Today is the 74th birthday of Nick Matt, chairman and CEO of F.X. Matt Brewing in Utica, by the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. The brewery was originally founded in 1888, and their main brand today is Saranac. Nick is an active member of the beer industry, and especially through the Brewers Association, and a big supporter of the community as a whole. Join me in wishing Nick a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Dietrich Knabe (May 11, 1842-<1917). His first name is sometimes spelled Diedrich. I believe he was born in Germany, but that’s about all I know about Knabe, apart from he co-founded and served as president of the Consumer’s Brewing Co. of New York City, which was founded in 1890. It appears to have closed because of prohibition in 1920, although one source suggests that they were still a going concern into the late-1920s. As far as I can tell it didn’t open afterward.
The Brewers’ Journal and Barley, Malt and Hop Trades’ Reporter for July 1, 1917 includes an account of Knabe’s 75th birthday earlier that year, so he was still alive
This is from the New York Times for November 15, 1889, announcing the creation of what would become the Consumer’s Brewing Co.
Today is the birthday of Christian Weyand (May 11, 1826-August 7, 1898). He was born in France as Cretien Weyand, but came to the U.S. when he was 21, settling in the Buffalo area of New York. He was originally a shoemaker, but when he was forty years old, he co-founded the Main Street Brewery, along with a partner, John Schetter, who he eventually bought out in 1873. In 1890, the brewery was incorporated as the Christian Weyand Brewing Co. and remained in business until closed by prohibition in 1920.
Here’s a short biography from Find-a-Grave:
Weyand, Christian, was born in Lorraine, France, May 11, 1826, attended the common schools, and in the spring of 1847 came to America and settled in Buffalo, where he has since resided. He followed the shoemaker’s trade for some time, and then in 1866 engaged in the brewing business with a partner.
In 1873 he became sole owner of the establishment on the corner of Main and Goodell streets, and in a few years built up one of the largest and best breweries in Western New York. In May 1890, the Weyland Brewing Company was incorporated with C. Weyand. president; John A. Weyand, vice-president and manager; and Charles M. Weyand, secretary, and treasurer. Mr. Weyand is probably the best-known brewer in Buffalo. He is a prominent, public-spirited citizen, widely esteemed and respected, and has always enjoyed the confidence of all who know him. May 9, 1852, he married Magdalena Mayer of Buffalo.
And this is his obituary from the American Brewers Review:
This short history of Christian, and the brewery, is from the “1897 Brewers Convention Buffalo NY,” published by the Buffalo Brewers Association:
Christian Weyand Brewing Company.
In 1866, Christian Weyand established the business now conducted by The Christian Weyand Brewing Company. Mr. Weyand is a native of France, having been born in the province of Lorraine a little more than seventy years ago. There he spent his youth and received his education; but in his twenty-first year he left Lorraine for the wider opportunities of the New World, landing in New York just fifty years ago. He soon found his way to Buffalo, but it was nearly twenty years before he began the business with which his name is now so intimately connected in the minds of all Buffalonians. During these years he worked as a shoemaker — at first as an employee, and later in a shop of his own.
Mr. Weyand, with a partner, began the brewing business in a small way, with little capital and a poorly equipped plant; but the purest and best of barley malt was used from the start, and improved machinery was introduced as fast as the necessary capital could be secured. In 1873. Mr. Weyand assumed entire charge of the business, and applied himself vigorously to the task of building up a model brewery. His efforts met with entire success, and in a few years his establishment became one of the first in its line in Buffalo — a city that boasts of many fine breweries. In 1890, he organized the business into a stock company, called The Christian Weyand Brewing Company, of which he is president, his son, John A. Weyand, vice-president and manager, and another son, Charles M. Weyand, secretary and treasurer. Since then the business has materially increased, and in 1896-97 it became necessary to make extensive additions to the plant. The new buildings on the corner of Main and Goodell streets, built of buff terra cotta elaborately ornamented in Renaissance style, are exceedingly handsome; and it is now one of the best-equipped breweries in the country.
This is purported to be a photograph of the house at the “Southeast Corner Main and Goodell Streets” from the 1912 “Picture Book Of Earlier Buffalo.” But as Michael F. Rizzo and Ethan Cox, authors of “Buffalo Beer” point out, “the structures in the background and to the left of the subject must have been the Christian Weyand brewery. Indeed, the least occluded building to the left was, I think, their office address on Goodell.”
