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Index to Wisconsin Brewery and Related Articles

A History of Milwaukee and Wisconsin Breweries

Compiled and Edited by Michael R. Reilly, copyright 1996

Last Revised 06/10/2014

    The Middle Europeans brought with them a taste for beer, a beverage which had not been much admired in Milwaukee before their arrival. A combination brewery and distillery, the "Milwaukee brewery", had been established by Welshmen Richard G. Owens, William Pawlett and John Davis at the foot of Huron (Clybourne) Street in 1840.

From the Milwaukee Sentinel November 29, 1869:

    "The first brewery in this city was erected on the south side of the foot of Huron St. in the spring of 1840 by Messrs. Owens, Pawlett and Davis, natives of Wales. It formed the nucleus of what is now known as the "Lake Brewery". It was a small frame building which until within a few years stood on the original site in the rear of the present dilapidated structure. For upward of two years this small establishment furnished a sufficient quantity of ale and beer to quench the thirst of all lovers of malt liquor in Eastern Wisconsin. In 1845 the proprietors were obliged to enlarge the premises and during the past year a large brick addition has been built. Richard Owens, Esq., one of the original owners is now sole proprietor, the lesser being Messrs. Powell & Co.

    Shortly after the establishment of the Lake Brewery, several others were built, one, the Eagle Brewery* under the hill south of Chestnut St. by Levi Blossom, Esq., and another in the same neighborhood by the late General Phillip Best.

    *Editor's note - According to another source, this ale brewery was originally started by Frederick Miller and William Pawlett in 1843 and taken over by Levi Blossom.

    J. P. B. McCabe's 1847 directory told of Blossom's having "10 acres on a hill commanding a view of the whole city, bay and river", and declared that Blossom planned "to ornament the grounds with a handsome public garden and vineyard, fountains and jets to add to the natural beauty." This is the first mention of a beer garden in early Milwaukee chronicles, although several such places seem to have been started in the 1840's.

    Blossom soon sold the brewery, and under the management of Henry Sands it became widely known for its rich "pale cream ale."

    The first Milwaukee brewery had as a brew kettle an ordinary wooden box lined with sheet copper, capacity, five barrels. Owens, a former maker of millstones in Cleveland, OH; Buffalo, N.Y., and St. Louis, MO. had to go to Michigan City, IN to find enough barley - 130 bushels - to start his brewery; shipping it here on the sloop, the Ranger.

    The first brew - ale- not beer - was pronounced a great success, and the elated Owens drove a team through snowdrifts to Chicago in January 1841 to get a bigger brew kettle. It was a great day for Milwaukee brewing when he brought back a 12 barrel copper kettle, more than tripling the brewery's capacity. In 1844, a still larger kettle was manufactured in Milwaukee, and the city's first brewery , renamed the Lake brewery to distinguish it from others that had started - attained the startling capacity of 40 barrels. Owens bought out his partners and continued in business until 1864, when M.W. Powell of Chicago bought it. It continued as the Powell brewery until it closed in 1880.

    In those days before mechanical refrigeration or a reliable ice supply, breweries invariably had stone or brick lined vaults dug deep into the cool earth. The oxen or horse drawn wagons that delivered the brew could often be seen backed up to the door of one of these hillside vaults, being piled high with the cave chilled kegs.

    But the beer did not really catch on until the Germans started making it themselves. By 1850, when Milwaukee's population was 20,061, exactly 9,902 fewer than Chicago's that year, the Wisconsin city had a dozen breweries, nearly all of them operated by Germans. Before long, it also had 255 saloons, along with 47 churches and six temperance societies.

    In only one year in Milwaukee history - 1889 - was brewing the major industry here. Yet even today, the name Milwaukee suggests to most Americans, an odor of malt and hops, and raises a picture of rotund and jolly German burghers clinking steins and dipping their mustaches in creamy foam.

    The man whose good living has produced a certain swelling at the belt line is said to have a "Milwaukee Goiter", and there is a widespread superstition that three faucets were installed in every Milwaukee sink: one for hot water, one for cold water, and the biggest one for beer.

