Wednesday’s ad is for “Rheingold Beer,” from 1955. This ad was made for the Rheingold Brewery, which was founded by the Liebmann family in 1883 in New York, New York. At its peak, it sold 35% of all the beer in New York state. In 1963, the family sold the brewery and in was shut down in 1976. In 1940, Philip Liebmann, great-grandson of the founder, Samuel Liebmann, started the “Miss Rheingold” pageant as the centerpiece of its marketing campaign. Beer drinkers voted each year on the young lady who would be featured as Miss Rheingold in advertisements. In the 1940s and 1950s in New York, “the selection of Miss Rheingold was as highly anticipated as the race for the White House.” The winning model was then featured in at least twelve monthly advertisements for the brewery, beginning in 1940 and ending in 1965. Beginning in 1941, the selection of next year’s Miss Rheingold was instituted and became wildly popular in the New York Area. Nancy Woodruff was elected Miss Rheingold 1955.” She was born in Detroit Michigan in 1933, but was raised in San Leandro, California. Humorously, one newspaper reported she attended “San Leandro high school in San Francisco,” and not in … San Leandro. When she was 18, two years ago, she moved to New York City to pursue a modeling career. She entered the 1952 Miss Rheingold contest and was chosen as a finalist, but lost to Mary Austin that year. But she tried again in 1954, and well, here we are. I’m not sure how her career fared after this year, as there’s not much information I could find. Apparently, she did some early television, but mostly commercial work. She married stock broker Jack Paul Adler of New York in 1956, and they appear to have had two children, before moving to Naples, Florida at some point. She passed away in early 2004. In this newspaper item, from around May of 1955, they’re reporting on the search for Miss Rheingold 1956 and getting over 600 women entering the competition to become the next year’s Miss Rheingold.
Today is the birthday of famed bartender Andrew MacElhone (February 8, 1923-September 16, 1996) whose father opened the famous Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France in 1911.
It was originally founded by American jockey Tod Sloan, who so wanted to create the atmosphere of a New York saloon that he actually bought one in New York, had it dismantled, shipped to Paris and rebuilt it where it stands to day at 5 rue Daunou (Sank Roo Doe Noo). It’s original name was simply the New York Bar when it opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1911. Sloan initially hired a Scottish bartender from Dundee named Harry MacElhone to run it, who twelve years later bought the bar in 1923 and added his first name to it. Shortly after opening, it began attracting American expatriates and celebrities, including such “Lost Generation” writers as F Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. George Gershwin supposedly wrote “An American In Paris” there, and it has been visited by many movie stars over the years, from Humphrey Bogart to Clint Eastwood. In the book Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s character Bond said it the best place in Paris to get a “solid drink.” It’s also where the Bloody Mary was first conceived, as well as the White Lady and the Sidecar.
Andrew started working in the bar in 1939, when he was 16, and never left. He took over for his father Harry MacElhone in 1958 and continued to run the bar for 31 years, until 1989. He’s also credited with creating the Blue Lagoon cocktail in the 1960s, when Blue Curaçao was first available in bottles.
Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.
Today is the birthday of Andrew Jackson Houghton (February 8, 1830-September 24, 1892). He was born in Readsboro, Vermont, and moved to the Jamaica Plain area of Boston where he founded the A.J. Houghton & Co. Brewery with John A. Kohl in 1870. They bought the Christian Jutz brewery, which had been built in 1857, but moved production across the street. It was also known as the Vienna Brewery at various points of its history, before closing for good in 1918 when Prohibition went into effect.
This is a history of the brewery from 100 Years of Brewing:
This account is from Boston’s Lost Breweries:
Located at Station and Halleck Streets, it was active from 1870 to 1918. It occupies the site of the old Christian Jutz brewery built in 1857. The Vienna Brewery had originally been located across the street where it was owned by Messrs. Houghton and Cole [sic] of Maine and Vermont. They bought the Christian Jutz property and moved their main operations across the street, converting their original property to a stable to house their several transport horses. Here they produced Vienna Lager from a German recipe. The lighter German and Austrian Lager beers came into favor in the 1850’s and 60’s displacing the heavier English/Irish Ales. Besides Vienna Lager, they made Pavonia Lager Beer, Vienna Old Time Lager and Rockland Ale.
