Today is the 63rd birthday of Ted Vivatson, founder of Eel River Brewing. I first met Ted a bunch of years ago, when he was still making one of my favorite porters, their Ravensbrau Porter. Now it’s Organic Porter, and while it’s still a good porter, I really loved the Ravensbrau. Not the first time I’ve been in the minority. Ted’s a great brewer and has many other beers I still love, plus he’s a terrific person, too. Join me in wishing Ted a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Franz Sales Reisch (January 24, 1809-August 18, 1875), who founded the Reisch Brewing Co. in 1849, in the city of Springfield, Illinois. According to Wikipedia, “the brewery operated until 1920 when it was forced to close because of Prohibition. It reopened in 1933 and stayed open until it shut its doors permanently in 1966.” During that time it changed names seven times.
The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Sangamon County has an entry for Franz Reisch:
The 1910 book 100 Years of Brewing has a short entry about the brewery:
George Reisch is currently the Brewmaster and Director of Brewmaster Outreach at Anheuser-Busch, and has been there since 1979. He’s a fifth generation with Franz Sales Resich being first. His 96-year old father Edward is 4th generation (and will be 97 on March 1). His son Patrick Reisch brews for Goose Island and is 6th Generation.
There’s also some additional information and photos at the entry for his son’s birthday, Frank Reisch.
Thursday’s ad is for Tuborg, from 1985. From the late 1800s until the 1980s, poster art really came into its own, and in Europe a lot of really cool posters, many of them for breweries, were produced. I’ve been posting vintage European posters all year, and for the remainder of December will feature holiday-themed posters of all ages. “Tuborg is a Danish brewing company founded in 1873 on a harbour in Hellerup, an area North of Copenhagen, Denmark. Since 1970 it has been part of the Carlsberg Group.” This is the second in a series of minimalist posters created that year by Wibroe & Partners (now Wibroe, Duckert & Partners) using just green and white that was popular enough that 35 years later they’re still doing Tuborg’s advertising. This one features a person on a bicycle with a bottle of Tuborg in a basket. It likes her dress (is that a dress?) is made from the same fabric as the striped shirt ad from a few days ago. The text on the bottom of all of the poster reads “Hvad er det … der gør livet lidt grønnere?,” which Google translates as “What is it … that makes life a little greener?”
This is his biography from his Wikipedia page:
Sir John Carling of the Carling Brewery was a prominent politician and businessman from London, Ontario, Canada. The Carling family and its descendents later resided in Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Brockville, London, Toronto, and Windsor, in Canada, as well as Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
He was the son of farmer Thomas Carling, who emigrated from Etton in Yorkshire, England to Canada in 1818. In 1839, the family moved to London, where Thomas founded the Carling Brewery in 1843, using a recipe from his native Yorkshire. In 1849, the brewery was turned over to John and his brother William.
John’s political career began in municipal government, and in 1858, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada. After Confederation in 1867, he represented London in both provincial and federal governments until such a practice was made illegal in 1872. In the 1871 provincial election, he defeated former London mayor Francis Evans Cornish. From 1872 to 1891, he served in the House of Commons as a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP), holding the position as the 7th Postmaster General from 1882 to 1885, and Minister of Agriculture from 1885 to 1891. In this position, he established the Ontario Agricultural College and the Central Experimental Farm near Ottawa. In 1888, he briefly simultaneously held the title of Postmaster General for a second time.
After losing the 1891 election to Charles Hyman, he was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister John A. Macdonald. However, the election was disputed and declared void, and Carling resigned from the Senate in order to run in a by-election in 1892, which he won. He served in the House of Commons until just before the 1896 election, when he resigned and was re-appointed to the Senate.
Meanwhile, Carling remained active in London affairs, using his positions in the federal government to influence politics and business. In 1875, John and his brother William built a new Carling Brewery, and an even larger one was built after the first burned down in 1879. The brewery was one of the largest in Canada and rivaled the production of fellow London brewery Labatt.
He also ensured that the Great Western Railway, the London and Port Stanley Railway, and the London, Huron and Bruce Railway passed through the city. Due to his influence, the Grand Trunk Railway began to manufacture their cars in London. In 1878, he established a water commission to provide a water supply to the city. He also established the Ontario Hospital for the Insane in London, and in 1885 he provided the land on which Wolseley Barracks was established, now the Home Station of The Royal Canadian Regiment and the garrison of the Regiment’s 4th Battalion. Carling also facilitated the establishment of Victoria Park.
He was knighted in 1893, and served in the Senate until his death in 1911.
And this lengthier biography is from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography:
CARLING, Sir JOHN, businessman and politician; b. 23 Jan. 1828 in London Township, Upper Canada, youngest son of Thomas Carling and Margaret Routledge; m. 4 Sept. 1849 Hannah Dalton in London, Upper Canada, and they had four daughters and four sons; d. there 6 Nov. 1911.
John Carling was born and raised on the prosperous farm of his father, where he acquired a reverence for the agrarian way of life. As the three Carling boys approached adolescence, their parents became concerned about the lack of educational opportunity in the township and in 1839 the family relocated in the village of London. John attended the common school there. His parents hoped that he would eventually practise law, but John was not inclined to book learning; he later admitted that he had read only a single book in its entirety.
Carling would be regarded by his daughter Louisa Maria as one of those men “who are natural born contractors . . . at home with large plans and enterprises.” He began his business career by becoming an apprentice at the Hyman and Leonard Tannery in London. Soon he had formed a partnership with his brother Isaac to operate their own tannery in Exeter, some 30 miles away. In 1843 their father opened a brewery in London, producing a beer based on a recipe from his native Yorkshire. The brewery flourished and in 1849 Thomas Carling passed the firm on to his sons William and John. The W. and J. Carling Company was the first of John’s large enterprises and the foundation of his subsequent economic and political success. In addition, he became a large landowner in London and he disposed of various properties for gain. For example, in 1856, for the considerable sum of $8,640, his firm sold the land on which London’s post office would be erected.
