A Big Thanks to our “Friends of Otto’s”!
We would like to thank all our “Friends of Otto’s” who have allowed us to photograph, borrow, or buy the items displayed. In particular, we would like to thank Rich Wagner, Larry Shanaman, Daryl Ziegler, Larry Handy, Alex Bierly, and Sam Komlenic. Without their breweriana knowledge, expertise and commitment to preserving brewing history in Pennsylvania, what you see at Otto’s simply would not exist! We own a special debt of gratitude to Rich Wagner who not only photographed many of the items but also wrote a “historical brief” for each of them. You can learn more about Pennsylvania brewery history at:
Altoona Brewing Company
Famous for its Horseshoe Curve and the Pennsylvania Railroad shops, Altoona was home to nine breweries over the years, two of which survived Prohibition: the Oswald Brewing Company, which went out of business in 1936, and the Altoona Brewing Company, which lasted until 1974. The last survivor was the oldest and started in 1852 as George Enzbrenner’s Empire Brewery. It became John Kazmaier’s Germania Brewery in 1896. After repeal it was known as the City Ice & Beverage Co. until 1936, when it became Altoona Brewing Co.
James Anderton began working in coal mines at the age of eight in England, continuing in that line of work after coming to the United States until the age of 38, when he moved to Beaver Falls and got into the hotel business before starting a brewery the following year, in 1869. In November he placed his first product on the market, which consisted of nine barrels of ale and porter. Ten years later the brewery was producing just under 800 barrels per year. Over the years he expanded, and in 1895 had a modern 25,000 barrel brewery built on the design of Brewery Architects and Engineers Beyer & Rautert of Chicago. Anderton Brewing became a branch of the Independent Brewing Company of Pittsburgh and was closed in 1920.
Bergner & Engel
Bergner & Engel was the third largest brewer in the U.S.A. in 1878. They were one of the first breweries to install mechanical refrigeration shortly after the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. They doubled the size of their brew house in 1880 bringing their annual production capability to a quarter of a million barrels. This was a time when the brewing industry was experiencing incredible growth and despite doubling their capacity, Bergner & Engel dropped to being in the top twelve producers nationally.
Theodor Bergner was a brewery engineer who implemented a number of innovations of his own design in the completely modern brewery, which included having the drive belts for machinery out of the way of workers for safety. The images on the poster show the exterior and interior of the brew house of Bergner & Engel’s brewery featuring their 400 barrel copper kettle with the “hop jack” directly below it, as well as a view of one of their many cellars packed with open wooden tanks foaming away during the “high krauesen” stage of primary fermentation.
Binder Brewing Co.
Luke Binder came to America from Inman, Germany, with his parents at the age of seven. He went to work in the rolling mills at Johnstown, and later learned the business of brewing lager beer in Altoona. When he had enough money, he moved to Renovo and purchased George Burger’s brewery, which he greatly enlarged and modernized and built into a thriving business. After his death, his son Edward L. Binder continued running the brewery until 1910 when he moved to Madera in Centre County and purchased a brewery there which he ran until 1916. Today there is a spring on Route 120 at Brewery Run Rd. where people can fill containers with the spring water once used to brew Binder’s Beer.
Today the name Budweiser is synonymous with Anheuser-Busch but it started out as a style of beer made in the Budweis region of Czechoslovakia. Countless companies made “Budweiser” beers, just as today there are many brands that are made in the “Pilsener” style, named for another region. Dubois was famous for their Budweiser and probably was the last brewery to have a brand by that name. They were taken to court in the 1960s by A-B, which claimed they owned the exclusive rights to the name. Dubois won their case, but went out of business a few years later.
Chartiers Valley Brewing Co
Chartiers Valley Brewing Co. in Carnegie was established in 1901. Three years later it joined with fourteen other breweries to become part of the Independent Brewing Co. of Pittsburgh. This combine was formed to compete with the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, formed in 1899 and consisting of twenty-one branches. After repeal only five IBC branches returned, including the General Braddock Brewing Corp. in Braddock (1937), Chartiers Valley (1952), Homestead Brewery (1953), First National Brewing in McKees Rocks (1951), and the Duquesne Brewery on Pittsburgh’s South Side (1972). In the 1940s there was ongoing friction between the AFL Teamsters and the CIO for control of brewery workers. In 1952, long steel and coal strikes were followed by a four-month strike by brewery workers all of which may have been responsible for the demise of Chartiers Valley, Homestead, and First National branches.
