V. Loewer’s Gambrinus Brewery Co., New York

Valentine Loewer was the founder and initial proprietor of V. Loewer’s Gambrinus Brewery Co. He named the brewery after Gambrinus, who, according to the old Encyclopedia Britannica was:

“A mythical Flemish King who is credited with the first brewing of beer in 1261. His portrait had the place of honor in the Brewers Guild Hall in Brussels.”

Valentine Loewer’s obituary, in the November 1, 1904 edition of the “American Brewer’s Review,” provided some general information about him and his business.

He was born in Leiselheim, near Worms, Germany, and came to this country in 1860. In 1868 he established a weiss beer brewery in New York, which in 1879 was converted into a larger beer brewery, growing rapidly in output until the present annual production of 250,000 barrels was reached. Loewer’s sons, Jacob and George, were associated in business with him, the former being secretary and the latter treasurer of the company.

The original brewery was first listed in the 1867/1868 NYC Directory as Loewer & Josy, with an address of 605 West 51st Street in Manhattan. Loewer was listed as a partner along with Jacob Josy. Their partnership was short-lived and in 1870/1871 Loewer was listed individually as a brewer at the same location. The next year, in the 1871/1872 directory, he was listed at 529 West 41st Street, where the business remained well into the 1940’s.

It’s not clear what changes were made to the brewery in 1879 but the obituary specifically used the word “converted.” This leads me to believe that the brewery was converted to include production of the bottom fermented lager beer, which was gaining popularity in the U. S. at the time. Prior to that, the brewery was producing weiss beer, which is top fermented.  This is supported, at least in my mind, by this May 16, 1915 advertisement in the (New York) Sun for their lager beer which states “Loewer’s has been in business since 1879.”

It wasn’t until 1887 or 1888 that the business began using the “V. Loewer’s Gambrinus Brewery Co.,” name in the directories. In 1889, the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory named Valentine Loewer, president; his son, George Loewer, secretary and Charles J. G. Hall, treasurer. By 1900 George had become treasurer and Jacob Loewer, was secretary. Throughout this entire period their address continued to be listed as 529 West 41st Street.

Around the turn of the century, the brewery apparently implemented significant upgrades and additions. An item in the May 20, 1901 edition of the “American Brewer’s Review” described the changes that were taking place.

The V. Loewer’s Gambrinus Brewing Co. of New York, has built a boiler and engine room, 50 x 30 feet; a new office 20 x 60 feet, three stories high, all brick and iron, equipped with all modern improvements. Four new boilers, 200 horse power each, and two ice machines of 215 and 70 tons respectively, have been put in. A new brew-house and a malt storage house have been contracted for. The brew-house will be 50 x 60, all brick and iron, equipped with all modern machinery and apparatus. The malt storage house will have a capacity of 20,000 bushels.

By the time the dust settled, their office, brewery and cold storage facility were all located adjacent to each other in the block from Tenth to Eleventh Avenues, between 41st and 42nd Street; the office at 528 – 532 West 42nd Street and the brewery and cold storage facility at 521-533 West 41st Street. Their bottling plant was on the other side of 41st Street at 536-538 West 41st street.

This advertisement, included in the Commemorative Book of the 11th Convention of the U. S. Brewmasters Association in 1899, appears to be a rendering that showed the future 1901 improvements in 41st Street looking west toward the Hudson River. The Brewery is on the right (north) side of 41st Street.

Later, on February 3, 1911, The brewery gained permission from the City of New York to “install, maintain and use a 15 – inch pipe “under and across” 41st Street connecting the brewery and the bottling department.

the said pipe to be used to contain a small pipe for the transmission of beer, ale and other malt liquors between the said premises for bottling purposes.

After Valentine Loewer’s death on October 10, 1904 his son George was listed in the directories as president until his death on January 30, 1915. At that point, the younger son, Jacob took over.

During Prohibition it appears that the V Loewer Gambrius Brewery Co. stayed in business making non-alcoholic beverages for which they registered a number of trademarks. Three that caught my eye, filed and published in 1919, were for a brand name called T.N.T.

