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Historic Beer Birthday: Simon Fishel

Today is the birthday of Simon Fishel (December 14,1846-January 31, 1917). He was born in Bohemia, came to the United States, and was married to Rosa Zucker (also originally from Bohemia) in 1870. In 1892, Wenzl Medlin founded the Bohemian Brewery and hired Fishel to manage it. Three years later, Fishel bought it from Medlin, who stayed on as brewmaster. A few years later, in 1904, he renamed it the Fishel Brewing Co. In 1907, his brewery became part of the Cleveland & Sandusky Brewing Co. and Fishel became the conglomerate’s manager, and then president.

Here’s a short biography of Fishel from Brewing in Cleveland, by Robert A. Musson:

Here’s Fishel’s obituary from the American Brewers Journal:

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History also has a short history of the Cleveland & Sandusky Brewing Corporation:

The CLEVELAND-SANDUSKY BREWING CORP., known for many years as the Cleveland & Sandusky Brewing Co., was formed in 1897 through a merger of 11 northern Ohio breweries. These included the Cleveland firms of Baehr, Barrett, Bohemian, Cleveland, Columbia, Gehring, Phoenix (later Baehr-Phoenix), Star, and Union breweries; and the recently consolidated Kuebeler-Stang breweries of Sandusky. The Baehr, Barrett, and Union breweries were closed shortly after the merger, while 3 others were added to the chain: Schlather (1902) and Fishel (1907) in Cleveland, and the Lorain brewery (1905) in Lorain, OH. The oldest of the Cleveland & Sandusky breweries, Gehring and Schlather, had been established in the 1850s by Chas. E. Gehring and Leonard Schlather. The first president of the Cleveland & Sandusky Brewing Co. was Frederick W. Gehring. The company’s general offices were in the American Trust Bldg. on PUBLIC SQUARE. ERNST MUELLER†, founder of the Cleveland Brewing Co., successfully served as president of Cleveland-Sandusky in its formative years (1898-1907). Mueller left in 1907 after a dispute arising from his opposition to the purchase of the Fishel Brewing Co., and then founded a new firm, the CLEVELAND HOME BREWING COMPANY.

Most of the chain’s smaller breweries were closed over the years, so that of the company’s Cleveland plants only Gehring, Fishel, and Schlather remained by 1919. During Prohibition, the company manufactured carbonated beverages and near-beer at the Schlather bottling plant at 2600 Carroll Ave. After repeal, the only Cleveland brewery to reopen was Fishel, located at 2764 E. 55th St., which resumed production in July 1933, brewing Gold Bond and Crystal Rock beer and Old Timer’s ale into the 1960s. In Sandusky, the Stang plant reopened but was closed in 1935 following a 2-month strike. Oscar J. Fishel headed the company during this turbulent decade but resigned in 1940 after a proposal to sell the brewery’s assets to the Brewing Corp. of America was defeated by stockholders. Following 3 successive years of losses, Marvin Bilsky became president of the brewery in 1956. Bilsky’s aggressive advertising and merchandising–in 1958 Cleveland-Sandusky became the first brewery in the nation to toast its malt, and in 1959 it introduced the throwaway bottle–were not enough to reverse the company’s fortunes, however. The Cleveland-Sandusky Brewing Corp., as it was last known, closed in the mid-1960s.

One of Cleveland & Sandusky Breweries’ most popular and enduring beers was Gold Bond Lager Beer. The beer was originally created by Fishel as $500 Gold Bond Beer, which was a reference to a promise on the label that Fishel would pay anyone $500 if they could prove that his statement about the ingredients used in the beer were false. Those ingredients included “choicest Barley, Malt, East India Rice and selected Hops. As for what it didn’t contain, there was “No Glucose, Grape Sugar nor injurious substances.”

The beer came with Fishel to the Cleveland & Sandusky and continued as one of their most popular beers, too.

At some point they dropped the $500 from the name and it became “Gold Bond Beer.”

It continued well after Fishel’s death in 1917 and after prohibition and at least into the late 1950s, though they dropped the promise and just kept the name Gold Bond. The Cleveland & Sandusky Breweries closed some time in the 1960s.

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