Wednesday’s ad is for “Rheingold Beer,” from 1943. This ad was made for the Rheingold Brewery, which was founded by the Liebmann family in 1883 in New York, New York. At its peak, it sold 35% of all the beer in New York state. In 1963, the family sold the brewery and in was shut down in 1976. In 1940, Philip Liebmann, great-grandson of the founder, Samuel Liebmann, started the “Miss Rheingold” pageant as the centerpiece of its marketing campaign. Beer drinkers voted each year on the young lady who would be featured as Miss Rheingold in advertisements. In the 1940s and 1950s in New York, “the selection of Miss Rheingold was as highly anticipated as the race for the White House.” The winning model was then featured in at least twelve monthly advertisements for the brewery, beginning in 1940 and ending in 1965. Beginning in 1941, the selection of next year’s Miss Rheingold was instituted and became wildly popular in the New York Area. Miss Rheingold 1943 was Sonia Gover. She was born in 1921 in Chicago, and married Joseph Gover in 1941, when she was 19. She worked as a model in the New York area and passed away in 1989. In this ad she’s shown pheasant hunting with her dog.
Archives for January 19, 2022
Today is the birthday of George Bechtel (January 19, 1841-July 16, 1889). He was born in Germany, but moved to the U.S. with his parents at just six-months-old. His father was John Bechtel, who founded a brewery on Staten Island, New York, in 1853. It was initially was known as the John Bechtel Brewery, but in 1865, he sold the brewery to his son, George Bechtel, who renamed it the George Bechtel Brewery. George Bechtel continued to operate it until it closed for good in 1907.
This brief biography is from “Staten Island Brewery Barons” by Patricia M. Salmon, published in 2016:
George Bechtel was the owner and operator of the Bechtel Brewery on Staten Island. He was born in Germany and immigrated to New York with his family when he was six years old and by the age of 18 he was working in the brewery started by his father John Bechtel in Stapleton as a brewery worker. He purchased all of his father’s interests in the brewery in 1870 and by 1874 the main building was named George Bechtel’s Brewery.
By 1882, brewers at Bechtel Brewery produced about 80,000 barrels per year, which reached up to 150,000 barrels annually by the turn of the century. The business was valued at three quarter million dollars. For many years the Bechtel Brewery was the most significant business on Staten Island.
George married the former Eva Schoen, whose family has the mausoleum next to the Bechtel mausoleum, in 1865. They had four daughters, Anna, Carrie, Louise, Agnes and two sons, John and George Jr. Their six-year-old son John died in 1875.
George suffered from severe heart problems for at least two months before his death at the age of 48.
This account is from “100 Years of Brewing,” published in 1903. The second part of the article is about John Moffat:
This early history of the brewery is from “History of Richmond County, from its discovery to the present time,” by Richard Mather Bayles, published in 1887:
Bechtel’s Brewery, perhaps the largest of these, was located at Stapleton, where it was founded by John Bechtel, in 1853. In 1865 he sold the concern to his son, George Bechtel, the present proprietor. The capital invested here amounts to well nigh half a million dollars. In 1865 the revenue tax of this brewery was $10,000, and ten years later it had increased to $60,000. It employs about fifty hands.
George Bechtel, was born in Germany in 1840. He came with his parents to America at the age of six months, and in 1851 entered the grammar school of ColumbiaCollege. After finishing his course at that institution he began an apprenticeship in the brewery which his father had established at Stapleton in 1853. From 1860 to 1865 he occupied the position of superintendent of the establishment, and while engaged in that capacity he established the first ice-house in the East. In 1865 he rented the property from his father, and in 1870 purchased his entire interest, becoming the sole proprietor.
The original building proving too small for his rapidly increasing business, Mr. Bechtel concluded to tear it down and in its place he built the present elegant structure, special attention being given to its equipment. So energetically was the work of erection pushed that in ten weeks after the first stone was laid brewing had recommenced. The continued increase of his business is due to the high quality of excellence which he maintains in all his productions. Mr. Bechtel has been foremost in all public and benevolent matters. During the riots in 1861 he sheltered large numbers of these homeless people in the woods and sent them nourishment daily till the trouble had subsided, a circumstance which the colored people on Staten Island have never forgotten and for which they have been ever grateful.