The Jamaica Plain Historical Society on the A.J. Houghton Brewery.
“A.J. Houghton & Co. “Vienna” Brewery. Located at Station and Halleck Streets, it was active from 1870 to 1918. It occupies the site of the old Christian Jutz brewery built in 1857.“The Vienna Brewery had originally been located across the street where it was owned by Messrs. Houghton and Cole of Maine and Vermont. They bought the Christian Jutz property and moved their main operations across the street, converting their original property to a stable to house their several transport horses. (This must be where Jeremiah Walsh worked.) Here they produced Vienna Lager from a German recipe. The lighter German and Austrian Lager beers came into favor in the 1850’s and 60’s displacing the heavier English/Irish Ales. Besides Vienna Lager, they made Pavonia Lager Beer, Vienna Old Time Lager and Rockland Ale.“This is the only landmark brewery in Boston, having been protected by the Boston Landmarks Commission, despite its poor condition. It had a five story main brewing building with a large cupola, an office building, three storage buildings, a coopering or barrel-making building, and a power plant. It was a beautiful building with brick used for architectural features instead of stonework or terra cotta. The sweeping arches are built of brick while the sills and parts of the arches are granite. The floor joists are supported by architectural ironwork. The exterior “X” shaped elements on the sides of the buildings are iron brick-ties that support the brick bearing-walls and were common design features at that time. They were often connected by long interior iron rods, spanning between the walls, to help hold the structure together under the floor loads of several stories.“The main brewing buildings had robust hoists and pumps to lift the grains and water up to the top floor to begin the brewing process. Gravity would then take the brew down to the various levels and processes below. This, then, was a “vertical” brewery. When pumping technology improved, the vertical process was discontinued in favor of the “horizontal” brewery with lower buildings and other efficiencies. This brewery closed when Prohibition arrived in 1919 and it never reopened on a full-scale basis.”
Today is the birthday of Lüder Rutenberg (February 8, 1816-June 14, 1890) who was born in Bremen, Germany. He was an architect, a builder and one of the co-founders of Beck’s Brewery, formally known as Brauerei Beck & Co. “The brewery was formed under the name Kaiserbrauerei Beck & May o.H.G. in 1873 by Lüder Rutenberg, Heinrich Beck and Thomas May. In 1875, Thomas May left the brewery which then became known as Kaiserbrauerei Beck & Co.”
Rutenberg — son of the builder Diedrich Christian Rutenberg — learned after visiting the Remberti and the grammar school with his father. He studied from 1836 to 1840 in Berlin physics, chemistry and technology. From 1841 he was an employee at his father.
In 1847 he became an independent architect. Its operation was one of the largest construction companies in Bremen. Lüder Rutenberg was especially during the expansion of the Bremen suburbs as a builder for the typical residential streets with one- or two-story terraced houses successfully. Men of his profession erected at that time for its own account and sold whole streets of houses or flats profitably. 1849 by the Bremen Senate a request Rod Berg refused to be allowed to build in Bremen similarly large tenement houses such as in Hamburg or Berlin. Had been such application is approved, this greatly affect the appearance of many neighborhoods Bremen would have had.
1853 rose Rutenberg in the brewery business and acquired with his sister and his brother-in as a partner, the Runge brewery, which he in St. Pauli Brewery renamed and goal for until 1870 the largest brewery in Bremen. Later he bought along with the master brewer Heinrich Beck several smaller breweries and participated in 1873 in the construction of a brewery in the New Town, the then Kaiser brewery was later large brewery Beck & Co.
