Beadleston and Woerz, Empire Brewery, New York

 

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The history of Beadleston And Worez is best told in the obituary of Alfred N Beadleston who died suddenly while on vacation in 1917. At the time, he was serving as president of the company. I found the obituary in the January-June 1917 Issue of the ‘Western Brewer and Journal of Barley Malt and Hop Trades”. Excerpts relating to company history are presented in the following paragraphs.

  • Beadleston and Woerz was the outgrowth of the small brewing business started in Troy NY in 1825 by Abraham Nash, called Nash and Co. In 1837, Ebenezer Beadleston, a relative of Nash living in Troy moved to NYC to serve as the company’s NYC representative. Three years later in 1840 the company became known as Nash, Beadleston and Company. In 1845 they purchased the old state prison property in NYC bounded by Washington, Charles, West and W 10th The prison had been first occupied in 1797 but upon completion of Sing-Sing in 1828 the convicts were removed to the more modern establishment. The site was in what was then called the Village of Greenwich (now called Greenwich Village) and the substantial stone buildings were fitted up for brewing and malting purposes. The plant was put into operation as the Empire Brewery.
  • Until 1856 the Troy and NYC businesses were operated jointly, NYC as a branch of the Troy brewery. In 1860 Nash retired and was succeeded by W. W. Price an employee of the business. In that year Ernest G.W. Woerz took charge of the practical and technical part of the business.
  • Ebenezer Beadleston retired from active participation in the business in 1865 and the firm name became Beadleston, Price and Woerz, the members being Ebenezer Beadleston, W.W. Price, Alfred N Beadleston (Ebenezer’s son) and E.G.W. Woerz. Price died in 1876 and in 1878 the firm name was changed to Beadleston and Woerz. Around this time they upgraded the plant, building a new and larger brewery building (some of the existing prison walls were incorporated into the new building). The business was incorporated under the Beadleston and Woerz name in 1889 and Alfred N Beadleston served as president until his death in 1917.

In 1879, Beadleston and Woerz was the 14th largest brewery in the United States producing 78,000 barrels.

The earliest newspaper advertisements for Beadleston & Woerz that I could find date back to 1887. One such advertisement, printed in the October 27 issue of the New York Sun stated:

Physicians predict increase of popularity of the “Imperial Beer” and “Culbacher” which they commend for purity.

Advertisements for Bradleston and Woertz’s Imperial Beer appear in several 1894 magazine issues including Puck Magazine and Life Magazine.  They claim it to be the King of Beers (long before Budweiser).

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They apparently sold a number of different beers under their “Imperial” Label. One called “Imperial German Brew” was introduced as a new brand in 1897. A printed notice in the May 25, 1897 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle described the new product.

Old Fashioned German Beer – Popular taste, like fashion, shows a pronounced tendency nowadays to return to the good old customs and enjoyments of our forefathers. This is particularly noticeable among customers of lager beer, who as a class, are showing preference, akin to an affection, for the old-fashioned German brewing. To gratify this growing demand Beadleston & Woerz, of New York, one of the largest breweries in the United States, have just introduced a new brand called Imperial German Brew, in which, by their strict adherence to malt and hops, exclusively, for the ingredients, the purity, flavor, color and body of the old-fashioned lager beer is reproduced to a degree of perfection that makes it identical to the product of fifty years ago. For the purposes of giving an immediate opportunity to persons desiring to try it Beadleston & Woerz will deliver it direct from the brewery, 291 West Tenth St., New York.

Another advertisement, from the November 19, 1909 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, actually implies medicinal qualities associated with their “Imperial Stout,” stating: “Is ideal for those who are recovering from illness or whose systems require a healthful and sustaining stimulant”

An recent archeological study done for the brewery site states that Prohibition shut the plant down permanently in 1920 but the business transitioned into real estate because of all the properties they owned. Apparently they didn’t waste much time. The December 16, 1920 edition of the New York Tribune contained the following story.

A large section of the Beadleston & Woerz Empire Brewery property, a landmark at 158-166 Charles Street, has been leased to the Reynolds Whitney Warehouse Co., Inc., for twenty years at an aggregate rental of $600,000. The warehouse company also secured an option to lease the buildings at 674 and 676 Washington Street and 287-303 West Tenth Street.

I’ve found two bottles, both tooled crowns probably in the 1900 to 1910 range. I’ve seen similar bottles on the Internet with their labels still present.