Wednesday’s ad is for Bier, Bière, Birra, from 1972, with the tagline “Santé!,” or “Health!” From the late 1800s until the 1960s, poster art really came into its own, and in Europe a lot of really cool posters, many of them for breweries, were produced. This poster was made to promote Swiss beer by the Swiss Brewery Association. I’m not sure who the artist who created it was, although I think it’s a photograph rather than a photorealistic painting.
Today is the birthday of Anthony Straub (July 17, 1882-June 13, 1962). He was the son of Peter Straub, who founded the Straub Brewery in St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania in 1872. Anthony took over running the family brewery after his father died in 1913. The brewery is still owned and operated today by the Straub family.
He’s mentioned in the biography from his father’s Wikipedia page:
The Straub family had been brewing a local beer for generations. As expected Peter learned a trade important to the brewing art. He became a Cooper, a craftsman who makes wooden barrels. Peter aspired to be a brewer and at the age of 19 in 1869 immigrated to the United States for a better and more prosperous life. Upon his arrival in the United States he found employment at the Eberhardt and Ober Brewing Company in Pennsylvania. Peter admired his employers’ pledge to forfeit $1,000 if any adulteration was found in their beer, and as he honed his brewing skills to a sharp edge, he adhered faithfully to this promise. Eventually he tired of city life and moved north to Brookville, where he perfected his brewing process while working in the Christ and Algeir Brewery.
Peter later moved to Benzinger (St. Marys), where he met and married Sabina Sorg of Benzinger. The couple settled in Benzinger and had ten children: Francis X., Joseph A., Anthony A., Anna M., Jacob M., Peter M. (who died at two years of age), Peter P., Gerald B., Mary C., and Alphons J.
Peter’s employment in Benzinger was with the Joseph Windfelder Brewery and he worked there until he purchased the Benzinger Spring Brewery (founded by Captain Charles C. Volk in 1855) from his father-in-law, Francis Xavier Sorg. It was then that Straub Beer and the Straub Brewery was born.
Early on, Peter introduced his sons to the world of brewing. Straub used wooden kegs for his beer. He always placed a red band around his barrels to ensure that people would know they were drinking his beer and so that he would get them back. As a lasting trademark tribute to Peter, the brewery continues to place a bright red band around each of its barrels. Red has become a trademark color for the brewery.
Following Peter’s death on December 17, 1913, his sons assumed control of the brewery, renaming it the Peter Straub Sons Brewery. During this time, the brewery produced Straub Beer as well as other beer, such as the pilsner-style Straub Fine Beer and Straub Bock Beer. In 1920, the Straub Brothers Brewery purchased one half of the St. Marys Beverage Company, also called the St. Marys Brewery, where St. Marys Beer was produced. During Prohibition, which lasted from January 29, 1920, until December 5, 1933, the brewery produced nonalcoholic near-beer. On July 19, 1940 they purchased the remaining common stock and outstanding bonds of the St. Marys Beverage Company.
And this account is by Erin L. Gavlock, from 2009, at the Pennsylvania Center for the Book at Penn State:
Straub owned and operated the Benzinger Spring Brewery until he died in 1912 and left the company to his son, Anthony. Anthony Straub changed the name of the brewery to “Peter Straub Sons’ Brewery,” the only alteration he would make to his father’s business. From there, Peter Straub’s beer would become a Pennsylvania legend.
The Bavarian Man, a long-time image of the Straub Brewery that recalls its German roots.
Fast-forward over a hundred years from Straub’s humble beginnings to today and one will find the Straub Brewing pledge remains unchanged. The company still serves only unadulterated beer to its customers, proclaiming to be “The Natural Choice.” “Our all grain beer is brewed from Pennsylvania Mountain Spring water and we don’t add any sugar, salt, or preservatives to our recipes,” brew master Tom Straub told St. Marys’ Daily Press. “You can say our beer is a fresher, healthier choice than many of the selections in the marketplace.” Although time and technology have forced a transformation in brewing techniques and standards, the taste, ingredients, and the location of Straub have remained constant. Still located in St. Marys, the brewery depends upon the same mountain water from the Laurel Run Reservoir to blend with all-natural ingredients of cornflakes (used to produce fermentable sugars), barley and hops. “Our brewing process is virtually unchanged since our great, great, grandfather, Peter Straub, perfected it in 1872,” Straub’s promises. The reason behind sticking to the fresh taste of the original recipe is simple: people like it. Through the century, Straub has grown a dedicated patronage in western Pennsylvania with its traditional flavor. “Our style of brewing has pretty much stayed the same over the years, but what is interesting is that our popularity has grown and the reputation of our hand-crafted beer has increased,” Straub CEO Bill Brock said. “It is nice to know that we are becoming increasingly popular not for something we’ve changed, but rather for something we’ve always done well.”