Tuesday’s ad is for “Rheingold Beer,” from 1955. This ad was made for the Rheingold Brewery, which was founded by the Liebmann family in 1883 in New York, New York. At its peak, it sold 35% of all the beer in New York state. In 1963, the family sold the brewery and in was shut down in 1976. In 1940, Philip Liebmann, great-grandson of the founder, Samuel Liebmann, started the “Miss Rheingold” pageant as the centerpiece of its marketing campaign. Beer drinkers voted each year on the young lady who would be featured as Miss Rheingold in advertisements. In the 1940s and 1950s in New York, “the selection of Miss Rheingold was as highly anticipated as the race for the White House.” The winning model was then featured in at least twelve monthly advertisements for the brewery, beginning in 1940 and ending in 1965. Beginning in 1941, the selection of next year’s Miss Rheingold was instituted and became wildly popular in the New York Area. Nancy Woodruff was elected Miss Rheingold 1955.” She was born in Detroit Michigan in 1933, but was raised in San Leandro, California. Humorously, one newspaper reported she attended “San Leandro high school in San Francisco,” and not in … San Leandro. When she was 18, two years ago, she moved to New York City to pursue a modeling career. She entered the 1952 Miss Rheingold contest and was chosen as a finalist, but lost to Mary Austin that year. But she tried again in 1954, and well, here we are. I’m not sure how her career fared after this year, as there’s not much information I could find. Apparently, she did some early television, but mostly commercial work. She married stock broker Jack Paul Adler of New York in 1956, and they appear to have had two children, before moving to Naples, Florida at some point. She passed away in early 2004. In this newspaper item, from July 14, 1955, they’re reporting on Miss Rheingold 1955 visiting San Bernardino, California, as part of a tour of the Southland, by which they mean Southern California.
Today is the 46th birthday of Tom Acitelli, author of the wonderful history of craft beer, The Audacity of Hops. Tom reached out to me while he was working on his book, and we’ve been friends ever since. More recently, he wrote “Pilsner: How the Beer of Kings Changed the World.” He’s a great new addition to the cadre of writers chronicling the beer industry these days. Join me in wishing Tom a very happy birthday.
Tom reading selections from his book at Anchor Brewery.
Tom and Vinnie Cilurzo during a visit to the Russian River production brewery.
At Lagunitas for Tom’s book release party several years ago, with Joe Tucker, Jeremy Marshall, me, Tom and Ken Weaver.
Today is the birthday of George Wiedemann (February 7, 1833-May 25, 1890). He was born in Eisenach, Stadtkreis Eisenach, Thüringen, Germany, and “came to the United States as a young man in 1854. first finding work in the brewing industry in New York, Louisville, and Cincinnati. He moved to Newport, Kentucky in 1870, and founded the George Wiedemann Brewing Co., which became Kentucky’s largest brewery.” After his death, his sons continued to run the business. After prohibition, the brewery merged with G. Heileman Brewing Company, and in 1967 was operated as the Wiedemann Division of the G. Heileman Brewing Company, Inc. The brewery was closed in 1983.
This short bio is from Widemann’s Find-a-Grave page:
Businessman, Beer Magnate. Came to the United States in 1855 from Eisenach, Germany. He obtained his experience while working for a brewer in Williamsburg, New York. In 1870 he moved to Newport, Kentucky and began working for a brewer named John Butcher. In 1878 he bought out the interest of John Butcher, and two years later he purchased the Constans Brewery and built a new brewery in Newport, Kentucky, which carried his name. The George Wiedemann Brewing Comapany remained under family control, until August 1, 1967, when it was sold to the G. Heileman Brewing Company of LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
And this is from his Wikipedia page:
Wiedemann was born in Eisenach, Germany, in 1833. He came to the United States as a young man in 1854. first finding work in the brewing industry in New York, Louisville, and Cincinnati. He moved to Newport, Kentucky in 1870. He was the founder of the George Wiedemann Brewing Company, which became Kentucky’s largest brewery. It was located at 601 Columbia Street in Newport, Kentucky. Wiedemann beer was synonymous with Newport. Wiedemann promoted itself as “America’s only registered beer” and often used humorous radio commercials as part of its advertising campaigns.
Wiedemann married Agnes Rohman and they had six children. Newspaper accounts described Wiedemann as an honest man with a natural sociability and a dignified businessman.
