Saturday’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 April, only a few months after Miss Rheingold 1956, Hillie Merritt, began her year of being Rheingold’s spokesperson, they were already beginning the arduous task of selecting the next year’s model. This ad is seeking women to enter the contest and lays out what the winner receives, what’s involved and even who some of the judges will be, including several celebrities of the day. But it also shows the current Miss Rheingold to give aspirants the idea of what they’re looking for and also serves to showcase her newfound fame.
Archives for March 18, 2023
Historic Beer Birthday: James Toohey
Today is the birthday of James Toohey (March 18, 1850-September 25, 1895). He and his brother John bought the Darling Brewery in Melbourne, Australia, and eventually it became known as Tooheys Brewery.
He was born in Melbourne to businessman Matthew Toohey and Honora Hall. He was a brewer, opening a business with his brother John in 1870 that eventually became Tooheys Brewery. On 5 June 1873 he married Catherine Magdalene Ferris, with whom he had twelve children. In 1885 he was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for South Sydney. He held the seat until he resigned in 1893. Toohey died at Pisa in Italy in 1895.
And here’s part of their early history from the brewery’s Wikipedia page:
Tooheys dates from 1869, when John Thomas Toohey (an Irish immigrant to Melbourne) obtained his brewing licence. Toohey and his brother James Matthew ran pubs in Melbourne (The Limerick Arms and The Great Britain) before moving to Sydney in the 1860s. They commenced brewing Tooheys Black Old Ale in a brewery in the area of present-day Darling Harbour. By 1875, demand for their beer had soared and they established The Standard Brewery in inner-city Surry Hills. In 1902, the company went public as Tooheys Limited, and commenced brewing lager (the present-day Tooheys New) in 1930. In 1955, the brewery moved west to Lidcombe. In 1967, Tooheys bought competitor Miller’s Brewers located in Taverner’s Hill, closing that brewery in 1975.
John Thomas Toohey (1839-1903) and James Matthew Toohey (1850-1895), brewers, were the sons of Matthew Toohey (d.1892), businessman, and his wife Honora (d.1878), née Hall. John Thomas was born on 26 April 1839 at Limerick, Ireland, and was taken to Melbourne by his parents in 1841. His father bought town lots and settled many Irish families in Victoria. One of the founders of the St Patrick’s Society in Melbourne, he was a political ally of (Sir) John O’Shanassy and (Sir) Charles Gavan Duffy. In the 1860s he was forced to sell at a loss; in 1866 he went to New South Wales and lived in virtual retirement. James Matthew was born on 18 March 1850 in Melbourne: he is said to have been named after Fr Matthew, the Irish apostle of temperance.
After unsuccessful business ventures in Victoria, New Zealand and Queensland, John settled near Lismore: later James had a property near Coonamble. About 1869 with W. G. Henfrey John set up an auctioneering agency and cordial manufacturing business in Castlereagh Street, Sydney; the next year the brothers began brewing at the Metropolitan Brewery and in 1873 they bought the Darling Brewery in Harbour Street. In 1876 they moved to new premises on the site of the old Albion Brewery in Elizabeth Street and began the Standard Brewery, employing twenty-six hands. Before 1880 imported beer was preferred to the local product, but in the 1880s Toohey’s and Tooth’s beers quickly became popular.
Vice-president of the Licensed Victuallers’ Association, in 1886 James was appointed to the royal commission on the excessive use of intoxicating drink, but withdrew when he felt the balance between local and anti-local optionists was upset. In evidence to the commission he said that ‘the system of shouting’ was the cause of all the excessive drinking in the colony and that beer was less injurious to health than ‘the ardent spirits’. He approved of the tied-house system and maintained that the 830 public houses in the Sydney metropolitan licensing district were not an excessive number, though there were a few too many in certain areas of the city.
Campaigning in 1885 for the Legislative Assembly seat of South Sydney, James claimed that the government’s action in sending troops to the Sudan ‘had resulted in a huge advertisement for the colony’. Favouring an elected Upper House, payment of members and the eight-hour system, he said he opposed local option and the abstinence party, as no Act of parliament could make a man sober. He represented the seat in 1885-93. A firm protectionist by 1887, he saw most free traders as ‘the curled darlings of the [Potts] Point and the merchants of Sydney’. He was a good speaker, if a little impetuous at times. According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s political correspondent in 1887, he ‘rolls the letter “r” beautifully, he drops his voice down to sweet whisper, lifts it up to a palpitating splendour, and then rolls it over the solemn path of prophetic parlance’. Dissatisfied with Sir George Dibbs’s administration, he opposed him for Tamworth in July 1894, but polled poorly. Next year he visited Ireland, England and Europe. James died at Pisa, Italy, on 25 September 1895 and was buried in the Catholic section of Rookwood cemetery, Sydney. He was survived by his wife Catherine (Kate) Magdalene (d.1913), née Ferris, whom he had married at Parramatta on 5 June 1873; they had four sons and eight daughters. Probate of his estate was sworn at £133,623.
