Monday’s ad is for Genesee Beer, which was founded in Rochester, New York, originally along the Genesee River, but in 1878 they moved up into Rochester proper. Their Genesee Cream Ale, in the simple green can, was one of our go-to beers when I was in high school. Since 2009, the brewery has been part of North American Breweries. This ad, from the 1970s, part of a series of framed promotional posters by artist Sherm Pehrson, features a Bass fish that’s been hooked by a fisherman, jumping out of the river, trying to wriggle free.
Today is the birthday of Otto Bremer (October 21, 1867-February 18, 1951). He was born in the Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) area of Germany, and along with his brother Adolf, settled in Minnesota, in the St. Paul area.
Bremer was a German American banker and philanthropist. He founded Bremer Bank and the Otto Bremer Foundation, which grants funds for use in the communities where the banks operate. His brother Adolf married brewer Jacob Schmidt’s daughter, and by 1901, Adolf and Otto Bremer owned 25 percent of the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company stock. When Schmidt passed away in 1911, the Bremer brothers took control of the brewery. When Adolf died in 1939, Otto assumed the role of president of Schmidt’s brewery until he died in 1951.
Here’s a partial history of the Jacob Schmidt brewery during the time the Bremers were involved, from Wikipedia:
Jacob Schmidt started his brewing career in Minnesota as the Brewmaster for the Theodore Hamm’s Brewing Co. He left this position to become owner of the North Star Brewing Co. Under Schmidt’s new leadership the small brewery would see much success and in 1899 Schimdt transferred partial ownership of his new brewery to a new corporation headed by his son in law Adolph Bremer, and Adolph’s brother Otto. This corporation would later become Bremer Bank. With the new partnership the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company was established. In 1900 the North Star Brewery would suffer a fire that would close it for good. With the new management team in place a new brewery was needed, the new firm purchased the Stahlmann Brewery form the St. Paul Brewing Co. and immediately started construction on a new Romanesque brewery incorporating parts of Stahlmann’s original brewery along with it including the further excavation of the lagering cellars used in the fermentation process to create Schmidt’s Lager Beer
Upon Schmidt’s death in 1911 the Bremers took full control of the company and continued to see success and growth. In 1920 National Prohibition came to Minnesota and stopped the production and sale of intoxicating beverages. Schmidt’s was one of the few breweries to see success and remain open all throughout prohibition in offering nonalcoholic beverages or near beers such as Malta and City Club as well as other beverages. It was rumored that Schmidt’s continued to produce real beer during prohibition complete with a secret underground tunnel that allowed for beer to be transported from the brewery on the bluffs to awaiting ships on the Mississippi river below. None of these rumors were ever confirmed though.
Since Schmidt’s never stopped production of beverages in the brewery it was one of few breweries in Minnesota that was ready to produce real beer when prohibition was lifted in 1933. Schmidt’s re-released City Club beer as an strong beer with the new slogan of “Tops in any Town”. After prohibition Schmidt’s saw widespread success and continued to grow. This Success brought attention to the Bremer family leading to the kidnapping of Edward Bremer by the Barker-Karpis gang on the 16th of January, 1934; he was released on the 7th of February of the same year with 200,000 bail. As Schmidt’s continued to grow becoming the 7th largest brewery in the country by 1936 it was decided offering City Club in cans would be more profitable and became one of the first brewers in Minnesota to offer beer in cans. Like Hamm’s Schmidt’s offered beer in flat top cans, but became one of the only brewer to switch back to cone top cans after. During World War II Schmidt’s was granted a contract from the government to supply beer to the troops, made possible by a long standing friendship between the Bremers and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In 1951 Otto Bremer died and City Club beer began to be phased out. In 1954 due to mounting pressure and competition from outside National Brewers the Bremers decided to leave the brewing industry and sold the company to Detroit based brewer Pfeiffer.
