Wednesday’s ad is for “Rheingold Beer,” from 1956. 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. Hillie Merritt was elected as Miss Rheingold 1955. Not to take anything away from the other Miss Rheingolds, but her story is pretty amazing. She was born Hildegarde Ercklentz in Hamburg, Germany in 1934 but she moved to New York when her father was given a position there with the German bank he worked for. In 1941, they had to flee the United States and lived for a time in Japan, before finally making it back to Hamburg after the war and then by 1950 was living once again in New York City. The story of that journey was written by her and published as “Journey Interrupted” in 2016. By 1955, she was Mrs. Hillie Merritt (although it may actually have been Merrill), with a one-year old son, and decided on a lark to enter the contest. Soon after the year she divorced and then married corporate executive David Mahoney, and they became a prominent couple in the NY social scene and in philanthropic circles. In 1990, they founded the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute, which Hildegarde Mahoney took charge of after her husband’s death in 2000 and she’s still running the charity today. In this ad, from December, Miss Rheingold 1956, Hillie Merritt, is dressed in white as she goes out in the snow to the mailbox to get the mail with a load of Christmas presents under her arm and in her other hand. To her, “the nicest thing about Christmas is everything!” She then lists everything, making sure to include Rheingold beer.
Archives for March 15, 2023
Historic Beer Birthday: George Ehret Ruppert
Today is the birthday of George Ehret Ruppert (March 15, 1875-November 5, 1948). He was the grandson of Jacob Ruppert Sr. and the brother of Jacob Ruppert Jr.. They both ran the family brewery, although his brother was the one in the spotlight and devoted more of his time to their ownership of the New York Yankees. George was more focused on the brewery business, and even when his brother died, appointed the GM to run the Yankees and continued to manage the Ruppert brewery.
George Ehret Ruppert, 3rd generation American brewer, was the son of Jacob & Anna Gillig-Ruppert and the grandson of Franz & Wilhelmina Zindel-Ruppert. His Bavarian-born grandparents established New York’s Turtle Bay Brewery and his father founded the Jacob Ruppert Brewing Co. His famous brother, Congressman Col. Jacob Ruppert Jr., was founder, president & owner of the NY Yankees. George graduated Columbia Law School in 1899 whereupon he quickly joined his father and brother at the brewery. While working in the family business he attended the Wallerstein Brewing Academy. He became brewery secretary in 1910, VP in 1915 and executive secretary & director in 1921. In 1939 he succeeded his brother as president and in 1945 became CEO. George was active in many Catholic charities and once had an audience with Pope Pius XI in 1936. The paradox of George Ruppert’s life was that the more important he became the further he slipped into the media background. As his elder brother, Jacob Jr., devoted more of his time to his NY Yankee baseball team, the burden of directing the Ruppert Brewery became more George’s personal responsibility. Yet George seemed to prefer to labor in obscurity. At his brother’s death in 1939, George could have obtained for himself the headlines that often carried the name of his brother. Yet, he declined the post in favor of Gen. Mgr. Ed Barrow, explaining that he was doing so in the best interests of the Yankees and the brewery. George married twice: Emma Josephine Schwartz (1877-1919) and Pearl B. Jackson (1889-1957).
And here’s his obituary, from The Sporting News:
The Jacob Ruppert Brewery around 1932.
Historic Beer Birthday: Robert Meinrad Juerze
Today is the birthday of Robert Meinrad Juerze (March 15, 1847-?). In 1889, he was named president of the Gerke Brewing Co., in Cincinnati, Ohio. Unfortunately, that’s it for the information I could find about Juerze. No bio, no photos, just a line in an old trade magazine that included his birthdate.
The Eagle Brewery in Cincinnati, Ohio, which was known by various names names, such as the Schaller & Schiff Brewery and later the Schaller-Gerke Brewery and finally the Gerke Brewing Co. Here’s a timeline from the Queen City Chapter’s page, entitled Cincinnati Brewing History-Preprohibition 1811-1919.
The first brewery on this corner was the Eagle Brewery from 1854 to 1866, owned by Joseph Schaller and Johann Schiff. In 1866, Schiff left the company and John Gerke joined in. The name was changed to Schaller & Gerke, Eagle Brewery and they continued together until 1882. The Schallers left the business then to purchase the Main Street Brewery and after the death of his father John, George Gerke continued the business at Canal and Plum Streets.
Founded in 1854 as the Eagle Brewery closer to the Ohio River, Joseph Schaller and John Gerke built a new brewery at the bend of the Miami and Erie Canal in 1866. Beer was brewed there until 1910.
The brewery equipment was sold at auction October 15, 1913.
Beer Birthday: Ron Barchet
Today is the 60th birthday — The Big 6-O — of Ron Barchet, a co-founder of Victory Brewing Co., along with his childhood friend Bill Covaleski. I first met Ron at the brewery doing an article on Pennsylvania breweries for the Celebrator over a decade ago. It’s been great seeing his brewery rack up victory after victory as they’ve grown and become one of Pennsylvania’s best, biggest and brightest. Join me in wishing Ron a very happy birthday.
Ron with Bill Covaleski at the brewery when I visited them in 2002 or 2003.
Bill Covaleski with Ron in a publicity photo supplied with a press release announcing their merger with Southern Tier.
Historic Beer Birthday: Louis Burger
Today is the birthday of Louis Burger (March 15, 1842-February 13, 1901). He was born in Wurtemburg, Germany (though another source says Heilbrunn, Bavaria), but moved to America in 1863, when he was 21, and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, A few years later, in 1879, he started working in the malting business, but shortly thereafter he formed a partnership with his brother Charles and co-founded the Burger Brewing Co. It became one of the more successful breweries in Cincinnati, and survived prohibition, but in 1973, announcing its closure, Hudepohl Brewing bought the brand.
Here’s a short biography, containing some conflicting information, from Find-a-Grave:
Beer Baron. A native of Germany, he emigrated to America and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1874, he established the Burger Brewing Company and operated the brewery until his death in 1901 when he was 67 years old. The brewery continued as such until it closed for good in 1973, minus the prohibition years from 1919 through 1933.
Given its early success, there’s a surprising lack of information about the brewery’s history before prohibition, even in books on Cincinnati’s brewing history. Why that might be seems unclear, but certainly part of the problem is that burger is not only a common name, but also shares its name with a popular sandwich, making searching more difficult.