A devout capitalist, Carling viewed life in competitive terms: “The game of checkers is like the game of life. Everybody is trying to win and everybody is trying to checkmate him.” He was handsome and affable, and he put these qualities to good use in looking after the public relations of his firm while William handled everyday operations. Carling acquired a reputation for integrity and the epithet Honest John enhanced his business dealings. The brewery fared well and in 1875 Carling’s son Thomas Henry and Joshua D. Dalton entered the business as partners. That same year a new building was opened on the banks of the Thames River. In February 1879 this state-of-the-art structure burned down, and William died of pneumonia contracted while fighting the blaze. John took command of the company’s reconstruction.
The recovery was little short of miraculous. Between 29 April and 29 May 1879 the new plant produced 150,000 gallons of ale, lager, and porter. In 1882 more investors were brought into the enterprise, which became a joint-stock corporation, the Carling Brewing and Malting Company of London Limited. By 1889 it was manufacturing 32,000 barrels of ale, lager, and porter per annum; by 1898 it controlled a “large share” of the Canadian trade. Carling himself never drank beer because it disagreed with his system.
Carling Brewing and Malting was not the only large business enterprise with which Carling was associated. He recognized that its growth depended on an expanding railway network in the London area. Carling’s products were marketed throughout the United States as well as Canada, and massive quantities of barley, malt, and hops had to be brought to the factory. He became a director of the Great Western Railway, a major line in southwest Ontario. His influence with it was evident shortly after confederation when he persuaded the railway to locate its car works in suburban London East, bringing employment to about 300 workmen. Later, when fire destroyed these shops, he used his considerable power within both the federal government and the railway to have them restored, even though there was significant support for their relocation in Brantford. Carling also used his influence to promote the London and Port Stanley Railway and the London and Lake Huron Railway, serving both lines as a director.
There were direct links between Carling’s early entrepreneurial pursuits and his move into politics. He represented Ward 6 on city council in 1855–57 and was a founding member of London’s Board of Trade in 1857. Three years earlier he had impressed two government ministers, in London to work out a land deal with him, with his political and business shrewdness. At a meeting of GWR directors in 1856, the leader of the Liberal-Conservatives, John A. Macdonald*, persuaded Carling to uphold the party standard in London at the next opportunity. In the election of 1857–58 Carling was returned to the Legislative Assembly and he would retain his seat until confederation; in 1862 he served briefly as receiver general in the Macdonald-Cartier ministry.
Thus began Carling’s lengthy parliamentary career and long friendship with Macdonald. Before his initial election, Carling had promised to support the constitutional remedy of representation by population. But when the Grits made a series of “rep by pop” motions in 1861, an embarrassed Carling voted against them. They were, he declared, “mere buscombe motions designed, not to attain the object, but to defeat the Government.” On this occasion loyalty to Macdonald proved stronger than loyalty to principle. Nevertheless, the following year Carling and two other new ministers, John Beverley Robinson* and James Patton, demanded that rep by pop be an open question within the Tory caucus.
Later, Grit leader George Brown* reportedly suggested to Carling on a train ride that he should approach his leader with a proposal for a bipartisan combination dedicated to creating a federal union. The “Great Coalition” eventually resulted from Brown’s initiatives, and in his later years Carling was fond of recollecting their conversation. Though not a Father of Confederation, he might be considered an uncle. His polite manner, coupled with his trustworthy character, often caused him to be cast in an avuncular role. To the extent, however, that he was a political force in the London region, this characterization of him as benign is deceptive. Carling’s brewery, railway investments, and land deals all yielded handsome returns and he undoubtedly used some of the profits to finance his electioneering. Bribes and free drinks were common political tools, and newspaper accounts tell of Tory agents marching prospective voters to the Carling plant just before balloting. It would be naïve to assume that Honest John was not aware of the salient advantage of owning a brewery at election time.
After confederation Carling sat for London in both the dominion and the Ontario legislatures. In John Sandfield Macdonald*’s provincial government of 1867–71 he served as commissioner of agriculture and public works. He had entered the administration at Sir John A. Macdonald’s suggestion and with the government’s defeat in 1871 he was “very glad to get out of office.” Carling was obviously weary of being the peacemaker between the Macdonalds, a function he had assumed mainly out of his regard for the federal leader. When dual representation was abolished in 1872, he stayed in the federal arena. Defeated in 1874, he was re-elected four years later.
In Ottawa London’s mp continued to provide loyal and valuable service to his chieftain. As postmaster general (1882–85) he was responsible for a good deal of the Macdonald government’s patronage. In the House of Commons Carling was quite candid about the political nature of the assignments in his department: “Of course in the appointment of a postmaster the Government’s friends will be consulted as has always been done by hon. gentlemen opposite.”
In carrying out the responsibilities of this office and subsequently as minister of agriculture (1885–92), Carling often deferred to his prime minister. On 22 June 1885, for instance, he eloquently defended the government’s use of subsidies to help the Allan Line of Canadian steamships [see Sir Hugh Allan*] compete with American rivals for transoceanic mail contracts. But once Macdonald intervened in the debate Carling slipped into the background. He emerged at the end to declare: “As the Prime Minister has stated, I think all Canadians are proud of the way the Allan line of steamers is managed.” Carling was, in many respects, an ideal cabinet minister. He was competent and convincing, respected by the opposition, and, above all, generally submissive to the party leader.
It would be wrong, however, to portray Carling as little more than an obsequious follower of Macdonald. He had his own principles and interests to advocate and he consistently did so. Especially prominent on his agenda were the promotion of a progressive brand of conservatism and the advancement of big business, agriculture, and London.
Carling and Macdonald both revered tradition, but they both recognized that it had to accommodate change. As a public school trustee in London (1850–64), Carling had become noteworthy for his support of free public schools. His progressivism was more sharply defined when he entered the Legislative Assembly, where he was committed to the democratic design of rep by pop. By 1866 Carling was arguing further for lower property qualifications for voters and office holders. When, in the first session of the House of Commons in 1867, he pressed for a reduction in the qualifications for Ontario voters in the federal franchise, his liberal stand brought him into brief conflict with his leader. A distressed Macdonald lamely replied that he “did not wish to enter on the discussion of that.”
