Sunday’s ad is for “Rheingold Beer,” from 1957. 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. Margie McNally was elected as Miss Rheingold 1957. She was born Margaret McNally on June 24, 1935, and grew up in Flushing, Queens, New York. She became a model and later married automobile publisher Robert E. Peterson in 1963. Together they had two sons, but the died tragically in a plane crash at ages 10 and 11, and thereafter she became active in charities for youth causes. In 1994, they opened the Petersen Auto Museum in Los Angeles, which is still open today. She passed away in 2011, at age 76. In this news item, from January, Miss Rheingold 1957, Margie McNally, is attending the 18th annual White Elephant Ball in New York City, posing with the charity event’s chairperson, Mrs. Robert Salant (who doesn’t even get her own name). The newspaper blurb has the curious headling, “Hope Their White Elephant Isn’t,” which frankly makes no sense to me.
Archives for April 30, 2023
Today is the birthday of Gustav Hodel (April 30, 1875-July 3, 1966). Hodel was born in Emmendingen, Baden, Germany, the youngest of seven. His father, Christian Hodel, owned the local Hodel Brewery. One of his brother’s emigrated to America and became a maltser in Nebraska, then another brother came and became a brewer, and eventually so did Gustav, who everybody called “Gus.” He started in one brother’s brewery in Galena, Illinois but struck out on his own and either owned or worked for a number of different breweries over the course of a 56-year career in beer. He retired in 1946 to Santa Cruz, California to be closer to his daughters, where he remained until his death in 1966.
Brewery Gems has a great account of Hodel’s life, apparently with considerable help from Gus Hodel’s grandson, William “Bill” Whetton. And given that it’s the most complete source I could find, your best bet it to just go read it there.
This is an obituary for Hodel from the Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 5, 1966.
One of the breweries Hodel owned was the Lewistown Brewing Co., in Lewistown, Montana, which he acquired in 1912 and ran successfully until Prohibition, when in trying to survive got into a bit of trouble with the Federal government.
You can read all about those troubles at the National Archives, in a piece entitled “Run for the border: Beer Bootlegging during the Prohibition.”
Today is the birthday of Lawrence Steese (April 20, 1912-April 19, 1991). Steese is part of the more recent lore of Anchor Brewing. Originally from Mill Valley, in Marin County, he bought Anchor in 1960 when Joe Allen was retiring, though Allen stayed around to teach him how to make Steam Beer. Fifty-one percent of the brewery was then bought by Fritz Maytag, who eventually bought out Steese and assumed full control.
Steese was from Mill Valley, and in the July 14, 1962 edition of the Daily Independent Journal, an article used the headline How a Marinite Rescued Steam Beer, which included the following in its coverage.
SOME THREE years ago the requiem for steam beer was being played, and the sad demise of a California tradition was being mourned. At that time Joe Allen, owner of Anchor Brewery, announced his retirement. There was no one skilled in the exacting art of steam beer brewing to take his place, and no one, it seemed, who cared to take the time and trouble to learn from the old master. No one, that is, until Lawrence Steese decided he’d like to try. Joe Allen was more than willing to teach. And since his official “retirement” these three years past, Allen has spent his days at the brewery as professor of steam beer brewing. The making of steam beer is not like the brewing of other beers. Steam beer is naturally carbonated; neither additives nor preservatives become it. “The Sincere Beer,” it is called by some. IT IS TRULY a “health food,” its devotees assert, containing more malt and hops than other beers, and without corn or rice to lighten it.
And this account of Fritz Maytag buying Anchor from Steese is on their website:
By 1965, as America slaked its thirst with lighter, mass-produced, heavily marketed beers, the Old Spaghetti Factory had become one of Anchor’s last remaining accounts. Fred—ever loyal—even loaned the brewery money to help keep San Francisco’s beer afloat. In July 1965, he heard the news that Anchor—then known as the Steam Beer Brewing Company—was about to shut down.
Fred turned to a customer and friend who was living in the City by the Bay, twenty-seven-year-old Fritz Maytag—great-grandson of the founder of a well-known appliance company in Newton, Iowa. Fred knew that if Maytag paid a visit to the brewery, he might just fall in love with it. Sure enough, “it was as if,” Fritz reminisced, “someone said, ‘That’s the last cable car and it’s going out of business tomorrow unless you put up a few thousand dollars.’”
On August 2, Fritz Maytag shook hands with owner/brewmaster Lawrence Steese, purchasing 51% of the brewery (and its debt) and rescuing our brewery from imminent oblivion. Final papers were filed September 24. San Francisco’s iconic beer and “medieval brewery”—as Fritz fondly calls it—were saved!