Christian Schmidt’s Kensington Brewery
Christian Schmidt’s Kensington brewery (Philadelphia) got its start in 1860 as an ale brewery. The brewery began producing lager in 1881 and both the brewery and its business grew steadily. Schmidt’s survived Prohibition and underwent an extensive building and modernization program during the 1930s. The company was a pioneer in marketing beer in cans when they were introduced in 1935. In 1960 Modern Brewery Age ran an extensive article about the firm to commemorate their centennial year. The company operated breweries in Philadelphia, Norristown, and Cleveland. Schmidt’s was an industry leader in technical innovation and was the first brewery in the country to use a computer. In 1979 they were the nation’s ninth-largest brewer, producing 3.86 million barrels. They were the last of Philadelphia’s Prohibition survivors to close in 1987, which marked the first time in over 300 years the city was without a brewery.
Du Bois Budweiser
Beautiful women have been used in advertising to attract attention for years. Pre-Prohibition lithographs frequently pictured them in classical poses that mimicked fine art. After repeal, the style changed and was manifest in many forms, some of which employed the nation’s most famous “pin-up girl” artists.
Elk Run Brewing Co.
The three or four breweries from Punxsutawney were all relatively short-lived. Elk Run Brewing Co. was in business from 1902 to 1916 and the Punxsutawney Brewing Co. ran from 1893 to 1920. It is interesting to note that a trademark application filed by the Elk Run firm in April 1909 depicts a groundhog wearing a tie with an umbrella in one hand and a pennant that reads “Old Home Week” in the other and is identified as GroundHog Brand. In keeping with tradition, Modern Brewery Age reported in 2000 that Straub Brewing had a five-year contract to make Groundhog Brew Light Beer and offered a portion of the purchase price to the local Groundhog club as a fundraiser.
The F.A. Poth brewery was a leading Brewerytown competitor of Bergner & Engel, ultimately becoming the second largest brewer in the neighborhood. They published a book similar to Bergner & Engel’s, probably after their new brew house was constructed in 1882 according to designs by Chicago Brewery Architect and Engineer, F.W. Wolf . The new brew house had a 250 barrel kettle which brought their annual production capacity to just under 100,000 barrels. The poster also features an exterior view of a portion their plant complex including the boiler, brew, and storage houses. Unfortunately neither book contains a date, but it is assumed that each was published soon after the expansion programs were completed. The illustrations in both books are by the same Philadelphia artist, A.M.J. Mueller.
Fink’s Famous Beers
Harrisburg’s Fink brewery was one of many brewers that capitalized on Pennsylvania’s German or “Pennsylvania Dutch” heritage with this “Distlefink Song” that surely inspired many tavern-goers to break into song. Made like a sampler to teach youngsters the alphabet, it presented Pennsylvania German culture in a novel way. Many Pennsylvania brewers issued similar posters.
Fink’s Keystone Brewery
The Barnitz brewery was started on Forster Street in Harrisburg in 1854, becoming the Fink & Boyer brewery eight years later. The brewery was producing about 4,000 barrels of ale and porter per year. In 1875 Henry Fink became sole proprietor, and in 1881 he built a large modern plant with a capacity of 20,000 barrels of lager beer, ale, and porter annually which he called Fink’s Keystone Brewery. The brewery survived Prohibition and introduced Purple Ribbon Pilsner, Wurzburger Lager, and Derby Ale, but went out of business the following year.
Fuhrmann & Schmidt
In 1893 Philip H. Fuhrmann took over the old Eagle Run Brewery in Shamokin, which dated back to 1854. Three years later it became Fuhrmann & Schmidt, and in 1905 they built a new modern brewery on South Harrison Street. The company returned after repeal in the newer facility. The brewery was purchased by Ortlieb in 1966 and survived until 1975.
Fuhrmann & Schmidt’s Eagle Run Brewery
The Eagle Run Brewery in Shamokin got its start in the 1850s and went through various owners until Philip Fuhrmann purchased it in 1893. It became Fuhrmann & Schmidt’s Eagle Run Brewery three years later. In 1905 a group of investors created the Shamokin Brewing Co. for the manufacture of ale, porter, lager, and weiss beer. That company lasted for six years before going bankrupt and being acquired by Fuhrmann & Schmidt. F & S ran both plants until Prohibition and came back after repeal in the newer facility. Philadelphia’s Ortlieb Brewing Co. bought F & S in 1966 and operated the brewery until 1975.