On May 28, 1890, George Wiedemann became ill and died at his home at 188 East Third St in Newport. The business was continued to operate by his sons, George Jr. and Charles.
Wiedemann Brewing was merged with G. Heileman Brewing Company, in 1967 and was operated as Wiedemann Division, G. Heileman Brewing Company, Inc. The primary brands were Wiedemann Fine Beer, Royal Amber Beer, Blatz Beer/Cream Ale and other assorted Heileman labels. The brewery was closed in 1983.
The Wiedemann name was then sold and was brewed by the Pittsburgh Brewing Co. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania until 2007 when the brand was dropped.
2012, a Newport, Kentucky company, Geo. Wiedemann Brewing Company, LLC, re-established the brand and started brewing Wiedemann Special Lager as a small-batch, craft beer. The name, the recipe, logo and all intellectual rights were bought out by beer brewer and journalist Jon Newberry. In 2018 Jon and wife, Betsy purchased an old funeral home in Cincinnati and after a few years of renovating the old building it opened up not only a brewery but a taproom and restaurant.
In 2019 the Sipple Family, Covington natives, bought the home of George Wiedemann, Jr. at 401 Park Avenue. The historic home has been renovated and is now utilized as a place of business for the 2nd generation family business, Centennial Talent Strategy and Executive Search. Centennial, a family business like the Wiedemann Brewery Company, is one of the Greater Cincinnati region’s largest and most prominent firms in their industry. 401 Park Avenue is also the home of IMPACT Cowork, an executive coworking and meeting rental space, and Talent Magnet Institute, a consulting firm, with a weekly podcast recorded in the historic building.
George Wiedemann was born in Eisenach,Thüringen, Prussia. He was educated in the brewer’s art in Saxony and in 1853 at the age of 19 years, emigrated to America. Wiedemann found immediate employment in a brewery in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, but it being not to his liking he remained there only three months.
Upon his release Wiedemann moved 750 miles southwest to Louisville where he had found a position in another brewery. Six months later he was hired away by Frank Eichenlaub to work in his brewery in the Walnut Hills neighborhood of Cincinnati. The addition of John Kaufmann as partner in the Eichenlaub firm inspired the erection of a second brewery on Vine Street, over which Wiedemann was made foreman.
In 1856 Wiedemann was joined in marriage to another German emigre Agnes Rohmann. The union produced four children, including sons Charles and George Junior.
Wiedemann presided over Eichenlaub’s Vine Street Brewery until 1870, when he took his savings and bought a minority share in John Butcher’s brewery in Newport Kentucky. The business was ideally located but Butcher was modest in ambition. Ambition was a trait Weidemann had in spades, though, and the partners quickly grew the brewery from 15 barrels a day to the largest in Kentucky. When Butcher retired from the firm in 1878 Wiedemann continued as sole proprietor.
By this time Wiedemann’s sons Charles and George Jr. were employed in the firm. Their education in the business proved so thorough that when the elder Wiedemann died unexpectedly at age 57 the transition of management to his sons was seamless. George Wiedemann died on the 25th of May 1890. His sons Charles (age 32) and George Jr. (age 24) carried the business on into the 20th century.
The family brewery operated through Prohibition and two World Wars. The firm was sold in 1967 to the G. Heileman Brewing Co. of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and closed in 1973, a little over a century after George Wiedemann persuaded John Butcher to think big.
This is from the Northern Kentucky Tribune, an article entitled “Our Rich History: George Wiedemann, Northern Kentucky’s Beer Baron and his Brewery.”
George Wiedemann (1833-1890) came to America from Germany in 1854, and after several years in the New World founded a brewery in Newport, Kentucky that became the largest south of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River, as well as a brewing family dynasty that lasted for four generations.
Wiedemann was born in Eisenach in Saxony-Weimar, a province of the Kingdom of Prussia. It also was the birthplace of Martin Luther. The Wartburg, where Luther translated the Bible into German, overlooks the town. It was also not far from Mühlhausen, the hometown of John A. Roebling, who like many others, immigrated due to discontent with the socio-political conditions in the German states.