Mr. Bechtel’s benevolent qualities show themselves on all occasions, and many poor families on Staten Island have been the recipients of his charity. It is said of him that he is ever ready to help where it is needed. In 1879 the Japanese embassy, together with the secretary of state and several other gentlemen, paid a visit to Mr. Bechtel’ s brewery. As a result they ordered one hundred thousand bottles of beer to be sent to Japan. On their return they sent him several very flattering letters and a pair of costly vases as a token of their esteem.
Today would have been the 102st birthday of Henry “Zadie” Benesch. Unfortunately, he passed away a few days shy of his 101st birthday on January 11, 2021. Until then, the centenarian was believed to be the oldest living person working for a brewery, where he helped out at his grandson’s brewery in Baltimore, Maryland, Union Craft Brewery. Thanks to Gregg Wiggins and Tom Cizauskas for alerting me to this story. You can read more about Zadie in an interview of him from a few years before when he turned 99 from the Washington City Paper. Here is what Yours For Good Fermentables had to say:
Happy 100th birthday to America’s (and the world’s?) oldest brewery worker: Henry ‘Zadie’ Benesch. A World War II veteran, Mr. Benesch works at Union Craft Brewing in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
On Jan. 19, 2020, Henry will celebrate his 100th birthday. He isn’t sure what’s kept him alive for a full century. ‘I can’t answer that, but I say I drank from the fountain of youth when I was 17 and I smoked cigars when I was 22 and I’m still smoking cigars and drinking bourbon.’ “
“His badass-ness just rubs off on all of us,” said Union Craft Brewing co-founder Kevin Blodger. His fellow co-founder, Adam Benesch, is one of Henry’s 16 grandchildren.
Sounds like a fascinating person with a lot of stories to tell. The brewery has declared January 19th as “Zay Day” and thrown a big birthday bash at the brewery. Join me in drinking a toast to Zadie with a beer, a cigar, or bourbon.
In his obituary on Baltimore Jewish Living they reprinted Zadie’s 11 Life Lessons, and I think they bear repeating and taking to heart.
- You can never have too many hats.
- Vegetables are always optional.
- Exercise will kill you.
- Travel often and see the world.
- Coffee, bourbon, Blackwing Lager and cigars are the four basic life necessities.
- Show up and work hard.
- Treat everyone you meet with kindness and compassion.
- Don’t take life so seriously.
- Stay humble.
- Keep it simple.
- Appreciate what you have.
Today is the birthday of Frank H. Bechaud (January 19, 1848-November 28, 1916. He was born in
Here’s an obituary of Bechaud from the Brewers’ Journal:
Today is the birthday of James Watt, not the BrewDog co-founder, but the “Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer, and chemist who improved on Thomas Newcomen’s 1712 Newcomen steam engine with his Watt steam engine in 1781, which was fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.
While working as an instrument maker at the University of Glasgow, Watt became interested in the technology of steam engines. He realised that contemporary engine designs wasted a great deal of energy by repeatedly cooling and reheating the cylinder. Watt introduced a design enhancement, the separate condenser, which avoided this waste of energy and radically improved the power, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of steam engines. Eventually he adapted his engine to produce rotary motion, greatly broadening its use beyond pumping water.
Watt attempted to commercialise his invention, but experienced great financial difficulties until he entered a partnership with Matthew Boulton in 1775. The new firm of Boulton and Watt was eventually highly successful and Watt became a wealthy man. In his retirement, Watt continued to develop new inventions though none was as significant as his steam engine work. He died in 1819 aged 83.
He developed the concept of horsepower, and the SI unit of power, the watt, was named after him.”
A portrait of James Watt, by Carl Frederik von Breda, completed in 1792.
Of course, from our perspective his most important contribution was to the industrial revolution, and specifically the improvement of brewery efficiency. While Watt did not invent the steam engine, his improvements made it practical, especially in breweries.
The Watt Steam Engine
The Watt steam engine (alternatively known as the Boulton and Watt steam engine) was the first type of steam engine to make use of a separate condenser. It was a vacuum or “atmospheric” engine using steam at a pressure just above atmospheric to create a partial vacuum beneath the piston. The difference between atmospheric pressure above the piston and the partial vacuum below drove the piston down the cylinder. James Watt avoided the use of high pressure steam because of safety concerns. Watt’s design became synonymous with steam engines, due in no small part to his business partner, Matthew Boulton.