George C. Baer and Charles Stegmaier
George C. Baer and Charles Stegmaier established a brewery on South Canal Street in Wilkes-Barre in 1857. Six years later they moved to Market Street where they dug vaults in the side of a hill to “lager” or store their beer, which was refrigerated with ice. This early view of that brewery probably dates to around 1870. The plant was enlarged over the years and this is the same location where the magnificent Stegmaier brew house has been beautifully restored.
Koenig & Brother started their Centennial Brewery in Harrisburg in 1875. Two years later they sold it to Christian Dressler, who operated the plant for eighteen years. In 1893 it was sold to Robert H. Graupner, who formed a stock company two years later and built a large modern brewery which operated as the Harrisburg Consumers Brewing and Bottling Company. Mr. Graupner had learned the brewing trade in Saxony before coming to America in 1883, and by working in breweries in Philadelphia and Lancaster for the next ten years. The brewery became known as Graupners in 1903. It survived Prohibition and remained in business until 1951, becoming known for brands including Jolly Scot Ale, Silver Stock Lager, Graupner’s Old Style Beer, and Old Graupner Beer, Ale, and Porter.
Graupner’s Bock Beer
Today’s craft brewers have revived bock beer as a style that was traditionally brought out in the spring. A common misconception is that the beer was made when brewers were “cleaning out their vats.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The style originated in monasteries for the Lenten season when the monks were fasting. The beer provided nourishment for them to survive until Easter. Brewers have used the “buck” goat as the beer’s symbol for centuries.
Hanover Brewing Co.
Danville’s Hanover Brewing Co. dates back to the 1870s when John Gerstner started out producing less than 500 barrels of beer per year. In 1895 the Polish-Lithuanian Brewing Co. purchased the brewery. It was a stock company comprised primarily of men from Wilkes-Barre and capitalized with $100,000. They advertised that they were upgrading the plant from a 25-barrel-per-day to a 135-barrel-per-day operation. Chicago brewery architect and engineer Theo. Lewandowski made plans for the brew house, and Anthony Golembruski, one of the principals, was brewmaster. In 1905 Emil Malinowski sold the company and formed the Franklin Brewing Co. in Hanover Township just outside Wilkes-Barre. The Hanover Brewing Co. continued for ten years and was rated as a 30,000-barrel-per-year plant; twice as big as Danville’s other brewery, the Germania Brewing Co. Hanover Brewing distributed beer using its 16 teams and wagons as well as by rail throughout Montour, Columbia, Luzerne, and Lackawanna counties.
Henry Fink’s Keystone Brewery
Harrisburg has been home to about a dozen breweries throughout history. Henry Fink started working in the oldest, the Barnitz brewery, which was established sometime around 1854. After eight years Mr. Fink leased the brewery and formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Christian Boyer. They brewed about fourteen barrels per day in the fall and winter months and production reached 4,000 barrels in 1865. Ten years later the partnership was dissolved and the firm became Henry Fink’s Keystone Brewery. A modern plant was built in 1881, and production at the turn of the century was around 20,000 barrels. Upon his death in 1898, his sons took over the business as Henry Fink’s Sons Keystone Brewery, which lasted until Prohibition. Efforts were made to start up after repeal but Fink Brewing went out of business in 1934.
J. Widman & Co.
The J. Widman & Co. brewery, Bethlehem, PA, started in 1880 and became famous for Extra Bohemian Lager. After repeal they made Ferraro’s and Old Fashioned brands of beer, ale, and porter. They were victims of an antiquated plant and equipment, and could not compete with the changing beer market. They were the first of three Prohibition survivors in Bethlehem to go out of business in 1938. This was a rectangular beer tray that was very popular.
