Thursday’s ad is for “Hamm’s,” from the 1940s. This ad was made for Hamm’s Brewing, which was founded in 1865 by Theodore Hamm in St. Paul, Minnesota. At its peak, it was the 5th largest brewery in America, and operated facilities in five cities, including San Francisco, L.A., Baltimore and Houston, in addition to the original brewery in Minnesota. This one features a glass of beer and a bottle on a silver tray a lake scene in the background, and the tagline: “from the land of sky blue waters* America’s Most Refreshing Beer.” The asterisk leads to the bottom and this text: “*Minnesota — Land of 10,000 Lakes.” But my favorite bit is in the text where the describe the beer as being “of rare individuality,” whatever that means.
Archives for October 14, 2021
Today is the birthday of Theodore Hamm (October 14, 1825-July 31, 1903). He was born in Emmendingen, Emmendingener Landkreis, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Hamm emigrated in 1856 with his wife Louise to the United States and settled in St. Paul. In the 1860s, Hamm assisted brewer Andrew F. Keller, so that he could expand his business. The brewery was taken as a security deposit. When the Keller brewery went bankrupt, it became the property of Hamm, and he founded the Hamm Brewing Company in 1865.
Theodore and Louise Hamm, a young German immigrant couple, found a home in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1856. In 1864, entrepreneur Andrew F. Keller, the owner of a small brewery called the Excelsior Brewery (then producing 500 barrels a year) needed money for expansion. Theodore lent the money with the brewery as collateral. When Keller defaulted on the loan, Theodore Hamm was the owner of a brewery. The size of the work force grew, as did the total number of barrels brewed. In 1865 there were 5 employees that brewed 500 barrels a year, which grew to 75 employees brewing 40,000 barrels a year in 1885. In 1894 the brewery expanded to include a bottling works, followed by artificial refrigeration in 1895. In 1894 an open house was held and free samples of beer were handed out, beginning the long tradition of brewery tours. The brewery was incorporated in 1896, giving Theodore the title of president and William the titles of vice-president and secretary. The line to succession of the brewery was thus established, as the brewery remained in domain of the Hamm’s family for 100 years.
The brewery continued to expand from 8,000 barrels in 1879, to 26,000 barrels in 1882, to 600,000 barrels in 1915. This growth was stymied from 1919-1933 during prohibition. During prohibition, the plant was kept open and an array of products including near beer, industrial alcohol syrups and soft drinks were produced. Soon after the death of his father, William Hamm Jr. started the greatest expansion effort in the tenure of the brewery. The capacity was doubled and the plant was modernized. EC Nippolt, vice president and general manager of the company, estimated that an increase of at least double the number of employees from 150 to 300 or 400. An estimate from newspaper accounts reveals an expenditure of $300,000 in immediate improvements to be made to the plant.
The Theodore Hamm Brewing Company was established in 1865 when, a German immigrant Theodore Hamm (1825-1903) inherited the Excelsior Brewery from his friend and business associate A. F. Keller, who had perished in California seeking his fortune in the gold fields. Unable to finance the venture himself, Keller had entered into a partnership with Hamm to secure funding. Upon Keller’s death, Hamm inherited the small brewery and flour mill in the east side wilderness of St. Paul, Minnesota. Keller had constructed his brewery in 1860 over artesian wells in a section of the Phalen Creek valley in St. Paul known as Swede Hollow. Hamm, a butcher by trade and local salon owner, first hired Jacob Schmidt as a brew master. Jacob Schmidt remained with the company until the early 1880s, becoming a close family friend of the Hamms. Jacob Schmidt left the company after an argument ensued over Louise Hamm’s disciplinary actions to Schmidt’s daughter, Marie. By 1884, Schmidt was a partner at the North Star Brewery not far from Hamm’s brewery. By 1899 he had established his own brewery on the site of the former Stalhmann Brewery site. In need of a new brewmaster, Hamm hired Christopher Figge who would start a tradition of three generations of Hamm’s Brewmasters, with his son William and grandson William II taking the position. By the 1880s, the Theodore Hamm Brewing Company was reportedly the second largest in Minnesota.
Theodore’s obituary was published in the American Brewer’s Review:
Hamm’s Brewery c. 1900.
Today is the birthday of John Molson Jr. (October 14, 1787-July 12, 1860). He was the son of John Molson, who founded the Molson Brewery in 1786, the year before he was born. Although he became a partner in his father’s brewery, he was primarily “a Canadian politician and entrepreneur. Former Director of Molson Bank, President of the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad (Canada’s first railway), and President of Montreal General Hospital.”
Born October 14th, 1787, son of John Molson (1763-1836) & Sarah Vaughn (1751-1829), at Montreal, Quebec. Though he was apprenticed to the brewing trade and became a partner in the family brewery in 1816, Molson was primarily a financier. The family monopoly of river transport enabled him, as owner of the Swiftsure, to engage in profitable banking operations during the War of 1812, buying bills of exchange at heavy discount in Montreal and disposing of them at a profit in Quebec. He became a director of the Bank of Montreal shortly after its foundation and was vice-president of Molson’s Bank from its incorporation in 1855. He was a promoter of the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad, Canada’s first railway, and became its president in 1837. His other interests included the first Montreal water works and gas company, fire insurance and various industrial enterprises. He succeeded his father as a life governor, vice-president and president of the Montreal General Hospital. As chairman of the Constitutional Association he fought on the government side in the Rebellions of 1837 and was wounded; he was given the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel of the militia. In 1838-41 he was a member of the Special Council of Lower Canada.