The choice to protect and maintain the brewing customs has kept Straub a small, family owned brewery. “We’ve always thought small. We’re more about quality than quantity,” Dan Straub, former CEO, told Fredericksburg, Virginia’s Free-Lance Star. Until June 2009, Straub Beer was only distributed in glass bottles throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio. Now Straub is being brewed and distributed in aluminum cans in Rochester, New York at the High Falls Brewery. The recipe and method have not changed in the new setting and are under the careful watch of brew master Tom Straub. Despite the recent company growth, Straub still only produces about 45,000 barrels of beer per year. “We are unique; we are much larger than a micro brewery yet far, far smaller than some of the leading national brands,” said Bill Brock. In the middle ground, the brewery has managed to survive beer tycoons, economic depression, and cultural trends—a tough maneuver for a company exporting from Pennsylvania’s least populated region. “I believe the brewery has survived because of the fact that it is family owned; it is steeped in tradition and we have an absolute passion for making beer and our products,” said Brock. “From my perspective, the company and our traditions are a huge legacy and there is a clear obligation to continue these traditions.” Keeping to the family legacy has allowed Straub to persevere through the years to become the second oldest brewery in Pennsylvania after Yuengling.
Staying small and faithful to the company’s founding principles has enabled Straub to keep traditions that other larger breweries have been forced to abandon. The returnable bottle, an eco-friendly service that allows customers to send glass bottles back to the brewery for recycling, is still offered at Straub. “We stayed with the returnable bottles first of all, and I think this is really important, because we have a really strong customer base and they like the returnables,” Bill Brock said during a 2009 radio broadcast. “Over the years we maintained it while other breweries slowly fazed them out.” For Straub, a successful regional brewery, shipping bottles back to the factory is feasible, where it would create more pollution for national brands to do the same. In the future, Straub hopes to go greener and offer more returnables to customers. “We’d love for it to grow,” Brock said. “We think it is the right thing to do and if we can blend the right thing to do with making our customers happy that’s almost a perfect world.”
Another Peter Straub tradition kept to make customers happy is the Eternal Tap, an oasis for Elk County beer drinkers. The Eternal Tap, established long before any of the brewery’s current chief operators were born, is a “thank you” gesture for patrons, daily providing two mugs of complimentary, fresh cold beer to anyone of legal drinking age. “The roots of it go as far back as the brewery itself and I am sure that my great, great, grandfather, his workers and their friends would spend time at the end of the week enjoying a few pints of freshly brewed beer,” Brock said. According to Bloomington, Illinois’ Pantagraph, the Eternal Tap sprang up shortly after Peter Straub received the Benzinger Spring Brewery from his father-in-law as a way to draw beer enthusiasts to the taste of Straub. Since the marketing gimmick started in 1872, the Eternal Tap has not been turned off, giving free beer to customers in good times and bad.
Although Straub has been in operation for more than a century since its founder’s death, if Peter Straub were able to return to his brewery today, he might feel as if he still ran it. The original recipe, the customer appreciation, and the environmental concerns he founded his business upon are still principal brewing laws at Straub today. For the descendants of Peter Straub, keeping the tradition was second nature. “For me, being President/CEO, my job is to be faithful to the traditions and it is really not that difficult,” Brock said. “I have one of the best jobs in the world and I have been given the opportunity to continue an important tradition and legacy.”
Tuesday’s ad is for “Brasserie du Cardinal,” from 1960, with the tagline “notre bière,” or “our beer.” From the late 1800s until the 1960s, poster art really came into its own, and in Europe a lot of really cool posters, many of them for breweries, were produced. This poster was made for Brasserie du Cardinal, in Fribourg, Switzerland, which was founded in 1788 by François Piller. In 1991 (though one source says 1996), it was acquired by Feldschlösschen, which is owned by the Carlsberg Group. The poster was created by Swiss designer Ralph Chavannes.
