Otto Huber Brewery, Brooklyn NY

According to a profile on the Huber Brewery printed in the May 23, 1908 edition of the Staunton (Va.) Daily Leader, Otto Huber, an immigrant from Baden, Germany, started his brewery in 1866 with an approximate annual capacity of 2,000 barrels.

Before establishing his business he was associated with the Schneider Brewery, now the Congress Brewing Company. He saw the opportunity to make improvements in the brewing business and began on his own account at the corner of Meserole Street and Bushwick Place. Results soon justified his venture, and Mr. Huber built up a splendid trade with a thorough foundation. He died in 1899, leaving the business in charge of his eldest son, Otto Huber, Jr. The younger Mr. Huber survived his father only eleven years, and in 1900 the business was taken over by the two remaining sons, Joseph and F. Max. At this time the output had increased to about 105,000 barrels. The Otto Huber Brewery was incorporated in 1890.

This information is generally supported by the Brooklyn City Directories.

  • Otto Huber was first listed with the classification of beer in the 1867 Directory at the corner of Graham and Meserole
  • By the early 1870’s he was listed as beer at Mesrole near Bushwick.
  • The business was listed in the “1890 Lains Business Directory of Brooklyn and the early 1900’s editions of the “Trow Business Directory” for the Borough of Brooklyn. The address was always 240 Meserole or Bushwick Ave c. Meserole.
  • The Copartnership and Corporation Directory of the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens 1913-1914 continued to list Joseph Huber Pres and Tres and Max Huber Sec of the company.

According to the 1908 profile:

The original brewery was a frame structure, with a brick office building on Bushwick Place. A frame addition was erected in 1875 and the present brick structures replaced the old ones in 1885.

This early growth of the brewery was evidenced by an advertisement printed in the October 5, 1907 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The advertisement showed a depiction of the brewery at it’s beginning in 1867 and again in 1875.

The advertisement also showed the updated brick complex as it looked in 1907. By this time the output had grown to approximately 120,000 barrels.

According to the NY Food Museum web site, The Otto Huber Brewery remained in the Huber family until 1920.

… it remained a family enterprise until 1920 when it was sold to Edward Hittlemann who renamed the brewery after himself. Hittleman produced near beer until the repeal of Prohibition and in 1934 changed the name of the company to the Hittleman Golden Rod Brewery. Golden Rod was a traditional brand name dating to the Huber Brewery… Not long aafter Hittleman’s death in 1951 at age sixty eight, the brewery closed.

The Brooklyn and Queens Telephone Directory continued to list the Otto Huber Brewery, not Hittleman, until 1926 at 1 Bushwick Place. Then, in 1927, it was first listed as the Golden Rod Brewery, so it’s not clear exactly when the sale to Hittleman took place. At some point, probably in the early 1940’s, he changed the name of the brewery to the Edelbrau Brewery.

The 1908 profile on Huber mentioned three brands of beer that they were brewing at the time. One, known as the “Standard” had been brewed since the beginnings of the brewery. Another, “Golden Rod” was described as a light beer made with rice in conjunction with  malt and hops.

The third was a product of malt and hops only called O.H. Malt Extract.” It’s origins were described in the December 20, 1896 issue of the ”Brooklyn Eagle.”

…$100,000 has been expended for the erection of a plant for the manufacture of a new malt extract, which has been made known all over the country as O.H. This beverage has been on the market but eight weeks, yet has met with such success that it is thought a still further expansion of the plant for its manufacture may soon become necessary. Many testimonials as to its efficiency in curing insomnia, dyspepsia, and nervousness, and as a nutritive tonic for convalescents have been received from physicians in various parts of this country, and indeed from countries all over the world. It is a pure malt extract, Mr. Huber says, containing but a slight percentage of hops and is entirely without coloring matter, being in this respect differentiated from other malt extracts. Chemical analysis has shown its percentage of alcohol to be lower and its percentage of solid malt to be higher than is the case with any other similar preparation. The present daily output of “O.H.” is 2,000 bottles, a remarkable record for a comparatively new preparation, and the indications are that the present facilities for the production of 10,000 bottles daily will soon be taxed to their utmost capacity.

An advertisement from the December 10, 1898 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, mentioned the “O.H. Malt Extract as well as the “Standard” and “Golden Rod” brands. It also included a fourth brand called “Muenchener,” which they described as a very dark, heavy brew. Interestingly, the advertisement pictured both crown top and blob top finishes.

huber-ad

An advertisement for “Golden Rod” earlier that year, in the March 26, 1898 issue of “Brooklyn Life,” only pictured bottles with blob top finishes.

Based on this, I have to assume that the brewery began using the crown finish around this time.

The March 1898 advertisement provided pricing information for each of their brands.

The new brew, “The OH Malt Extract,” which was mentioned in the above article and had first hit the market about a year earlier, was significantly more expensive; $2.00 for 12 as opposed to $1.10 to $1.25 for 24.

Several brewery buildings still exist. One on Meserole still has the letters O&H each set above one of two large garage door-type openings. According to an Internet web site, across the street is a saloon that was once part of the brewery facility and this surely looks to be the case.

One building that is no longer there, a five story warehouse, actually became a little piece of history. The building, torn down by Hittleman in 1942 was scrapped along with a 41-mile section of railroad and an unfinished/bankrupt 22-story skyscraper and contributed to the war effort. According to one newspaper account:

Over in Brooklyn, Edward Hittleman, president of the Edelbrew Brewery, decided to turn in $100,000 worth of brewery equipment – great copper kettles, metal insulated tanks and other pieces used in the past as spare parts. Together with structural steel from a five-story warehouse which Hittleman is tearing down, the brewery’s metal will total 175 tons.

The skyscraper, railroad and brewery are only a few of the big things New York will hurl at Hitler, Hirohito and Mussolini.

I have found both tooled crowns and machine made bottles (12 oz – Champagne Style). The tooled crowns are embossed Otto Huber Brewery while one of the machine made bottles is actually embossed “Golden Rod” named for the brand. This bottle most likely dates from between the years 1915 to 1920. The tooled crowns date no earlier than 1898. I’ve also found a machine made Hittleman Brewery bottle that dates to the Prohibition era or possibly after.