On James’s death, John and James’s eldest son, also named John Thomas, took over the brewery. John was a leading Catholic layman, benefactor to numerous Catholic charitable institutions and a financial supporter of the Irish nationalist movement. On Christmas Day 1888 Cardinal Patrick Moran invested him as a knight of the Order of St Gregory. A leader in the Home Rule movement, he was prominent in the erection of the monument over the grave of Michael Dwyer in Waverley cemetery in 1898. Well known in business circles, he was a director of several companies including the City Mutual Fire Insurance Co. Ltd. He lived first at Moira, Burwood, and later at Innisfail, Wahroonga, and assisted in the development of both suburbs. He stood for Monaro in the Legislative Assembly in 1880 but was defeated by Henry Septimus Badgery and (Sir) Robert Lucas Tooth. In April 1892 he was nominated to the Legislative Council, but he very rarely spoke. In September 1901 he gave evidence to an assembly select committee on tied houses. Next year the brewery became a public company, Toohey’s Ltd, with John as chairman; the vendors received 375,000 fully paid shares and £175,000 cash. The well-known advertising slogan and symbol ‘Here’s to ‘ee’ originated in 1894.
For health reasons John went on a world tour with his family in 1902. He died suddenly in Chicago on 5 May 1903 and was buried in the Catholic section of Rookwood cemetery, Sydney. On 26 August 1871 at St Mary’s Cathedral he had married Sarah Doheny who died in 1891 survived by two sons and three daughters. Toohey was survived by his second wife, a widow Annie Mary Murphy, née Egan, whom he had married in Auckland, New Zealand. His estate was sworn for probate at £275,215.
And this is a commercial that Tooheys produced that tells some of the history of the brewery.
John Updike’s Paean To The Beer Can
Today is one of my favorite author’s birthdays, John Updike. He grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town that I did — Shillington — and we both escaped to a life of writing. Though I think you’ll agree he did rather better than I did with the writing thing, not that I’m complaining. I once wrote to him about a harebrained idea I had about writing updated Olinger stories from the perspective of the next generation (his Olinger Stories were a series of short tales set in Olinger, which was essentially his fictional name for Shillington). He wrote me back a nice note of encouragement on a hand-typed postcard that he signed, which today hangs in my office as a reminder and for inspiration. Anyway, this little gem he wrote for the The New Yorker in 1964 is a favorite of mine and I now post it each year in his honor. Enjoy.
Beer Can by John Updike
This seems to be an era of gratuitous inventions and negative improvements. Consider the beer can. It was beautiful — as beautiful as the clothespin, as inevitable as the wine bottle, as dignified and reassuring as the fire hydrant. A tranquil cylinder of delightfully resonant metal, it could be opened in an instant, requiring only the application of a handy gadget freely dispensed by every grocer. Who can forget the small, symmetrical thrill of those two triangular punctures, the dainty pfff, the little crest of suds that foamed eagerly in the exultation of release? Now we are given, instead, a top beetling with an ugly, shmoo-shaped tab, which, after fiercely resisting the tugging, bleeding fingers of the thirsty man, threatens his lips with a dangerous and hideous hole. However, we have discovered a way to thwart Progress, usually so unthwartable. Turn the beer can upside down and open the bottom. The bottom is still the way the top used to be. True, this operation gives the beer an unsettling jolt, and the sight of a consistently inverted beer can might make people edgy, not to say queasy. But the latter difficulty could be eliminated if manufacturers would design cans that looked the same whichever end was up, like playing cards. What we need is Progress with an escape hatch.
Now that’s writing. I especially like his allusion to the beauty of the clothespin as I am an unabashed lover of clothespins.
In case you’re not as old and curmudgeonly as me — and who is? — he’s talking about the transition to the pull-tab beer can (introduced between 1962-64) to replace the flat punch-top can that required you to punch two triangular holes in the top of the can in order to drink the beer and pour it in a glass.
The pull-tab (at left) replaced the punch top (right).
Originally known as the Zip Top, Rusty Cans has an informative and entertaining history of them. Now you know why a lot of bottle openers still have that triangle-shaped punch on one end.
So essentially, he’s lamenting the death of the old style beer can which most people considered a pain to open and downright impossible should you be without the necessary church key opener. He is correct, however, that the newfangled suckers were sharp and did cut fingers and lips on occasion, even snapping off without opening from time to time. But you still have to laugh at the unwillingness to embrace change (and possibly progress) even though he was only 32 at the time; hardly a normally curmudgeonly age.
Beer Birthday: Alexandra Nowell
Today is the birthday of Alexandra Nowell, brewmaster of Three Weavers Brewing in Inglewood, southwest of L.A. She’s brewed previously at a variety of Bay Area breweries, including Moylan’s and Drakes, before moving south to Kinetic Brewing a few years ago. More recently, she joined Three Weavers, located in Inglewood. Join me in wishing Alexandra a very happy birthday.
The Drake’s/Stone Quarter Century of Issues Celebrator 25th Anniversary Pale Ale brew crew (from left to right): Drake’s owner John Martin, Stone Northern California regional brewery rep. Dave Hopwood, Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele, Stone San Francisco regional brewery rep Michael “Zippo” Parzick and, obviously the only one doing any real work, then-Drake’s brewmaster Alexandra (on the brew deck).