Jacob Goenner’s Brewery
Johnstown has been home to sixteen breweries over the years, seventeen if you count one brewpub that was in business from 2003 until 2008. Five were in business when Prohibition arrived in 1920, of which two came back after repeal in 1933. Johnstown’s longest running brewery was started around 1850 by Zach Entress as a lager beer plant. Jacob Goenner purchased the brewery in 1874. He died in the Johnstown flood in 1889 and the brewery was destroyed, but his widow and John Stibich rebuilt the brewery, and the business survived under the Goenner name until 1954. Today, portions of the plant have been preserved as the Art Works in Johnstown and the Bottle Works Ethnic Art Center. Interestingly enough, another of Johnstown’s breweries, the Germania, has been converted into a local history museum by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.
Kaier’s Old Time Bock
Luzerne County Brewing Company
The Luzerne County Brewing Company was established in Wilkes-Barre in 1905. The Western Brewer reported that it was being built as a 75,000-barrel plant capitalized with $200,000 by local retailers. It was sold five years later and became the Lion Brewing Co. Known today as The Lion Brewery, Inc., it survived not only Prohibition, but the “Beer Wars” of the fifties and sixties that took a toll on so many regional brewers. Ironically, the Lion took over Stegmaier’s brands when the much larger brewery folded in 1974 and has survived using just about every trick in the book. In the 1980s the Lion began doing a number of “contract beers” for other companies and as a result has come out with their own line of craft-inspired products. Until recently, the vast majority of their production has been soft drinks, but beer production is on the rise. They recently celebrated their first 100 years and they continue to upgrade and make improvements to remain competitive.
Lykens Brewing Co
Very little is known about this Dauphin County brewery, located between Pottsville and Harrisburg in Pennsylvania’s “Southern Coal Fields.” It was started in 1860 by Hiram Bueck, who was producing about 3,000 barrels a year in 1880 when the U.S. Industrial Census reported that he had $20,000 capital investment and that he employed five men for two months of full time employment. In 1895 his widow sold the brewery to Louis Wentzler, of Lowell, Mass., and Chas. W. Blumer, of Pittsburg, who created the Lykens Brewing Co. The brewery was famous for its “Cream Top” brands that included Lager and Dublin Style Stout, and also produced Wentzler’s Beer, Ale, Porter, and Bock beers. The brewery survived Prohibition and lasted until 1940.
Northampton Brewing Company
Northampton Brewing Company was established in 1898 and became famous for its Tru-Blu brand. The company came back after repeal and became one of the first Lehigh Valley brewers to introduce beer in cans. They produced just under 100,000 barrels in 1941 and lasted until 1950. After Prohibition, Pennsylvania passed a law requiring 51% of a brewery to be owned by a state resident. When the brew master died, ownership would have gone to a New York company so the brewery folded.
Started in 1869 by Civil War veteran Trupert Ortlieb, this brewery was relatively small until after repeal when an extensive building program expanded the complex, enabling the brewery to produce over a half million barrels of beer per year. Ortlieb’s used outdoor advertising extensively and was well-represented on bus and trolley cars. The brewery did an extensive print campaign in the Saturday Evening Post and sponsored sporting events broadcast by local radio and television stations. The family had an interest in the Old Dutch brewery in Catasauqua and purchased the Kaier’s, F & S, and Sunshine breweries. Ortlieb’s was the second to last of Philadelphia’s Prohibition survivors to go out of business in 1981, when its brands were sold to Schmidt’s.
Then, as now, not all beer sold in Pennsylvania was made in the Keystone State. However, much of the legislation regarding beer sales that was passed after repeal was designed to eliminate the sins of the past. Some of those laws are today considered protectionist, designed to favor Pennsylvania brewers. Here we see the P.L.C.B. inspecting an air-mailed shipment of Atlas beer coming in from Chicago.
Philadelphia’s City Tavern
Philadelphia’s City Tavern was built in 1773 through subscription by fifty-six of the city’s most prominent businessmen. It became home to the Merchant’s Coffee House and Exchange in 1789, a place where subscribers could go to check on market prices, ship movements, and conduct business. It was also frequented by tradesmen and soldiers. Delegates to the Continental Congress supped there and continued their debates into the wee hours. Generals, and later, presidents and diplomats, enjoyed lavish balls with music and dancing. The building was demolished in the mid-nineteenth century but a reproduction was erected by the National Park Service in 1975. Today it is a restaurant that beautifully re-creates the food and atmosphere of what John Adams described as “the most genteel tavern in America.”