    We know that these legends are a trifle exaggerated, but there was some real basis for associating Milwaukee with beer. The city ranked second to New York in 1946 as a beer producing center, moving to first place in the 1950's when Schlitz became the number one brewer. Even more significant in 1945 was that Milwaukee County residents themselves drank more than 10% of the 7,000,000 barrel output that year, or about a barrel per person per year. In 1889 when beer was the city's leading product, about 1,800,000 barrels were brewed, a barrel being 31 gallons.

    There is also some basis for linking beer with the Germans here and Gemuetlichkeit - their concept of good fellowship. It was not the Germans, but Welshmen, who started the first brewery here in 1840, but German brewers soon assumed a dominant position in the industry, and they were responsible for the Biergarten, the brewery parks, and the annual picnics, concerts, and Saengerfests at which beer drinking and Gemuetlichkeit were inseparably linked.

    This is not to say that Germans were drunkards. On the contrary, the beer which the Germans preferred was a "temperance drink" by comparison with the 15 cent a gallon whiskey the "Yankee" and other early settlers consumed in immoderate quantities.

    The German institution of "Dutch Treat", each man ordering and paying for his own drink, also tended toward moderation, as it left the amount consumed more within the individual's discretion than did the "treating" system which the Yankees considered more gentlemanly and liberal.

    The adoption of beer as a substitute for whiskey accomplished more in diminishing drunkenness in the young and fun loving city, it is safe to say, than more drastic early temperance measures, like the "noble experiment" of Caleb Wall in 1842.

    The reformist Mr. Wall had come into possession of Juneau's old Bellevue House, later the Milwaukee House, at the corner of Wisconsin and Main Streets. Now East Wisconsin and Broadway.

    Wall started the citizenry one day by announcing that henceforth his hostelry would be conducted as a temperance hotel. He posted a list of rules for the conduct of his guests: they were to remain decorously sober, and to retire nightly by 10 p.m., at which hour the doors would be locked.

    However his patrons were the victims of old habit, and despite the best intentions, 10 p.m. seldom found them tucked obediently into their beds. In the half light of dawn, shadowy figures were often seen shinnying up ropes or knotted bedding into the back windows of the establishment.

    One night the well intentioned Mr. Wall was awakened in the wee hours by a grating noise at the rear of the hotel. Rushing out the back door in his nightcap and gown, he found fully half his boarders, with as much caution as their tipsy condition would allow, raising a ladder against an upper window to reach their rooms.

    Disappointed in the frailty of his fellowmen, but with a shrewd regard for the welfare of his business, Wall set a later closing hour. The new rule was no better kept than the old, so Wall renounced reform altogether, and installed the most lavishly stocked bar in town.

    The first temperance experiment was floated away in a river of choice spirits, and Bellevue became one of the most notorious roistering places in the Midwest. Wall's conscience soon drove him out of hotel keeping into auctioneering and real estate.

    The second brewery in the city, and the first one to brew lager beer, was appropriately started by a German, Hermann Reuthlisberger (Reutelshofer), in the spring of 1841. This plant was at Walker's Point, at the corner of Hanover and Virginia Streets (S. 3rd and W. Virginia). Reuthlisberger's beer proved very popular, but he was without capital enough to operate, and soon sold his little plant to John B. Meyer, a baker.

    In 1844 Meyer sold out to his father-in-law, Francis Neukirch, who carried on the business under the Neukirch name. In 1848 Neukirch took into partnership another son-in-law, Charles T. Melms, and the plant was moved to old 1st Ave. (S. 6th St.), end of the 6th St. bridge.

    In 1859 Melms took over the company. He lived in lavish style in a showy mansion, and was one of the city's first "beer barons". He converted the brewery grounds to a very popular beer garden. When he died in 1869, from lockjaw - said to have come from sitting on a needle, he had the most elaborate funeral the city had seen to that day.