As Ontario’s first commissioner of agriculture and public works, Carling continued to define his progressive image. The creation of much of the province’s social infrastructure became his responsibility. He directed the construction of the Asylum for the Insane in London (on land he had sold to the government in 1870), the Ontario Institution for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb in Belleville, and the Ontario Institution for the Education and Instruction of the Blind in Brantford. Carling appropriated provincial funds for mechanics’ institutes which encouraged working-class Ontarians to develop a variety of self-help plans. Later, as postmaster general, he ensured that an expansion of postal services followed the westward construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. All of these measures were forward-looking, as were many of the changes that Carling introduced in agriculture on the provincial and national levels.
Carling’s progressivism, however, simply modified his essential conservatism, which was reflected in his political support for capitalism and large enterprises. It was only natural that Carling, an important brewer, should defend the interests of big business. In 1863, in the assembly, he strenuously called for an end to the province’s usury laws. They were, he maintained, outmoded and hindered capital formation.
Following confederation Carling became one of the main spokespersons in the federal sphere for capitalism, including his own interests. In the first session of the commons, in 1867, his suggestion that licence fees for brewers be lowered caused conflict with Macdonald and finance minister John Rose*. In parliament Carling constantly defended the interests of the GWR and the other railways with which he was associated. He believed uncritically that such large corporate entities ought to be encouraged by Ottawa and, if necessary, supported by public funds. So, in 1885, he pushed as postmaster general for federal money for the well-established Allan Line to allow it “to build larger vessels and to dispose of those of smaller tonnage.” The creation of bigger and better capitalist enterprises was, for Carling, a high priority. Like Macdonald, he promoted a close alliance between political and economic élites.
Some of the large private enterprises which Carling sponsored in the commons were truly visionary. In 1870, for example, he brought before the house a corporate charter to build a tunnel underneath the Detroit River and thus connect Canada with the United States. This ambitious design would not be fulfilled until 1910. His last major initiative in parliament was also aimed at encouraging business development in the dominion. In 1898 Carling, then a senator, urged the Liberal government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier to construct a road between Edmonton and the Yukon so that the intervening territory could be opened to mining interests.
Unlike other members of the corporate élite, Carling did not see a conflict between the interests of capital and those of agriculture. For him, they were complementary, as was the case in the brewing industry. From his youth he had come to love the agrarian lifestyle. He delighted in seeing things grow and later in life he purchased a large farm on the outskirts of London. But farming was more than a hobby. Carling saw it as Canada’s most important economic activity, and some of his most significant and progressive achievements occurred in agriculture.
Carling did much as commissioner of public works and agriculture to promote Ontario’s agrarian sector. Public funds were given to the Fruit Growers’ Association of Ontario, which boosted agriculture in the Niagara area. Through an elaborate drainage scheme a considerable amount of land in the province’s southwestern peninsula was redeemed, especially in the Chatham region. A liberal emigration plan, coupled with generous land grants, helped in the rapid development of the Muskoka district [see Alexander Peter Cockburn*]. In 1870 Carling boasted that “greater advantages” were offered there than in the western United States. Port Carling, on Lake Muskoka, was appropriately named after the minister who did so much to foster the area. The following year he secured funds for the founding of an agricultural college and experimental farm, later established at Guelph [see William Fletcher Clarke*]. When he departed from the provincial scene in 1872 he left behind an impressive record as a friend of agriculture.
Carling’s reputation was enhanced when he served as the federal minister of agriculture, from 1885 to 1892. Seeking to raise the profile of agriculture within the dominion and abroad, he placed Canadian produce on display at international gatherings such as the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London in 1886. Carling is credited with developing, at a time when more and more stock was being imported, the first effective quarantine system to prevent diseased animals from entering the country. He also moved to settle the vast lands in the North-West Territories, just as he had opened up the Muskoka region. Again large land grants were offered and Carling introduced policies to draw settlers. Agents were dispatched overseas, translators were hired to help foreign immigrants, and promotional pamphlets were issued throughout Great Britain and Europe. The depressed economic conditions in Canada were not propitious for a massive influx of homesteaders, but in the late 1890s the Laurier government would use the means initially employed by Carling to populate the prairie region.
Macdonald’s minister of agriculture was more immediately successful in his formation of a network of experimental farms throughout the dominion. What was to become Carling’s single greatest accomplishment was described by him in the commons when the project was launched in 1886: “It is the intention to establish an experimental farm or station in the neighborhood of the capital. . . . Tests, &c., will be made here of all the different seeds, and experiments made as to the raising of cattle, tree planting and fruit culture, and the analysing of different kinds of artificial manures; and the results of such experiments will be made known by monthly bulletins through the press or otherwise.” Later branch farms were established in Nova Scotia, Manitoba, the North-West Territories, and British Columbia to accommodate regional needs. The program was an instant success, and some far-reaching effects flowed from the research at these government stations [see William Saunders]. In 1893, shortly after Carling had relinquished the agriculture portfolio, Liberals as well as Conservatives on the commons committee on agriculture and colonization joined together in an extraordinary bipartisan gesture to pass a resolution thanking him for his services to the farming community. Later that year, on 3 June, Carling received a kcmg, ostensibly for his assistance to Canada’s farmers.
During his parliamentary career Carling also secured important gains for his home city. He had always viewed service to the community as a public duty. Like many wealthy persons, he regarded philanthropy as an appropriate recompense for his good fortune. In 1859, for example, he had subscribed $100 to a recently created soup-kitchen in London and in 1888 he became a trustee of the Protestant Home for Orphans, Aged, and Friendless. A further contribution to London’s progress came with his election in 1878 as a municipal water commissioner; the next year he oversaw the construction of a structure for the city’s first hydraulic pumps.