In 1816 he was wed to his first cousin, Mary Anne Molson (1791-1862), daughter of Thomas Molson (1768-1803) and Anne Atkinson (1765-1813). John and Mary Ann had five sons and a daughter. John died on July 12, 1860 at Montreal.
John Molson (1787-1860) was the son of John Molson (1763-1836) & Sarah Vaughn (1751-1829). In 1816 he was wed to his first cousin, Mary Anne Molson (1791-1862), daughter of Thomas Molson (1768-1803) & Anne Atkinson (1765-1813). John & Mary Ann had five sons and a daughter.
Though he was apprenticed to the brewing trade and became a partner in the family brewery in 1816, Molson was primarily a financier. The family monopoly of river transport enabled him, as owner of the Swiftsure, to engage in profitable banking operations during the War of 1812-14, buying bills of exchange at heavy discount in Montreal and disposing of them at a profit in Quebec. He became a director of the Bank of Montreal shortly after its foundation and was vice-president of Molson’s Bank from its incorporation in 1855. He was a promoter of the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad, Canada’s first railway, and became its president in 1837. His other interests included the first Montreal water works and gas company, fire insurance and various industrial enterprises. He succeeded his father as a life governor, vice-president and president of the Montreal General Hospital. As chairman of the Constitutional Association he fought on the government side in the Rebellion of 1837 and was wounded; he was given the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel of the militia. In 1838-41 he was a member of the Special Council of Lower Canada.
Today is the birthday of William Penn (October 14, 1644-July 30, 1718). He “was the son of Sir William Penn, and was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.
In 1681, King Charles II handed over a large piece of his American land holdings to Penn to appease the debts the king owed to Penn’s father. This land included present-day Pennsylvania and Delaware. Penn immediately set sail and took his first step on American soil in New Castle in 1682 after his trans-Atlantic journey. On this occasion, the colonists pledged allegiance to Penn as their new proprietor, and the first general assembly was held in the colony. Afterwards, Penn journeyed up the Delaware River and founded Philadelphia. However, Penn’s Quaker government was not viewed favourably by the Dutch, Swedish, and English settlers in what is now Delaware. They had no “historical” allegiance to Pennsylvania, so they almost immediately began petitioning for their own assembly. In 1704 they achieved their goal when the three southernmost counties of Pennsylvania were permitted to split off and become the new semi-autonomous colony of Lower Delaware. As the most prominent, prosperous and influential “city” in the new colony, New Castle became the capital.
As one of the earlier supporters of colonial unification, Penn wrote and urged for a union of all the English colonies in what was to become the United States of America. The democratic principles that he set forth in the Pennsylvania Frame of Government served as an inspiration for the United States Constitution. As a pacifist Quaker, Penn considered the problems of war and peace deeply. He developed a forward-looking project for a United States of Europe through the creation of a European Assembly made of deputies that could discuss and adjudicate controversies peacefully. He is therefore considered the very first thinker to suggest the creation of a European Parliament.
A man of extreme religious convictions, Penn wrote numerous works in which he exhorted believers to adhere to the spirit of Primitive Christianity. He was imprisoned several times in the Tower of London due to his faith, and his book No Cross, No Crown (1669), which he wrote while in prison, has become a Christian classic.”
Of course, that’s his mainstream history, he also made contributions to America’s nascent brewing history. For example, here’s an account, “William Penn And Beermaking in Colonial Pennsylvania,” excerpted from Stanley Baron’s “Brewed in America,” published in 1962:
Pennsylvania and New Jersey were latecomers among the American colonies. True enough, there had been in their development a Swedish period and a Dutch period, but the real establishment of the two colonies had to wait for the time of the English “proprietors.” It was in 1680 that William Penn received his famous grant of land from Charles II, as payment of a debt owed to Penn’s father, the celebrated admiral. By this means Penn became sole proprietor of a colony which he foresaw as a place of refuge for his fellow Quakers — the nonconformist sect whose faith earned them nothing but contempt and persecution in England (as well as in most of the established American colonies). Before he set out in 1682 he sent ahead a government plan of his own devising, and also a number of representatives to map out a city to be called Philadelphia. Penn’s concept of government was extraordinarily liberal, in many respects tantamount to a genuinely democratic scheme; moreover, he guaranteed complete freedom of worship, and delegated much more administrative authority than any other of the colonial governors saw fit to allow.
Penn understood the wisdom of securing friendly relations with the Indians from the start. In 1683, he established a “Great Treaty” with them. In exchange for property rights which they were willing to grant him, he made a practice of giving them a variety of goods — in at least one instance, a barrel of beer.
Shortly after Penn’s arrival, an Assembly was held in Chester, the former Swedish settlement of Upland. At this meeting his Frame of Government was adopted; and there were also laid down certain laws regulating the licensing of taverns, taxing of beer, sale of alcoholic beverages to Indians, etc. Such laws were sooner or later passed in every one of the American colonies and differ only in the merest details.
Penn himself was enough of a beer-drinker to have a brewhouse constructed at the estate he built in Pennsbury, Bucks County, twenty miles upriver from Philadelphia. At a cost of about £7000 and over a period of many years, the manor-house was erected under Penn’s supervision, although he was most of that time back in England. He made a start on the project soon after his arrival in 1682, but he had to return to England in 1684. He commissioned his trusted friend James Harrison as “Steward of the Household at Pennsbury,” and from that date until his return, he wrote frequent letters, filled with details about the house’s specifications, the gardens, the servants, slaves, etc. “I would have a Kitchen,” he wrote from London after he returned there in 1684, “two larders, a wash house & room to iron in, a brew house & in it an oven for bakeing.” During the following two years he felt the need to repeat these instructions, which in time were fulfilled.