Today is the birthday of Richard L. Yuengling, Sr. (July 16, 1915-March 25, 1999). He was the great-grandson of David Yuengling, who founded America’s Oldest Brewery, Yuengling Brewing, which was founded in 1829 (as the Eagle Brewery) in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
Here’s his obituary from the Pottsville Register:
Richard L. Yuengling Sr., 83, whose great-grandfather, David G., founded America’s Oldest Brewery in 1829, died Thursday evening at ManorCare Health Services, Pottsville, after an extended illness.
He was the fourth-generation owner of D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. Brewery.
“He was a great person to work for,” said James P. Buehler, a 27-year employee recently elevated to brewmaster. “It’s a shame. He was a good man,” with a lot of friends, he added.
“On behalf of a mournful city, we extend our condolences to the Yuengling family,” Mayor Terence P. Reiley said.
Dick Sr. and brother F. Dohrman who preceded him in death took over management of the brewery when their father, Frank D., died at age 86.
Carol B. Johnson, whose husband, the Rev. Theodore T., was pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church in Pottsville from 1952 to 1975, has fond memories of Dick Sr., who used to attend church there.
“The Yuenglings were all a part of our life in Pottsville,” she said.
Dick Sr. and his brothers- and sisters-in-law were active and interested church members, she said from their home in a Northumberland retirement community.
He ran a good business, and was very kind and thoughtful to his mother, the late Augusta Roseberry Yuengling, she said. His father was the late Frank D.
Dick Sr. was more reticent than his son and daughter, Patricia H. Yuengling, who lives in LaMesa, Calif., she said.
During Dick Sr.’s tenure, in 1976, the brewery was recognized as “America’s Oldest,” and placed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a state historic site; and in 1979, its 150th anniversary was celebrated.
In 1985, Dick Jr. bought the company from his father.
Dick Sr. was an asset to the city, Reiley said. “Mr. Yuengling clearly kept the strong family tradition going that the brewery currently enjoys.”
That success was built upon Dick Jr.’s predecessors, including his father, Reiley said.
Thinking back to his childhood, Reiley recalled Yuengling as pleasant and accommodating when St. Patrick’s Church set up its parish block party between Fourth and Fifth streets near the brewery.
Buehler said Yuengling was always ready for a party, and the first to tend the Rathskeller bar to share a beer, he said.
Born in Pottsville, July 16, 1915, he was formerly of 1322 Howard Ave., Pottsville.
He was a veteran of World War II, serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a staff sergeant with 1060th AAF Base Unit.
In addition to F. Dohrman, he was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, the former Marjorie Hood, in 1997; two other brothers, David G. and Frederick G. Yuengling Sr.; a sister, Augusta Y. Ulmer.
In addition to Dick Jr. and Patricia, surviving are five grandchildren; several nieces and nephews; grandnieces and grandnephews.
Here’s what the Yuengling Wikipedia page has about Richard Sr.:
Richard L. Yuengling Sr. and F. Dohrman Yuengling succeeded Frank Yuengling after their father’s death in 1963.
Yuengling experienced an increase of sales after a renewed interest in history owing to the United States Bicentennial in 1976. Yuengling bought the rights to use the Mount Carbon (Bavarian Premium Beer) name and label when Mount Carbon Brewery went out of business in 1977. Yuengling initially brewed beer at Mount Carbon but eventually abandoned it. The dairy remained in business until 1985.
And this is his yearbook photo and entry from the Hill School from 1935. One curious fact is that some sources give his birth year as 1914 while others say 1915. But even his Find a Grave has photos of two separate gravestones showing differing birth years. One appears to be a military marker.
Today is the birthday of William McEwan (July 16, 1827-May 12, 1913). He was a Scottish politician and brewer. He founded the Fountain Brewery in 1856 (later known as McEwan’s), served as a member of parliament (MP) from 1886 to 1900.”
Here’s a short biography from the University of Glasgow:
William McEwan, the son of John McEwan, shipowner of Alloa, Scotland, was born in 1827. He served his apprenticeship with John Jeffrey, an Edinburgh brewer, and in 1856 he established his own business, the Fountain Brewery, in Fountainbridge in Edinburgh. He quickly established a large Scottish market and in the 1860s built up a successful colonial export trade. His sister married James Younger, an Alloa brewer, and one of their sons, William, joined his uncle’s business. When William McEwan entered politics in 1886, William Younger became the firm’s manager.