Dedicated to bringing government contracts to London, Carling took full advantage of his privileged place within provincial and federal ministries. In 1870 he obtained the incorporation of the insane asylum at Amherstburg into the new regional asylum in London. In 1883, at the federal level, the member for London procured his government’s commitment to establish a military school in his riding. It would be built on property acquired from Carling, whose sense of integrity clearly did not prevent him from profiting at government expense. A federal grant was extended to London’s council in 1886 to help it stage a public exhibition, a project that led to Carling’s sale of additional land to the city. Carling certainly saw to it that London received its fair share of patronage, which aided in turn his repeated re-election. By the 1880s Carling was unquestionably the most powerful political figure in the key Conservative constituency of London.
By the early 1890s, however, this situation had begun to change. Defeated in the general election of 1891, Carling was promptly appointed to the Senate, in April, and thus enabled to continue as minister of agriculture. In February 1892 he resigned from the Senate in order to contest London in a by-election, which he won. That spring Carling refused the lieutenant governorship of Ontario because he and the Tory prime minister, John Joseph Caldwell Abbott* (Macdonald had died in 1891), thought the Liberals might well win the by-election that would have ensued. Later in 1892 Abbott’s successor, Sir John Sparrow David Thompson*, moved to drop Carling from his ministry as part of an attempt to rejuvenate the Tories, who were still reeling from Macdonald’s passing. Even though his popularity in parliament and influence in cabinet had lessened, Carling was stunned.
After prolonged negotiations a face-saving formula was worked out. Carling would receive a knighthood and would remain in the cabinet but without a portfolio. In December 1892 he gave up the agriculture ministry, with which he was so closely linked in the public’s mind. It was rather shabby treatment of a veteran who had faithfully served his party for 35 years. Carling stayed in Thompson’s administration until the latter’s death led to the formation of a new government under Mackenzie Bowell in 1894. Although Carling was re-appointed to the Senate two years later, his political career had effectively ended with the shuffle in 1892. He had little to say in either the commons or the Senate after that humiliating experience.
Sir John spent most of his remaining time in London. He resumed control of his brewery, which had been effectively run during his years in Ottawa by his son Thomas, his eventual successor. In the late 19th century temperance legislation and increased duties on malt caused the London brewer political and commercial discomfort. In public presentations before city council in 1876 over the province’s liquor licensing act, he “spoke in the liquor interest.” By 1895 Carling Brewing had applied to council for a tax reduction to compensate for the “injury” suffered from what industry lobbyist Louis P. Kribs* called the “great teetotal craze.” From his position of semiretirement, Carling fondly recalled the good old days and filled a number of largely honorary positions. In 1899 he became colonel of the 7th Battalion of Fusiliers in London, and in 1904 he was made president of the Ontario Brewers’ and Maltsters’ Association. A Methodist, he was also honorary president of both the Yorkshire Society in Ontario and the Sons of England. He died of pneumonia at his Cedar Grove estate in London on 6 Nov. 1911, and was survived by three sons and three daughters.
Sir John Carling was never a major figure in Canada’s history, but he was significant. He had been instrumental in making his brewery one of the largest in the dominion. In a long career in parliament he served as a direct link between the country’s political and economic élites. During that career Carling consistently fought for a progressive type of conservativism as well as for the interests of big business, the agrarian community, and London.
This short brewery history is from the Carling website:
Carling’s British roots trace all the way back to the Yorkshire village of Etton, little known, but forever in the hearts of Carling as the birthplace of our namesakes, William Carling and his son Thomas. Inheriting his father’s passion and skill for brewing, a 21-year-old Thomas emigrated to Canada taking his father’s Yorkshire beer recipe, which on arrival in Canada he used to brew privately for admiring family and friends. The township Thomas settled in soon became an Imperial Army post where the thirsty soldiers became fans of the Carling family’s Yorkshire brew. In 1843 he built his first commercial brewery, only for his sons William and John to take up the baton soon after, and begin producing lager for the first time in 1869, sewing the first seeds of Carling’s refreshingly perfect pint.
The history of Carling dates back to 1818, when Thomas Carling, a farmer from the English county of Yorkshire, and his family settled in Upper Canada, at what is now the city of London, Ontario. He brewed an ale which became popular, and eventually took up brewing full-time. The first Carling brewery had two kettles, a horse to turn the grinding mill and six men to work on the mash tubs, and Carling sold his beer on the streets of London, Ontario from a wheelbarrow.
In 1840 Carling began a small brewing operation in London, selling beer to soldiers at the local camp. In 1878 his sons, John and William, built a six-story brewery in London, which was destroyed by fire a year after opening. Thomas Carling, shortly after helping to fight the fire, died of pneumonia.
William and John took over the company, naming it the W & J Carling Brewing Co. John Carling died in 1911 and the company changed hands numerous times since. It was acquired by Canadian Breweries Limited, which was eventually renamed Carling O’Keefe, which merged with Molson, which then merged with Coors to form Molson Coors Brewing Company.
Today is the 71st birthday of Charlie Papazian, one of the most influential persons in modern brewing. Charlie founded the AHA, the AOB and the IBS back in 1978 (which today is the Brewers Association) and organized the first Great American Beer Festival. His book, the Complete Joy of Homebrewing was one of the seminal works on the subject, and is now in its fourth edition. Recently, Charlie retired last year, on his 70th birthday. Join me in wishing Charlie a very happy birthday.
Just before taking the stage during GABF 2007, from left, Glenn Payne (of Meantime Brewing), Charlie, Mark Dorber (formerly of the White Horse on Parson’s Green but now at the Anchor Pub), Garrett Oliver, and Steve Hindy (both from Brooklyn Brewing), Dave Alexander (from the Brickskeller), and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).
Some NBWA luminaries at the 2008 NBWA welcome reception. From left, Jamie Jurado (with Gambrinus), Lucy Saunders (the Beer Cook), Charlie Papazian (President of the Brewers Association), Kim Jordan (from New Belgium Brewing) and Tom Dalldorf (from the Celebrator Beer News).