Penn was not able to see the results at Pennsbury until 1699. At that time, as things turned out, he remained only a year; thus he spent in all only three years in America. Nonetheless, he made good use of Pennsbury while he was there; “Indians almost every morning were waiting in the hall, seated on their haunches.” Penn also entertained in that house the governors of Maryland and Virginia, as well as what are usually referred to as “visiting dignitaries.” None of Penn’s descendants cared for the house as the proprietor himself had, and it was permitted by sheer neglect to go to ruin. It was finally torn down at the time of the Revolution, but somehow the brewhouse structure managed to survive until 1864. It is described as being 20 by 35 feet, “with solid brick chimney and foundations, 10-inch sills and posts, and weatherboarded with dressed cedar.”
That there was beer in the earliest stages of Philadelphia’s settlement is attested to by the immigrant Thomas Paschall in 1683: “Here is very good Rye . . . also Barly of 2 sorts, as Winter and Summer, . . . also Oats, and 3 sorts of Indian Corne, (two of which sorts they can Malt and make good beer as Barley).”
In a 1685 account of progress in his colony, Penn wrote:
“Our DRINK has been Beer and Punch, made of Rum and Water: Our Beer was mostly made of Molasses, which well boyld, with Sassafras or Pine infused into it, makes very tolerable drink; but now they make Mault, and Mault Drink begins to be common, especially at the Ordinaries and the Houses of the more substantial People. In our great Town there is an able Man, that has set up a large Brew House, in order to furnish the People with good Drink, both there and up and down the River.”
Farther along in the same document, he identified this “able man” as William Frampton, and to demonstrate the first Philadelphia brewer’s prosperity, he added that Frampton had recently built “a good Brick house, by his Brew House and Bake House, and let the other for an Ordinary.” Frampton — Quaker, merchant, provincial councillor and landowner — originally emigrated to New York and did not arrive in Philadelphia until 1683. If he was as prosperous as Penn makes out, he did not enjoy this state for long: he died in 1686.
In those early days of Philadelphia, many inhabitants are said to have owned their own malt-houses in order to make strong beer at home, and Gabriel Thomas stated in his account of the town (as of 1696) that there were three or four “spacious malt-houses, as many large brew-houses.” Thomas, a Welsh pioneer who lived in the colony for fifteen years, also described Philadelphia beer as “equal in strength to that in London,” selling for 15s. the barrel — cheaper than in England. In addition, he speaks of Philadelphia beer as having a “better Name, that is, is in more esteem than English Beer in Barbadoes and is sold for a higher Price there.” This would be an extremely early, if not the first, instance of American beer being exported outside of the mainland, though there is no indication of the regularity or volume of business thus entailed. In the course of the eighteenth century, Philadelphia beer began to make a resounding reputation for itself: the origins of that fame may lie right here, in this remark of Thomas’s comparing the beer favorably with the English product. On the other hand, Thomas’s unbridled enthusiasm must not be discounted — he may very well have been trying to paint the prettiest possible picture of conditions in America, and particularly Pennsylvania.
Another brewer of this earliest Philadelphia period was Joshua Carpenter, whose brother, Samuel, had come over from England several years before Penn’s arrival. Samuel Carpenter, a Quaker, was responsible for building Philadelphia’s first wharf, between Walnut Street and Dock Creek. Joshua, who had followed his brother to Philadelphia some years later and who was himself not a Quaker, did so well out of his brewing enterprise that he was rated as the second richest inhabitant of the town in 1693; his brother was first.
The brewery established by Anthony Morris in 1687, south of Walnut Street, on the riverbank side of Front, was a longer-lasting establishment. Morris (the second of his name) was another Quaker, provincial councillor and second mayor of Philadelphia. He had sailed for America in 1682, and settled first in Burlington, New Jersey. Three years later, however, he went to Philadelphia, and soon set up his brewery there. His son, Anthony, Jr., prepared himself for the business by becoming in 1696 an indentured apprentice to another brewer operating in Philadelphia at that time, Henry Babcock. It was stated in the indenture that he was to spend seven years learning “the art or trade of a Brewer.” He undertook to keep the brewing “secrets” of Babcock and his wife Mary, “& from their service he shall not absent himself, nor the art & mystery of brewing he shall not disclose or discover to any person or persons during ye sd term.” His father paid the Babcocks the sum of twenty pounds, and they undertook not only to teach him for seven years, but also to lodge and board him, and “mending of his linen & woolen cloaths.” They on their side promised not to put him to “slavish work,” such as grinding at the handmill and the like.
It must have been this younger Anthony Morris who signed his name, “Morris junr,” at the bottom of a receipt that read: “Reed of Hannah Ring Eighteen Shillings for barrel Ale delivered for funeral of her husband 7mo 4th 1731.”
The Morris brewery was conducted as a family business, handed down from generation to generation, until 1836, when ownership of the concern was taken over by outsiders. Through marriage with the Perot family of French Huguenot background, however, the Morrises have maintained an unbroken connection with the brewing industry. In 1823 Francis Perot married the daughter of Thomas Morris, in whose brewery he had spent six years as apprentice. With brothers, sons and then grandsons in charge, the Perot family have been malting in Philadelphia ever since.