William McEwan & Co Ltd was registered in July 1889 as a limited liability company to acquire the business at a purchase price of GBP 408,000. The company acquired the trade and goodwill of Alexander Melvin & Co of the Boroughloch Brewery, Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh, in 1907. It merged with William Younger & Co Ltd, Abbey Brewery, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, to form Scottish Brewers Ltd in 1931, and that company merged with Newcastle Breweries Ltd in 1960 to form Scottish & Newcastle Breweries Ltd. The Fountain Brewery was closed by S & N at the end of 2004.
Here’s an account of his early life from Wikipedia:
McEwan was born in Alloa, Scotland in 1827, the third child of ship-owner John McEwan and his wife Anne Jeffrey. His older sister Janet married James Younger head of his local family brewing business in 1850. He was educated at Alloa Academy. He worked for the Alloa Coal Company and merchants Patersons.
He worked in Glasgow for a commission agent and then as a bookkeeper for a spinning firm in Yorkshire.
From 1851 he received technical and management training from his uncles, John and David Jeffrey, proprietors of the Heriot brewery in Edinburgh. In 1856 he established the Fountain Brewery at Fountainbridge in Edinburgh with money from his mother and his uncle, Tom Jeffrey. After growing sales in Scotland, his nephew William Younger of Alloa began an apprenticeship with him and eventually became managing director. Exports were made to Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and India, with McEwan’s having 90% of sales in north-eastern England by the turn of the century. The brewery became part of Scottish & Newcastle.
McEwan became a member of parliament for Edinburgh Central after the 1886 general election, representing the Liberal Party. He was returned unopposed in 1895 and continued to serve until 1900. He became a Privy Counsellor in 1907, but declined a title.
In Vanity Fair, 1902.
Monday’s ad is for “Brasserie du Cardinal,” from the 1890s, I think, or thereabouts. From the late 1800s until the 1960s, poster art really came into its own, and in Europe a lot of really cool posters, many of them for breweries, were produced. This poster was made for Brasserie du Cardinal, in Fribourg, Switzerland, which was founded in 1788 by François Piller. In 1991 (though one source says 1996), it was acquired by Feldschlösschen, which is owned by the Carlsberg Group. The poster was created by French artist Louis Théophile Hingre. He died in 1911, which I why I believe this work is most likely from the 1890s or so, since it fits the style at that time, but it really could conceivably be any time prior to 1911.
Today is the 64th birthday of Bob Stoddard. Bob was an early beer pioneer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Originally a Miller distributor’s rep., Bob bought the original Palo Alo Brewing Co., which was started in 1983, from founder Ken Kolence two years later, in 1985. It was undercapitalized from the start, and there were some other issues, and it closed in 1987. It was also the first location to brew Pete’s Wicked Ale. A few years later, in 1993, he opened Stoddard’s Brewhouse & Eatery in Sunnyvale. By 2002, it was successful enough to open a second location in Campbell. Unfortunately, the new location was too large to be sustainable and today the original location is the FireHouse Grill & Brewery and the newer one is Campbell Brewing Company/Sonoma Chicken Coop. I attended the grand opening of the Campbel brewpub, but I can’t find my photos from the event. I think that’s the last time I’ve seen Bob, but somebody told me what he’s doing these days, only I can’t remember. I’m sure someone will happily fill me in. Until then, join me in wishing Bob a very happy birthday.
Bob, from an eBay listing for the book”Home Brewer’s Gold,” published in 1997. Surely someone must have some better photos of Bob? If so, send ’em my way, please.
And here’s part of the write-up from the same book:
Today is the birthday of Otto Schell (July 15, 1862-January 14, 1911). He was born in New Ulm, Minnesota, the son of August Schell, who founded August Schell Brewing Co. Schell’s Brewery is still in business today, and is still owned by the family who started it. “It is the second oldest family-owned brewery in America (after D. G. Yuengling & Son) and became the oldest and largest brewery in Minnesota when the company bought the Grain Belt rights in 2002.” When August died in 1891, he left the brewery to his wife Theresa, with his son Otto as manager of the brewery. “While the brewery mourned the loss of its founder, Otto became its driving force. In 1902 the brewery was incorporated and Otto was elected president, his mother Theresa was elected vice-president, and his brother-in-law George became secretary-treasurer. Otto was president from 1902 until his untimely death in 1911.