Today is the birthday of Leopold F. Schmidt (January 23, 1846-September 24, 1914) who founded the Olympia Brewing Co. in Tumwater, Washington in 1896. Although it was originally called the Capital Brewing Company, but changed it in 1902 to reflect its flagship Olympia Beer, and also began using the slogan “It’s the Water.”
Gary Flynn from Brewery Gems has the best biography of Schmidt. He also has a shorter piece about Schmidt’s first brewery in Montana, the Centennial Brewing Co., which he sold in 1896, before moving to Washington to scout locations for his next venture. He settled on Tumwater, and built a brewery “at Tumwater Falls on the Deschutes River, near the south end of Puget Sound. He built a four-story wooden brewhouse, a five-story cellar building, a one-story ice factory powered by the lower falls, and a bottling and keg plant and in 1896, began brewing and selling Olympia Beer.”
The Schmidt House, set high on a wooded bluff at the mouth of the Deschutes River, was built at the turn of the 20th Century for local brewery owner Leopold Schmidt and his wife Johanna. Mr. Schmidt already owned a successful brewing operation in Montana when a business trip first brought him to the Tumwater area in the early 1890s. Discovering that the artesian springs here were perfect for brewing beer, Schmidt sold his Montana holdings and built a new brewery at the foot of Tumwater Falls which shipped its first beer in 1896.
At first the Schmidt’s moved into an existing house on the slope above the brewery, a home that the family affectionately nicknamed “Hillside Inn.” As his brewing business prospered, Mr. Schmidt began planning a larger, more elegant residence that would stand at the top of the hill. In 1904 the couple moved into the new house with their daughter, the youngest of six children. Their five sons continued to live at Hillside Inn and work in the family business. For reasons lost to posterity, the Schmidt’s called the new house “Three Meter.”
Leopold and his wife Johanna, posing with their six children in a portrait taken in the late 1890s.
Another portrait of Leopold Schmidt.
Here’s more on Olympia, again from Flynn:
In October 1896, after issuing $125,000 in capital stock, he established the Capital Brewing Company, nucleus of what would become the highly successful Olympia Brewing Company. The brewery was an unqualified success, its product outselling competing beers from Seattle and Tacoma. The pure artesian water and Schmidt’s brewing skills were a perfect match. The enterprise steadily grew in production in the following years, reaching peak production of 100,000 barrels of beer in 1914, just in time for statewide prohibition. This not only shut down the Olympia plant but also the other two plants in the state, the Bellingham Bay Brewery and the Port Townsend Brewery. Oregon also voted to go “dry” in 1914, five years before national prohibition, which ended the Salem Brewery Association. Only the two Acme Brewery plants in San Francisco were spared, albeit temporarily.
After prohibition was repealed, Leopold’s son Peter Schmidt ordered the construction of larger brewery buildings upriver from the 1906 building, rather than repurchasing and retrofitting the aging structure.
Olympia’s brewery in 1933.
There’s quite a lot on the history of Olympia Brewing, and here are a few good sources. The Cooperpoint Journal has Water to Beer: A Timeline of Industry and Drinking and the Seattle Weekly wrote Olympia Beer: The Water and the History. But Brewery Gems again has a thorough History of the Olympia Brewing Company, and the Olympia Tumwater Foundation had a concise history. Even cooler, the Foundation has some great old photos online, in Images of the Old Brewhouse : A Pictorial Exhibit from the Archives of the Olympia Tumwater Foundation.
Wednesday’s ad is for Tuborg, from 1985. From the late 1800s until the 1980s, poster art really came into its own, and in Europe a lot of really cool posters, many of them for breweries, were produced. I’ve been posting vintage European posters all year, and for the remainder of December will feature holiday-themed posters of all ages. “Tuborg is a Danish brewing company founded in 1873 on a harbour in Hellerup, an area North of Copenhagen, Denmark. Since 1970 it has been part of the Carlsberg Group.” This is the second in a series of minimalist posters created that year by Wibroe & Partners (now Wibroe, Duckert & Partners) using just green and white that was popular enough that 35 years later they’re still doing Tuborg’s advertising. This one features the torso-view of a disembodied man in a striped shirt holding a bottle of Tuborg against his chest. Only his hand can be seen, so I’m quite sure who he’s going to drink the beer, but c’est la vie. The text on the bottom of all of the poster reads “Hvad er det … der gør livet lidt grønnere?,” which Google translates as “What is it … that makes life a little greener?”
Tuesday’s ad is for Tuborg, from 1985. From the late 1800s until the 1980s, poster art really came into its own, and in Europe a lot of really cool posters, many of them for breweries, were produced. I’ve been posting vintage European posters all year, and for the remainder of December will feature holiday-themed posters of all ages. “Tuborg is a Danish brewing company founded in 1873 on a harbour in Hellerup, an area North of Copenhagen, Denmark. Since 1970 it has been part of the Carlsberg Group.” This is the second in a series of minimalist posters created that year by Wibroe & Partners (now Wibroe, Duckert & Partners) using just green and white that was popular enough that 35 years later they’re still doing Tuborg’s advertising. This one features the side view of some tall grass and you can barely make out with a bottle of Tuborg upside down among the thistle and stalks. The text on the bottom of all of the poster reads “Hvad er det … der gør livet lidt grønnere?,” which Google translates as “What is it … that makes life a little greener?”
Today is the birthday of Grigori Rasputin (January 21, 1869–December 30, 1916). He “was a Russian peasant, an experienced traveler, a mystical faith healer, and trusted friend of the family of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of the Russian Empire. He became an influential figure in Saint Petersburg, especially after August 1915 when Nicholas took command of the army fighting in World War I. Advising his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, in countless spiritual and political issues, Rasputin became an easy scapegoat for Russian nationalists, liberals and aristocrats.