And here’s another biography of both Adolf and Otto Bremer, from Funding Universe:
Otto Bremer and his younger brother Adolph immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1886. The Midwest, where the young men settled, had experienced a period of rapid growth: the population had exploded and business opportunities were abundant. Otto Bremer’s first job was as a stock clerk for a wholesale hardware business in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1887, he took a bookkeeping position with the National German-American Bank–he had three years of elementary banking training in Germany, according to a Ramsey County History article by Thomas J. Kelley. Bremer eventually became chief clerk.
The boom days of the 1880s were followed by a bust in the early 1890s. Banks in St. Paul’s sister city of Minneapolis went under. The National German-American Bank had to suspend operations for a time. By the end of the decade, the nation was in a deep economic depression.
Otto Bremer left the National German-American Bank at the turn of the century to make a run for the office of city treasurer. A well established and respected member of the community by this time, he won the election and served for five terms. (He had an unsuccessful but closely contested race for mayor in 1912.) Meanwhile, his brother Adolph was making his own headway in St. Paul’s business community. One connection led to a romance as well. Adolph married Marie Schmidt, the daughter of North Star Brewery owner Jacob Schmidt, in 1896.
While serving as city treasurer, Otto Bremer became a charter member of the board of directors for the American National Bank. The bank was formed in 1903 through the merging of two St. Paul banks. Bremer held 50 of the 2,000 shares of capital stock. The charter members of the board of directors, well aware of potential pitfalls, operated a conservative banking business, unlike the days of wild growth when banks and customers were extended beyond their means.
Brother Adolph’s responsibilities also continued to grow. When the brewery was reorganized as the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company in 1899, he was named president. Adolph Bremer took over operating control when Schmidt died in 1910. He brought Otto in as secretary and treasurer shortly thereafter.
As Adolph gained ownership in the brewery, Otto Bremer increased his holdings in the bank, becoming a major shareholder by 1916. Adolph joined his brother on the American National Bank board of directors that year.
In 1921, Benjamin Baer, the bank’s second president and an original board member, died. Otto Bremer was named chairman. He also bought much of Baer’s stock and by 1924 gained controlling interest in the bank.
The brewery and its sales agencies in rural Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin provided a direct link to the Bremers and American National Bank in St. Paul. The brewery or the Bremers owned the land or buildings the sales agencies occupied, creating a starting point for further business relationships in the communities.
Otto Bremer became an advisor to local bankers, who often formed corresponding partnerships with American National. Dependent on the cyclical agricultural economy, country banks needed loans from city banks with a more diverse and therefore a more stable of base of business. Otto Bremer formed a deep commitment to the rural communities, and when economic disaster struck he was there to help.
Trouble began with a ramp-up of farm production in response to the needs created by the United States’ entry into World War I. Farmers began planting more acres and buying expensive machinery. Agricultural land increased in value. Farmers took out larger loans to drive the expansion. Demand collapsed following the war. Harsh weather conditions in the Midwest further hampered farmers. Loans went unpaid. A recession hit the nation in 1920, taxing city banks supporting the stressed country banks.
“Bent on maintaining the public trust in the country banks, Otto Bremer loaned them his good name and his money. Throughout the 1920s banks came into the fold of the American National Bank or the Bremer group,” wrote Kelley. Eventually, Bremer had to begin borrowing against his assets to keep country banks afloat.
By 1933, he held large or controlling interests in 55 banks in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Montana, apart from his holdings in American National. However, he was $8 million in debt. The backing of Adolph Bremer’s shares in the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company and a loan from the Federal Reconstruction Finance Corporation helped Otto Bremer keep his stock in American National and the country banks in the family.
Despite the one-two punch delivered by the farm recession and Great Depression, the Bremer brothers had kept control of both the brewery and the bank. When Adolph Bremer died in 1939, Otto Bremer succeed him as president of the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company.
Otto Bremer in 1943.
In 1943, he created the Otto Bremer Company. The bank holding company consolidated his holdings in the country banks and would protect them from being sold to settle his estate, according to the Kelley article.