Around the same time, Jacob Loewer also established a second corporation called the Loewer Cold Storage Corporation to take advantage of his refrigeration facilities. The notice of incorporation was published in the February, 1920 edition of “Ice and “Refrigeration.”

The Loewer Cold Storage Corporation, Manhattan N. Y., capital stock $30,000. Incorporators: J. Loewer, H. D. Muller and H. D. Muller, Jr.

Both the brewery and cold storage company listed their address as the brewery office address of 528 West 42nd Street during the Prohibition years.

As Prohibition ended Loewer’s was back in the business of brewing beer. An article in the March 24, 1933 edition of the (New York) “Daily News” entitled “Orders Deluge Brewers and Hundreds Get Jobs” mentioned several breweries including Loewer’s, stating:

Loewer’s Gambrinus Brewing Co., 528 W. 42nd St., has put all its men back on full time and expects to increase the force.

The optimism expressed in this article was apparently short-lived. After Prohibition was repealed the brewery continuously operated at a deficit. At the annual meeting of the company, held on March 28, 1941, it was reported that the loss for that year alone was in excess of $70,000 and the latest report of Dun Bradstreet read:

Comparative fiscal statements for a like period have reflected an unbalanced financial condition, a growing current debt and a substantial deficit.

On January 8, 1943 an involuntary petition of bankruptcy was filed against V. Loewer’s Gambrinus Brewery Co., and subsequently, on April 22, 1943, the court approved a sale of the brewery by the trustee to Brewery Management Corporation at a price of $100,000. The brewery closed five years later in 1948.

Today, there’s no sign of the brewery buildings.

I found a machine made export beer bottle embossed, “V Loewer’s Gambrinus Brewery Co. New York” in small letters around the shoulder. The bottle is similar in shape and size to this labeled example that recently appeared for sale on the Internet.

     

The number “1918” is embossed in large type on the base of the bottle. Other examples of this bottle that I’ve seen exhibit similar numbers in the 1930’s range.  This leads me to believe that it most likely indicates the year the bottle was produced.

Westchester County Brewing Co., Mount Vernon and Pelham, New York

      

The Westchester County Brewing Company, sometimes referred to as the Westchester Brewing Co. or the Westchester County Brewery,  was established in late 1909 and maintained facilities in both Mount Vernon, New York and across the Hutchinson River in Pelham, New York. The company founders were William H. Ebling, Jr. and William Hobby. According to his December 10, 1910 obituary, Ebling came from a family of New York City brewers.

Mr. Ebling was the son of William Ebling, who with Phillip Ebling, established the brewery at 156th Street and St.Ann’s Avenue, The Bronx, years ago. He was associated with his father and uncle until the brewery was sold. Two years ago he and William Hobby organized the Westchester County Brewing Company.

Ebling’s partner, William Hobby, was the proprietor of the Hobby Bottling Company located in Mount Vernon, N.Y., a business that, according to a notice printed in the March 15, 1898 edition of the New York Times, incorporated around that time. The advertisement below, from the 1902 Mount Vernon Directory, listed their address as 21-25 Prospect Avenue, an address they maintained from 1899 up through 1912.

Ebling and Hobby established the Westchester County Brewing Company sometime in late 1909. The January 1, 1910 edition of the “New Rochelle Pioneer” reported the formation of the new corporation.

BIG BREWERY NEAR HERE

Will Be Located at Pelham and Employ One Hundred and Fifty Men

The Westchester County Brewery has just been incorporated with a capital of $400,000 to take over the defunct Pelham Hygeia Ice Plant at Pelham and the bottling business of William Hobby of Mount Vernon. The company will install a brewing plant to have a capacity of from 50,000 to 60,000 barrels of beer a year and an artificial ice plant with an output of 100 tons a day.

In the prospectus it is interesting to note the statement that Westchester County consumed more than 500,000 barrels of beer per annum of which it produces less than 10 percent. The only beer brewed in the county at present is in Yonkers.

The company will operate under what is known as a co-operative plan; that is the retailers will be interested financially in the venture.

The Pelham Hygeia Ice Plant had been listed in the Pelham directories dating back to 1902. Early maps show that it was located adjacent to the Hutchinson River near Sparks Avenue. This advertisement was included in the 1907 Pelham Directory.