Pennsylvania had made an encouraging, even a spectacular, beginning. It had grown like a balloon; within twenty years, by the end of the century, its main city had a population equal to that of New York (4000). And yet, after about twenty-five years, it began to bog down. Penn died in 1718, but a good many years before that he had relinquished personal control of the province, while remaining proprietor. Relations with the Indians deteriorated; boundary conflicts, like sores, kept irritating the relations between Pennsylvania and her neighbors; and the fine promise of commercial prosperity had been disappointed. The bold Philadelphia printer, Andrew Bradford, was hauled before the Council in 1721 for publishing a pamphlet called “Some Remedies proposed for the restoring of the Sunk Credit of the Province of Pennsylvania.” He was reprimanded for so-called libelous statements.
Yet at the same time, the Council, under Governor Sir William Keith, passed laws designed to improve just those conditions which it had called untrue in Bradford’s case. Among those was an act “for laying a Duty on Wine, Rum, Brandy and Spirits, Molassoes, Cyder, Hops and Flax, imported, landed or brought into this Province.” The self-evident purpose of an act like this was to give aid to home manufactures and, by placing a duty on imported hops, of course, the Council encouraged Pennsylvania farmers to cultivate them locally. Another reason for this act was undoubtedly the wish to cut down supplies of beverages with high alcoholic content, in favor of beer (which did not appear among the list of dutiable items) — but the barn door may have been closed too late, for by the eighteenth century rum was universally available in America, and increasingly popular. Acts of the same kind were passed at intervals by the Provincial Council — in 1738, 1744, etc. — but they appear to have been less than wholly effectual.
And this short history is from the online Museum of Beer and Brewing:
The William Penn Brewery — the staid Quaker build one of the earliest breweries in America near what is now Philadelphia. Part of his lands were colonized by immigrants from the German Palatinate who found Penn’s Product, prepared under the supervision of a Master Brewer from Europe, highly palatable. The first brewery in America was built in New Amsterdam (now New York) in the 17th century about 30 years before Penn’s.
And this is the labels from a beer created to honor William Penn by the now-defunct (I believe) William Penn Brewing Co., which appears to have been a contract beer.
Today is the 50th birthday — The Big 5-O — of Jason Alström, co-founder of Beer Advocate headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, but found worldwide over that series of tubes known as the interwebs. Though started as a hobby, Beer Advocate has gone on to be one of the internet’s killer apps of beer, which has successfully branched out into publishing and putting on beer festivals. Join me in wishing Jason a very happy birthday.
After judging the finals for the 2009 Longshot Homebrew Competition in Boston. From left: Jason, Tony Forder (from Ale Street News), Bob Townsend, Jim Koch (founder of the Boston Beer Co.), yours truly, Julie Johnson (from All About Beer magazine), and Jason’s brother Todd Alström.
During a trip to Bavaria in 2007, the gang of twelve plus three at the Faust Brauerei in Miltenberg, Germany. From left: Cornelius Faust, me, Lisa Morrison, Johannes Faust, Julie Bradford, Andy Crouch, Peter Reid, Horst Dornbusch, Jeannine Marois, Harry Schumacher, Tony Forder, Candice Alström, Don Russell, Jason and Todd Alström.
Today is the birthday of Kim Jordan, co-founder of New Belgium Brewing. Kim went to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, then stayed in town to start New Belgium in 1991. She recently stepped down as CEO of the company and is currently Executive Chair of the Brewery’s Board of Directors. While not exactly retired, just slowed down a bit for the day-to-day, she’s still very active in both the company’s affairs and the brewing industry more generally through the Brewer’s Association. Join me in wishing Kim a very happy birthday.
At the 2008 NBWA welcome reception in San Francisco. From left, Jamie Jurado (then with Gambrinus), Lucy Saunders (the Beer Cook), Charlie Papazian (President of the Brewers Association), Kim and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).
Today is the birthday of Frederick Lauer (October 14, 1810-September 12, 1883). He was a brewer in Reading, Pennsylvania, and the first president of the United States Brewers Association. Lauer “was born on October 14, 1810 in Gleisweiler, Bavaria. He emigrated to Baltimore in 1822 and the family moved to Reading, Pennsylvania.” His father founded the George Lauer Brewing Co. in 1826, first in Womelsdorf, and then Reading. In 1847, he took over for his father and renamed it the Frederick Lauer Brewery. “His two sons were Frank P. Lauer and George F. Lauer; he turned the business over to them in 1882, and it was again renamed the Lauer Brewing Co. He died on September 12, 1883.” His sons ran brewery until Prohibition, when it was closed for good in 1920.
This is from “Reading’s Philanthropic Brewer,” by Andrew T. Kuhn, from the Fall 1992 issue of the Historical Review of Berks County:
The first statue erected in Reading was that of Frederick Lauer, the pioneering Reading brewer. In 1885, the United States Brewers’ Association hired Henri Stephens to create the Lauer statue, and, with the consent of City Council, placed it in City Park. The physical structure is quite tall, and consists of two parts. Memorial sculptures are “generally portraiture,” and this one is as well. The top part of the monument is a life-size likeness of Lauer, cast in bronze. He is portrayed wearing a suit which is covered by a long overcoat. The statue stands on a four-sided cement pedestal, with each side contain- ing a plaque. These plaques serve as a guide to investigating Frederick Lauer as a brewer and a citizen, which in turn, reveals more about the nineteenth-century Reading community. Lauer successfully produced and sold alcohol throughout his entire life, even though a large portion of the country was calling for the abolition of it. He did his best to legitimize the use of alcohol, and he served the Reading community untiringly. Justifiably, Frederick Lauer was represented in the first monument erected in Reading because he embodied the ideals of a large part of his community.
