Today is the birthday of George Wiedemann (February 7, 1833-May 25, 1890). He was born in Eisenach, Stadtkreis Eisenach, Thüringen, Germany, and “came to the United States as a young man in 1854. first finding work in the brewing industry in New York, Louisville, and Cincinnati. He moved to Newport, Kentucky in 1870, and founded the George Wiedemann Brewing Co., which became Kentucky’s largest brewery.” After his death, his sons continued to run the business. After prohibition, the brewery merged with G. Heileman Brewing Company, and in 1967 was operated as the Wiedemann Division of the G. Heileman Brewing Company, Inc. The brewery was closed in 1983.
This short bio is from Widemann’s Find-a-Grave page:
Businessman, Beer Magnate. Came to the United States in 1855 from Eisenach, Germany. He obtained his experience while working for a brewer in Williamsburg, New York. In 1870 he moved to Newport, Kentucky and began working for a brewer named John Butcher. In 1878 he bought out the interest of John Butcher, and two years later he purchased the Constans Brewery and built a new brewery in Newport, Kentucky, which carried his name. The George Wiedemann Brewing Comapany remained under family control, until August 1, 1967, when it was sold to the G. Heileman Brewing Company of LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
And this is from his Wikipedia page:
Wiedemann was born in Eisenach, Germany, in 1833. He came to the United States as a young man in 1854. first finding work in the brewing industry in New York, Louisville, and Cincinnati. He moved to Newport, Kentucky in 1870. He was the founder of the George Wiedemann Brewing Company, which became Kentucky’s largest brewery. It was located at 601 Columbia Street in Newport, Kentucky. Wiedemann beer was synonymous with Newport. Wiedemann promoted itself as “America’s only registered beer” and often used humorous radio commercials as part of its advertising campaigns.
Wiedemann married Agnes Rohman and they had six children. Newspaper accounts described Wiedemann as an honest man with a natural sociability and a dignified businessman.
On May 28, 1890, George Wiedemann became ill and died at his home at 188 East Third St in Newport. The business was continued to operate by his sons, George Jr. and Charles.
Wiedemann Brewing was merged with G. Heileman Brewing Company, in 1967 and was operated as Wiedemann Division, G. Heileman Brewing Company, Inc. The primary brands were Wiedemann Fine Beer, Royal Amber Beer, Blatz Beer/Cream Ale and other assorted Heileman labels. The brewery was closed in 1983.
The Wiedemann name was then sold and was brewed by the Pittsburgh Brewing Co. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania until 2007 when the brand was dropped.
2012, a Newport, Kentucky company, Geo. Wiedemann Brewing Company, LLC, re-established the brand and started brewing Wiedemann Special Lager as a small-batch, craft beer. The name, the recipe, logo and all intellectual rights were bought out by beer brewer and journalist Jon Newberry. In 2018 Jon and wife, Betsy purchased an old funeral home in Cincinnati and after a few years of renovating the old building it opened up not only a brewery but a taproom and restaurant.
In 2019 the Sipple Family, Covington natives, bought the home of George Wiedemann, Jr. at 401 Park Avenue. The historic home has been renovated and is now utilized as a place of business for the 2nd generation family business, Centennial Talent Strategy and Executive Search. Centennial, a family business like the Wiedemann Brewery Company, is one of the Greater Cincinnati region’s largest and most prominent firms in their industry. 401 Park Avenue is also the home of IMPACT Cowork, an executive coworking and meeting rental space, and Talent Magnet Institute, a consulting firm, with a weekly podcast recorded in the historic building.
George Wiedemann was born in Eisenach,Thüringen, Prussia. He was educated in the brewer’s art in Saxony and in 1853 at the age of 19 years, emigrated to America. Wiedemann found immediate employment in a brewery in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, but it being not to his liking he remained there only three months.
Upon his release Wiedemann moved 750 miles southwest to Louisville where he had found a position in another brewery. Six months later he was hired away by Frank Eichenlaub to work in his brewery in the Walnut Hills neighborhood of Cincinnati. The addition of John Kaufmann as partner in the Eichenlaub firm inspired the erection of a second brewery on Vine Street, over which Wiedemann was made foreman.
