquair, Ayinger, Westmalle, Rochefort and Orval. He also started the Seattle brewpub, Pike Brewing , in 1989, where Fal Allen was head brewer there from 1990-96. I first met Charlie around 1996 during a visit to Seattle. The following year, the Finkels sold both Pike Brewing and Merchant du Vin. In 2006, they bought back Pike Brewing. In Chicago for CBC a couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to spend an evening out and about town with the Finkels, and recently I wrote a profile of them for Beer Connoisseur. Charlie and his wife Rose Ann are some of my favorite people in the industry. Join me in wishing Charlie a very happy birthday.

Charlie at CBC in Chicago a few years ago, with Mark Blasingame, owner of the Map Room.

Charlie at Pints for Prostates’ Rare Beer Tasting at Wynkoop during GABF.

Charlie and Rose Ann Finkel behind their Pike Brewing booth at GABF a few years ago.

Charlie and Rose Ann Finkel with past and present Pike brewers during the 2006 CBC in Seattle.