Today is the birthday of John Moffat (May 11, 1766-July 13, 1845). Moffat was born near the town of Moffat, Scotland, in 1766, coming to America in his late twenties, in 1793. He founded one of the earliest breweries in Buffalo, New York, along with his son James, in 1833. I was unable to find a portrait of John Moffat, or much about him personally.
According to John & Dave’s Buffalo Brewing History, John Moffat, along with his son James, acquired what was Buffalo’s second brewery and named it the Moffat Brewery.
Kane, Peacock and Relay brewery was short lived however and a 1909 article in the Buffalo Evening Times indicates John Moffat and his son James purchased the brewing operation around 1833. Also, the 1836 Buffalo City Directory lists Moffat as a brewer at that location. The 1839 Directory lists James Moffat & Co. as a “Brewery, Soap and Candle Factory”. The Moffat Brewery continued in operation until son James died and it was sold to Arthur Fox and became the Fox and Williams Brewery. In 1876 it was sold back to the Moffat family and continued in operation at the same location until the advent of Prohibition forced their closure in 1920. After Prohibition the Phoenix Brewery continued brewing “Moffats Pale Ale” through an agreement with the Moffat family.
And here’s an account from “Buffalo Beer: The History of Brewing in the Nickel City,” by Michael F. Rizzo and Ethan Cox.
And “History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County, Volume 2,” published in 1884, has this to say about Buffalo’s earliest brewers, including Moffat:
Today is the birthday of Bernard “Toots” Shor (May 6, 1903–January 23, 1977). He “was best known as the proprietor of a legendary saloon and restaurant, Toots Shor’s Restaurant, in Manhattan. He ran three different establishments under that name, but his first – and most renowned – was located at 51 West 51st Street. He was known as a saloonkeeper, friend, and confidant to some of New York’s biggest celebrities during that era.”
This is his biography from his Wikipedia page:
Shor was born in Philadelphia to Orthodox Jewish parents – his father of Austrian descent from Germany and his mother from Russia. He and his two older sisters were raised in a home above the family candy store in South Philadelphia. When Shor was 15 years old, his mother was killed by an automobile while she sat on the stoop outside their home. His father committed suicide five years later. Shor attended the Drexel Institute of Technology and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania before working as a traveling shirt-and-underwear salesman.
Here’s a short biography from Find–Grave:
Restaurateur. He was the owner and colorful host of Toots Shor’s Restaurant, a New York City landmark for over 30 years. Born in Philadelphia, he moved to New York as a teenager during the Prohibition era and gained a reputation as a speakeasy bouncer, guardian, and manager. In 1940 he opened his own restaurant and lounge at 51 West 51st Street in Manhattan; although the food was mediocre, its strong drinks and oversized circular bar quickly drew the crowds. The greats of the sports world, stage, screen and politics all hung out here. In one famous anecdote, mob boss Frank Costello and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren politely raised glasses to each other across the dining room. Shor was gruffly friendly to everybody from shoeshine boy to newsstand guy, to Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, and Jackie Gleason (who always ate there for free). Being called a “crumb-bum” by Toots meant you’d earned his praise; in contrast, his most bitter insult was to call someone “just a piece of raisin cake”. His personal motto was “I don’t care if I’m a millionaire, as long as I can live like one”, and his spendthrift ways and generosity to his regulars often left him in debt. The original Toots Shor’s closed in 1959 and reopened two years later at 33 West 52nd Street; this location was abruptly shut down in 1971 for income tax evasion. Toots’ last business ventures were failures and he died broke, but not before leaving a legendary mark on New York nightlife.
Wikipedia continues with the story of Shor’s restaurants:
Shor went to New York City in 1930 and found employment as a bouncer at the Five O’Clock Club, which served as his introduction to celebrities. He later worked at several other nightspots: The Napoleon Club, Lahiff’s Tavern, the Ball & Chain, the Madison Royale, and Leon & Eddie’s. He became a man about town in Manhattan after opening his own restaurant, Toots Shor’s, at 51 West 51st Street. While the food there was known to be “nuttin’ fancy” – standard American, sports-bar fare such as shrimp cocktail, steak, baked potato – the establishment became well known for who frequented there and the manner in which Shor interacted with them.