The front plaque establishes who the statue commemorates, who erected it, and for what reason. It states: “To Frederick Lauer of Reading, Pa. The United States Brewers’ Association of which he was the first president has erected this monument in grateful remembrance of his unselfish labor for the welfare of the brewing trade in this country. Charles Elliot Norton, in 1865, wrote, “Peculiar difficulties will surround and hinder [the building of monuments], because nearly all these proposed memorials will be built, if at all, by associations; few by private persons.” and such was the case for Reading’s first monument. Just two years following Lauer’s death, the monument was constructed and stood on public grounds.
Lauer was a prominent leader in the beer industry. During the Civil War, the need for financial support to sustain the Union’s war effort resulted in the first federal tax on malt beverages. This tax prompted the eventual founding of the U.S. Brewers Association. It seems logical for the brewers to organize a protest against the tax, however, they did not pursue lauerthis course of action. Lauer and other established brewers believed that the tax was advantageous to the industry, as a whole, because it would discourage unsanitary practices and crooked manufacturers, which cut into the trade of reliable brewers. Lauer toured European breweries to study their manufacturing, and their tax situation. During his trips abroad, he wrote several letters to the Reading Gazette, which were published in German, as well as in English. He returned with recommendations to establish a permanent tax, but to keep it at the affordable price of $1 per barrel. The tax must be kept down to allow the brewers to continue to sell their product at a low price. Due to his experience and success, Lauer “quite naturally became the first president of the national association upon its organization in 1870.”
The plaque that faces west also addresses Lauer’s close association with the brewing industry. It reads, “Let his example tell the brewers of this country to maintain good fellowship to preserve their association, and to defend their rights.” Through the U.S. Brewers’ Association, he maintained his ties with other brewers around the country, but his relationship with the brewing industry began long before 1870. Lauer was born on Oct. 14, 1810 in Gleisweiler, Germany. At the age of 12, his family immigrated to the United States, settling in Womelsdorf, PA. Under his father’s tutelage he quickly learned the brewing process. Their small brewing practice grew, so they moved into a larger building in Reading, and by age 16, Fred was foreman and accountant of the brewery. He was a dedicated worker, arising daily at 2 a.m., so that deliveries could be made by breakfast. In 1835, at age 25, he became proprietor of the new plant on North Street, and remained there until his retirement in 1883.
Lauer felt a very close association with his German heritage and the Democratic party, the two groups who (often overlapping) comprised an overwhelming majority of his customers. The majority of Berks County citizens were German immigrants, and Lauer employed many of them (Hoch). Peter Barby, who by 1860 had established his own small Reading brewery, began as an employee of Lauer. John Roehrich, a proprietor of ice and cold storage, was first employed in Reading as Lauer’s errand boy. Lauer brought Lewis Bloom, who had learned the cooper’s trade in his native land, from Philadelphia to Reading to make barrels and casks for the brewery. John Bachover, proprietor of a hotel and cafe in Reading, worked for the brewery for 22 years, and John Stocker worked for him 17 years before opening his own small brewery in Schuylkill County. All these men were born in Germany, and came to America with great uncertainty. Lauer, a German immigrant himself, had compassion for these men; he employed them in his brewery, giving them an opportunity to advance in their new community. The “melting pot” image was nothing but a myth in nineteenth-century Reading. He maintained close contact with this old country and its language. He returned to Germany several times, and had his two sons receive their higher education in Germany. One son studied the scientific study of beer, porter, and ale, so that he might carry on the family’s German tradition.
Lauer was a stout Democrat, and he was quite active in the political arena. One of his sons was named Franklin Pierce Lauer because he was born on Nov. 8, 1852, the day that the Democrat Pierce was elected President of the United States. Frederick represented the Berks district at the National Convention of 1860 which met in Charleston, S.C., but he voted for Stephen Douglas to oppose Lincoln, and when secession broke out the next year, his popularity sagged. He quickly took other actions to prove his loyalty to the Union. One of these was “to invite Reading soldiers in every volunteer company and drafted group, and all troops passing through Reading, to a free lunch at his garden at 3rd and Chestnut streets.” Although Lauer showed special kindness towards Germans and Democrats, he was also a philanthropist for the community as a whole.
The plaque on the back of the monument, which faces north, states: “The city of Reading commemorates the public and private virtues of an honored citizen by the grant of this location. Erected 1885, the year of the Twenty-fifth convention of the United States Brewers’ Association.” Lauer was instrumental in changing Reading from the status of a borough to that of a city in 1847. He was a member of Select Council from 1865-7 1, serving as its president during the 1867-68 year. He assisted in organizing the Berks County Agricultural Society and the Board of Trade, serving presidential terms for both organizations. Lauer also helped finance the Reading and Columbia Railroad, and he was a member of several charity groups: the Reading Dispensary, the Reading Relief Society, and the Reading Benevolent Society. Lauer’s untiring civic involvement created great respect for him within the community.
Other community investments more directly benefited his workers, which in turn helped his business. He was one of the organizers of St. John’s German Lutheran Church in his early years in Reading. He wanted to establish a place of worship for his fellow Germans, as well as instill nobleness in his workers. Later, he had part of his seven acre lot landscaped into a park for community recreation. Following Lauer’s death, at the turn of the century, the park was converted into a baseball park where semi-professional teams played games. The Reading community that Lauer helped foster followed the national trend, providing communal parks in mid-century, and then catering to organized sports toward the turn of the century. The establishment of Lauer’s Park, like many other reform movements of the nineteenth century, tried to provide virtuous activities for the community, particularly for the workers of the brewery. However, although Lauer offered very much to his community, the nature of the brewing industry was held in discredit by many advocates of prohibition during this time, and it was always in danger of legal restrictions caused by the temperance movement.