The Otto Bremer Foundation was formed the next year to make charitable grants in the communities served by the country banks. The ownership of the Otto Bremer Company was transferred to the foundation in 1949. After Bremer’s death in 1951, the banking chain entered an extended period of consolidation. The brewery was sold in 1954, but descendants of Adolph Bremer held stock in American National until it was sold to Milwaukee-based Firstar Corp. in 1996.
Today is the 46th birthday of Jonathan Cutler, brewmaster/owner of Piece Brewing in Chicago. His brewpub makes great pizza and even better beer. Plus, he’s a terrific, fun person. He even got a shout-out at the Academy Awards a couple of years ago, when Quentin Tarantino said “Piece Out” during his acceptance speech. Join me in wishing Jonathan a very happy birthday.
At Stone Brewery during CBC in San Diego in 2008. From left: Peter Schell, Eric Rose (Hollister Brewing), Ian Ward (Brewers Supply Group), Jonathan Cutler (Piece Brewing), Chad Kennedy (Laurelwood Public House) and Fal Allen (now back at Anderson Valley).
Sunday’s ad is for Genesee Beer, which was founded in Rochester, New York, originally along the Genesee River, but in 1878 they moved up into Rochester proper. Their Genesee Cream Ale, in the simple green can, was one of our go-to beers when I was in high school. Since 2009, the brewery has been part of North American Breweries. This ad, from the 1960s, features a generic menu cover that Genesee would offer as a promotion to restaurants or bars that served food so that the businesses could save money and the brewery could advertise their beer. This one, I think, is better looking than a lot of these I’ve seen, with the lovely fields and marching, or dancing, glasses of beer.
Today is the birthday of John D. McKechnie (October 21, 1849-February 14, 1906). He was the son of Alexander McKechnie, who along with Alexander’s brother James, the Scottish brothers founded the J. & A. McKechnie Brewing Co., d.b.a. the Canandaigua Brewery, in 1843, in Canandaigua, New York. In 1889, after the last brother passed away, John McKechnie became president of the brewery, and it was renamed the simpler McKechnie Brewing Co., but closed for good at the start of Prohibition.
Here’s the obituary for McKechnie from The Western Brewer:
And here’s a history of the brewery by Lynn Paulson, the City of Canandaigua Historian, from the Archives of the Ontario County Historical Society:
In 1830, the McKechnie family left Falkirk, Scotland and emigrated to Canada, and from there to Rochester, New York in 1837 where the elder McKechnie with his oldest son set up a brewery business. Two other sons, James and Alexander McKechnie, left Rochester in 1843 and purchased a small brewery in Canandaigua on the site of what is now the Daily Messenger building on Buffalo Street.
The Canandaigua Brewery grew steadily, producing a product that from its earliest days was noted for its excellence. In 1871, the major buildings of the brewery were rebuilt and by 1876, the brewery had become the largest employer in Canandaigua with about 100 workers. The buildings covered over five acres of land and consisted of the brewery and storage block, malt-houses, a cooper shop, woodsheds, a barn for stabling horses, and three ice houses, which had the capacity to store 2000 tons of ice. While the brewery had the capacity of producing 500 barrels of beer each year in its early years, the capacity had grown to 1,000 barrels of beer per week.
The McKechnies became involved in several other enterprises besides their brewery. In 1880 they founded the Canandaigua Lake Steam Navigation Company, which promoted shipping and tourism on Canandaigua Lake. The McKechnie Bank was organized in 1882 and later would become the Ontario Trust Bank. The McKechnies also invested in other businesses including the Canandaigua Gas and Light Company, the local ice houses, and area hops farms. Alexander’s son, John, purchased the Seneca Point Hotel on Canandaigua Lake and managed it until it burned in 1899.
After the death of Alexander McKechnie in 1883, the firm was incorporated as a stock company renamed the McKechnie Brewing Company under the management of James McKechnie. In the production of its ale, the company used only the choicest hops and high-grade malt made from barley grown in Western New York, much of which was grown in Bristol and South Bristol. The hops and barley were brought by steamboat to the Canandaigua City Pier.