The Watt steam engine, developed sporadically from 1763 to 1775, was an improvement on the design of the Newcomen engine and was a key point in the Industrial Revolution.
Watt’s two most important improvements were the separate condenser and rotary motion. The separate condenser, located external to the cylinder, condensed steam without cooling the piston and cylinder walls as did the internal spray in Newcomen’s engine. Watt’s engine’s efficiency was more than double that of the Newcomen engine. Rotary motion was more suitable for industrial power than the oscillating beam of Newcomen’s engine.
The Whitbread Engine
The Whitbread Engine preserved in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia, built in 1785, is one of the first rotative steam engines ever built, and is the oldest surviving. A rotative engine is a type of beam engine where the reciprocating motion of the beam is converted to rotary motion, producing a continuous power source suitable for driving machinery.
This engine was designed by the mechanical engineer James Watt, manufactured for the firm Boulton and Watt and originally installed in the Whitbread brewery in London, England. On decommissioning in 1887 it was sent to Australia’s Powerhouse Museum (then known as the Technological, Industrial and Sanitary Museum) and has since been restored to full working order.
Installation of the Watt Steam Engine at Whitbread.
History of the Whitbread Engine
The engine was ordered by Samuel Whitbread in 1784 to replace a horse wheel at the Chiswell Street premises of his London brewery. It was installed in 1785, the second steam engine to be installed in a brewery, and enabled Whitbread to become the largest brewer in Britain. The horse wheel was retained for many years, serving as a backup in case the steam engine broke down. The drive gear of the engine, still evident today, was connected to a series of wooden line shafts which drove machinery within the brewery. Connected machinery included rollers to crush malt; an Archimedes’ screw, that lifted the crushed malt into a hopper; a hoist, for lifting items into the building; a three-piston pump, for pumping beer; and a stirrer within a vat. There was also a reciprocating pump connected to the engine’s beam, used to pump water from a well to a tank on the roof of the brewery.
In a marketing coup for both the brewer and the engine’s manufacturer, King George III and Queen Charlotte visited the brewery on 24 May 1787. The engine remained in service for 102 years, until 1887.
The engine made its way to the Powerhouse Museum (then known as the Technological, Industrial and Sanitary Museum) through Archibald Liversidge, an English-born chemist, scientist and academic at the University of Sydney, who was a trustee of the museum. Liversidge was in London in 1887, at the time of the engine’s decommissioning, and when he heard that the engine was to be scrapped he asked whether it could be donated to the museum. Whitbread & Co agreed on condition that the engine be set up and used for educational purposes.
Subsequently, the engine was dismantled and shipped to Sydney on the sailing ship Patriarch. For shipping purposes, the large flywheel was divided into two halves. While the flywheel’s rim could be unbolted, the hub with attached spokes had to be drilled through and rejoined after shipping. A shortage of funds meant the engine was kept in storage for several years. Eventually the engine was erected in its own engine house, behind the main building at the museum’s old Harris Street premises. During the 1920s or 1930s, an electric motor was added so that people could see the engine in motion. During the 1980s the Technology Restoration Society was formed in order to raise funds for the engine’s restoration. Restoration took place at the Museum’s Castle Hill site. During the restoration, some parts – including the piston – were replaced to preserve the original parts. The engine, restored to steaming condition, was installed in the new Powerhouse Museum in 1988. Today the engine is sometimes operated as part of the Museum’s Steam Revolution exhibition, steam being provided by the Museum’s central boiler.
The engine has a 0.64 metres (25 in) diameter piston with a 1.8 metres (6 ft) long stroke, driven by a mean effective pressure of 70 kilopascals (10 psi). Its top speed is 20 revolutions per minute (rpm) of the flywheel. In the engine’s youth, it had a maximum power output of approximately 26 kilowatts (35 hp).[It underwent a series of alterations in 1795, converting it from single-acting to double-acting; it was alleged at the time that this conversion improved its power to 52 kilowatts (70 hp), but the Powerhouse Museum claims this is false. A centrifugal governor, which moderates the level of steam provided if the engine begins to overload was added some years after this, and beam and main driving rod, both originally of wood, were replaced in sand-cast iron.