The fourth and final plaque that is part of the Lauer monument is contradictory. It states: “His zeal sprang from his firm conviction that in striving to advance the brewing trade he was working for the cause of national temperance.” This statement is written about a man who at a Brewers’ Congress meeting, ascribed the defeat of the Turks due to the fact that “they are a nation of water drinkers, and hence have become a stagnant morass – an offence to civilization – so that the Russians, good, solid drinkers, naturally proved conquerors.” Although the temperance movement was not as powerful in the German-dominated Berks County region as it was in other parts of the country, the ominous temperance movement forced American brewers to be selective in their word choice, especially in the public sphere, so as to create a positive image for their trade.
The temperance movement posed a constant threat to Lauer and his brewery. In 1826, the American Temperance Society was formed in Boston, and a decade later, the organization redefined the word “temperance” to mean abstinence. This society headed a movement that lobbied for legal prohibition of alcohol. The movement was overwhelmingly led by American-born, Protestant, non-urban Republicans. In 1846, Maine became the first state to pass statewide Prohibition laws. In assessing the effectiveness of Maine’s laws, Lauer wrote, “It is a complete failure. It can be shown by statistics that almost every town in Maine has MORE DRUNKENNESS now than when before the prohibitory law was in place.” By 1865, thirteen states had similar Prohibition laws, but Pennsylvania never adopted state Prohibition laws because like most “urban, industrial northern states, with large immigrant populations, the majority were wet.” Still, the danger was ever-present.
Lauer fought against Prohibition with more vigor than any other endeavor he embraced. Despite all of his noble civic efforts and political involvement, in the height of his career, he wrote, “I am a brewer first and a politician afterwards, or in other words, I do not intend to sacrifice my brewery and the accumulations of a long life for any empty honor of political predilections.” Lauer used the newspaper as a public forum for his views; whenever a minister would preach in favor of Prohibition, “the following day would find Lauer with a challenging statement to the newspapers.” He argued that intemperance was a medical problem, and that it could never be contained through legal means. In 1881, in response to the growing number of Prohibitionists, an association called the Liquor Men was organized in Reading. At the first meeting, one member expressed the grievances of all alcohol producers when he professed, “We pay our taxes; we pay our license; we are friends to everybody; we are willing to let them alone and they must let us alone We cannot all be ministers, lawyers or doctors. It is my trade and I intend to follow it up as best I can, honestly and as becomes a good citizen.” Lauer, like other men in his profession, like those who erected his statue, tried to establish respectability in his profession during a time when it was unfashionable.
The Lauer monument was erected in 1885, and just 36 years later, in 1919, nationwide Prohibition became law as the Eighteenth Amendment was passed. In the face of such difficult times for brewers such as Lauer, why was the monument allowed to be erected on the public grounds of City Park? Primarily, because the U.S. Brewers’ Association absorbed all costs incurred by the monument, but more important- ly, because of the many contributions that Lauer made to the Reading community as a citizen, the honor bestowed on him, according to most people, was justified. When Lauer had a celebration commemorating his fiftieth anniversary in Reading, the mayor printed an apology to him in the local paper because he could not attend due to prior commitments. Late in his career, Lauer spread his capital thin, and when he tried to save his brother’s Pottsville brewery from bankruptcy, he came on hard times. However, even the president of the Law and Order League, I. C. Detweiler, upon hearing of Lauer’s financial woes, was compassionate. He stated, “as a man, I feel very sorry for Mr. Lauer; but for the business it was a God-send The failure was not more than could be expected, as all brewers and distillers would come to just such an end” (Reading Eagle). As a citizen, Lauer was well respected, but there was still objection to a statue of a brewer being raised on city ground. Ministers and churches lead the objection, but their protest was in vain. Advocates of the monument “said it was well that it stand at the head of Penn street where everyone could recall his unselfish public career and service. The opposition favored the site too . . . They said they favored the site because the Lauer monument would stand in front of the county jail and look over toward the almshouse in Shillington.” The Prohibitionists felt that it was proper that the brewer be in such lowly company. The proposal passed City Council, and in May of 1885, Reading’s first monument was erected, to a brewer no less.
Image from the collection of Chad Campbell, from his website Breweriana Aficionado.
This is the description of the illustration of the Lauer Brewing from the National Archives:
Image of an elevated landscape view of the Lauer Brewing Company brewery in Reading, Pennsylvania; a large industrial complex of factory buildings is pictured including the breweries, smokestacks, ice plant, boiler house, hop storage, office, malt house, band stand, hotel, garden, and several others including a bowling alley in Lauer’s Park; railroad cars labeled “Refrigerator Line. Ale Porter and Lager Beer” a Philadelphia & Reading Railroad passenger train, cable car, and horse-drawn vehicles are visible along the street in the foreground; small inset image at bottom right features an earlier view of the much-smaller brewery captioned “Lauer’s brewery in 1866”; a Greek sphinx is pictured in a circular ivy-bordered frame captioned by the words “Trade mark” at bottom center.