This is his obituary from the New Ulm Review, for January 18, 1911:
It would be difficult to call in mind the death of any citizen in this community that came with more shocking effect and produced a more sincere mourning throughout the entire city than does that of Otto Schell. Is it possible that the man of sturdy physique and with healthy and pleasant countenance, seen on our streets but the day before, greeting his friends and acquaintances in his usual pleasant way should now lie cold in death? Yes it is true. Otto Schell died about 10 o’clock, apparently of no other cause than a choking spell which according to the first reports, was due to a severe cold he contracted some time ago. An autopsy held over his body however revealed the fact that his sudden death was cause by uraemic poison due to kidney trouble of severeal years standing. Even on the morning of the day of his death he resumed his regular duties at the office of the brewery continuing same until noon. Before going home he called on his aged mother who lies at the point of death. This was his daily custom. Being somewhat indisposed he remained at home that afternoon, but was able to partake of a hearty supper. At about 8 o’clock, however, his condition became such as to necessitate a physician who promptly responded, but whose help was of no avail, The end came at 10 o’clock.
In the death of Mr. Schell New Ulm loses one of its most prominent and public spirited citizens. Having been born and reared in this city its welfare was always uppermost in his mind. His ardent love for the beauties of nature prompted him to convert the surroundings of his home and establishment into a veritable beauty spot. This trait also made him valuable to the community at large in the capacity as park commissioner, which office he held for several years. His loss is furthermore keenly felt by various enterprises in which he was interested in a financial and social way, such as the New Ulm Stone Co.; the Brown County Agricultural Society; the Citizens State Bank; the New Ulm-Maennerchor; the 2nd Regiment Band; the Sons of Hermann Lodge; the Freemasons; the Arbelterverein, etc. The State Horticultural Society elected him a Life-member. He also belonged to the State Brewmasters Association. Although he never held a political office he was ever ready to be of servce to the community by lending his assistance with his practical knowledge, ability and experience.
The relation of the deceased as employer of his employees was such as to give evidence to his manly character and kindness of heart. This sincere sorrow manifested by them at the announcement of his death gave ample proof of the high esteem in which he was held by everyone in his employ.
The highest tribute, however that can be paid to any man is his ideal attitude toward the immediate members of his family. And in this respect too much can not be said in honor of the deceased. Although the loss of Mr. Schell is a heavy blow to the community it will be most keenly felt by his wife, children and all relatives. A loyal and true husband, a loving, kind and affectionate father, a dear brother, a devoted son, a good neighbor will be missed in the Schell home.
He had the rare faculty of strictly attending to his own business and never allowing himself to be unduly influenced by any faction sentiment. Herein lies the secret of the fact that he was probably as popular a man in all factions as as ever lived in the confines of this city.
Otto Schell was born July 15,1862 in New Ulm. He received his education in the public schools of this city. At the age of 16 years he went to St. Paul, attending a business college in that city. Completing this course he became a student at the Mankato Normal School. Having finished his business education he worked in his father’s office for about one year. When 19 years old he made a journey to Germany, visiting his father’s native town where he remained a little over a year. On his return he resumed the office work at his father’s brewery.
On the 6th of October, 1885 he was married to Miss Adelia Schwertfeger of New Ulm. After the death of his father, August Schell, the deceased managed the extensive business for his mother. When in the year 1903 the brewery was converted into a stock company he became the president and business manager of the new concern, which position he held up to the time of his death. In 1901 he made another trip to Germany being accompanied by his wife and two children.
Mr. Schell is survived by his wife and two children, Walter. 16 years and Mrs. Cleveland Frederich of Springfield; his aged mother, Mrs. August Schell; three sisters, Mrs. Geo. Schneider, Mrs. Geo. Marti of this city and Mrs. Yoerg, of Winthrop and one brother, Adolph of Portland, Oregon.
And this is the portion of the Schell story from Immigrant Entrepreneurship that discusses Otto’s involvement in the brewery:
August Schell navigated the challenges of developing a rural business by strengthening family ties in the brewery’s operation. Like many small business founded by immigrants, family dynamics played a large role in the company as the children grew older. They would play a more crucial role in brewery operations as August Schell became increasingly unable to walk due to steadily worsening rheumatoid arthritis. He turned over day-to-day operations to his family in the late 1870s. The first family member to emerge within the company was Schell’s oldest son, Adolph. Adolph traveled to Chicago to learn brewing techniques and train at another brewery before coming back to New Ulm. By 1879, Adolph was directly involved in managing the company. Though August Schell initially appointed his younger son, Otto, as master brewer for the firm, by the mid-1880s he had decided that Otto was better suited than Adolph to take the reins of the company.