In 1856 Wiedemann was joined in marriage to another German emigre Agnes Rohmann. The union produced four children, including sons Charles and George Junior.
Wiedemann presided over Eichenlaub’s Vine Street Brewery until 1870, when he took his savings and bought a minority share in John Butcher’s brewery in Newport Kentucky. The business was ideally located but Butcher was modest in ambition. Ambition was a trait Weidemann had in spades, though, and the partners quickly grew the brewery from 15 barrels a day to the largest in Kentucky. When Butcher retired from the firm in 1878 Wiedemann continued as sole proprietor.
By this time Wiedemann’s sons Charles and George Jr. were employed in the firm. Their education in the business proved so thorough that when the elder Wiedemann died unexpectedly at age 57 the transition of management to his sons was seamless. George Wiedemann died on the 25th of May 1890. His sons Charles (age 32) and George Jr. (age 24) carried the business on into the 20th century.
The family brewery operated through Prohibition and two World Wars. The firm was sold in 1967 to the G. Heileman Brewing Co. of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and closed in 1973, a little over a century after George Wiedemann persuaded John Butcher to think big.
This is from the Northern Kentucky Tribune, an article entitled “Our Rich History: George Wiedemann, Northern Kentucky’s Beer Baron and his Brewery.”
George Wiedemann (1833-1890) came to America from Germany in 1854, and after several years in the New World founded a brewery in Newport, Kentucky that became the largest south of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River, as well as a brewing family dynasty that lasted for four generations.
Wiedemann was born in Eisenach in Saxony-Weimar, a province of the Kingdom of Prussia. It also was the birthplace of Martin Luther. The Wartburg, where Luther translated the Bible into German, overlooks the town. It was also not far from Mühlhausen, the hometown of John A. Roebling, who like many others, immigrated due to discontent with the socio-political conditions in the German states.
In 1854 at age 21, Wiedemann, who had learned the brewing trade by means of the apprenticeship system, joined the waves of German immigration that surged after the failure of the 1848 Revolution. After arrival in New York, he quickly found work in one of New York’s forty breweries, but then moved on to Louisville, which had a growing German population.
At the time, many native-born Americans feared the arrival of the Forty-Eighters, the refugees of the 1848 Revolution, as well as the large number of Catholics. This nativist antipathy gave rise to hostilities across the country, and to a riot known as Bloody Sunday in Louisville in August 1855. Not surprisingly, Wiedemann headed for Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district.
He found a job at the brewery of Franz Eichenlaub, and worked his way up to Braumeister. Eichenlaub’s son-in-law, John Kauffman, took over the brewery, which was located on Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine, and it became known as the Kauffman Brewery. Wiedemann remained there for fifteen years, gaining much valuable experience in operating a brewery.
By 1870 Over-the-Rhine had a sizable number of breweries, so starting a brewery there would have been a challenge. Fortunately, Wiedemann had a friend, Johannes Butscher, across the Ohio River in Newport who was from his hometown. So in 1870, he partnered with him to form the Butscher & Wiedemann Brewing Co., with Wiedemann working as Braumeister. In 1878, he bought out his partner, taking full control of the brewery. In 1888, he rebuilt the entire brewery complex, with all the latest refinements and inventions in brewing. Pictures show that it was a wonderful example of German-American brewing architecture, built in the style known as German Romanesque Revival.
The Wiedemann Brewery also featured a Bavarian-style Gasthaus with a Bierstube for visitors. The reception area was adorned with murals on the ceiling, and the office was state of the art with telephones and typewriters. And Wiedemann’s office was truly fitting for a beer baron. The well-known architect Samuel Hannaford designed the brewery stable that housed 150 horses, all of which were needed for the horse-drawn beer wagons.
The Wiedemann Brewery was well known for its Bavarian Lager and its Bohemian Pilsner. The latter became popular after the 1873 Vienna International Exposition, and many brewers from the U.S., including Wiedemann, introduced the brew here. This was more yellow in color than a golden Lager, more light-bodied and had a foamy head with smooth creamy flavor.