Shor was a raconteur and a master of the “needle,” jibes or quips directed at the famous. Celebrity alone was not enough to receive first-class service in Shor’s restaurant. According to David Halberstam in his book The Summer of ’49, guests had to observe the unwritten “code” which prevailed in Shor’s establishment. Charlie Chaplin, who was not privy to that code, was made to wait in line. When Chaplin complained, Shor told him to entertain the others who were waiting in line. One day, Hollywood boss Louis B. Mayer complained about waiting twenty minutes for a table and said, “I trust the food will be worth all that waiting.” Shor replied: “It’ll be better’n some of your crummy pictures I stood in line for.” Once while standing outside his restaurant with Frank Sinatra and a crowd of screaming fans being held back by police, Toots pulled out a dollar bill out of his pocket and said to Frank, “Here, kid, go across the street and buy me a paper.” At the Opera with friends during the intermission Toots declared, “I bet I’m the only bum in this joint that doesn’t know how this thing ends.”
In one incident, Shor outdrank comedian Jackie Gleason, famously leaving Gleason on the floor to prove the point. (At Toots’ funeral, the coffin had a spray of red roses with a card which read, “Save a Table for 2,” signed: Jackie Gleason.)
Shor cultivated his celebrity following by giving them unqualified admiration, loyal friendship, and a kind of happy, boozy, old-fashioned male privacy. Those whom Shor really liked were called “crum-bums”. Shor reputedly said that he didn’t care if he was a millionaire – so long as he could live like one.
In 1959, Shor sold the lease for his 51st Street restaurant for $1.5 million to William Zeckendorf. The following year, he opened at a new location at 33 West 52nd Street and tried to emulate the decor and atmosphere of the original. The then–Chief Justice, Earl Warren, considered Toots one of his closest friends. “The Chief” showed up to be photographed with a shovel full of dirt when Toots broke ground on Toots’ 52nd street “joint”.
In 1971, authorities padlocked the doors of the 52nd Street restaurant for nonpayment of federal, state, and local taxes totaling $269,516. He vowed to open again in three weeks, but 18 months passed before his restaurant at 5 East 54th Street opened. For a variety of reasons, however, his famous clientele never returned with their former regularity.
And this is from the Wikipedia page for Toots Shor’s Restaurant:
Toots Shor’s Restaurant was a restaurant and lounge owned and operated by Bernard “Toots” Shor at 51 West 51st Street in Manhattan during the 1940s and 1950s. Its oversized circular bar was a New York landmark. It was frequented by celebrities, and together with the 21 Club, the Stork Club, and El Morocco was one of the places to see and be seen. Joe DiMaggio often went there to eat, and that helped make it famous. Toots was said to do personal favors for Joe as well, at no cost.
Jackie Gleason always ate there for free. Other notable guests included Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Orson Welles, Yogi Berra, and Ernest Hemingway (Berra and Hemingway allegedly met there).
While the food at Toots Shor’s Restaurant was known to be “nuttin’ fancy” — standard American, sports-bar fare such as shrimp cocktail, steak, baked potato — the establishment became well known for who frequented there and how Shor interacted with them. Shor was a raconteur and a master of the “needle,” jibes or quips directed at the famous. Celebrity alone was not enough to receive first-class service in Shor’s restaurant. According to David Halberstam in his book The Summer of ’49, guests had to observe the unwritten “code” which prevailed in Shor’s establishment. Charlie Chaplin, who was not privy to that code, was made to wait in line. When Chaplin complained, Shor told him to entertain the others who were waiting in line. One day, MGM head Louis B. Mayer complained about waiting twenty minutes for a table and said, “I trust the food will be worth all that waiting.” Shor replied: “It’ll be better’n some of your crummy pictures I stood in line for.”
In a famous incident, Shor outdrank Jackie Gleason and left him on the floor to prove the point. Somewhat notoriously, wives were not welcome in Toots’s saloon; it was known, in the argot of the day, as a place of “booze and broads,” where ballplayers, actors and politicians mixed. Baseball players were especially welcomed; in particular, Shor admired Mickey Mantle; he also adored Joe DiMaggio. Shor always ensured that DiMaggio got first-rate service without being hassled or asked for autographs by restaurant staff, other patrons, or fans. Another prominent figure who frequented Shor’s restaurant was famed trial attorney Edward Bennett Williams.
Toots Shor cultivated his celebrity following by giving them unqualified admiration, loyal friendship, and a kind of happy, boozy, old-fashioned male privacy. Those whom Shor really liked were called “crum-bums”. Shor reputedly said that he didn’t care if he was a millionaire—so long as he could live like one. Shor was rewarded after a fashion with a mention in the 1954 Bing Crosby film, “White Christmas.” Bing comments to Rosemary Clooney, while both are raiding the restaurant refrigerator of the Vermont inn where they are staying, that the food is not as fancy as Toots Shor’s.
