Wednesday’s ad is for the Brasserie de Hanoi, from 1899. From the late 1800s until the 1980s, poster art really came into its own, and in Europe a lot of really cool posters, many of them for breweries, were produced. I’ve been posting vintage European posters all last year and will continue to do so in 2020. This poster was created for the Brasserie de Hanoi, which although is not in Europe, but Vietnam, the brewery was founded by Frenchman Alfred Hommel in 1892, when Vietnam was a French colony. He located his brewery in Tonkin and it operated until 1927. I’m not sure who created the poster, but the text at the bottom: “La Meilleure des Bieres, Sans Addition D’Alcool” means “The Best of Beers Without Addition of Alcohol.” I assume that means they didn’t add any additional alcohol, not that they were making non-alcoholic beer, but it seems like a strange selling point.
Archives for April 1, 2020
Today is the birthday of William H. Gerst (April 1, 1847-March 10, 1933). In 1890, along with Christian Moerlein as a partner, he bought the Nashville brewery that was founded in 1859. A few years later, he bought out Moerlein and his brewery became known as the Wm. or William Gerst Brewing Co. until it eventually closed down for good in 1954.
Here’s Gerst’s history from the Gerst Haus in Nashville, Tennessee, which Gerst’s grandson opened in 1955.
William H. Gerst was born in 1847, coming from a long line of brewers in the Bavarian region of Germany. A short time later the National Brewing Company was established in 1859 and changed hands several times. In 1890 Christian Moerlein and William Gerst went into partnership to open the Moerlin-Gerst Brewing Company, until Gerst bought out Moerlin and the brewery became William Gerst Brewing Company in 1893. The brewery was located on 6th Avenue South here in Nashville, Tennessee. William Gerst received a Master Brewers Certificate in 1888, and in 1889 was elected the second President of the United States Brewmaster’s Association. Gerst had a passion for horse racing. In 1910 his horse by the name of Donau won the Kentucky Derby in 2 minutes, 6.5 seconds, and is to this date the only horse owned by a Tennessean to win the derby. Gerst was a prominent business man and also a family man with 4 sons and 2 daughters. The sons all worked in the brewery and eventually would come to run the brewery. William Gerst retired from running the brewing business due to Prohibition. He died on March 10, 1933 and never got to see his brewery after the Prohibition law was repealed that same year. The brewery closed in 1954 and the original building was demolished in 1963.
An excerpt from the book Nashville Beer includes this snippet about Gerst:
William H. Gerst was a pioneer in the brewing industry and was also known as the king of advertising. He promoted a variety of his beers at the Tennessee State Fair and Centennial Exposition, gained lots of attention for creating cone-top cans and labeled it as “Brewed in Dixie,” before Prohibition practically shut down the brewery. Gerst lost his desire to brew malt beverages, near beers and other non-alcoholic drinks (Cola-Pepsin, Imperial Ginger Ale, sodas) during Prohibition, paving the way for his four sons to take over the brewery.
Here’s more of Gerst’s story from the early days, from Nashville Brewing (Acadia Publishing, 2006), by Scott R. Mertie:
The Gerst Pavilion at the Centennial Exhibition, made from beer bottles and featured a 2,500-gallon cask of beer.
Today is the birthday of Carl W. Conrad (April 1, 1843- October 26, 1922) Conrad’s widely believed to be the person who created the name Budweiser, and was a friend of Adolphus Busch, whose brewery did a contract beer for Conrad, which was marketed as Budweiser, but which later became the property of Anheuser-Busch.
Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:
Conrad, a good friend of Adolphus Busch, is usually credited with helping to develop the recipe for Budweiser beer. The brand name was first registered in the U.S. by Conrad, an importer of wines, champagnes & liquors. The Anheuser brewery produced the brand for him under contract. C. Conrad & Company had offices in Germany & in St. Louis & Adolphus got the rights to Budweiser when Conrad’s company went bankrupt in 1882. To pay off Conrad’s debts to the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association, the brewery assumed control of Conrad’s company & the brand name Budweiser. Conrad was given a lifetime job with Anheuser-Busch.