With the death of James McKechnie in 1889, the business was managed by John D. McKechnie, the eldest son of Alexander McKechnie. The stock company was renamed the J. & A. McKechnie Brewery Company.
In 1904, the brewery was sold to Schopf Distributors located in Buffalo. The brewery was fully remodeled and concentrated on the production of its celebrated Canandaigua Ale. It had so excellent a reputation that shipments went as far west as Salt Lake City, Utah. The ale is said to have “such an excellent quality that it is widely recommended by physicians as a nourishing and healthful drink for invalids.” The yearly capacity of the brewery had reached 60,000 barrels.
The refurbished brewery had a cooperage where the kegs and barrels necessary for handling the product were manufactured, and a large cold storage warehouse where large quantities of the choice fruit, mostly apples, grown in the vicinity of Canandaigua could be stored. The old-fashioned wooden tanks formerly used to store the ale were discarded and replaced with glass enameled steel tanks that ensured the purity of the ale. Throughout all the processes of manufacture and in all departments of the plant, the strictest cleanliness and attention to sanitary detail were observed.
In 1916, with the advent of Prohibition in New York state, and in 1920, with the implementation of Prohibition nationwide, the J. & A. McKechnie Brewery was forced to close. In addition, the hops farms were hit with several blights in the early 1900s that effectively decimated the industry. For a brief period, the brewery attempted to survive on the production of pickles and vinegar. An attempt was made in 1933 by a Syracuse entrepreneur to reopen the McKechnie Brewery, but it never materialized.
The Canandaigua Cold Storage & Ice Company occupied the buildings of the old brewery until it was sold to the GLF bean processing and dog/pet food manufacturing plant in 1940. On Jan. 1, 1961, the GLF plant burned, leaving a few remaining buildings on the site. Ironically, the McKechnie home on North Main Street where the American Legion had located in 1945 burned in 1960. Any remaining structures of the old McKechnie brewery were removed in 1971 when The Daily Messenger built its new facility on Buffalo Street.
Today is the birthday of Emil (sometimes spelled Emile) Schmitt (October 21, 1851-November 13, 1898). He was born in Lorraine, France, and emigrated to America in 1853 with his family, settling in Cincinnati, Ohio. Having married Maria Elizabeth “Mary” Kauffman, he was the son-in-law of John Kauffman, who was part of the group that bought the Franklin Brewery in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1856. By 1859, it was called the John Kaufman & Co. Brewery, and it became the fourth largest brewery in Cincinnati. Eventually, he remained as the sole owner, and in 1882 renamed it the John Kauffman Brewing Co. Emil Schmitt was the manager of the brewery. When he died in 1886, Emil assumed control of it. It was closed by prohibition, and never reopened, although it was used as the Husman Potato Chip factory, so at least it was put to good use.
The name confusion is particularly odd, since some accounts, notably his page on Ancestry.com, claims that he was a twin, and that he, Emile, had a twin sister named Emil. But even the illustration accompanying his obituary, shown above, is titled Emil, and you’d be hard-pressed to conclude that’s a woman. There’s also some suggestion that she also died at the same time as her brother Emile. There’s definitely some conflicting reports on this.
Here’s his obituary, from the Cincinnati Enquirer:
There’s an entry for the John Kauffman Brewery in the “History of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio,” published in 1894:
“In 1856 John Kauffman, George F. Eichenlaub, and Rudolf Rheinbold purchased the Franklin Brewery on Lebanon Road near the Deer Creek from Kauffman’s aunt. Her husband, John Kauffman, estabished the brewery in 1844. He died in 1845. In 1859 under the name Kauffman and Company, they began to build a new brewery on Vine Street and soon left the Deer Creek location. The first structure on Vine was completed in 1860.
In 1871 the Kauffman Brewery was the city’s fourth largest with sales amounting to $30,930. It was located on both the west and east sides of Vine north of Liberty and south of Green Street.