After attending public school in New Ulm, Otto attended business college in St. Paul and completed a business education degree at nearby Mankato Normal College. When he was nineteen years old, Otto lived for a year in his father’s German hometown while studying brewing. After returning to the U.S., he began working in the brewery’s business office. The exact reasons behind August Schell’s decision to groom his younger son as his successor are no longer known, but soon after Adolph’s brief period as brewmaster and Otto’s return to New Ulm, Adolph was shifted out of key leadership roles in the company and given a variety of other jobs. Adolph then established his own business distributing Schell beer in areas a few hours west of New Ulm, and later moved to California in 1889 to start a fruit and chicken ranch. Though newspaper reports highlighted Adolph’s desire for a better climate as the deciding factor in his move, family reports emphasized the growing enmity between the brothers. By the early 1880s, Otto Schell had taken control of the brewery’s operations. When August Schell died after becoming increasingly weakened by arthritis at the age of 63 in 1891, he had ensured that his company would continue to prosper while still remaining in family hands.
Such family politics along with the frontier challenges and his growing competition spurred August Schell and his son, Otto, to expand and innovate. By 1879, August Schell’s continuous expansion had created a massive brick brewery with several outbuildings on the bluffs of the Cottonwood River. The main brewery was 150 feet long and from 30 to 80 feet in depth. Two main copper brew kettles dominated the brewery – one with a 25-barrel capacity and the other with a 12-barrel capacity. Underneath the main floor of the brewery were seven separate stone cellars for lagering beer and malting barley. There were four ice houses capable of storing 700 tons of ice. The ice was harvested from the Cottonwood River which ran 100 feet below the brewery at the bottom of the cliff. Each block of ice would be attached to tongs and hauled by a team of horses to the cellars via a rope and pulley system.
Schell Brewing Company’s physical plant grew even more once Otto Schell took over daily operation of the company and initiated a major renovation of the brewery. In 1887, the company installed bottling equipment in order to reach broader regional markets and appeal to retailers and consumers who did not wish to purchase an entire barrel of beer at one time. The brewery kept expanding the market for its beer as railroads made transporting beer into new regions easier. For example, in 1890, the company built an ice house in St. James, Minnesota, (about 30 miles south of New Ulm) as a distribution point. In the fall of 1890, Schell erected a new two-story brick building to house beer and ice, as well as a barley storage house to take the place of an older framed building, at a cost of $7,000 for both ($179,000 in 2011 dollars). By 1891, Schell’s produced nearly 9,000 barrels of beer a year. Otto Schell proposed to more than double the brewery’s capacity so that it could produce over 20,000 barrels a year. The expansion would take the company to a production level that only a few other breweries in the state could match, even in the Twin Cities. With plenty of cash netted from doing a brisk business over the previous several years, Schell plowed the money back into the physical plant. He hired a Chicago architect to design the changes. Throughout much of the fall and winter of 1892-1893, the brewery shut down in order to complete the rebuilding effort. For approximately six weeks, new roads were built around the facility. Shell spent almost $20,000 ($510,000 in 2011 dollars) on constructing this modernized and expanded brewery. Most of the new expansion was completed just as the Panic of 1893 derailed the United States’ economic engine. Without having to rely upon loans or banks to stay solvent, however, the Schell Brewing Company weathered the Panic of 1893 remarkably well.
Otto Schell both expanded the brewery’s physical plant and invested heavily in new, expensive machinery to stay at the head of the crowded brewing industry in New Ulm. In 1895, the company again expanded by building a four-story malting house adjacent to the brewery with the intent of manufacturing malt on a commission basis. In the mid-1890s, the brewery upgraded its machinery including a new copper kettle able to produce 125 barrels of beer at a time, steel mash tubs and tanks, and other up-to-date equipment. In 1897, Otto Schell traveled to St. Louis, a city with a sizeable German-American community, to buy ice machines for better refrigeration of beer and improved ventilation. Otto Schell invented and patented a new machine and a new method for separating hops from beer in 1902. This innovation cut the costs associated with filtering the beer in half, which further increased revenue in the long term.