In 1854 at age 21, Wiedemann, who had learned the brewing trade by means of the apprenticeship system, joined the waves of German immigration that surged after the failure of the 1848 Revolution. After arrival in New York, he quickly found work in one of New York’s forty breweries, but then moved on to Louisville, which had a growing German population.
At the time, many native-born Americans feared the arrival of the Forty-Eighters, the refugees of the 1848 Revolution, as well as the large number of Catholics. This nativist antipathy gave rise to hostilities across the country, and to a riot known as Bloody Sunday in Louisville in August 1855. Not surprisingly, Wiedemann headed for Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district.
He found a job at the brewery of Franz Eichenlaub, and worked his way up to Braumeister. Eichenlaub’s son-in-law, John Kauffman, took over the brewery, which was located on Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine, and it became known as the Kauffman Brewery. Wiedemann remained there for fifteen years, gaining much valuable experience in operating a brewery.
By 1870 Over-the-Rhine had a sizable number of breweries, so starting a brewery there would have been a challenge. Fortunately, Wiedemann had a friend, Johannes Butscher, across the Ohio River in Newport who was from his hometown. So in 1870, he partnered with him to form the Butscher & Wiedemann Brewing Co., with Wiedemann working as Braumeister. In 1878, he bought out his partner, taking full control of the brewery. In 1888, he rebuilt the entire brewery complex, with all the latest refinements and inventions in brewing. Pictures show that it was a wonderful example of German-American brewing architecture, built in the style known as German Romanesque Revival.
The Wiedemann Brewery also featured a Bavarian-style Gasthaus with a Bierstube for visitors. The reception area was adorned with murals on the ceiling, and the office was state of the art with telephones and typewriters. And Wiedemann’s office was truly fitting for a beer baron. The well-known architect Samuel Hannaford designed the brewery stable that housed 150 horses, all of which were needed for the horse-drawn beer wagons.
The Wiedemann Brewery was well known for its Bavarian Lager and its Bohemian Pilsner. The latter became popular after the 1873 Vienna International Exposition, and many brewers from the U.S., including Wiedemann, introduced the brew here. This was more yellow in color than a golden Lager, more light-bodied and had a foamy head with smooth creamy flavor.
Today is the 48th birthday of Jeff O’Neil, who I first met when he was brewing at Drake’s here in sunny California. He’s since gone on to make a name for himself at Ithaca Beer Co. before leaving that gig to become the brewmaster at the Peekskill Brewery, both of which are in upstate New York, which is where Jeff originally hails from. More recently, he opened Industrial Arts Brewing Co., with locations in Garnerville and Beacon in upstate, New York. Jeff’s a terrific brewer and an equally wonderful guy. Join me in wishing Jeff a very happy birthday.
Jeff and me during a visit to Industrial Arts last fall.
Jeff at GABF in 2007.
Jeff O’Neil, from Ithaca Brewing, wearing his automatic-get-on-the-bulletin shirt, with Rodger Davis, when he was still with Drake’s, not wearing his, at the Craft Brewers Conference in 2008.
Jeff O’Neil, a mild-mannered brewer was underneath wearing the Bulletin supporter costume that turns him into a superhero, coming into Deep Ellum in Boston for an event during the Craft Brewers Conference several years ago.
Today is the birthday of Morton W. Coutts (February 7, 1904-June 25, 2004) who was a “New Zealand inventor who revolutionized the science of brewing beer,” and “is best known for the continuous fermentation method.”
Here’s a basic biography from the DB Breweries website:
Morton Coutts (1904-2004) was the inheritor of a rich brewing tradition dating back to the 19th century. Like his father, W. Joseph Coutts and grandfather, Joseph Friedrich Kühtze, Morton Coutts was more an innovator and scientific brewer than a businessman. He was foundation head brewer of Dominion Breweries Ltd under (Sir) Henry Kelliher and became a director of the company after his father’s death in 1946. He and Kelliher formed a formidable team-Coutts, the boffin-like heir to a rich brewing heritage, obsessed with quality control and production innovation, and Kelliher, a confident, entrepreneurial businessman, able to hold his own with politicians and competitors.