In 1959, Shor sold the lease for his 51st Street restaurant for $1.5 million. The following year he opened at a new location at 33 West 52nd Street and tried to emulate the decor and atmosphere of the original. The then-Chief Justice, Earl Warren, considered Toots one of his closest friends, and “The Chief” showed up to be photographed with a shovel full of dirt when Toots broke ground on his 52nd street “joint.”
Today is the birthday of Louis von Schwanenfluegel (May 6, 1848-?). He was trained as a brewer at his father’s brewery, worked at a malt house, and became the manager of Schmitt & Schwanenfluegel Brewery, which was in New York City, near Central Park at 1065 Avenue A, between 56th & 57th.
This account is from “100 Years of Brewing:”
The brewery was originally known as the Henry Elias Brewery, who founded it near 15th Street & Broadway in 1855. Elias, in 1865, partnered with George Schmitt, this George’s father, and became known as Henry Elias & George Schmitt Brewery, a.k.a. the Central Park Brewery (and was readdressed to 1065 Avenue A, between 56th & 57th). In 1868, Schmitt partnered with Christian Koehne to keep it going and it became the Schmitt & Christian Koehne Brewery. Then in 1885, Koehne left and Louis Von Schwanenfluegel came to the business and it became known as Schmitt & Schwanenfluegel Brewery, which it remained until it closed in 1906. During that time it was also known as Consumers Park Brewing Co. and also Central Park Brewery.
According to 100 Years of Brewing, the chronology is slightly different:
That also seems like a silly question, but of course when the temperance movement was in full swing and prohibition might actually happen, it was a question people asked. And the brewers had an answer. This is an ad published in the Cattaraugus Republican on May 3, 1917. The small newspaper served the residents of and around Little Valley, New York, and I suspect the ad appeared in newspapers throughout the state since it was sponsored by the New York State Brewers’ Association.
Initially, brewers were not worried about prohibition because before the U.S. government imposed personal income taxes on all its citizens, a lot of its operating income came from excise taxes and the brewing industry contributed a sizable percentage of the U.S. budget. But once the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913, and everybody began paying income tax, they understandably grew worried. Without their contributions to the government as a bulwark to prohibition, they felt it was much more likely that the prohibitionists could be successful and jumped into action with ads defending their industry and beer itself. It was too little, too late, and as we all know, the 18th Amendment was passed in 1919, just six years after the imposition of income taxes.
But I have to give them points for trying. This particular ad is Talk No. 10 and the bottom of it references that Talk No. 11 will appear the following week, suggesting a series and concerted effort to get their message out. You can find more like this one, both by the New York association and by other state guilds and they all share the theme of trying to persuade consumers not to support temperance efforts and portray beer as a wholesome drink for everyone. Some of their arguments, naturally are better than others, with a few almost laughably thin. But this one I especially like as it just sings the praises of everyday beer drinking. Who could argue with that?
Why Do People Drink Beer?
The reason most people drink beer is because it tastes good. The reason they go on drinking beer is because it continues to do them good.
Beer is an ideal beverage. It quenches the thirst, gives nutriment to the body, and cheers up the spirits.
It is a wholesome food. The term “food” includes anything, either solid or liquid, that restores the waste tissues of the body or supplies heat and energy. The food contents of beer are all wholesome and nutritious. Besides being a food it is a beverage; that is, it not only sustains the body, but it satisfies thirst.
It contains just enough alcohol to refresh the system, sharpen the appetite and produce a general feeling of well being.
Beer is pleasing to all the senses. It is good to look at, its aroma is attractive, its taste is snappy and it is ideally adapted to gratify the cravings of the human body.
Centuries of use have established beer as the ideal drink, giving the maximum of pleasure.
Today is the birthday of Philip Jacob Ebling Jr. (April 29, 1861-September 26, 1896). He was the son of Philip Ebling, who along with his brother William Ebling founded the Ebling Brewing Co., which was known by several different names during its life from 1868 to 1950, including the Philip Ebling & Bro. Wm., Aurora Park Brewery, Ph. & Wm. Ebling Brewing Co. and Ebling Brewing Co., which was its name almost the entirety of the 20th century, both before and after prohibition.
Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:
Philip Jacob Ebling, son of Philip and Catherine (Baum)Ebling, was president of the Ebling Brewery when his father Philip Ebling died in 1895. He Then directed all of its affairs until death called him in 1896. Philip Jr. was a member of Wieland Lodge No. 714, Free and Accepted Masons; he was also a member of the Schnorer Club and the K.O.S. Bowling Club. Philip Jacob Ebling married at Union Hill, New Jersey, April 12, 1894, Amanda Anna Peter, born March 01, 1872, daughter of William and Caroline (Aeppli) (Ohlenschlager) Peter. He had one child her name was Priscilla Katherine Philipine Ebling.
The brewery apparently aged some of their beer in Bronx caves, and for some of their beers, like Special Brew, whose label boasts that the beer was “aged in natural rock caves.” Which sounds crazy, but in 2009, road construction crews in the Melrose section of the Bronx found the old caves, which was detailed by Edible Geography in Bronx Beer Caves.
Today is the birthday of Henry Hoerl (April 26, 1854-November 14, 1917). He was born in Altdorf, in Bavaria, Germany, the son of a German brewery owner, where he learned the trade. When he was 24, he came to the U.S. and found employment with a number of breweries throughout New York. In 1892, he moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to become the Superintendent of the Val. Blatz Brewing Co. a position he held for the rest of his life.
Here is his obituary from the American Brewers’ Review:
This biography of Henry Hoerl is his entry from “Freemasonry in Wisconsin: Biographical Sketches of Men who Have Been Prominent in the Various Masonic Bodies in the State,” published in 1900.
And this biography is from “Memoirs of Milwaukee County: from the earliest historical times down to the present, including a genealogical and biographical record of representative families in Milwaukee County,” published by the Madison, Wisconsin Western Historical Society in 1909.
Henry Hoerl, for many years a prominent figure in the brewing circles of Milwaukee, has achieved his prominence through untiring energetic effort. He is of German descent and was born at Altdorf, Bavaria, Germany, April 26, 1854, the son of George and Anna (Funck) Hoerl, natives of the famous old city of Nuremberg. Henry, the subject of this review, received his education in the elementary schools of his native city and then took a course in the high school. After finishing his studies he was employed in breweries in Germany for several years. He served with distinction in the German army as sergeant of artillery of a Munich regiment. Ambitious to rise in the world and recognizing the greater possibilities and advantages offered in this country to young men of energy and determination, he left his home in 1878, when twenty-four years of age, and set out for the new world, entering upon a career in the course of which he encountered many disappointments, to ultimately reap the reward of honest efforts in abundant prosperity. Soon after landing in New York he found employment in the breweries there and took the brewmaster’s course in the New York Brewing Academy, winning the first prize in 1886. This brought him into prominence among the brewing men of the city and he secured an excellent position. In 1892 he moved to Milwaukee to become superintendent of the Valentine Blatz Brewing Company and has made their beer famous. On June 4, 1878, Mr. Hoerl married Katherine, the daughter of Michael and Katherine (Neuner) Strobel, of Albany, N. Y. Four children have come to bless this union: Emil, who is the proprietor of the Germania brewery of Altoona, Pa. ; Jenny, John M., who resides in Milwaukee, and Annie, the wife of George Schott, who runs a cooperage works in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Hoerl are communicants of the Lutheran church, to which their ancestors have belonged for many generations. Mr. Hoerl is affiliated with the Masonic Order, having taken the Bine Lodge, the Chapter, Knights Templar and Consistory degrees, and he is also a member of the Mystic Shrine. Hoerl is a popular member of the Deutscher Club, the Millioki Club, the Milwaukee Music Vercin and the “West Side Turn Verein.”
And finally, I came upon this little oddity via eBay. It’s an invitation sent to Hoerl at the Val. Blatz Brewing Co. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The invitation was to attend a brewmaster’s convention of the United Brewer’s Association of the City of New York and the Surrounding Area, September 26-28, 1897. It doesn’t look like he mailed it back, but he may have been thinking about it, as he marked it for 2 train tickets to be reserved to get there.
Today is Jeremy Cowan’s 50th birthday — the Big 5-O. Jeremy owns Shmaltz Brewing, makers of He’Brew. Jeremy is a good friend and we’ve known one another since he first pitched He’Brew to me at BevMo many years ago (which is detailed in Jeremy’s memoir Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah). Jeremy used to split his time between San Francisco and New York, and so I would often see him at beer events somewhat frequently, but less so after he built a brick and mortar brewery in upstate New York. Although that’s now been sold, he’s also a co-owner of Alphabet City Brewing in New York, which keeps him busy. Join me in wishing Jeremy a very happy birthday.