Here’s another biography, from Americantom:
FREDERICK LAUER was born in the Province of Palatine, now Rhenish Bavaria, October 14th, 1810. He attended school (German) until he was twelve years of age, and during this period learned the French language. His father had been one of the largest property holders and taxpayers in the country, and was the man who raised the first liberty-pole on the French borders. On account of his liberal and patriotic sentiments he had to suffer, and for nine years was unable to gather any crops owing to the presence of the army. Finding himself getting more and more impoverished, he concluded to immigrate to America, and with his family landed in Baltimore in August 1823. He at once started for Reading, where his married daughter was then living. Here Frederick became, for the first four months of his residence, a butcher boy, assisting his brother-in-law. But he left this employment when his father commenced the brewing business at Womelsdorf, Berks County, where he assisted him until he removed to Reading, and continued his calling there. It was in the spring of 1826 that his father returned to Reading, where he established a small brewery in an old log house, which had been erected many years before by Read, the founder and owner of the town. Frederick, who was then not quite sixteen years old, was made foreman and clerk, and with one assistant did all the brewing. He built up his first kettle with a capacity of five barrels, which in two months time was increased to ten. He rose at 2 A. M., finished the brewing by daylight, and after breakfast would deliver the beer to customers in town. In 1835 he became the proprietor of the brewery, enlarged it, and by the aid of more assistants extended the business. During the first five years nothing was made but what was known as ” strong beer.” The brewing of ale and porter was begun in 1831, and of lager beer in 1844. The wonderful improvements, which have since sprung up by means of his industry and tact, and without capital, have resulted in a town of itself. In 1849, he commenced buying up vacant lots, and therein-quarried extensive vaults in the solid limestone rock for the storage of lager beer. In 1866, he erected a large brewery on this locality, containing all the latest improvements, and complete in every respect. In connection with this brewery is (1874) a fine park of seven acres, planted with shade trees, a park house with porticos, etc. During the war of the Rebellion he espoused the Union cause, and gave freely of his means to sustain it. He literally gave thousands upon thousands of dollars. Whole regiments were regaled by him at a time, and he had words of encouragement for all. He is neither politician nor office-seeker; he has been tendered, more than once, the Congressional nomination; but his business interests would not permit him to serve in the National Legislature. He always has taken a deep interest in the government and prosperity of Reading, and has been a member of the Town and City Councils for many years. He has always been an active member of the Berks County Agricultural Society, and at one time was its President. He was one of the incorporators and original stockholders of the Reading & Columbia Railroad. He has made the acquaintance of all the prominent members of Congress, of both houses, during the past thirty years, to which may be added all the Presidents of the Nation in the same period. His efforts in connection with the Internal Revenue tax on fermented liquors have invariably been crowned with success, and as President of the Brewers’ Congress he has been indefatigable in his services to the trade. Personally, he is of a frank, hearty, cordial disposition, with an abrupt good humor, which inspires friendship and confidence. He is quick and nervously active in his movements, and will go any length to serve a friend. Shrewd, far seeing and industrious, he has made his establishment one of the most successful in the United States.
This account is from Go Reading Berks:
George Lauer immigrated to America in 1823. Upon landing at Baltimore, Md., he was poor, having just had enough money to pay the passage across the ocean for him and family. The journey was made in a sailing vessel and required three months. He immediately proceeded to Reading, Berks County, where a married daughter, Mrs. Sprenger, resided; and shortly afterward he settled at Womelsdorf and started the business of manufacturing beer in limited quantities. He carried on the business for three years and then located at Reading, where he established a small brewery on Chestnut street near Third, on a rented lot (which he afterward purchased from Marks John Biddle, the attorney for the Penn’s, in 1833), similar to the brewery at Womelsdorf, which had a capacity of five barrels, and was soon increased to ten barrels on account of the increasing demand for his product. There were other breweries at Reading at this time, but the product was of a different character. In 1831 he added the manufacture of porter and ale; and he carried on the enlarged plant until 1835, when his two sons, George and Frederick, became his successors.
Frederick Lauer was the principal brewer at Reading for nearly fifty years from 1835 to 1882. He was born in the town of Gleisweiler, Rhenish Bavaria, Germany, Oct. 14, 1810, and while a boy accompanied his father to America in 1823. He was educated in pay schools at Womelsdorf and Reading, and while growing to manhood learned the business of brewing under the tutoring of his father. He assisted his father until 1835, when he and his brother George became the owners of the plant. The brothers continued as partners for several years, when his brother George retired and removed to Pottsville, where he carried on the same business. The younger brother, as the sole owner, enlarged the brewery and extended the business gradually until he came to send his beer, porter and ale throughout the county and into the adjoining counties. The brewery was situated on Chestnut Street below Third. He established a second plant on North Third Street, beyond Walnut, in 1866; also constructing a large vault in a solid bed of limestone, and sinking an artesian well to the depth of 2,200 feet, which for many years were considered great curiosities at Reading, and the well was then one of the few deep wells in the United States. He was engaged in the business until shortly before his death. He died in 1883, at the age of seventy-three years. He was married to Mary Reiff Guldin, daughter of Peter Guldin, in 1838, and they had two sons, George Frederick and Franklin Pierce. The mother died in October, 1891. After her death 1891, George Frederick Lauer, one of Mary’s sons and chairman of the Lauer Brewing Co., erected an elegant mansion which fronted on South Third, at Chestnut. Not long after the turn of the century, the mansion passed to George’s brother, Franklin Pierce Lauer (born the day President Franklin Pierce was elected).
Franklin Pierce Lauer was born in Reading Nov. 2, 1852. He received his preliminary education in the common schools, which he attended until 1866, when he and his brother were sent to Germany for their advanced education, and they remained three years, spending two years in the institutions at Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart, Germany, and one year at Lausanne, Switzerland. He directed his studies more especially toward the scientific manufacture of beer, porter and ale for the purpose of qualifying himself to take charge of his father’s breweries upon his return home. While at Lausanne he showed great proficiency in music, and though still a boy the vestry of the French Lutheran Church elected him as the organist, which position he filled.