    The first brewery destined to survive into a period when beer was Milwaukee's best known product was begun by the German family named Best. Jacob Best, Jr. and a brother, Charles, arrived in Milwaukee in 1842 and opened a vinegar works. Two years later they were joined by two other brothers, Phillip and Lorenz. and their father, Jacob, Sr., who had been a brewer in Mettenheim. The family bought a site on the Chestnut Street hill. Phillip Best contracted with an iron monger, A.J. Langworthy, to build a boiler for the new brewery.

    No one had ever built a boiler in Milwaukee before (had to have been made prior to Owens kettle in 1844), but Langworthy and a workman hammered one together, sitting on the bank of a canal Byron Kilbourn had started in the vain hope of linking Milwaukee with the Mississippi River. When the boiler was finished, Phillip Best walked down the hill with his entire fortune tied in a red handkerchief.

    He gave the money to Langworthy as a down payment, telling the iron monger he'd be back to pick up the boiler when he'd sold enough vinegar to pay the rest of the bill. But Langworthy wasn't a man to stand in the way of progress.

    "Take the boiler," he said. "Get to work. Pay as soon as you can." Best was astonished. These Americans had an unbusiness-like way of conducting their affairs. But he was grateful. He promised Langworthy that the first keg of beer would go to him, adding, "And you shall have free beer as long as you live." "There is a saying in Milwaukee: "We can make it faster than you can drink it." Langworthy lived until he was past eighty, but he never went thirsty.

    The Best family enterprise did not concentrate on lager at first. Whiskey sold in saloons for two cents a shot, so beer was not the first choice of the dedicated drinking man. The Empire Brewery turned out rye, bourbon, porter, and ale as well as beer. But as the west side began filling up with Germans, the market improved for malt beverages, and the distilling branch of the operation was abandoned. The Bests at first did all of the work themselves, even to the making of barrels.

    Sale of Best's beer was promoted by a political feud during the debate on a state constitution in the late forties. The first proposed constitution contained a liberal provision on suffrage, for the city's foreign born. Mr. Francis Neukirch took a stand against the proposed constitution, possibly on account of a clause in it prohibiting banking. The Bests made it known that they favored the constitution, with the result that a movement was started among the foreign born here to boycott the "anti constitution" Neukirch beer and drink only the "pro constitution" Best beer.

   Tavern keepers shrewdly avoided bring ground between the two factions by announcing that they could serve either Best's or Neukirch's. So the "pros" would line up on one end of the bar, taunting their opponents by toasting "Prosit, Best!" The "antis" countered by shouting "Prosit, Neukirch!" The factions never suspected that all their beer was drawn from the same keg.

    Charles Best left the family enterprise in 1848 to start a brewery of his own, the "Plank Road Brewery", later selling it to Frederick Miller in 1856, who had brought $10,000 in gold with him from Wurtemburg. As Miller's, the brewery is still going strong.

Photo - Milwaukee County Historical Society----->

    

     As for the Empire Brewery, begun by the Best family in 1844, it went through several name changes. It was called Phillip Best Brewing Co. after Phillip took control from his father and brothers in 1860. When he died, leadership passed to a son-in-law, Fred Pabst, a former skipper (and a one-time cabin boy for the Eber Brock Ward) of a Great Lakes boat.

<---Photo of Best brewery circa 1859, Milwaukee County Historical Society.

    Pabst had migrated from Germany at age twelve, working his way from cook's assistant and cabin boy to the captaincy of one of the lake vessels of the Goodrich Line. In 1864, at age 28, he became a partner with Phillip Best after marrying his daughter some years earlier. In 1866 he became responsible for the management of the brewery with another of Best's son-in-laws, Emil Schandein.

    The company absorbed a number of smaller breweries and became the first exporter of Milwaukee beer. In 1869 (1970) the firm bought the Melms brewery (once Milwaukee's leading brewery), which became the south side branch of Best's. Five years later he built his company's first bottling plant on the site. The captain built the enterprise into what was claimed to be the largest brewery in the world for a time, and renamed it in his honor.