The first directory reference for the Westchester County Brewing Co. was in 1910 and it indicated that the new business continued to use the properties of the combined companies.. That year they listed their office (and bottling department) address as 21-23 Prospect Avenue, the address of the Hobby Bottling Company  and they listed two locations for their brewery and ice plant; one at  Sparks Ave, Pelham, the former location of the Pelham Hygeia Ice Plant and the other at Pelhamdale and Riverside Aves and E 4th, Mt Vernon. Ebling was named president and Hobby, secretary/treasurer. After Ebling’s death, the 1911 directory named Hobby, president and Sydney A. Syme, secretary treasurer.

The future brewing plant mentioned in the February 1, New Rochelle Pioneer story was ultimately constructed on the property of the former Pelham Hygia Ice Plant. The May 1, 1911 edition of the Brewer’s Review announced that it was fully operational.

The Westchester County Brewery in Pelham, N.Y., is now in full operation, with an annual capacity of 80,000 barrels. The refrigeration plant has a capacity of 120 tons daily The value of the building, land and outfit is estimated at $500,000.

The formal opening was announced in the June 15,1911 edition of the “American Bottler.”

The Westchester County Brewery, North Pelham, New York, was formally opened on June 2nd, when about 500 visitors were shown through the buildings and entertained with an old-fashioned New England clam bake, served on the lawn.

The new plant is up to the minute in its equipment and President William Hobby, who is also proprietor of the Hobby Bottling Works, Mount Vernon, N.Y., says that its products will be the finest that skill, experience and high-grade  materials can manufacture.

This image, taken from one of their advertising signs, depicts the new brewery as well as the Mount Vernon office and bottling department shown in the upper right hand corner.

Apparently, Ebling and Hobby had financially overextended themselves building the new brewery and not long after its formal opening the business was in financial trouble. In his September 9, 2018 blog, the Town Historian of Pelham, Blake Bell, detailed their financial difficulties. Portions of his blog are presented below and the entire write-up can be found at www. pelhamplus.com.

In the months leading up to the completion of the main facility and its opening, the pair touted the new business as a sure “bonanza” and sold stock in the venture to investors throughout Westchester County and New York City.

Although the United States economy was healthy in 1910, Ebling and Hobby over-extended themselves and their new business with debt at precisely the time the U.S. Economy moved from a twenty year period of rapid growth to a twenty year period of modest growth…

In less than a year the new business was in trouble. On September 12, 1911, bankruptcy proceedings were commenced as a voluntary petition for dissolution of the business was filed. In reality, the bankruptcy was merely a move to fend off creditors. There were more than twenty lawsuits pending against the company at the time of filing with some nearing judgement.

As the proceedings dragged along, the brewery continued to operate under receivers including William O. Hobby (the remaining living founder). Hobby’s own financial situation, however, grew increasingly bleak. In March, 1915, Hobby filed for personal bankruptcy.

The company continued to be listed in the directories up through 1918, at which time their financial difficulties combined with looming prohibition forced the sale of the brewery. The planned sale, to the Knickerbocker Ice Company was announced under the heading “Icy Items” in the January 1919 edition of “Ice and Refrigeration.”

It is reported that negotiations for the purchase of the Westchester Brewing Co.’s plant in North Pelham, N.Y., by the Knickerbocker Ice Co., are pending and that a deal will likely be consummated within a short time. The Knickerbocker Ice Co. has been furnishing considerable natural ice to the residents of Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and their environs, but it is stated there has become a profound preference for artificial ice, and the company being desirous of conforming with the consumers’ wants, the ice manufacturing equipment in the brewing company’s plant will enable them to manufacture sufficient ice for this section.

The 1920 directory listed the Knickerbocker Ice Company at the Sparks Avenue location so apparently the sale closed sometime in 1919. Ultimately, the old brewery building was razed in the early 1950’s.

The bottle I found is a machine made, export style, bottle with the company name embossed in a logo on the shoulder. Mount Vernon, N.Y. is embossed at the base of the bottle in small letters. The bottle certainly dates to the operational period of the business; say 1911 to 1918.