There is uncertainty over much of Rasputin’s life and the degree of influence that he exerted over the extremely shy Tsar and the strong-willed Tsarina. Accounts are often based on dubious memoirs, hearsay, and legend. While his influence and position may have been exaggerated by society gossip and his own drunken boasting his presence played a significant role in the increasing unpopularity of the Imperial couple. Rasputin was murdered by monarchists who hoped to save Tsarism by ending his sway over the royal family.”
Here’s his entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica:
Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin, original name Grigory Yefimovich Novykh (born 1872?, Pokrovskoye, near Tyumen, Siberia, Russian Empire—died December 30 [December 17, Old Style], 1916, Petrograd [now St. Petersburg, Russia]), Siberian peasant and mystic whose ability to improve the condition of Aleksey Nikolayevich, the hemophiliac heir to the Russian throne, made him an influential favourite at the court of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra.
Although he attended school, the peasant Grigory Yefimovich Novykh remained illiterate, and his reputation for licentiousness earned him the surname Rasputin, Russian for “debauched one.” He evidently underwent a religious conversion at age 18, and eventually he went to the monastery at Verkhoture, where he was introduced to the Khlysty (Flagellants) sect. Rasputin perverted Khlysty beliefs into the doctrine that one was nearest God when feeling “holy passionlessness” and that the best way to reach such a state was through the sexual exhaustion that came after prolonged debauchery. Rasputin did not become a monk. He returned to Pokrovskoye, and at age 19 married Proskovya Fyodorovna Dubrovina, who later bore him four children. Marriage did not settle Rasputin. He left home and wandered to Mount Athos, Greece, and Jerusalem, living off the peasants’ donations and gaining a reputation as a starets (self-proclaimed holy man) with the ability to heal the sick and predict the future.
Rasputin’s wanderings took him to St. Petersburg (1903), where he was welcomed by Theophan, inspector of the religious Academy of St. Petersburg, and Hermogen, bishop of Saratov. The court circles of St. Petersburg at that time were entertaining themselves by delving into mysticism and the occult, so Rasputin—a filthy, unkempt wanderer with brilliant eyes and allegedly extraordinary healing talents—was warmly welcomed. In 1905 Rasputin was introduced to the royal family, and in 1908 he was summoned to the palace of Nicholas and Alexandra during one of their hemophiliac son’s bleeding episodes. Rasputin succeeded in easing the boy’s suffering (probably by his hypnotic powers) and, upon leaving the palace, warned the parents that the destiny of both the child and the dynasty were irrevocably linked to him, thereby setting in motion a decade of Rasputin’s powerful influence on the imperial family and affairs of state.
In the presence of the royal family, Rasputin consistently maintained the posture of a humble and holy peasant. Outside court, however, he soon fell into his former licentious habits. Preaching that physical contact with his own person had a purifying and healing effect, he acquired mistresses and attempted to seduce many other women. When accounts of Rasputin’s conduct reached the ears of Nicholas, the tsar refused to believe that he was anything other than a holy man, and Rasputin’s accusers found themselves transferred to remote regions of the empire or entirely removed from their positions of influence.
By 1911 Rasputin’s behaviour had become a general scandal. The prime minister, P.A. Stolypin, sent the tsar a report on Rasputin’s misdeeds. As a result, the tsar expelled Rasputin, but Alexandra had him returned within a matter of months. Nicholas, anxious not to displease his wife or endanger his son, upon whom Rasputin had an obviously beneficial effect, chose to ignore further allegations of wrongdoing.
Rasputin reached the pinnacle of his power at the Russian court after 1915. During World War I, Nicholas II took personal command of his forces (September 1915) and went to the troops on the front, leaving Alexandra in charge of Russia’s internal affairs, while Rasputin served as her personal advisor. Rasputin’s influence ranged from the appointment of church officials to the selection of cabinet ministers (often incompetent opportunists), and he occasionally intervened in military matters to Russia’s detriment. Though supporting no particular political group, Rasputin was a strong opponent of anyone opposing the autocracy or himself.
Several attempts were made to take the life of Rasputin and save Russia from further calamity, but none were successful until 1916. Then a group of extreme conservatives, including Prince Feliks Yusupov (husband of the tsar’s niece), Vladimir Mitrofanovich Purishkevich (a member of the Duma), and Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich (the tsar’s cousin), formed a conspiracy to eliminate Rasputin and save the monarchy from further scandal. On the night of December 29–30 (December 16–17, Old Style), Rasputin was invited to visit Yusupov’s home and, once there, was given poisoned wine and tea cakes. When he did not die, the frantic Yusupov shot him. Rasputin collapsed but was able to run out into the courtyard, where Purishkevich shot him again. The conspirators then bound him and threw him through a hole in the ice into the Neva River, where he finally died by drowning.
The murder merely strengthened Alexandra’s resolve to uphold the principle of autocracy, but a few weeks later the whole imperial regime was swept away by revolution.
Naturally, the reason Rasputin has anything to do with beer, is that Mark Ruedrich, the founder of North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg, California, named his imperial stout after the “mad monk,” and his Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout has become a classic beer, one of the earliest examples of what’s become a very popular style of beer, and, frankly, is still one of the best tasting.
For one of my newspaper columns, in the Fall of 2012, I wrote about imperial stouts, and below is an excerpt from that, the part that tells the story of North Coast’s Old Rasputin:
Happily, you don’t have to go as far as Russia, or even England, to find an imperial stout. We’re very lucky that one of the best Russian Imperial Stouts brewed anywhere is made in nearby Fort Bragg. North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout was also one of the first brewed in America, and was most likely the second (after Bert Grant’s Imperial Stout), which makes it the oldest one still being made. I visited the Fort Bragg brewery last week and watched the latest batch of Old Rasputin being bottled, as I spoke to founder Mark Ruedrich about his beer.
When they opened in 1988, North Coast had a terrific stout they called Old No. 38. But a few years later, Ruedrich decided he wanted to do something different, and noticed that almost nobody else was making the style. Grant’s version also included honey, which is not a traditional ingredient for the style. So he set to work brewing an authentic version of the style, which by that time was even nearly gone in England, too, with very few still making it.