    One of the turning points in Milwaukee brewing came in the fall of 1871 when much of Chicago burned down, including most of that city's breweries. Best, Miller, Schlitz, Blatz, and several smaller rivals made sure that no one in Illinois had to go thirsty.

    By 1872, half of Milwaukee's beer was sold out of town. The city's population then was only 75,000, but it shipped more beer than New York, Philadelphia, or St. Louis. With the newly opened market 90 miles to the south, production soared.

    Best's, the leading Milwaukee brewery, had produced less than 24,000 barrels in 1869, five years later, it was turning out 100,000 barrels - more than any other American brewery. Within twenty-five years it reached the million barrel mark.

    As business extended itself beyond the state of Wisconsin, the partners , to relieve themselves of individual responsibility, incorporated the business as the Phillip Best Brewing Company in 1873, with a capitalization of $300,000. This stood at $4,000,000 by the close of the 1880's and by 1892, it was $10,000,000. In 1889 the firm adopted the slogan, "He drinks BEST who drinks PABST".

    The company made tremendous strides from 1873 to 1893, producing one million barrels that year, making it the number one brewery in America.

    Following the death of Schandein, the company name changed to Pabst in 1899.

    Milwaukee made more beer and its residents drank more of it per capita than any other Americans for many years to come. But with all of the brewing in the city, it only ranked number one among the city's industries during one year, 1890.

    Another immigrant, August Krug, started a brewery in 1849 as an offshoot of the small restaurant he ran near Fifth and Chestnut. This was the embryo of what was to be the city's largest brewery.

    A couple of years after he died in 1856, his widow, Anna Marie Krug, married the bookkeeper, Joseph Schlitz, who later renamed the brewery. Control reverted to Krug's nephews in 1875, headed by August Uihlein, after Schlitz perished in a shipwreck on May 7th.

    According to legend, the will stipulated that the name could not be changed but according to this editor, after examining a copy of the will, can state that no provision of the sort existed. If one where to think about it, it would only make good business sense to keep a company name that was prospering. It remained Schlitz until it was sold in the 1980's.

    The name of Uihlein figured prominently in the evolution of the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company, which was organized with a capitalization of $200,000 in 1874. August Uihlein, born of a family of Bavarian brewers, had come to America at the age of nine, received his education at the Engelmann's German English School, and found early employment in the brewery of his uncle Krug.

    After Schlitz's death, Henry Uihlein became president, Alfred, the brew master, but August, owning the majority of the stock, ruled by common consent under the unassuming title of "Secretary and Treasurer".

    As in the case of Pabst's widely ramified enterprises, the financial foundations of the Schlitz Company were doubly secured by investments in real estate, banking, and insurance corporations.

    In 1902 the output of the Schlitz Brewing Company surpassed that of Pabst, a supremacy it maintained until the Prohibition era. The company was capitalized at $12,000,000 in 1903.

    What eventually became the Blatz brewery was founded in 1846 by John Braun at Main and Division Streets (N. Broadway and E. Juneau Ave.). After Braun died his Bavarian braumeister, Valentin Blatz, married the late boss' widow and took over the business. In 1875 he contracted to have part of the brewery's output bottled, and soon 2,000 bottles a day - the first beer bottles in Milwaukee - were being turned out. The next year the Blatz bottled product took the top award at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

    The Blatz brewing interests were incorporated in 1889 as the Val Blatz Brewing Company with a capitalization of $2,000,000. In 1891, Valentin Blatz sold out to a group of London financiers known in brewing circles as "the English Syndicate".

    On the death of Frederic Miller in 1888, responsibility for his brewery, then having a capacity of 80,000 barrels a year, fell into his sons, Ernest and Fred, who reorganized it, put up new buildings, and increased the output.

    The Gettelman Company took shape in 1877, when Adam Gettelman applied his name to the brewery founded in 1854, which his wife had inherited. Adam had taken over management in 1870.