Anheuser-Busch’s own website spins the story differently than most accounts, with Busch taking credit for the Budweiser name:
In 1876, he and his friend, Carl Conrad, created an American-style lager beer that succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. Adolphus coined the label “Budweiser”, a name that would appeal to German immigrants like himself, yet could be easily pronounced by Americans. Budweiser was a success and eventually, became the company’s flagship brand.
Maureen Ogle, a friend, and the author of Ambitious Brew, wrote about Conrad and the creation of Budweiser in an article in a 2006 article for All About Beer magazine entitled Making Beer American: How Bohemian Lager Swept the Country:
But in 1874 or 1875 (the precise date is not known), Busch and Sproule developed a second rice beer, this one for Busch’s friend Carl Conrad, a St. Louis importer of wine and liquor. Conrad was no brewer but he knew a profitable market trend when he saw one and he contracted with Busch to create and brew a “very pale, fine beer” that Conrad would bottle and sell under his own label.
Conrad wanted the beer to stand out in an increasingly crowded field of Pilseners, so he asked his friend to model the lager after the pilsener brewed in Budweis (Ceské Budejovice), an ancient Bohemian city where an “official” court brewery produced the “Beer of Kings,” a slogan Busch would later invert. Budweis brewers used Saaz hops and Moravian barley, but they employed a slightly different mashing method than did makers of Pilsener, and the resulting beer was a shade lighter in color and slightly more effervescent than its Pils counterpart. Neither Busch nor Conrad had been to Budweis, but they had visited Bohemia and tasted Budweis beer in other European cities. Conrad claimed that Budweis-style lager “was always the finest Beer [he] could get in Europe,” and that the “Budweiser process [made] the finest Beer.”
As she notes, it was Conrad who came up with the name:
The final result, which Conrad named after its place of origin, was a masterpiece of brewing prowess. Budweiser is “fine and elegant,” Conrad boasted. It “sparkles” and “has a very pretty flavor.” It’s not clear what his original label looked like, but the man who designed Conrad’s second label claimed that it included the word “champagne.” That would not be surprising because effervescent Budweiser looked more like Champagne than it looked like other beers, a comparison that Conrad fostered by corking the lager in Champagne bottles.
Conrad and Busch launched the lager by hitting the road. The two friends traveled around Missouri and to Arkansas and Texas talking up the beer and hunting for reliable sales representatives. Conrad also invested three thousand dollars outfitting a “fine place” in San Francisco “where people could find [his] beer.” He sold most of it to California but also shipped it to Chicago, New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Louisville, and cities in Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, and Alabama.
From the moment of its first public appearance in March 1876, Budweiser was a hit. Herman Kramer, Conrad’s California agent, pronounced the lager “an easy thing to sell.” “I never found a business so easy as this Budweiser,” he raved, and that despite it being “sold at a higher price than any other Beer in the country,” two dollars more per barrel than conventional lager. Even other brewers conceded Budweiser’s special character. “[I]t is the best bottled beer in this market,” said one. “I have drank Anheusers [sic] Bottled Beer, & the Budweiser beer is much the best.” Conrad sold a quarter of a million bottles of Budweiser in twelve months, and by late 1878, had sold six thousand barrels of the beer.
An 1882 ad.
In a 2006 magazine article by Bill Lockhart, Pete Schulz, David Whitten, Bill Lindsey, and Carol Serr, entitled “Carl Conrad & Co. – The Original American Budweiser” they go further in depth about the story of the beer.
Although Carl Conrad was neither a brewer nor a bottler, he contracted with AnheuserBusch, then the brewers of St Louis Lager Beer, to brew and bottle his beer for him. Conrad advertised his beer as “the Original Budweiser,” and there seems to be no doubt that his was the first use of that name on the American market. Although he was only in business for about six years, his use of embossed monograms on export beer bottles assured him a place in the history of manufacturer’s marks.