This is a 1880s view of the Poth brewery complex in Philadelphia’s Brewerytown section. Poth was the second largest of about a dozen firms that inhabited a seven-block neighborhood that accounted for about half of the beer brewed in the city. By the early twentieth century the brewery was producing just under a quarter of a million barrels of beer annually and had a second brewery located in Camden, NJ. Poth survived to see repeal and purchased the Class & Nachod brewery across town where it remained from 1936-1941. Their Camden branch survived under different ownership as the Camden County Beverage Co. until 1963.
The Potts Ale Brewery on Fifth Street, just south of Market, dated back to 1774 and was purchased by Robert Smith in 1846. He capitalized on the age of the brewery in advertising his “Tiger Head Ale.” Smith built a modern brewery adjacent to the Philadelphia Zoological Gardens in 1888. The Smith brewery became a branch of Schmidt’s in 1896 and lasted until 1920. Schmidt’s also used the significance of a brewery dating back to colonial times in marketing the Tiger Head brand until they closed in 1987. A set of a dozen prints made from paintings by James Moore Preston (1874-1862) were issued in the early 1900s by the Robert Smith Ale Brewery to emphasize their connection with the past. These prints hang in Arthur’s Bar and Dining Room at Otto’s.
Reichard & Weaver Brewery
John Reichard came to America from Germany and sought work in Bergdoll’s brewery in Philadelphia. Around 1850 he met Charles Stegmaier and encouraged him to become his partner in a brewery in Wilkes-Barre. Reichard & Stegmaier lasted until 1857. The firm went through various incarnations until 1897 when it became one of twelve branches of the Pennsylvania Central Brewing Company, which was based in Scranton, PA. Reichard & Weaver produced just under 45,000 barrels per year and closed in 1920.
While Pittsburgh may be most famous for its Iron City brewery, there was a thriving iron industry in the eastern part of Pennsylvania that gave rise to the Iron City Brewing Co. in Lebanon. Pittsburgh’s brewery dates back to pre-Civil War days and went through various incarnations before becoming Iron City in 1888. The following year, a completely unrelated company by the same name was established in Lebanon by Jacob Grove, Will Lineaweaver and August Eigenauer who advertised that: “Our Facilities For Manufacturing the Best of Lager Beer are Unsurpassed in the State.” George Ehrhorn purchased the brewery in 1894 and became famous for his Rheingold Beer, producing just under 10,000 barrels per year. The brewery stayed in the family until 1915 when new owners introduced New Iron City Lager and Canada Ale and Porter. During Prohibition William L. “Hunk” Donmoyer kept the beer flowing through underground pipes from the brewery to remote locations enabling locals to quench their thirst. The brewery returned after repeal making Iron City Beer, but went bankrupt within the first year.
Robert H. Graupner’s Brewery
This brewery was originally Koenig’s Centennial brewery and dates back to the days of the nation’s 100th birthday. Robert H. Graupner became involved in 1893. Two years later he incorporated, forming the Harrisburg Consumers Brewing and Bottling Company and contracted with Chicago Brewery Architect and Engineer Wilhelm Griesser who designed the beautiful modern brewery featured on this tray. Graupner’s was Harrisburg’s longest-lived brewery, surviving Prohibition and continuing until 1951.
Samuel Jerzy’s Perkiomen Valley
Workers at Samuel Jerzy’s Perkiomen Valley brewery in Green Lane, PA, circa 1905. This brewery was in business from 1892 until 1920, and over that 28-year period had five different owners. Ken Nace, a breweriana collector from the area, has discovered no fewer than 23 different embossed bottles from this Montgomery County brewery. The workers harvested ice on the Perkiomen Creek, bottled beer and soft drinks, and made deliveries in stake-bodied wagons with double-horse teams up and down the gravel turnpike that is now Route 29. The 4,000-barrel-a-year plant shipped beer on the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad as far as Allentown and Reading, and utilized a spur line that criss-crossed the creek called the Perkiomen Valley Railroad.
This scene could have been taken out of the newspaper on April 7, 1933, to illustrate the fact that “Beer is Back.” That is the date when 3.2% beer became legal, fulfilling one of F.D.R.’s campaign pledges to bring beer back. Along with the rest of the city’s breweries, Schmidt’s was ready to supply the city and had trucks lined up around the block ready to take off at the sound of the whistle. Ironically, at midnight, when the whistle blew to signal a new “wet” era, bystanders were deluged by a torrential downpour.