    Originally the Menomonee brewery built in 1854 by Messrs. Strohn and Reitzenstein, at W. State and N. 44th Street, it was passed on to George Schweichardt when the two gentlemen died of cholera later in that year. it was said that Mr. Schweichardt purchased the unfinished plant "for a song".

    Gettelman had a standing challenge, offering $1,000 to anyone who could discover adulterants in his beer - hence the trade name, "$1,000 Beer"

    Part of the progress of the industry is to be explained by innovations in method which the brewers were quick to institute. Milwaukee's brewers were professionals, many of them schooled in the European traditions of the trade. In 1883, William J. Uihlein, assistant superintendent of the Schlitz Company, brought the first culture apparatus from Denmark to the United States.

    By the seventies, the larger companies were expanding physical facilities; building great elevators - to which the barley was carried by wagon; huge tanks - where the grain was soaked preparatory to sprouting on the malting floor; refrigeration plants, first installed by Pabst in 1878, which cooled the brew once the wort had been boiled with hops; and the cavernous underground vats for storing the liquor until it became lager beer.

    Improved bottling facilities were installed in the later seventies to accommodate the new method of marketing the brew. At Schlitz, a crude bottle-washing apparatus was operated by young women, after which the beer was pumped from kegs and the bottles corked, wired, labeled, and packed in barrels preparatory to horse-drawn delivery.

    The Pabst plant began to bottle beer in 1875; by the early eighties the bows of blue ribbon then being attached by hand to the bottles of its "Select beer were setting the precedent which led to the adoption of the "Blue Ribbon" trade mark in the later nineties. In 1890, when the capacity of the Pabst plant had reached 700,000 barrels, Captain Pabst built "the largest bottling plant in the country with "the first underground beer pipe line from the cellars to the bottling house."

    The same year saw the Miller Company installing electric lights. By the middle eighties, the plants were becoming increasingly conscious of the bearing of scientific knowledge on the brewing staff. Trained chemists were attached to their staffs; and innovations such as the Schlitz brown bottle resulted from their scientific study of such problems as the effect of light on beer.

    But annual sales of Milwaukee beer could not have increased from 108,842 barrels in 1870 to 1,809,066 barrels twenty years later had it not been for the zeal with which its promoters widened the market for its product and the ingenuity with which they advertised it.

    Promotion was the key note of Pabst's great period of expansion from 1873 to 1893; and by the close of the period, the company was expanding as much as $69,000 annually on this newly developing marketing technique.

    Determining to capture the urban market for his "Blue Ribbon" product and identify it with the people and places of taste, Captain Pabst established fashionable outlets for the exclusive sale of his brew not only in Milwaukee, but in Chicago, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and especially New York.

    Here he established the Pabst Hotel, a hostelry for bachelors at Times Square, a restaurant and theater at Columbus Circle, a pavilion called Pabst's Loop at Coney Island, and what was at its opening in 1900, the largest restaurant in America, the Pabst Harlem, located near Eighth Avenue at 125th.

    He employed matinee idols to visit bars, buy food for "the house", and drink to the health of Captain Pabst, ""Milwaukee's greatest beer brewer." At his instigation, signs , plastered on dead walls and wagon tops or hung from street cars, fore and aft, proclaimed, "Milwaukee beer is famous - Pabst has made it so." By curious coincidence or promotional ingenuity, Admiral Perry found a Pabst bottle near the North Pole.

    Schlitz advertising men were equally resourceful. A reward of 3,600 bottles of Schlitz to Admiral Dewey and his men for the capture of Manila led to an order of sixty-seven carloads of the brew for the Philippines.

    Schlitz beer went to Africa with Theodore Roosevelt; nine bottles found in the stomach of a dead whale. From Europe to the Orient, advertising tricks and by-words caused the product to be known. it was perhaps only by inadvertence that two such slogans served to publicize Milwaukee, too; but the result was such as to make the association of the product with the city traditional. "The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous" -the particularly effective advertising line which the Schlitz Company purchased for $5,000 from a smaller brewing concern, *Blatz, became the subject of a controversy between Schlitz and Pabst advertising men in 1898. As a result, the Pabst Company ultimately relinquished their original slogan ("Milwaukee Beer Is Famous - Pabst Has Made It So") because of its similarity to the more famous one to which Schlitz had a prior claim.