When Otto Schell incorporated the August Schell Brewing Company in October of 1902 at $300,000 ($8,090,000 in 2011 dollars), he established a tradition of appointing only family members to the board of directors. The original board of directors listed Otto Schell as president, Theresa Schell, his mother and the wife of founder August Schell, as vice-president, and George Marti as secretary and treasurer. When Otto Schell died at the age of 48 in 1911, George Marti, August Schell’s son-in-law, took over as president of the August Schell Brewing Company. Operation of the company has remained within the Marti family ever since.
Though August Schell Brewing Company remained a relatively small regional brewery (one among many prior to Prohibition) compared to giants such as Anheuser-Busch and Schlitz, the close ethnic ties cultivated by German immigrants and organizations in New Ulm helped the firm to maintain a distinct identity and regional appeal. Continued family connections also played a role in sustaining the August Schell Brewing Company during Prohibition when it produced root beer (1919 Root Beer) and candy to stay afloat. Considering how few breweries remained viable outside of the large corporate breweries in post-Prohibition and post-World War II America, the fact that New Ulm boasted two breweries into the 1960s is noteworthy but also reflects the regional support for local brewing operations. After over 100 years in business, Hauenstein Brewing Company, Schell’s closest and most direct competition in its marketplace, closed its doors permanently in 1969. Such persistence proved stronger in rural ethnic communities like New Ulm where linguistic ties held people closer to others like them compared to similar sized ethnic communities in larger cities.
Social Status, Networks, and Public Life
Although the Turnverein organization aided August Schell’s initial rise in Cincinnati and later New Ulm society, Schell’s growing wealth and regional prominence soon made him a respected public figure beyond his status as a Turner. By the late 1870s, August Schell could indulge in developing his interests outside of business. He spent considerable wealth to design and create a new family mansion and elaborate gardens in the 1870s. Acting the part of a respected member of society, August Schell became a patron of the arts by hiring a young, and eventually notable, artist, Anton Gag, to help in the creation of his mansion. Like his father, Schell delighted in the outdoors and everything associated with it. He continually added to his deer park, the symbol of his brewery, which eventually grew to include sixteen deer by the time of his death in 1891. Every time an animal was added to his menagerie, the newspapers reported it. For example, while there were plenty of native deer in the area, Schell imported a tame fawn from Wisconsin to inhabit his backyard. Numerous wild animals from the Upper Midwest increasingly called the Schell deer park home, including wild geese, cranes, and pheasants. Schell’s tastes in animals ran to the exotic as he got older. In 1890, the newspaper reported that Schell’s pet monkey had escaped from its cage and was only captured five days later.
As August Schell rose in public prominence, he gradually separated himself from the local Turnverein. Schell remained a member of the Turners until his mid-fifties in 1884. Neither of his sons became members of the New Ulm Turnverein (though his son-in-law, George Marti, who eventually took over the family business in the early twentieth century became a member in 1879). Even prior to 1884, though Schell may have remained a member of the Turners, he became less prominently involved in the organization. Due to rising tensions between Turners and non-Turners in the region, Schell’s actions are not surprising. Small-town, frontier societies, in particular, breed familiarity and close ties but also sharp resentments among a population where everyone was a known quantity. The stark differences in worldviews of the Catholic German-Bohemians (who formed the bulk of the working class in New Ulm) and the liberal Turners like Schell who disdained organized religion bred underlying tensions within the community. Schell and his fellow Turners dominated the public life of New Ulm for decades. Even into the 1890s, the Turners still controlled the six-member school board that set the curriculum, hired teachers, managed the land owned by the school district, and planned construction of new schools. The total removal of religion from the schools, enforced by Turner school board members, angered many citizens of New Ulm. The Turners’ outright opposition to religion was anathema to religious parents at time when elsewhere in the United States the separation of church and state was much more loosely interpreted by school boards. This strong conviction flowed naturally out of their freethinking, liberal philosophy. Education, they believed, was the best means to combat the mysticism and superstitions bred by organized religion. Controlling the public school board, the Turners stamped their liberal philosophy upon the schools’ curriculum. For example, they used German-language textbooks published by the Turners. The public schools closed for Turner holidays as well. Furthermore, the school board held their meetings at Turner Hall. Though the Turners themselves continued using German as their primary language for years to come, they insisted that English receive primary consideration in the public schools. Their children would be raised as Americans who would be comfortable in an English-speaking world. This sentiment was not embraced by all within the borders of New Ulm. The 1892 annual New Ulm school meeting during which new school board member would be elected became a referendum on Turner influence in New Ulm in all areas of public life. One of the candidates that won a seat on the board in this election was a prominent businessman, Charles Silverson, owner of the Eagle Roller Mill in New Ulm and an immigrant from Baden as well. Silverson and his allies now openly charged the Turners with manipulating the public school system and the city’s politics.