Frederick Seitz and his cousin John Sebastian Goundie started their brewery on the banks of the Lehigh River in the middle of a wheat field in 1821, sixty-six years before Easton became a city. Goundie had been running the Monocacy brewery for the Moravian colony in Bethlehem for seventeen years. The Seitz family ran a bottling business and had malt houses in Easton and Buffalo, NY. In 1900 John Schmid became brewmaster and was famous for his Seitz Bohemian Export. Perhaps the most notable distinction of the Seitz brewery is that during Prohibition it was part of “Reading Beer Baron” Max Hassel’s chain of breweries that extended from New Jersey throughout eastern Pennsylvania. Despite this fact, the brewery managed to get a license after repeal and remained in business until 1938.
After repeal, the Stegmaier brewery was the largest outside of the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh markets, producing around a half-million barrels a year. Advertisements proclaimed that Stegmaier was “Brewed to the Taste of the Nation.” The brand was a dominant presence throughout northeastern Pennsylvania and beyond, but succumbed to erosion of their market by well-advertised national brands and closed in 1974. Due in large part to the efforts of breweriana collectors, federal funding was obtained and much of the brewery complex has been renovated, making it one of a half-dozen gems of brewery preservation throughout the Commonwealth.
Stock Images from the Ziegler Collection
Companies that produced trays, calendars, and other advertising for brewers had stock images for their customers to choose from. The Ziegler collection includes many trays issued by different Pennsylvania brewers that used the same stock images to advertise their products. The man looking into his stein has been used to advertise innumerable breweries throughout the country, and now, a century later, he’s lending his image to promoting Otto’s Beer. PS: Some say this is Roger in ten years looking for one more sip of Charlie’s fine brew!
Stocker and Roehrich’s Brewery
In the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Reading has had around twenty breweries throughout its history, some of which date back to the days when Berks County was on the frontier. Stocker and Roehrich’s brewery was a relative latecomer, established in 1891. The company went through a variety of owners, becoming August Schneider’s Fairview Brewery from 1906-1912. The company was reorganized as the Mt. Penn Brewing Co. and made Penn Dutch Beer until 1920. Possibly anticipating the coming of Prohibition, the brewery was reported to have installed vinegar and compressed yeast making equipment in 1918. It was one of five Reading breweries to come back after repeal, and though not continuously in production, lasted until 1943.
Welsh immigrant, mine boss, and hotel owner William B. “Stoney” Jones started the Eureka Brewing Co. in Smithton in 1907. Local immigrants still learning the English language had difficulty requesting “Eureka Gold Crown Beer” and simply said they wanted “Stoney’s Beer.” Actress Shirley Jones is the daughter of Stoney’s son Paul Jones. Bill Jones III ran the company and was very active in the Small Brewers Association during the 1960s and 1970s. In the mid-1980s the brewery produced Penn Pilsner under contract for the Pennsylvania Brewing Company, one of the state’s earliest craft breweries. “The House of Jones” was sold in 1988 and remained in business until 2002.
Stroudsburg Brewing Co.
The Stroudsburg Brewing Co. was formed in 1899 and capitalized with $100,000 by dealers and hotel owners, primarily from Scranton and Stroudsburg, who would become its customers. Church organizations put up a fight against the company and began praying for its demise. In May 1900 as the brewery was nearing completion it was struck by lightning and slightly damaged, much to the jubilation of the faithful who believed their prayers had been answered through Divine intervention. In September lightning struck the brewery again which gave Methodist Minister E.E. Dixon national celebrity. He asked to be invited to the brewery’s opening reception, and while attending launched into a virulent tirade against drinking and the manufacturing of alcoholic beverages. Those in attendance listened respectfully and silently. The company produced just under 10,000 barrels of Old Stock and Cool Temperature lager beer annually but fell on hard times just prior to Prohibition. It came back after repeal as the Neustadtl Brewing Corp., whose flagship was their Gesundheit brand, and lasted until 1937.
Susquehanna Brewing Company
The Susquehanna Brewing Company was started by George W. Flach, who was one of the sons in Henry Flach & Sons Eagle Brewery in Brewerytown, Philadelphia. He built the brewery in 1895 to produce lager beer, ale, and porter. Two years later the company was purchased by the Stegmaier Brewing Co. which operated it as their ale and porter brewery. In 1910 they added a three-story bottling house and were producing just under 40,000 barrels per year.