    *(It's interesting to note that in 1986 when the Heileman Brewing Company was unveiling its new automated Val Blatz plant in Milwaukee, that then CEO Russell Cleary made a statement that Heileman had uncovered some documentation that supported the sale of the slogan from Blatz to Schlitz. Mr. Cleary also mentioned that he would purchase the slogan back from Stroh Brewing Company, the current owners of Schlitz, if they had no intention of using it.)

    When the slogan was first publicized nation-wide, a brewery in Menomonee, MI. countered with "The Beer that made Milwaukee Jealous", and a western brewery with "The beer that made Milwaukee Furious."

    Editor's note - one or more Wisconsin breweries also took exception to Schlitz's slogan and promoted similar offending ones, sometimes ending up with the Schlitz brewery taking them to court.

    At the outset of the generation - in about 1911, the Schlitz brewery embarked upon a modern advertising campaign reminiscent of Captain Pabst's efforts to sell his product in the nineties. The post-prohibition period saw even more intensive efforts in this direction. Early in February 1937, Schlitz began a campaign of full-color advertising in thirteen large magazines, designed to reach four out of every five homes in the United States. Publicity appeared in 500 city newspapers during the summer, twenty-four-sheet bill postings were displayed in 500 cities, and the Schlitz Palm Garden of the Air carried the message to the nation's radio listeners. A similarly extensive advertising campaign acquainted the American public with the merits of the "Blue Ribbon" product; and the Pabst network of sales organization covered the country.

    Functional construction characterized the $2,000,000 addition to the Schlitz Company's brewery, which was opened in 1937. The development of new and intricate machinery in the post-prohibition era revolutionized the style of brewing. Glass-lined, steel storage tanks replaced the copper kettles and wooden tanks of the nineteenth century. Scientifically diffused light and new style automatic germinating drums improved the malting process. Monster grain dryers and 400 ton ice machines dwarfed earlier apparatus of this type; and new mechanical casing equipment made it possible to insert twenty-four bottles into cardboard cases without resorting to manual labor. Comprehensive conveyor systems, in this as in other mechanical industries, symbolized the substitution of mechanical for human power; and outside the breweries, motor tractors replaced the rumbling, horse-drawn wagons of earlier day.

    The brewing industry, also better than any other of the city's manufacturers, exhibited the extent to which the industrial revolution of metro Milwaukee was conditioned by changes in law and popular practice during the period 1910 to 1940. Despite its association with the Gemuetlichkeit of the Wisconsin city, beer more than the other major items of production, was vulnerable to attack on social grounds. This was increasingly apparent during the reform-minded "progressive era"; and as early a 1916 some of the city's promoter were at pains to point out that in one census year - that of 1889 - had brewing constituted Milwaukee's largest industry, and that "in 1915 not more than one-twentieth of all goods produced ...was beer." As state after state "went dry" in 1916, the Wisconsin Brewers' Association became sufficiently alarmed to propose cleaning up the saloon business in the city as a means of quieting criticisms by the Anti-saloon League; but more than the forces of reform was spelling the industry's momentary doom.

    World War I presented a more essential need for the grain from which the beverage was made; and when it was disclosed that such German brewers as Joseph Uihlein, Gustave Pabst, and members of the Miller family had supported Arthur Brisbane's purchase of the Washington Times, as a means of fighting Prohibition, the industry was accused of subsidizing German propaganda and obstructing the nation's war effort. The brewers' allegedly disloyal behavior was the subject of a Senate investigation ordered in September 1918, and a month later, President Wilson signed a bill prohibiting the manufacture of intoxicating beverages after May 1, 1919, and their sale after the first of the following July.