Carl Conrad & Co., St. Louis, Missouri (1876-1883)
Carl Conrad, a friend of Adolphus Busch, toured Europe in the mid-1870s, returning by 1876. According to Clint (1976:74), Conrad dined at a small monastery in Bohemia “where he was served a brew he declared to be ‘the best he ever tasted.’” Upon his return, Conrad began setting up Carl Conrad & Co. to market Budweiser Beer (named for the town of Budweis in Bavaria), although Conrad neither brewed beer nor manufactured bottles. Adolphus Busch actually made and bottled the beer, and a series of glass factories made the bottles. Conrad was initially successful, rapidly expanding his territory until his beer was sold nationwide. However, the business went downhill in the early 1880s, and Conrad declared bankruptcy on January 15, 1883. Baxter [another historian] hypothesized that Conrad was forced out of business because of the bottle shortage in the West. Beer and other bottled products were shipped long distances by wagon under difficult conditions. Because of this, the empty bottles became an important commodity.
Miles [still another historian] confirmed this shortage during an earlier period, when he noted that “teamsters could purchase a dozen bottles of liquor in Missouri for four dollars each, drink the contents along the way, and trade the empty bottles for six dollars worth of produce each in New Mexico.” Thus, virtually all bottles were reused. It is particularly true of the Southwest that a proliferation of bottles was directly tied to the arrival of the railroad. For breweries to profit from container sales, it was important that most bottles be returned. Unfortunately for the original bottler, the bottles were often not returned to the owner (the brewery) but continued to be refilled by competitors at the point of sale or elsewhere. The railroads alleviated the problem to some extent, but there were still many remote areas where bottles continued to be valuable well into the late 1880s or even later. Baxter’s argument that Conrad may have lost so much money on bottles that he was forced into bankruptcy thus is plausible. Baxter’s hypothesis, however, fails to explain why other brewers remained in business under the same circumstances.
The New York Times (1/17/1883), however, offered an alternative explanation, claiming that the very success of Conrad’s venture led to its demise. Conrad had grown so fast that he “erected new buildings on Sixth street, entered them, and established branch houses throughout the country.” Because “their branch houses were so scattered they found it impossible to get in collections as rapidly as they were needed” (New York Times 1/23/1883). Clint [yet another historian] provided examples of this expansion, noting that Conrad opened Colorado “outlets” at Denver and Leadville in 1881 and two more at Gunnison and Salida in 1882. Although “collections” probably referred to money, the beer bottle problem noted by Baxter may also have contributed to the overall problem. At the top of the list of Conrad’s principle creditors was Anheuser-Busch, although Adolphus Busch informed the paper that Conrad’s assets were expected to be sufficient to cover the debt. A meeting of the creditors on January 22, however, showed that Conrad’s assets would actually be about $140,000 short of paying all his bills (New York Times 1/23/1883).
When Conrad declared bankruptcy in January 1883, the Lindell Glass Co. was one of the largest creditors, being owed between $32,000 and $33,000 by Conrad. Although the loss hit Lindell hard, a local source stated that Lindell’s “continuance in the bottling business is almost an assured fact” (Crockery & Glass Journal 1883:30) – and that certainly proved true.
According to the Anheuser-Busch sources, the company “acquired rights to bottle and sell Budweiser” in 1883, the year Conrad declared bankruptcy. The transfer almost certainly occurred because Anheuser-Busch was the largest creditor (much larger than Lindell) at $94,000. Busch apparently accepted the Budweiser trademark as payment of the debt. Carroll noted that Conrad “eventually became an employee of Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association,” although he was unclear about the time period. Conrad did not actually assign the trademark to Anheuser-Busch until 1891, and the “CCCo (sic) insignia and the name C. Conrad & Co. remained on the [paper] label until around 1920.”