Morton Coutts’ most important contribution was the development in the 1950s of the system of continuous fermentation, patented in 1956, to give greater beer consistency and product control. The continuous fermentation process was so named because it allows a continuous flow of ingredients in the brewing, eliminating variables to produce the ideal beer continuously. The system achieved this by scrapping open vats-the weak link in the old system-and replacing them with enclosed sealed tanks. Continuous fermentation allows the brew to flow from tank to tank, fermenting under pressure, and never coming into contact with the atmosphere, even when bottled. Coutts’ research showed that his process could produce consistent, more palatable beer with a longer shelf life than under batch brewing. A London newspaper described it as a “brewer’s dream and yours too”. Coutts patented the process, and subsequently the patent rights were sold worldwide as other brewers recognised the inherent benefits of continuous processes. Although many attempted to implement the technology, most failed due to their inability to apply the rigorous hygiene techniques developed and applied by Coutts. Eventually, in 1983, Coutts’ contribution to the industry was honoured in New Zealand.
And DB Breweries also has a timeline with key events in the brewery’s history, including dates from Coutts’ life.
The Waitemata Brewery in 1933, after it became part of DB Breweries.
As for his most influential invention, continuous fermentation, here are some resources, one from New Zealand’s Science Trust Roadshow with Morton Coutts — Continuous Fermentation System. And after I visited New Zealand, I wrote a sidebar on it for an article I did for All About Beer, and also later when a German university announced something very similar a few years ago in Everything Old Is New Again: Non-Stop Fermentation.
Coutts later in life.
Today is the birthday of Susannah Oland (February 7, 1818-March 24, 1885). “She was the creator of a beer recipe which became the basis for founding Canada’s oldest independent brewery, Moosehead Brewery. Though she was credited with running the operation as well as acting as chief brewer, the business was incorporated in the name of her husband and sons. When her husband died, the partners sold their interests to a manager, whom Oland was able to buy out eight years later. She continued running the business until her death” in 1885. The business remains in the Oland family to this day.
According to her Wikipedia page:
John supposedly studied as an Anglican minister at Cambridge, but worked as a tobacconist and a dealer in tea and beer in Bristol after he and Susannah married. He filed bankruptcy in 1844, and then studied accounting, going to work at the London and South Western Railway. By 1851, the family had reestablished themselves sufficiently to hire a servant girl and a nurse, and were living in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England. A decade later, the family of nine was farming near Hawley, by Farnborough, Surrey (now in Hampshire), England. In 1862, John immigrated to Nova Scotia, Canada, leaving Susannah to tend the farm and family. He was employed with the Nova Scotia Railway, a part of the intercontinental railway project and she brewed beer. Within three years, the family was reunited and rented a house in Dartmouth, where Susannah set up her brewing operation in the garden shed behind their home.
Captain Francis de Winton, a friend of the family, suggested that they market Susannah’s “Brown October Ale” and John, whose time with the railroad had ended, agreed. On 14 August 1867 the business was incorporated with John designated as manager, places set aside for three of his sons, with funds provided by de Winton, George Harvey and Thomas Mowbray. Though Susannah was the chief brewer and had been the inspiration for the business, her name was not on the agreement. Because they started the business in the Turtle Grove District of Dartmouth, it was called the Turtle Grove Brewery. Within a short time, there were nine employees and the business was the third largest operating in Dartmouth. John’s name may have been on the paperwork, but Susannah ran the business.
When John died in a riding accident on 20 October 1870 Oland was left with no control over the brewery. Compounding matters, de Winton had been transferred to Gibraltar and the other two partners sold their interests to a manager, George Fraser, who had formerly been employed with a competing firm. Undaunted, Oland continued working at the brewery, which had been renamed the “Army and Navy Brewery”, in honor of her biggest patrons. For eight years, the business operated under that name, though it was destroyed and rebuilt twice because of fire. In 1877, after receiving an inheritance from a relative in England, Oland bought out Fraser and published a notice of the partnership’s dissolution in a Halifax newspaper. She began operating the brewery under the gender neutral name, “S. Oland, Sons and Company,” training her sons to be brewmasters. For the remainder of her life, she worked at the brewery; as of 2011 she is the only woman to have run the business.