Henry C. Botjer Co., Long Island City, N.Y.

According to census records Henry C. Botjer was born in Germany in 1872 (1900 records) or 1873 (1910 records) and immigrated to the United States in 1888.

It appears that he ran his own business from 1906 until 1918, when he passed away. Between 1906 and 1910 his address was listed as 353 Broadway or sometimes Broadway, corner of Second Avenue in Long Island City, Queens. An advertisement in the February 4, 1907 edition of the Brooklyn Star called him a “Wholesale Dealer in Lager Beers, Ales and Porters  with a depot and office both located on Broadway, corner of Second Avenue. The advertisement went on to say that he was the sole agent for Miller’s “The Best” Milwaukee Beer and wholesale agent for imported beers.

Another advertisement, this one in the February 8, 1908 issue of “Harpers Weekly” focused on his association with “Miller”

The business incorporated in July, 1912. The incorporation notice appeared under the heading “New Queens Concern” in the July 30, 1912 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

The Henry C. Botjer Company of the Borough of Queens has been incorporated with the Secretary of State, to make and sell beverages, etc. with a capital of $10,000 and the following directors: Henry C. Botjer of Long Island City and James J. Sullivan and D. Walter Griffiths of New York City.

Around the same time, the business moved to 404 – 406 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, where it remained listed until 1918. During this period,the directory listings usually classified the business as wholesale beers.

Second Avenue in Queens was later renamed 31st Street. The intersection of 31st Street and Broadway is now technically located in Astoria and situated under the elevated subway. The buildings on each corner are all old and could date back to the business. It’s not clear exactly where the Jackson Avenue address was located.

The bottle I found is a machine made, 12 ounce, champagne style beer with a crown finish. It’s embossed “Henry C. Botjer Co. Long Island City” in small letters around the shoulder. The bottle looks exactly like the one in the 1908 advertisement (without the label) and no doubt contained a “Miller High Life.” Machine made, it most likely dates to the later years of the business.

Franklin Brewing Company, Brooklyn N.Y.

 

The Franklin Brewing Company was established in 1903 but in fact has it’s roots in the brewing operation of George Malcom whose brewing business dates back to the mid-1860’s.

Malcom was first listed as a brewer located at the corner of Dean and Franklin Streets in Brooklyn. Around 1870 he moved to Flushing Avenue and established one of the largest breweries in Brooklyn at the time, occupying the entire block from Franklin Avenue to Skillman Street. Also referred to as the Wallabout Brewery, it was described in a September 19, 1871 item in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Wallabout Brewery, one of the largest establishments of the kind in the county, and said to be capable of turning out 500 barrels per diem. It occupies a fine brick building, 150 x 75 feet, and four stories in height. It is an immense concern, in every way well ordered, fitted with all the latest improvements and most modern inventions; employs a large number of men, and has involved an investment of not less, probably, than half a million of dollars of capital.

George Malcom was listed as a brewer at the Flushing/Franklin/Skillman location up through 1891. The expanded listing in the 1885 directory was typical.

Then in 1892, the company name in the listing changed to the “Malcom Brewing Company.

By the early 1900’s the business was running into financial difficulties. According to the April 14, 1903 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Some months ago the brewing company applied for a voluntary dissolution, on the ground of insolvency, and the referee reports that the company is undoubtedly insolvent and was insolvent on July 28 last.

By this time George Malcom is apparently no longer involved. The April 14, 1903 story goes on to say:

…the capital stock of the company is $400,000 and there is outstanding of this sum $359,000. The stock was issued to George Malcom for the plant and the present holders secured their holdings from him or his assigns.

A receivers’ sale that included the entire plant and property was held on June 30, 1903.

Notices for the sale listed the property holdings at that time which included brewery, malt house and stables.

The description of the brewery machinery provides an idea of the size of the operation at the time.

ALL BREWERY MACHINRY AND EQUIPMENT, sufficient for an annual output of about 150,000 barrels of ale and lager, including ice plant of about 40 tons capacity daily, and Milwaukee grain drying machine; malt house machinery of about 600 bushels capacity daily; also bottling machinery and office furniture..