The Dubois Brewing Company
The Dubois Brewing Company was one of the many modern breweries that started up around the turn of the twentieth century, and so were able to take advantage of a half century of technological innovations and improvements. The Hahne’s came up from Pittsburgh to start this brewery which survived Prohibition and lasted until 1973. The entire plant complex stood in ruins for decades before being torn down just a few years ago.
The Mutual Union Brewing Company
The Mutual Union Brewing Company opened in 1907 as a stock corporation capitalized with $400,000 from several hundred liquor dealers in Allegheny County. The plant was built with plans by Chicago Brewery Architect and Engineer William Griesser and had a capacity to produce 250,000 barrels per year. Known brands are Aliquippa Beer and Pennsy Select Beer. Breweriana items are very rare and one of the steins given to those who attended the grand opening of this brewery would undoubtedly fetch a high price.
The Penny Pot Tavern
The Penny Pot Tavern was located just beyond the northern boundary of Philadelphia at the mouth of Pegg’s Run at Front and Vine Streets. The name is derived from the fact that patrons could enjoy a pot of ale for a penny. William Penn established the price as follows: “All Stong Beer and ale, made of Barley malt, Shall be sold for not above two pennies, Sterling, a full Winchester quart; and all Beer or Drink made of Molasses shall not exceed one penny a quart.” Along with the Blue Anchor Tavern at the southern boundary of the city at Dock Creek, it was a terminal for the ferry to West Jersey and the site of Philadelphia’s earliest shipyard.
The Spread Eagle
The Spread Eagle was located where the town of Strafford is today on “The Main Line.” It was the first relay station and stage house west of Philadelphia for one of many stage lines using the Lancaster Pike, the first turnpike in the United States, which averaged over one tavern per mile all the way. One, two-mile stretch held eleven taverns. These were sharply distinguished into three classes: stage houses, wagon houses and drover houses. The stage houses were the nicest since they accommodated passengers, while wagon houses were for teamsters hauling freight. Drover houses were those who “drove” animals to market and needed space for the flocks and herds to graze, forage, and sleep.
The Weisbrod & Hess Brewery
Before Prohibition, the Weisbrod & Hess brewery in Philadelphia’s Kensington section became famous for its Rheingold Lager Beer, Pilsner, Bohemian Export, Franciskaner, Wiener Export, and Shakespeare Ale, producing up to about 75,000 barrels of beer per year. The brewery survived Prohibition, despite having several run-ins with the law over the production and distribution of “high powered beer.” After repeal they spent $200,000 on modern equipment, particularly for bottling, and managed to stay in business until 1939. After a long hiatus, the old brewery was reincarnated as a new brewery in 2002 when it became home to Yards Brewing Company. Six years later Yards Brewing moved on and Philadelphia Brewing Co. was established on the premises. The new brewery has become famous for their Kenzinger Beer.
Union Brewing Co.
Aside from the fact that this very rare tray is from an obscure brewery in western Pennsylvania, it should be noted that there were no fewer than fifteen brewing companies with the word “Union” in their name in the state throughout history. In 1905 it became known as the Crescent brewery and was a branch of a company by that name in Irwin. The name reverted back to Union Brewing Co. in 1913. Interestingly enough the Irwin brewery acquired another branch in Duquesne in 1915, which operated until 1920. Of the three, only the brewery in Tarr survived Prohibition, was renamed the Tarr Brewing Co. and lasted until 1939. The town is now known as Tarrs.
What became the Widman brewery was originally operated by Sebastian Goundie in the second decade of the nineteenth century. It was converted to a distillery and operated for some years before Benz & Eckert remodeled “the old Monocacy brewery” in the early 1880s and began by producing about 4,000 barrels of beer annually. The brewery was destroyed by fire in 1885 and replaced with a larger, more modern plant. Jacob Widman became proprietor three years later, becoming famous for his Extra Bohemian Lager Beer and producing around 25,000 barrels in 1920. The brewery survived Prohibition but was the first casualty of Bethlehem’s three survivors, folding in 1938. Beth-Uhl went out of business four years later, and South Bethlehem Brewing closed in 1954.