Whether intentional or not, Schell and his family were conspicuously absent among the business leaders who participated the fight over control of the public school system of New Ulm. For immigrant entrepreneurs like Schell, getting caught up in such social and political divisiveness could have had clear financial repercussions among a knowledgeable customer base with alternate choices. Although Schell held a strong market presence in south-central Minnesota, he still faced competition not just from other breweries in New Ulm but from even more distant breweries, especially with the advent of the railroad. Seeking to maintain the widest customer base, Schell likely knew he would lose market share if he, his family, or his company were perceived as part of the simmering social crisis in the region. The Schell Brewing Company, like nearly all small-town businesses, had to negotiate intensely personal tensions within the local community in order to thrive. Market share and financial success were often impacted not simply by their product alone but by public perceptions of the company and its leaders.
Although factions within New Ulm hardened their animosity towards each other, the Schell Brewing Company remained above the fray. These examples of opposition to the Turners provide a valuable window into the community during the crucial period in Schell’s company history when control was passing from August Schell to his son, Otto. Well before the conflict of the 1890s, the Schells’ had become regarded as major public figures in New Ulm and the surrounding region not because of their status as Turners but because of their beer. Without alienating their old Turner allies and connections, the Schell family withdrew from membership in the Turners just as the non-Turner population increased dramatically, which proved to be a wise business move for the firm (perhaps as forward-looking as any other decision in the company’s history). The conflict could have led to the family being branded as elitist Turners. Instead, the Schell family retained their long-developed status as widely respected businessmen.
Sunday’s ad is for “Brasserie du Cardinal,” from 1955, with the tagline “La Bière, une Boisson Saine et Désaltérante,” or “Beer, a healthy and thirst-quenching drink.” From the late 1800s until the 1960s, poster art really came into its own, and in Europe a lot of really cool posters, many of them for breweries, were produced. This poster was made for Brasserie du Cardinal, in Fribourg, Switzerland, which was founded in 1788 by François Piller. In 1991 (though one source says 1996), it was acquired by Feldschlösschen, which is owned by the Carlsberg Group. The poster was created by SSPL, which I assume is a Swiss ad agency.
Today is the birthday of Joseph Schmid (July 14, 1814-December 18, 1881). He was born in Hausen, Hohenzollern, but grew up in Constantz, where he learned to brew. He started a brewery in Germany, but sold it and came to American when he was 42, in 1856. He initially settled in Illinois where he started the Atlantic Brewery in Rock Island, but a decade later when he joined the Lion Brewery, which was also known as the Bernheimer & Schmid Brewery. There was also an August Schmid involved in that business, and it’s unclear the relationship between the two Schmids. The brewery survived prohibition but closed for good in 1941.
This short biography of Joseph Schmid is from the Western Brewer reprinting his obituary 25 years after the fact. The piece mentions the “Lim Brewery” but I’m convinced that’s a typo and should read “Lion Brewery.”
Another account appears to clear up some of the confusion regarding Joseph and August, from the Columbia University Libraries:
A locus for both business and pleasure in Morningside Heights, the Lion Brewery began operations in 1850 and continued until its demolition in 1944. During that time, especially in the late 19th-century, it rose to be a community focal point. It originated with a farm—stretching from Tenth Avenue to Central Park, and 106th Street to 110th Street—belonging to Joseph Schmid (sometimes spelled “Schmidt”) on which he built a brewery in the 1820s, operating as Schmidt & Speyer. Soon, a change of partners brought a change in name to Bernheimer & Schmidt, for Schmid’s new partner, former brewery worker Emanuel Bernheimer. The two renamed it the Lion Brewery in 1850; within thirty years it was generating profits estimated between $1,500,00 and $2,225,000. Real estate speculation doomed the partners, however, and by May 1879, the year after the newspapers’ estimate of their wealth, their combined net worth had fallen to $500,000. They dissolved their partnership and each man transferred his share of the business to his better-educated son: Joseph Schmid transferred his holdings to his son August, and Emanuel Bernheimer to his son Simon. August and Simon applied their education to the management of the business, and by 1888 the plant alone was valued at $1,5000,000.
And this account of some litigation reported by the American Brewers’ Review shed further light on the ownership question of the Schmids.