Oland died while spending the winter in Richmond, Virginia, on 24 March 1885. After her death, as her will had stipulated, control did not pass to her eldest sons, but rather to her youngest son, George, with provisions made for her daughter Hulda. The business she drove to be incorporated just 90 days after Canada’s Confederation spawned two brewing dynasties in Canada, as after the 1917 Halifax explosion one branch of the family moved to Saint John, New Brunswick, later selling the Oland Brewery to Labatt Brewing Company, while the original company relocated to Halifax and later to Saint John. After several name changes, it became the Moosehead Brewery in 1947. It is the oldest independently operating and the largest privately-owned brewery in Canada.
And this account of both Susannah and her husband John is from the Canadian Encyclopedia:
John Oland was born on 14 July 1819 in Bristol, England. His family was of modest means and as a result he worked a variety of jobs before marrying Susannah Culverwell in 1842. Together the couple had nine children. John moved from job to job after he and Susannah married, working as a cigar dealer, draper, shopkeeper, commercial clerk, accountant and more. His restless spirit, however, made it difficult for him to hold a job for an extended period of time and ultimately undermined his financial security; he was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1844. He subsequently studied accounting and began to work for the London and Southwestern Railroad. The family soon thereafter began farming in nearby Surrey. Almost penniless, John decided in 1862 to emigrate to British North America, leaving Susannah to tend to family and farm. In 1865, Susannah and the children joined John in Truro, Nova Scotia, which was witnessing an upswing in economic activity due to the construction of the railroad.
By 1867, the Oland family had moved to Dartmouth. Struggling financially, Susannah supplemented what little money John earned by making beer in the shed at the back of their Dartmouth property, using an old family recipe. Her October brown ale proved to be so popular with the local inhabitants that a family friend, Captain Francis Walter DeWinton (1835–1901), suggested brewing on a larger scale. DeWinton, along with two other investors, provided the funds to start a commercial brewery. Because they began the business in the Turtle Grove area of Dartmouth — a Mi’kmaq community — the brewery was named Turtle Grove Brewery.The company was incorporated on 1 October 1867. On paper, John Oland was manager of the business, but in reality, Susannah oversaw virtually every aspect of its day-to-day operations. By many accounts, she supervised the brewing process, which was undertaken with the help of her three sons.
The new commercial brewery was situated on a 12.5-acre plot with 300 feet of frontage on Halifax Harbour. Halifax was ideal for a budding brewer because of the pronounced military and naval presence. Beer had long been part of the life in the armed forces. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), the Duke of Marlborough, commander of the British forces, proclaimed: “No soldier can fight unless he is properly fed on beef and beer.” British authorities accepted Marlborough’s statement as gospel, and in the years that followed, British soldiers were given enough “beer money” to purchase five pints of beer a day. This, along with the fact that the overwhelming majority of the civilian population in Dartmouth and Halifax could trace its ancestry to the beer-drinking cultures of England, Scotland, and Ireland, gave an immediate incentive to anyone like Susannah Oland looking to capitalize on their knowledge of the art of brewing.
Taking advantage of DeWinton’s connections (he was military secretary to the Marquess of Lorne, the governor general of Canada), the brewery quickly grew to be the third-largest business operating in Dartmouth. Tragedy struck in October 1870, however, when John died in a riding accident. To make matters worse, DeWinton was transferred to Gibraltar and the other two partners sold their interests to a manager, George Fraser, who had formerly been employed at a competing brewery. Undaunted, Susannah Oland and her sons continued working at the brewery, which had been renamed the Army and Navy Brewery in honor of its principal patrons.
In 1877, after receiving an inheritance from a relative in England, Susannah Oland bought out Fraser and dissolved the partnership. She began operating the brewery under the name S. Oland, Sons and Company and trained her sons to be brewmasters. She worked at the brewery for the remainder of her life.