Shortly before its 1994 debut at the pub, Tom Dalldorf, publisher of the “Celebrator Beer News,” happened to be in town visiting the brewery. He recalls Ruedrich handing him a glass and saying. “Here’s a new beer I’m about to release.” Dalldorf recalls seeing its inky black color and asking “don’t you already make a stout?” Mark responded with something like “this is different, just try it.” Like most of us, Tom immediately fell in love with it.
The beer has a definite “wow factor” from the very first sip, with gorgeous milk chocolate, roasted coffee notes and warming sweet flavors from its 9% a.b.v. It’s as bold as they come and infinitely complex, an ever-lasting gobstopper of a beer. It also enjoys near perfect balance. It’s a sipping beer, and changes as it warms in your glass. It’s a not a beer for a pint glass, you’ll want a snifter to get the full aromas of the beer as you slowly sip it by the fire.
One additional fun fact: on the label of Old Rasputin in a quote written in the Cyrillic Russian alphabet. Translated, it’s apparently a traditional Russian saying, or proverb: “a sincere friend is not born instantly.” But if you’re a fan of big beers, you’re love for this beer will almost certainly be instantaneous. For even bigger flavors, if that’s possible, try North Coast’s Old Rasputin XIV, which is their imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels.
The cyrillic text on the label is taken from an old Russian proverb. “A sincere friend is not born instantly.”
The label also features part of a well-known photograph of Rasputin. And while you find it all over the internet, its origin seems unknown, or at least widely uncredited.
The Smithsonian published a story on the 100th anniversary of his death a few years ago, entitled The Murder of Rasputin, 100 Years Later:
The holy man is he who takes your soul and will and makes them his. When you choose your holy man, you surrender your will. You give it to him in utter submission, in full renunciation.” – Feodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
The murder of Rasputin, Russia’s infamous “Mad Monk,” is the fodder for a great historical tale that blends fact and legend. But the death of the controversial holy man and faith healer had a combustible effect on the tense state of affairs in pre-revolution Russia. Rasputin was killed on December 30, 1916 (December 17 in the Russian calendar in use at the time), in the basement of the Moika Palace, the Saint Petersburg residence of Prince Felix Yussupov, the richest man in Russia and the husband of the Czar’s only niece, Irina. His battered body was discovered in the Neva River a few days later.
In the decade prior, Rasputin had risen rapidly through Russian society, starting as an obscure Siberian peasant-turned-wandering-holy-man and then becoming one of the most prominent figures in the Czar’s inner circle. Born in 1869 in the village of Pokrovskoye, on the Tura river that flows eastward from the Ural Mountains, where Europe meets Asia in Siberia. He seemed destined for an ordinary life, despite a few conflicts in his youth with local authorities for unruly behavior. He married a local woman, Praskovya Dubrovina, became the father of three surviving children, Maria, Dmitri and Varvara, and worked on his family’s farm.
Rasputin’s life changed in 1892, when he spent months at a monastery, putting him on the path to international renown. Despite his later nickname, “The Mad Monk,” Rasputin never took Holy Orders. Men in Rasputin’s position usually gave up their past lives and relationships but Rasputin continued to see his family – his daughters later lived with him in Saint Petersburg – and support his wife financially.
His religious fervor, combined with an appealing personal charisma, brought Rasputin to the attention of some Russian Orthodox clergymen and then senior members of the Imperial family, who then introduced him to Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra.
Nicholas wrote to one of his ministers in October 1906, “A few days ago I received a peasant from the Tobolsk district, Grigori Rasputin, who brought me an icon of St. Simon Verkhoturie. He made a remarkably strong impression both on Her Majesty and on myself, so that instead of five minutes our conversation went on for more than an hour.”
The Imperial couple had consulted unconventional spiritual advisors in the past, but Rasputin filled this role by his ability to read their inner hopes and tell them what they wanted to hear. He encouraged Nicholas to have more confidence in his role as czar, and Alexandra found that his counsel soothed her anxieties. By the First World War, Rasputin was also providing political advice and making recommendations for ministerial appointments, much to the dismay of the Russian elite.
Rasputin cemented his relationship with the czar and czarina when he supposedly helped alleviate their only son Alexei’s hemophilia. Rasputin’s alleged healing powers continue to be debated today. The Czar’s sister, Grand Duchess Olga, wrote that she observed Rasputin healing Alexei by kneeling at the foot of his bed and praying; the calming atmosphere that he created in the palace may have assisted with the recovery. Alexandra’s lady-in-waiting, Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden, thought that Rasputin employed peasant folk medicine used in Siberian villages to treat internal bleeding in horses.
Historians continue to debate Rasputin’s impact on Alexei’s health. In his 2016 book, Rasputin: Faith, Power and the Twilight of the Romanovs, Douglas Smith observes, “Rasputin’s assurances calmed the anxious, fretful mother and filled her with unshakeable confidence, and she, in turn, transferred this confidence to her ailing son, literally willing him back to health.” In addition to increasing confidence in recovery, a key variable may have been Rasputin’s insistence that doctors keep away from Alexei. Medical knowledge was still sparse, even though drugs like aspirin were available for treatment. Unfortunately for Alexei, aspirin, considered a cure-all remedy, had the then-unknown side effect of thinning the blood, which would have exacerbated hemophilia symptoms. French historian Hélène Carrère d’Encausse argued that when Rasputin insisted that remedies prescribed by the doctors be thrown in the fire, the discarded medicine likely would have included aspirin. Rasputin’s insistence that the doctors leave him alone would have improved his condition and appeared to create a miraculous improvement in his symptoms.
Rasputin presented himself in the Imperial Court as holy man, despite no formal affiliation with the Russian Orthodox Church, and spoke as a self-appointed representative of the peasantry, but his behavior away from court offered a different portrait. His drunkenness and affairs with women of all social backgrounds, from street prostitutes to society ladies, scandalized the public. Rasputin appeared to bask in his fame, showing off shirts embroidered for him by the Empress and inviting her friends and servants to his home in Prokovskoye. (Rasputin’s wife appeared untroubled by his infidelities, commenting “He has enough for all.”)