By 1886, Conrad’s Budweiser label was looking a lot like the Anheuser-Busch label it would become. See the Evolution of America’s Most Famous Beer Label for a look at the label’s progression from 1876 to 2000.
Today is the birthday of Thomas Fowell Buxton (April 1, 1786–February 19, 1845). He was “an English Member of Parliament, brewer, abolitionist and social reformer.” While he’s best remembered today for his role in abolishing slavery in England, he was also involved in the brewing business. “In 1808, Buxton’s Hanbury family connections led to an appointment to work at the brewery of Truman, Hanbury & Company, in Brick Lane, Spitalfields, London. In 1811 he was made a partner in the business, renamed Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. Later he became sole owner.”
Naturally, Martyn Cornell has written about Buxton and his brewery in a post entitled When Brick Lane was home to the biggest brewery in the world. Here’s the part that mentions Fowell Buxton:
In 1808 [Sampson] Hanbury’s nephew, Thomas Fowell Buxton, son of Thomas Fowell Buxton of Earl’s Colne, Essex, and Anna Hanbury, joined the brewery, aged 21 or 22. Buxton (who was not a Quaker, though his wife was) became a partner in 1811, at the age of 25, with a 1/12th share, bringing the last element to what would eventually, by 1827, be called Truman, Hanbury, Buxton and Company. By now the Black Eagle brewery was making 142,179 barrels of beer a year, some 20,000 barrels more than Whitbread, but a long way behind the number two London brewer, Meux Reid in Liquorpond Street, near Clerkenwell, on 220,000 barrels, and trailing Barclay Perkins in Southwark, on 264,405 barrels a year, by a large margin.
Buxton’s wife was one of the Gurneys of the Norwich bank, and a cousin of Sampson’s wife Agatha. A few years after he became a partner, in 1815, the shares in the brewery were redivided into 41 slices, and Buxton, evidently after bringing in some extra capital to the firm, increased his share to 8/41ths. His greatest gift to the brewery was sorting out the management of a concern that, by 1815, owned 200 pubs outright and financed another 300 landlords. But he also successfully intervened to prevent a disaster that might have destroyed the business.
And here’s the account from the Wikipedia page on the Black Eagle Brewery:
Sir Benjamin died in March 1780 and, without a son to take on the business, it passed to his grandsons. In 1789, the brewery was taken over by Sampson Hanbury (Hanbury had been a partner since 1780; the Truman family became ‘sleeping partners’). Hanbury’s nephew, Thomas Fowell Buxton, joined the company in 1808, improved the brewing process, converted the works to steam power and, with the rapid expansion and improvement of Britain’s road and rail transport networks, the Black Eagle label soon became famous across Britain (by 1835, when Buxton took over the business upon Hanbury’s death, the brewery was producing some 200,000 barrels (32,000 m3) of porter a year).
The Brick Lane brewery – now known as Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co – took on new partners in 1816, the Pryor brothers (the company’s owners were renowned for their good treatment of their workers – providing free schooling – and for their support of abolitionism). By 1853 the brewery was the largest in the world, producing 400,000 barrels of beer each year, with a site covering six acres.
However, the company also faced competition from breweries based outside London – notably in Burton upon Trent, where the water was particularly suitable for brewing – and in 1873 the company acquired a brewery (Phillips) in Burton and began to build a major new brewery, named the Black Eagle after the original London site.
In 1888, Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co became a public company with shareholders, but the balance of production was now shifting to Burton.
The Brick Lane brewery site covered six acres by 1898.
The Brick Lane facility remained active through a take-over by the Grand Metropolitan Group in 1971 and a merger with Watney Mann in 1972, but it was in terminal decline. It eventually closed in 1989.