Upon returning home his father placed him in charge of the two breweries as brew master and he displayed great skill in the production of malt liquors of a superior character. He discharged the duties of this responsible position with increasing success for twelve years, until 1882, when his father retired, and he organized the Lauer Brewing Company, of which he became the manager and principal owner. In August, 1891, he made an extended tour of three months through the principal countries of Europe. In 1874 Mr. Lauer married Amelia Dora Heberle (daughter of William Heberle), by whom he had six children: Florence, who married William Y. Landis, of Reading; Carl Franklin; and four who died in youth.
Franklin remained at the mansion until 1923 at which time his daughter, Florence (Mrs. William) Landis, moved in who remained there until around 1923 at which time Around 1929, Peter Lysczek bought the property. A year later, while the family was away, fire broke out in the tower. Severe damage resulted, much of it from water. At this time it was decided to convert the 28-room mansion to an apartment complex. Mr. Lysczek erected a structure at the rear of the home to accommodate his Reading Bottling Works. By 1960, Peter Lysczek’s bottling works had outgrown the facilities at 3rd and Chestnut, so the property was sold to an auto-renting agency and very soon thereafter, the mansion disappeared.
Franklin Pierce operated the brewery for many years. The brewery survived the the prohibition years but eventually succumbed to the wrecking ball. In October, 1942, the brewery at the Northwest corner of Third and Walnut Streets was demolished. TThe only structure remaining from the former Lauer complex at (and near) Third and Walnut is the old Lauer mansion at 235-237 Walnut St.
This is a more genealogical story from “Historical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families,” compiled by Morton Montgomery, and published in 1909:
Frederick Lauer, father of Franklin Pierce Lauer, was the principal brewer at Reading for nearly fifty years from 1835 to 1882. He was born in the town of Gleisweiler, Rhenish Bavaria, Germany, Oct. 14, 1810, and whilst a boy accompanied his father to America in 1823. He was educated in pay schools at Womelsdorf and Reading, and while growing to manhood learned the business of brewing under the tutelage of his father, who was an expert brewer; and he assisted his father until 1835, when he and his brother George became the owners of the plant. The brothers continued as partners for several years, when his brother George retired and removed to Pottsville, where he carried on the same business. The younger brother, as the sole owner, enlarged the brewery and extended the business gradually until he came to send his beer, porter and ale throughout the county and into the adjoining counties. The brewery was situated on Chestnut street below Third. He established a second plant on North Third street, beyond Walnut, in 1866; also constructing a large vault in a solid bed of limestone, and sinking an artesian well to the depth of 2,200 feet, which for many years were considered great curiosities at Reading, and the well was then one of the few deep wells in the United States. He was engaged in the business until shortly before his decease. He died in 1883, at the age of seventy-three years. He was married to Mary Reiff Guldin, daughter of Peter Guldin, in 1838, and they had two sons, George Frederick and Franklin Pierce. The mother died in October, 1891.
Frederick Lauer was a public-spirited man and labored assiduously for the development and prosperity of Reading. He co-operated heartily in the advancement of the place from a borough into a city in 1847; and under the amended charter of 1864 he represented the Fifth ward in the select council from 1865 to 1871, serving as president of that body in 1867. He was a devoted adherent of the Democratic party, and active in behalf of its success for many years. He represented the Berks district as a delegate to the National Convention which met at Charleston, S. C., in 1860, and notwithstanding the platform and the defeat of the party nominee for President, when the Civil war broke out, in 1861, he espoused the cause of the Union in a most earnest and patriotic manner. He assisted materially in organizing the Berks County Agricultural Society in 1852, and officiated as president for a number of years; also in projecting the construction of the railroad from Reading to Lancaster and Columbia, serving as a director for twenty years until his decease; and by special appointment of the governor he served for several terms as trustee of the Keystone State Normal School. He gave liberal support to local charities by aiding the Dispensary and the Relief Society.
Lauer Monument — Mr. Lauer’s great experience and success in the brewing business brought him into national prominence before the brewers of the United States, and he quite naturally became the first president of the national association upon its organization in 1870, which evidences his great popularity and influence at that time; and in May, 1885, the association erected a fine bronze statue to his memory on Penn Common, near Perkiomen avenue, on a small plot of ground set apart and dedicated by the city councils, the first public honor of the kind in the community. The inscriptions on the four sides of the base are as follows:
“The city of Reading commemorates the public and private virtues of an honored citizen by the grant of this location. Erected 1885, the year of the Twenty-fifth convention of the United States Brewers’ Association.”
“To Frederick Lauer of Reading. The United States Brewers’ Association of which he was the first president has erected this monument in grateful remembrance of his unselfish labor for the welfare of the brewing trade in this country.”
“His zeal sprang from his firm conviction that in striving to advance the brewing trade he was working for the cause of national temperance.”
“Let his example tell the brewers of this country to maintain good fellowship, to preserve their association, and to defend their rights.”
I grew up just outside of Reading, and made frequent trips to the park in Reading where Lauer’s statue was located, and it was near the bandshell, which fascinated me as a kid. I confess I didn’t really know anything about who Frederick Lauer was as a child, and it wasn’t until I moved away that I began to understand who he was and why there was a statue of him in my hometown.
Last year, asshole vandals trashed the statue and “stole bronze plaques that were at the base of the statue.” Happily, the BA helped with the funds needed for its restoration and it was rededicated earlier this year while much of the brewing industry was in nearby Philadelphia for the Craft Brewers Conference. I wish I could have been there, but unfortunately I was judging the World Beer Cup, and couldn’t get away.