The press, unshackled thanks to rights granted to them by Nicholas II in 1905, spread lurid tales about Rasputin both within Russia and abroad. Rumors about Rasputin’s influence over the Czarist regime spread throughout Europe. Petitioners, believing that Rasputin lived with the Imperial family, mailed their requests to “Rasputin, Czar’s palace, Saint Petersburg.”
Soldiers on World War I’s Eastern front spoke of Rasputin having an intimate affair with Alexandra, passing it off as common knowledge without evidence. As the war progressed, outlandish stories expanded to include Rasputin’s supposed treason with the German enemy, including a fantastical tale that he sought to undermine the war effort by starting a cholera epidemic in Saint Petersburg with “poisoned apples imported from Canada.” What the public thought they knew about Rasputin had a greater impact than his actual views and activities, fueling demands that he be removed from his position of influence by any means necessary.
Until he murdered Rasputin, Felix Yussupov lived a comparatively aimless life of privilege. One of Nicholas II’s daughters, also named Grand Duchess Olga, worked as a nurse during the war and criticized Yussupov’s refusal to enlist, writing to her father, “Felix is a ‘downright civilian,’ dressed all in brown…virtually doing nothing; an utterly unpleasant impression he makes – a man idling in such times.” Plotting Rasputin’s murder gave Yussupov the opportunity to reinvent himself as a patriot and man of action, determined to protect the throne from a malign influence.
For Yussupov and his co-conspirators, the removal of Rasputin could give Nicholas II one last chance of restoring the reputation and prestige of the monarchy. With Rasputin gone, the czar would be more open to the advice of his extended family, the nobility and the Duma and less dependent on Alexandra. There was hope that he would return from military headquarters and once again govern from Saint Petersburg.
The most well-known account of Rasputin’s murder was the one that Yussupov wrote in his memoirs, published in 1928. Yussupov claimed to have invited Rasputin to his palace to meet his wife Irina (who was in fact away at the time) and then served him a platter of cakes and numerous glasses of wine laced with potassium cyanide. To Yussupov’s astonishment, Rasputin appeared to be unaffected by the poison. A desperate Yussupov borrowed the revolver of the Grand Duke Dmitri, the czar’s cousin, and shot Rasputin multiple times, but was still unable to kill him. According to the memoir, “This devil who was dying of poison, who had a bullet in his heart, must have been raised from the dead by the powers of evil. There was something appalling and monstrous in his diabolical refusal to die.” There was reputedly water in his lungs when his remains were discovered, indicating that he had finally died by drowning.
Yussupov’s account of Rasputin’s murder entered popular culture. The lurid scene was dramatized in numerous films about Rasputin and the Romanovs and even made it into a 1970s disco hit by Boney M., which included the lyrics “They put some poison into his wine…He drank it all and said, ‘I feel fine.’”
Rasputin’s actual murder was probably far less dramatic. His daughter Maria, who fled Russia after the Revolution and became a circus lion tamer billed as “the daughter of the famous mad monk whose feats in Russia astonished the world,” wrote her own book in 1929 that condemned Yussupov’s actions and questioned the veracity of his account. She wrote that her father did not like sweets and never would have eaten a platter of cakes. The autopsy reports do not mention poison or drowning but instead conclude that he was shot in the head at close range. Yussupov transformed the murder into an epic struggle of good versus evil to sell books and bolster his own reputation.
The responses from the public were mixed, reflecting Rasputin’s checkered reputation. The elite, from whence Yussupov and his co-conspirators came, rejoiced and applauded the killers when they appeared in public. The peasantry mourned Rasputin as one of their own, seeing the murder as one more example of the nobility controlling the Czar; when a peasant rose to a position of influence with the Czar, he was murdered by wealthy men.
To the dismay of Yussupov and his co-conspirators, Rasputin’s murder did not lead to a radical change in Nicholas and Alexandra’s polities. To the emergent Bolsheviks, Rasputin symbolized the corruption at the heart of the Imperial court, and his murder was seen, rather accurately, as an attempt by the nobility to hold onto power at the continued expense of the proletariat. To them, Rasputin represented the broader problems with czarism. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Provisional Government leader Alexander Kerensky went so far as to say, “Without Rasputin there would have been no Lenin.”
And, apropos of nothing, there’s apparently a commercial vodka called “Rasputin.”
Today is the birthday of Jinx Falkenburg, who was a minor actress in the 1930s-40s, but a major model. Originally a beauty queen from Barcelona, Spain (some accounts say Chile), her real claim to fame was being chosen as the first Miss Rheingold in 1939. By all accounts, the Miss Rheingold Contest evolved into one of most successful beer promotions of all time, and in its heyday was as popular as the Miss America Pageant. Women would be nominated and whittled down to six. Then the public would vote for their favorite. The winner was then the spokesmodel for Rheingold for the following year and her likeness was on their beer can along with a lot of their advertising.
This is from her Wikipedia page:
Her biggest breakthrough as a model came in 1940 when she was picked by New York-based Liebmann Brewery, maker of Rheingold Beer, to be the first “Miss Rheingold.” As the face for its marketing and advertising campaign, her image graced countless billboards across the U.S. and she was featured in promotional ads at every store that sold Rheingold. Her face and the campaign were an advertising executive’s dream come true. Rheingold was suddenly the top brand in New York City.
Falkenburg was probably the highest paid model in the 1940s, and if not the highest, then certainly one of them, making her essentially one of the first supermodels.
Here’s one of her ads she did for Rheingold beer, from 1941.
Jinx married Tex McCrary, who “was an American journalist and public relations specialist who invented the talk show genre for television and radio, and appeared on radio and TV with his wife, Jinx Falkenburg.” Below is an ad for Rheingold they did together in 1950.
The couple actually did celebrity endorsements ads for a number of different products, including another beer company. In 1941, they appeared in this ad for a rival New York beer, the Jacob Ruppert Brewery.