    This reform-fostered and war-invoked legislation dealt the brewers a drastic blow. By 1912 - less than fifty years after the industry had reported an annual output of 69,000 barrels - production had been boosted to 4,182,000. By 1918 the total had declined to 2,217,000 barrels; but the product still represented a value of $35,000,000 and jobs not only for approximately 6,000 brewery workers but also for the employees of the city's some 1,900 saloons. Russell Austin's "The Milwaukee Story" describes the funeral of John Barleycorn, held in the city shortly before the day when liquor sales were scheduled to close.

    On June 21, 1919...twenty-some sad faced Milwaukeeans ...gathered at the...Weis liquor dispensary...to hold a funeral. In a back room overlooking the Milwaukee River, a specially made coffin containing the " earthly remains of Mr. John Barleycorn" rested upon a bier lighted by bourbon bottle candelabra. Floral tributes were tastefully arranged in beer mugs around the casket...The pallbearers bore the weighted casket to the river, dropped it in, and tossed after it numerous empty bottles and the firm's cash register for good measure.

    Equally indicative of Milwaukee's sentiments was the comment of August Kahlo, retiring saloonkeeper, who posted a placard reading, "The First of July Is the Last of August". National prohibition, arriving on January 16, 1920, was greeted in Milwaukee without ceremony or celebration; and only six citizens took leave of liquor so violently as to require the attentions of the police. By 1921 the value of beverages produced in the city had dropped from $35,000,000, the 1918 figure, to less than $2,600,000; and by the close of the twenties the number of employees stood at 512 as compared to 3,217 in 1910.

    Many Milwaukeeans found their adjustment to prohibition in the bootlegger, the "speak-easy", and home brew. But the former producers turned to the manufacture of such legally acceptable commodities as cheese, malt, candy, chewing gum, and near beer.

    The Miller brewery turned out a cereal beverage bearing the "High Life" label; and all leading breweries produced millions of pounds of malt syrup yearly. A Schlitz advertisement in 1928 contrasts strangely with earlier and more succinct publicity for the contents of the "brown bottle": "Schlitz-Flavored Malt Syrup. The name Schlitz on the label gives you the same absolute assurance of purity and confidence in malt syrup as the name "Sterling"...on silver. For Better Bread and Finer Candy-Schlitz-Milwaukee."

    The re legalization of beer - on April 7, 1933 - brought the promise of prosperity regained. Fifty thousand spectators milled around the breweries on the eve of the new day; and when 12:01 a.m. arrived, there was dancing in the streets, factory and tugboat whistles blew, and an American Legion band at the Schlitz brewery blared out, "Happy Days Are Here Again." The city's breweries, with plans for expansion already under way, had 15,000,000 bottles of beer ready for shipment across the nation, as the signal struck; and by the end of the year, sales had mounted to $30,000,000; nearly $10,000,000 had been spent in reconditioning plants, and more than 8,000 workers had been returned to brewery and allied pay rolls.

    Production mounted as the Thirties progressed. In June 1936, Pabst reported the best month in its history; and Schlitz, Blatz, and Miller were making shipments of unprecedented size. In 1936 and 1937, the major breweries undertook costly plant expansion, until 1940 the total value of brewery property in the city approached $20,000,000. By that date, their comeback had restored the industry to a position on the "Big Ten" list; and the output of the city's nine brewing establishments, valued at nearly $40,000,000, exceeded by 10 percent the value of production in pre-prohibition days.

    In 1946 Pabst was one of the leading breweries of the world, occupying five city blocks, with offices at 917 W. Juneau Ave. Capt. Pabst's big sandstone and brick mansion at the present 2000 W. Wisconsin Ave. is today (1946) the Catholic archbishop's home and the seat of the Milwaukee archdiocese.

References: Milwaukee Sentinel, November 29, 1869 (Beth Hille); "It Started in Milwaukee" from the book Yesterday's Milwaukee by Robert W. Wells; "The Beer Barons", orig. published in 1877 and obtained from the Local History Dept. of  the Milwaukee Public Library. Russell Austin's The Milwaukee Story from 1946.

