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.

Beer Birthday: Will Kemper

Today is the 67th birthday of Will Kemper, who’s the brewmaster of Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen in Bellingham, Washington. Will was the “Kemper” in the early brewery “Thomas Kemper,” which was an early lager brewery first in Poulsbo, and later nearby on Bainbridge Island in Washington. I first visited the brewery on my honeymoon in 1996, after it had been sold to Pyramid (then Hart Brewery) in 1992. After Thomas Kemper, Will became a brewery consultant, helping launch such breweries as Philadelphia’s Dock Street, Seattle’s Aviator Ales, Capital City Brewing in D.C. and Denver’s Mile High Brewing. Later, he and his wife Mari moved to Turkey, building a brewery in Istanbul called Taps. After the Taps project was completed they returned to their home in Bellingham, Washington and opened Chuckanut Brewery & Kitchen. Within a year of opening, Chuckanut and Kemper were named small brewery and brewmaster of the year at GABF in 2009. Needless to say, Will’s a terrific brewer. I reconnected with Will when CBC was in Chicago when I ran into Will and Mari, along with Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, and ended up spending the evening bar hopping with them. Join me in wishing Will a very happy birthday.

Will accepting a medal at the 2011 GABF awards.

Mari (next to Charlie on the left) and Will (far right) with the Chuckanut crew winning small brewery of the year in 2009.

Thomas and Sabine from Weyerman’s with Will and Mari during a visit to Chuckanut.

Matt Brynildson and Will at GABF in 2011.

[Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.]

Historic Beer Birthday: Samuel Simon Loeb

milwaukee-tacoma independent-wash
Today is the birthday of Samuel Simon Loeb (September 4, 1862-January 22, 1947). He was born in Indiana, but settled in Tacoma, Washington as a young man, and was involved in several area breweries there, first the Milwaukee Brewery (which merged to form the Pacific Brewing & Malting Company) and then the Independent Brewery, before being bought by the Seattle Brewing & Malting Co. After his brewery was acquired, Loeb remained in charge, and after retiring, he and his wife moved to Los Angeles.


This short description of Loeb is from Brewing in Seattle, by Kurt Stream:



Here’s an account of Loeb from “An Illustrated History of the State of Washington” by H. K. Hines, published in 1893

S. S. Loeb is president of the Milwaukee Brewing Company of Tacoma, incorporated with a capital stock of $35,000, all paid up. The present officers of the company are S. S. Loeb, president, and A. Weinberg, secretary and treasurer. The brewery was formerly called the United States Brewery, and was organized by D. Stegman and M. Karcsecte. The latter sold out to John Frazier, who continued in the business till May, 1891, when the present firm bought out the concern, reincorporated and formed the Milwaukee Brewing Company. The plant was a small one when they first bought it, the output being only forty-two barrels per day. The capacity has been increased until it is now 125 barrels per day. Their trade extends throughout the Sound country.

Mr. Loeb, the president, was born in Ligonier, Indiana, on the 4th of September, 1862. He was the son of Simon Loeb, who was a prominent brewer. The subject of this sketch was reared in Chicago, where he went when a child. He became concerned in the cigar business with Ruhe Bros. (Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Chicago), and later traveled for the same firm, with whom he continued for four years. He then worked four years for Schloss, Ochs & Co., wholesale gentlemen’s furnishers. In 1889 he came to Tacoma and engaged in the wholesale liquor business, which he continued for three years, when he closed out that business, and has since given his attention to the brewing business.

Mr. Loeb was married November 18, 1890, to Miss Blanch Moses, a native of Gallipolis, Ohio. They have one child, Sidney.


Garry Flynn, on his remarkable Brewery Gems website, picks up the story of Loeb after the “Illustrated History of the State of Washington:”

In 1897, four years after the foregoing was written, Samuel sold the Milwaukee Brewery and merged it with the Anton Huth’s Puget Sound Brewery, forming a new enterprise – the Pacific Brewing & Malting Company.

In 1899, Pacific purchased the Donau Brewery and closed the Milwaukee plant. Loeb continued with his other business interests in Tacoma, as well as holding a minority interest in Pacific. As late as 1901 he was still secretary of the company. But by 1902 he and his partners from the Milwaukee Brewery decided to actively re-enter the brewing business.

They organized an investment company to build a brewery in Seattle. They named the new venture the Independent Brewing Co. By mid-September of ’02, construction was well underway when a fire broke out. Despite the efforts of the Rainier Volunteer Fire Brigade it could not be contained and the frame structure burned to the ground. While this was a major setback the investors regrouped and the plant was rebuilt.

By early 1904 they were in production and that October the investors incorporated the company. The principals in the new company were Samuel Loeb, Herman Klaber, and Benjamin Moyses. Albert Weinberg, Samuel’s brother-in-law, was also a part of the company, just as he had been in the Milwaukee Brewery.

The brewery flourished in spite of the major competition with Seattle Brewing & Malting’s popular “Rainier Beer.” But Loeb’s “Old German Lager” was well received in the Seattle area and even found a market in San Francisco.

By now, Samuel’s numerous enterprises and real estate holdings had made him a millionaire. A cartoon from a 1905 Seattle publication (below) reflects the image that Samuel projected.

In 1906, the Seattle Brewing & Malting Co., purchased controlling interest in Samuel Loeb’s brewery, but he remained in the management position. The brewery had become second in sales behind SB&M so became a target for the takeover.

The Loebs decided to build a home in keeping with their wealth and social status. They erected an imposing Tudor Revival, brick and half-timbered Mansion on Millionaires’ Row. It was completed in 1914 but as it turned out, they would not be able to enjoy their new home¹.

While the brewing business was booming, it was not to last. In November of 1914, state-wide prohibition was approved by the voters, to take effect January 1, 1916, giving the brewers one year to dispose of their stock and cease production. Some attempted to shift production to other products, but Samuel chose to close his Independent Brewery.

Loeb decided to relocate to San Francisco, as did the parent company, Seattle Brewing & Malting, in the belief that Prohibition would never be approved nationally. A new Rainier plant was built, but Samuel decided to skip the production phase in favor of marketing his beer.

In 1915, the Old German Lager Brewing Co. was in business. Loeb contracted for the brewing and bottling of his “Old German Lager,” a beer already familiar to San Franciscans. He was assisted by his son, Sidney, who served as the company’s vice-president, while Samuel assumed the position of president.

By 1918 Loeb dropped the word “German” from the firm’s name, no doubt due to the anti-German sentiment from the war in Europe. So it was now the Old Lager Brewing Co., and their beer became “Old Original Lager” but with an identical brown label.

Of course national Prohibition was voted in, and to keep their plants operating many brewers shifted production to either soft drinks or near-beer. Samuel chose the later. He struggled along with this product for four years, but in 1924 he closed the business for good.

Samuel retired, and he and Blanche moved to the warmer climes of Los Angeles, where Samuel became a real estate broker.

On 22 January, 1947, Samuel Simon Loeb died at the age of 85.


Beer Birthday: Alan Moen

Today is the birthday of Alan Moen, who used to be the editor-in-chief of the Northwest Brewing News, and also did drawings for them and others, before he retired from that gig that a few years ago. Although he still writes for American Brewer, Market Watch, The New Brewer, and other beer publications. He also owns and operates the Snowgrass Winery in Entiat, Washington. still has an amusing biography of Alan from who knows how many years ago. Join me in wishing Alan a very happy birthday.

Alan at Oktoberfest, in the Paulaner tent.

Bill Metzger, Alan and John Norton in 2013.

At dba in NYC.

Alan in 1995.

[Note: all photos purloined from Facebook.]