Sunday’s ad is for Budweiser, from 1943. This World War 2 ad features a scene aboard a warship that’s firing its guns, contrasting the modern ship to the sailors firing cannons from a colonial wooden ship, with the tagline “The Ammunition is being passed.”
Archives for November 11, 2018
Today is the birthday of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., one of my favorite authors. I wrote about him when he passed away in 2007 in a post entitled So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut’s Beer Heritage and detailed his relationship with John Hickelooper’s father and a beer Wynkoop later made based on Vonnegut’s grandfather’s recipe. There were essentially two different beer stories involving the Wynkoop Brewing and Vonnegut, and I’ve learned a little more about them over the past decade.
The first one was in the mid-1990s, when the Denver Public Library held a special event around 1996 (sources vary between 1995-97) called Denver Public Libation to commemorate the opening of the new library. The library partnered with Wynkoop, who invited several well-known authors to write mini-stories to be printed on the labels. Some of the writers included Clive Cussler, Allen Ginsberg, and Hunter Thompson, among others. Vonnegut also wrote something for the event. His piece was 160 words and entitled “Merlin,” and tells the story of “the unfortunate events that ensue when the master wizard casts a spell that equips the Knights of the Round Table with Thompson submachine guns.” Despite its short length, I cannot find a copy of it anywhere, and it doesn’t appear to have been reprinted anywhere else. It’s listed in his bibliography as having only been “Serialized on bottles of Denver Public Libation Ale, made by Wynkoop Brewing Company.”
John Hickenlooper wrote about the story in “The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics:”
The second instance was around the same time, when Wynkoop created a beer with Vonnegut based on his grandfather’s recipe. It was called Wynkoop Mile High Malt.
Vonnegut himself detailed the experience in his 1997 semi-autobiographical novel “Timequake.”
The label artwork was based on a self-portrait by Vonnegut, who was also an artist.
And in the book “Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut,” by Kurt Vonnegut and William Richard Allen, he explains more about his grandfather’s beer.
On November 11, 2007, Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver, reintroduced Kurt’s Mile High Malt to celebrate the late author’s birthday. The beer was originally created by Vonnegut’s grandfather, Albert Lieber, of the Indianapolis Brewery, using coffee as the secret ingredient. Kurt’s Mile High Malt was first brewed in 1996 thanks to Wynkoop Founder and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a friend of Vonnegut’s. At Vonnegut’s request, coffee was added to the Mile High Malt, making it a close recreation of his grandfather’s original.
Then, in 2014, they released it again for the brewery’s 25th anniversary. It was part of their “Even-Smaller Batch Series” and was even canned.
Today is the birthday of William A. Birk (November 11, 1861-June 11, 1916). William was the son of Jacob Birk, who co-founded Chicago’s Wacker & Birk Brewing Co. When Jacob retired, he bought the Corper & Nocklin Brewery for his sons, renaming it the Birk Bros. Brewing Co. William and his brother Edward ran the brewery through Prohibition, and it successfully reopened after repeal, and continued until 1950.
Here’s William’s obituary from the American Brewers’ Review from the year after he died:
Here’s some biographical info from “Historical Review of Chicago and Cook County and Selected Biography,” by A.N. Waterman:
Birk, his father having been born in Germany and being in early manhood a harnessmaker. He came to Chicago in 1854, prospered in trade and business, and for many years conducted a hotel on West Lake street. In 1881 he became associated with Fred Wacker & Son, then engaged in the malting business, and in the following year became associated with the firm in brewing operations under the firm name of the Wacker & Birk Brewing Company. In 1891 the business was sold to the English corporation, the Chicago Breweries, Limited, and Jacob Birk and his two sons, William A. and Edward J., incorporated the Birk Brothers’ Brewing Company. Since the founding of the company, at that time, William A. has been president and Edward J. Birk, secretary and treasurer. The basis of the complete and extensive plant was the Corper & Nockin brewery, purchased in 1891, and since remodeled and enlarged. The elder Birk retired from his connection with the business in 1895.
And here’s another account, from the “History of Cook County, Illinois,” published in 1909:
Birk Brothers Brewing Company delivery wagon on Belmont Avenue, around 1895.
Today is the birthday of Harry Shlaudeman (November 11, 1865-19??). His father Henry Shlaudeman founded what would become the Decatur Brewing Co., in Decatur, Illinois. It reopened after prohibition in 1934 under the name Macon County Beverage Co., but closed for good the same year.
Harry attended the University of Illinois, and received a B.S. in Architecture. After college he worked in the family brewery, as secretary and treasurer, and he was also president of the Citizens National Bank. Later in life, he left for California, settling in Pasadena, where he lived out his days.
Surprisingly, I was unable to turn up even one photograph of him, and very little even of the brewery his father, and then he and his brother, owned. The City of Decatur and Macon County, subtitled “A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement,” includes a biography of Henry Shlaudeman, which also mentioned Harry and his brother Frank:
He father also held two patents related to brewing. One was for an Improvement in safety-valves for fermented-liquor casks from 1878 and the other for a Refrigerator-building for fermenting and storing beer.
Today is the 64th birthday of Ken Grossman, who founded Sierra Nevada Brewing in 1980. It would be hard to say too much about just how much Ken has done and continues to do for the craft beer industry, while at the same time being wildly successful. Join me in wishing Ken a very happy birthday.