Additional Information-Pabst Brewery

     This information was originally printed in the "Industrial History of Milwaukee - 1886". Thanks to former MABC member Ken Obermann, much of it was reprinted years ago in The Cream City Courier. As Ken wrote, "these may tend to be a little wordy, and some facts may be distorted, or omitted. Remember, however, that these biographies were written while their subjects were living." To that I add, if anyone has additional information or corrections to this material, this editor would gladly receive it.

    For the benefit of visitors to our city, and information to the readers of this work, we give an account of the location and description of the mammoth buildings of this company.

    Their plant, or main buildings and beautiful general offices, are situated on both sides of Chestnut St. from 9th to 11th. They are located on six different blocks, and the life and action in these quarters is equal to that of a small city, yet everything is done with a precision and dispatch that is truly wonderful.

    The monster structure of this establishment is the Empire Brewery, consisting of six large buildings, from the top of any one of which can be obtained a commanding view of the entire city, the surrounding country and Lake Michigan. These buildings are well fitted with all modern improvements and machinery of the latest patterns. The capacity of these buildings alone is over 400,000 barrels per year.

    The yards, fire-engine house and "pitching department", with their full force of well-disciplined firemen, constituted one of the interesting features.

    One of the largest buildings in the world, of this kind, is the extensive malt house. It is ten stories high, and has the best and most perfect arrangements for malting in the world.

    Just east of this large malt house is the company's elevator "A", which has a storage capacity of 300,000 bushels.

    The general offices are next to elevator "A". They are beautifully decorated and fitted up in the most perfect manner. The business is all transacted here by a great number of clerks, bookkeepers, etc. The elegant private offices of President Pabst and of Secretary Best are also situated in this building.

    The extensive stables are situated on the corner of Chestnut and 11th streets. Other interesting features are the engine-room, ice-machine and plant of electric lights, and elegant residence of Capt. Fred. Pabst, with its fine grounds adjoining.

    Then there is the South Side Brewery, with a capacity of 100,000 barrels per year, and the bottling department, where over 200 hands bottle nearly 15,000,000 bottles of beer per annum, where railroad and lake facilities for shipping are not equaled by any other establishment in America.

    Near here is also the large malt house, elevator "D", and Vice-President Schandein's beautiful residence and grounds, on the bluff near the brewery. There are also two large and commodious shipping depots, one connected with the Chicago & Northwestern, and the other with the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway.

    The business of this company, from a small beginning, has reached enormous sales of nearly 500,000 barrels annually. The company manufactures different varieties of beer, to satisfy the various tastes of their patrons. Each variety is marked by a peculiar characteristic, and made of the purest materials and by the best processes known to science. These varieties are known as the "EXPORT", "SELECT", "BOHEMIAN", "BAVARIAN", and "STANDARD". They are shipped in bulk to all parts of the United States and Mexico, and in bottles all over the civilized world.

    This company secured the gold medal at both the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia, in 1876, and at the great World's Fair at Paris, in 1878. The company's exhibit also took the first prize at the famous Southern Exposition at Atlanta, and at the World's Cotton Centennial Exposition in 1885.

    The monster strides of this company's business can be readily seen from the simple statement that the production increased from 3,677 barrels in 1863, to 385,049 in 1884. The capital invested is $3,387,825; number of employees, 643; wages paid per year is $385,523,22; number of horses, 207; taxes paid in 1883, $30,246.18; revenue taxes, after deducting 7-1/2 % rebate, $348,150.50; beside other expenses for the year 1883, $3,042,551.28. The company has branch offices and wholesale houses in nearly every important city in the Union.

 

Other Reference Sources: American Breweries II by Dale P. Van Wieren; The Register of United States Breweries 1876-1976, Vol. I & II, by Manfred Friedrich & Donald Bull; The Pabst Brewing Company - The History of an American Brewer by Thomas C. Cochran; Breweries of Wisconsin by Jerry Apps; Badger Breweries: Past & Present by Wayne L. Kroll.

 

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