In 1860 Kauffman also bought the Schneider grist mill on Walnut Street near Hamilton Road (McMicken Avenue), but leased it out before long to another company.
In its first year on Vine Street, the brewery produced only about 1000 barrels. By 1877 the number grew to 50,000 barrels of beer. Kauffman’s beer was sold in Nashville, Montgomery, Atlanta, Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans.
In 1865 Eichenlaub retired from the business and he was followed by Rheinbold in 1877. John Kauffman then took over the leadership by himself. After his oldest son Johnn studied brewing in Augsburg, Germany, he went to work at the family brewery. Emil Schmidt, Kauffman’s son-in-law, was superintendent by 1877.
In 1882 the brewery was incorporated as the John Kauffman Brewing Company with a paid-in capital stock of $700,000. In 1888 the brewery building at 1622 Vine was enlarged. Note it is occupied by the Schuerman Company today. The office and family residence was at 1625-27 Vine, which was razed and replaced about 75 years ago.
John Kauffman died in 1892 and his wife Marianne Eichenlaub Kauffman took over. She was president of the corporation; Emil Schmidt, vice-president; and treasurer; Charles Rheinbold, secretary; Charles J. Kauffman, superintendent; and John R. Kauffman, brewmaster. By 1894 the brewery produced 70,000 barrels of beer. The malt house had a capacity of 150,000 bushels of barley and the brewery plant covered five acres of ground.
By 1913 John R. Kauffman was president of the company. The brewery produced ‘Gilt Edge’, ‘Columbia’ and ‘Old Lager’ beers. It closed in 1919 when Prohibition became law and never reopened.”
The brewery is also mentioned briefly in a History of the Brewery District for Cincinnati:
Industry continued to be an important factor in Over-the-Rhine’s development. The canal area was still the location of many diversified industries, including lumberyards, foundries, pork packers, tanneries, and glycerin works. The brewing industry tended to concentrate along McMicken Avenue and the Miami and Erie canal (what is now the Brewery District). By 1866 the Jackson Brewery, J. G. John & Sons Brewery, Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, and John Kauffman Brewing Company dominated the industrial use of the area. In close association on the west side of the canal were the John Hauck and Windisch-Mulhauser Brewing Companies. Between 1875 and 1900 seventeen breweries were located in Over-the-Rhine and West End.
So begins the website of beer cook Lucy Saunders, whose birthday is today. Lucy has done much to promote both cooking with beer and enjoying food with beer through her books and other writings. She’s a treasure, in more ways than one. Join me in wishing Lucy a very happy birthday Lucy.
Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment, Fergie Carey, co-owner of Monk’s, Lucy Saunders, the beer cook, and Tom Peters, also co-owner of Monk’s at the Canned Beer Dinner several Junes ago.
Today is the birthday of William G. Ruske (October 21, 1842-May 2, 1915). Ruske was born in Germany and came to Western Pennsylvania, co-founding the Keystone Brewing Co. 1886, and was its president. In 1899, Keystone became part of a regional trust known as the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, which was formed by the merging together of thirteen Allegheny County breweries. Ruske was initially secretary of the trust, but became president when his predecessor died. The brewery survived prohibition and today is known as the Iron City Brewing Co.
This is his obituary, from the American Brewers’ Review the year he passed away:
And here’s part of another history of Iron City Brewing, from the merger through the end of prohibition, from PA’s Big House:
As the century came to a close, breweries in the Pittsburgh area merged to form the Pittsburgh Brewing Company (PBC). The twelve local breweries included: Wainwright; Phoenix; Keystone; Winter Brothers; Phillip Lauer; John H. Nusser; Eberhardt & Ober; Hippely & Sons; Ober; J. Seiferth Brothers; Straub; and Iron City. In addition to these initial twelve breweries, nine more were included in the merger. Now, Pittsburgh Brewing Company was Pennsylvania’s largest brewery and third largest in the nation with combined assets worth an estimated $11 million. For the next three decades, PBC boasted a brewing capacity of more than one million barrels per year.