Alexandra scooping out spent grain at Drake’s.
With Jesse Houck, who also worked at Drake’s, and very briefly at Golden Road. in L.A., but later moved to Hawaii to brew on Maui with Maui Brewing.
Alexandra with Mike “Tasty” McDole (purloined, er … borrowed from the Weekly Pint)
Historic Beer Birthday: John Smith
Today is the birthday of John Smith (March 18, 1824-September 9, 1879). He was born in Leeds, and founded John Smith’s Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England in 1852, when “purchased the Backhouse & Hartley brewery” with a “loan” from his wealthy father.
Stephen Hartley began brewing in Tadcaster in 1758. In 1845 Jane Hartley mortgaged the brewery to David Backhouse and John Hartley. In 1847, Samuel Smith of Leeds arranged for his son John to enter the business. Jane Hartley died in 1852, and John Smith acquired the business, enlisting his brother William to help him. The timing was to prove fortuitous; pale ales were displacing porter as the beer of choice, and Tadcaster’s hard water proved to be well-suited for brewing the new style. The prosperity of the 1850s and 1860s, together with the arrival of the railways, realised greater opportunities for brewers, and by 1861 John Smith employed eight men in his brewing and malting enterprise.
And the Town of Tadcaster, where the brewery is located, includes this:
John Smith’s Ltd. brings together some of the greatest names in British brewing. John Smith’s, Wm. Younger, Matthew Brown….. we draw on a rich heritage and brewing expertise that stretches back over 250 years. As part of Scottish Courage, the UK’s foremost brewing company, we also represent some of the world’s most famous beer brands. ‘Only the best is good enough.’ Our company bears the name of a remarkable man. Born the son of a tanner, John Smith built a brewing business based on his entrepreneurial skills and personal commitment to quality. His Tadcaster brewery, acquired in 1847, responded to the new market opportunities generated by rapid population growth in northern towns during the Industrial Revolution.The excellence of his ales paved the way for what has become Britain’s most popular ale brand. The success story continues: a recent major expansion program at Tadcaster has doubled capacity to keep in pace with growing demand. An alliance of proud traditions.John Smith’s Ltd. represents a coming together of many proud brewing traditions like an ex-girlfriend blog. Matthew Brown began his brewing career in Lancashire in 1830. Wm. Younger’s traces it’s roots right back to 1749 and William McEwan founded his brewery in 1856. The Younger’s and McEwan’s companies joined forces in 1931 to form Scottish Brewers, arguably Scotland’s most famous beer company. These traditions are now combined with the prestigious brands owned by Scottish Courage. Times have changed, but the guiding principles of service and quality adopted by John Smith over 150 years ago are still at the core of our business today.
Beer Birthday: Jason Chavez
Today is the 55th birthday of Jason Chavez, who was the brewmaster at Seabright Brewery in Santa Cruz for a number of years. Chavez started homebrewing while still in high school on his family’s kitchen stove. He’s a graduate of the American Brewers Guild, and had been brewing at Seabright since 1999. I believe I first met Jason many years ago at the Rock Bottom in Denver during a GABF week, but I still run into him occasionally at events. Seabright celebrated their 25th anniversary several years ago, when I spent the day at the brewery to do a story on their silver anniversary. But three years ago, he made a big change, moving closer to home to take over the Kelsey Creek Brewing Co. in Kelseyville. Join me in wishing Jason a very happy birthday.
Jason with Dave Heist, from HopTown Brewing, and Gene and Cindy Acevedo, from El Toro Brewing, during the Brewer’s Reception at GABF in 2002.
Jason at the helm of the brewery when I visited him in early 2013 to wrote about Seabright’s 25th anniversary.
Historic Beer Birthday: William Ebling
Today is the birthday of William Ebling (March 18, 1828-January 25, 1922). Along with his brother Phillip, he founded and owned the Ebling Brewing Co., which was known by several different names during its life from 1868 to 1950, including the Philip Ebling & Bro. Wm., Aurora Park Brewery, Ph. & Wm. Ebling Brewing Co. and Ebling Brewing Co., which was its name almost the entirety of the 20th century, both before and after prohibition.
There’s not much I could find specifically about William Ebling, and no photos or portraits. From what I can piece together, he was born in Hessen, Germany and emigrated to the U.S. in 1855, arriving December 19 of that year. Initially he worked as a vinegar merchant and married his wife, Phoebe, around 1863, but by 1868 was brewing lager beer with his brother.
Two Ebling brewery workers posing with a keg branding device, from an unknown date.
The brewery apparently aged some of their beer in Bronx caves, and for some of their beers, like Special Brew, whose label boasts that the beer was “aged in natural rock caves.” Which sounds crazy, but in 2009, road construction crews in the Melrose section of the Bronx found the old caves, which was detailed by Edible Geography in Bronx Beer Caves.
An Ebling beer truck on 61st Street in New York in 1938.
A 1908 calendar from the brewery.