Glenn Payne wrote the Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. entry for the Oxford Companion to Beer:
Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. was a venerable British brewery that operated for more than 3 centuries before it closed its doors in 1988. The original brewery was built on Lolsworth Field, Spitalhope, London, by Thomas Bucknall in 1669. He was soon joined by Joseph Truman, who became brewery manager in 1694. Joseph Truman brought Joseph Truman Jr into the company in 1716 and his executor, Sir Benjamin Truman, who took ownership of the business in 1722. Two years later a new brewery, The Black Eagle, was built on nearby Brick Lane, which grew to become Britain’s second largest brewery, employing some 1,000 people. Sir Benjamin died in 1780 without a direct male heir and left the brewery to his grandsons. In the same year, Sampson Hanbury became a partner and took over control in 1789. His nephew, Thomas Fowler Buxton, joined in 1808. He improved the brewing process by adopting innovations in brewing technology brought about by the Industrial Revolution. Outside his activities in the brewery, Buxton was a renowned philanthropist, and he was elected a member of Parliament in 1818. He was associated with William Wilberforce, a leader in the fight to end the British slave trade. By the time of his death in 1845, the brewery produced about 305,000 hl of porter annually. The brewery is even mentioned in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield (1850). Seizing upon the growing influence of Burton as a brewing center in the 19th century, the company acquired the Phillips brewery there in 1887 and 2 years later became a public company. But its fortunes declined with the shift in popular taste away from porter toward pale ale near the end of the 19th century. In 1971, the brewery was acquired by the Grand Metropolitan Group, which, in turn, was merged into Watney Mann 1 year later. Thomas, Hanbury, and Buxton ceased production in 1988 but its brewery still stands on its site in Brick Lane, London, where it has been redeveloped into a complex of residential housing, offices, restaurants, galleries, and shops.
And here’s an account of his entire life, from the Encyclopedia Britannica:
Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 1st Baronet, (born April 1, 1786, Castle Hedingham, Essex, England—died February 19, 1845, near Cromer, Norfolk), British philanthropist and politician who, in 1822, succeeded William Wilberforce as leader of the campaign in the House of Commons for the abolition of slavery in the British colonies and thus was partly responsible for the Abolition Act of August 28, 1833.
A brother-in-law of the prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, Buxton, in 1818, published his own Inquiry into Prison Discipline, based on his inspection of Newgate Prison, London. In 1823 he joined Wilberforce and others in founding the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. The ideas he expressed in The African Slave Trade and Its Remedy (1839) inspired the British government to send an expedition to the Niger River Delta in 1841. Intended to make anti-slave-trade treaties with the peoples of the area, to engage in other kinds of trade, and to establish a missionary headquarters, the expedition suffered many deaths from fever and was soon recalled. Although Buxton did not accompany the group, his own health was permanently affected by the shock of the failure of the project. He was made a baronet in 1840.
And this is from the Abolition Project:
Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton was born in Essex in 1786. He was privately educated and went to Trinty College, Dublin. He became a close friend of Joseph Gurney after his mother (a Quaker) introduced him to the Norfolk based family.
He started to attend Quaker meetings with the Gurney family and married Joseph’s sister, Hannah, in 1807. He became a partner in a brewing company and became involved in several campaigns for social reform. Another of Joseph’s sisters was Elizabeth Fry and Buxton became involved in her campaign for prison reform.
In 1818, Buxton was elected MP for Weymouth, a position he held until 1837. He was a strong advocate for the abolition of slavery in the British Colonies. In 1823, he formed the Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade, the committee that co-ordinated the campaign for total abolition. In 1824, he succeeded William Wilberforce as head of the anti-slavery party in Parliament, continuing the struggle until the Slavery Abolition Act, in 1833, freed all enslaved people in the British Empire.
In 1838, Buxton published The African Slave Trade and Its Remedy. In this book, he told the British government to make treaties with rulers in Africa. An expedition was sent in 1841 to put the plan into action but it failed, mainly because of the large number of deaths among the expedition members from yellow fever and malaria.
You can read an account of this expedition in White Dreams, Black Africa: Antislavery Expedition to the Niger, 1841-42 by Howard Temperley, 1991.
Thomas Fowell Buxton was made a Baron in 1840 and is famous for
saying. “With Ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.”