The onset of Prohibition in 1920 brought serious strain to breweries across the nation. Pittsburgh Brewing Company, however, was able to survive by using its facilities to produce ice cream, soft drinks, and non-alcoholic “near-beers.” When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, PBC was one of only 725 breweries in the U.S. still operating.
After Prohibition, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company regained market share and produced the same products it had made prior to the act. The president of the company at that time also created a new subsidiary and reinstated the original name: the Iron City Brewing Company (ICBC). ICBC’s products included Iron City Pilsner, Iron City Lager, Tech Beer, and Blue Label Beer. In 1947, the company again expanded and Iron City Brewing Company continued to grow in the market. By the mid-1950’s, ICBC became the best selling beer in Pittsburgh.
I really couldn’t find very much information on Ruske, or even his original Keystone Brewery. But one curiosity I came across was this undated tintype. But since tintypes were popular for around twenty years, from the 1860s through the 1870s, I think it’s safe to conclude that’s what this one was created. The two beer bottles on the posts are from the Keystone Brewery and the label apparently reads Cabinet Export Beer.
Saturday’s ad is for Genesee Beer, which was founded in Rochester, New York, originally along the Genesee River, but in 1878 they moved up into Rochester proper. Their Genesee Cream Ale, in the simple green can, was one of our go-to beers when I was in high school. Since 2009, the brewery has been part of North American Breweries. This ad, from the 1970s, features poster art by an artist who signs only Cariguo, titled “Alpha Lamda Epsilon Happy Hour.” There’s also a banner that reads “Love That Genny Cream,” and everyone at the Frat party seems to be doing just that.
Today is the birthday of Johann Georg Sohn (October 20, 1817-October 24, 1876). He was born in Bavaria, but settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1845, he co-founded the Hamilton Brewery, which was later known as the J.G. Sohn & Company Brewery. It was also known as the Clyffside Brewing Co., and used the trade name Feldsbrau. Johann’s sons took over after his death, and it was sold in 1907 and became known as the William G. Sohn Brewing Co. and later the Mohawk Brewing Co. After prohibition, it reopened as the Clyffside Brewing. After World War 2, it was renamed the Red Top Brewing before closing for good in 1958. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find very much biographical information about Sohn, and only a little about his brewery.
Here’s a short biography from Find-a-Grave:
Clyffside Brewing Company is a defunct brewery in Cincinnati, located on the site of Hamilton Brewery, founded in 1845 by Johann Sohn and George Klotter as the Hamilton Brewery. By 1853, the company becane known as the Klotter, Sohn and Company. In 1866, Sohn bought out Klotter, and Klotter went on to establish his own brewery on Klotter Street. Sohn renamed the brewery the J.G. Sohn & Company Brewery, and it became the tenth largest of its type in Cincinnati. In November 1900, the company was reorganized as the William S. Sohn Brewing Company when Sohn sold out his interest. In 1907, Sohn was purchased by Mohawk Brewery, and was known for its Zinzinnati Beer.
Cincinnati Brewing History has the following to say about the brewery:
George Klotter left the Klotter, Sohn, & Co. Brewery partnership to pursue his own proprietorship, at which point Johann George Sohn brought in Louis Sohngen and Heinrich Schlosser as partners. The new partnership would operate under the name of J.G. Sohn & Co. Brewery. Sohn ran the business until his death in 1876.
After Sohn’s death, leadership of the company was assumed by his sons, J.G. Sohn Jr., William, and J. Edward. J.G. Sohn Jr. died in 1880 and the other two brothers continued to operate the brewery together until 1900, at which time J. Edward left to join the Schaller Brothers Brewery. Shortly thereafter William would rename the brewery as the William S. Sohn Brewery, however he died in 1902. After William’s death his wife, Lena Jung Sohn ran the brewery until 1907, as she was intimately familiar with the industry by way of her father, another Cincinnati brewer.
Abandoned, the story of a forgotten America, also has a page about the Clyffside Brewing Company