Apart from its age, the engine is notable in that it embodies the four innovations which made Boulton & Watt’s engines a significant driver of the Industrial Revolution. The first is a separate condenser, which increases the efficiency of the engine by allowing the main cylinder to remain hot at all times. The second is the parallel motion, which converts the up-and-down motion of the piston into the arcing motion of the beam, whilst maintaining a rigid connection. The rigid connection allowed the engine to be double-acting, meaning the piston could push as well as pull the beam. Third is the centrifugal governor, used to automatically regulate the speed of the engine. Finally the sun and planet gear convert the reciprocating motion of the beam into a rotating motion, which can be used to drive rotating machinery.
There’s also another Boulton & Watt engine at the National Museum of Scotland. It “was built in 1786 to pump water for the Barclay & Perkins Brewery in Southwark, London. Made double-acting in 1796, it was then capable of grinding barley and pumping water. At that time, no one else could supply a steam engine that performed both these actions at once. With some minor modifications, it remained in service at the brewery until 1884.”
And this is more from the National Museum of Scotland:
James Watt (1736-1819) was a prolific inventor, surveyor, instrument maker and engineer. His engines dramatically increased the power that could be generated through steam.
By entering into partnership with the Birmingham magnate Matthew Boulton in 1774, James Watt was able to channel the vast resource of Boulton’s Soho Foundry. Their partnership was so successful that the Boulton & Watt firm supplied engines and expertise to countries as far a field as Russia and Greece.
After pumping water and grinding barley for almost eighty-seven years, the engine came out of service in 1883.
You can see a diagram of the engine in action here:
Watt’s Steam Engine
Inside the Engine
Lighting the Fire
Running the Engine
If you want to read more in-depth about Watt’s development of the steam engine, Chapter III of “The Development of the Modern Steam-Engine: James Watt and His Contemporaries” is online, and there’s also various links at Watt’s page at the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.
Today is the birthday of Frank Reisch (January 19, 1842-May 22, 1896), who at one time was involved in the management of the Reisch Brewing Co. He was the son of the founder, Franz Sales Reisch, who established the family brewery in 1849, in the city of Springfield, Illinois. According to Wikipedia, “the brewery operated until 1920 when it was forced to close because of Prohibition. It reopened in 1933 and stayed open until it shut its doors permanently in 1966.” During that time it changed names seven times.
Find A Grave has a short biography, taken from the “Portrait & Biographical Album of Sangamon County, IL:
Son of Frank and Susannah Reisch. In 1863, he was admitted into partnership of the Reisch Brewery in Springfield, IL, founded by his father Frank. In 1868 they built a mammoth structure in which Frank carried on the business after the death of his father in 1875.
From the time that he entered into partnership with his father, the business steadily increased and was one of the leading industries of the city. The brewery was finely fitted up with all the best machinery for carrying on the manufacture of beer. The capacity of the brewery was one hundred barrels a day, and gave employment to fifty-five men and to eight teams.
Mr. Reisch was a thorough business man who took a keen interest in everything calculated to promote the growth and development of Springfield. He was a strong man in financial circles, was a Director in the Illinois National Bank and a stockholder in the street railway system.
The 1910 book 100 Years of Brewing has a short entry about the brewery:
Here’s the letterhead for the company from shortly after they incorporated in 1903.
The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Sangamon County doesn’t have an entry for Frank Reisch though he is mentioned in his father’s entry.
Tony White, who’s the great-great grandson of Reisch brewery founder Franz Sales Resich, is working on a book about his family’s brewing legacy. He also has a great webpage with lots of information about Reisch Brewing, including photographs and interviews with other family members.
Here’s part of an entry of Frank Reisch from the Encyclopaedia of Biography of Illinois, though I clipped the second half, which discusses his involvement in local banking.
George Reisch is currently the Brewmaster and Director of Brewmaster Outreach at Anheuser-Busch, and has been there since 1979. He’s a fifth generation with Franz Sales Resich, Frank’s father, being first. His 96-year old father Edward is 4th generation (and will be 97 on March 1). His son Patrick Reisch brews for Goose Island and is 6th Generation.