STABLE CONTENTS, viz.: 36 horses, 27 delivery trucks and carts with harnesses, blankets, covers, feed and other stable supplies

The brewery was purchased by Claus (Charles) Doscher who, within 30 days of the sale, organized the Franklin Brewing Company. His brother and his sons were the officers, directors and holders of all the issued stock. The incorporation was announced in the July 31, 1903 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Articles incorporating the Franklin Brewing Company of Brooklyn have been filed with the Secretary of State. The capital stock is placed at $500,000 and the directors for the first year are Charles Doscher and Henry F. Cochrane of Brooklyn and Henry Doscher, John Doscher and Herman Doscher of New York City.

Claus Doscher  passed away in 1910. Afterwards there were many failed attempts by the family to sell the company which was in financial trouble. The brewery eventually shut down in 1917 or 1918. According to an August 11, 1918 story in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle the brewery building had been sold and was being converted to a cold and dry storage plant around that time.

The former building of the Franklin Brewing Company, at Flushing and Franklin Avenues, is being converted into a cold and dry storage plant. Food merchants of the Walkabout Market for whom the lack of storage space for their products is a serious problem, will benefit materially by the new plant.

The building which faces on Flushing Avenue and has a frontage of 200 feet, extends to Skillman Street. The wings of the structure are five stories high and the interior eight.

The plant is already partially equipped and insulated and is ideally adapted for storage purposes. It will afford 430,000 cubic feet of cold storage space and about 620,000 cubic feet for dry storage.

The building was purchased at auction on July 9 by George Dressler, president of the Wallabout Market Merchants’ Association and head of the Walabout Basin Storage Company.

The plant is expected to begin operations about the first of September.

The building described in the above article is still located on Flushing Avenue.

The bottle I found is an export style beer bottle with a tooled crown. It fits the 1903 to 1917 time frame of the business. Being mouth blown, it probably skews toward the earlier end.

Louis C. Ott, Rockaway Beach, L.I.

 

Louis C Ott was a hotel owner in Rockaway Beach (previously called Oceanus) from the late 1880’s until the late 1910’s. He was also active in the local democratic party serving as a NYS Assemblyman in the early 1890’s and later as a Town Supervisor in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. Also active in the community, he served as a fire warden and a member of the Board of Representatives of the “Oceanus Hook and Ladder Company No. 1.”

Ott’s hotel business appears to have been closely tied if not one and the same with the liquor and beer trade. The first mention of Ott that I can find is as a liquor tax certificate holder with the town of Hempstead. (Note that at the time Rockaway Beach was under the Jurisdiction of Hempstead and not yet a part of NYC.) He was listed with the classification “hotel”and located in Rockaway Beach, but no address was given. His certificate was paid up through September 4, 1890, which leads me to believe the business started at least a year or two earlier, sometime in the 1880’s.

Sometime during this period, Ott became an agent and bottler for the Joseph Fallert Brewing Company. Advertisements in the local newspaper, “The Wave” between 1896 and 1898 bear this out and the 1899 Trow Business Directory listed the business on Hammels Avenue (now Beach 85th Street) under the heading “Bottlers of Lager Beer.”

Whether Ott’s relationship with the Fallert Brewery dated back to his 1890 liquor tax certificate is not clear, but by 1899, it appears that the two entities had a falling out. On April 26, 1899, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced a judgement against Ott in favor of the Joseph Fallert Brewing Company for $7,308.40.

In 1900, Ott took over a hotel previously run by an Assemblyman from New York City. That year, in May, “The Wave” reported:

Supervisor Louis C. Ott will shortly open the hotel corner of Eldert Avenue and the Boulevard, formerly conducted by Assemblyman Honeck.

The 1903 Trow Business Directory for Brooklyn and Queens listed Ott at the Eldert Avenue (now Beach 87th Street) address under the heading “Wines/Liquors/Lager Beer.”

Around 1904 Ott’s listed location changed again and he was named in various newspaper articles as the proprietor of the Grassy Point Hotel located at Broad Channel on the Jamaica Bay trestle. Both the 1904 Trow Business Directory and the 1910 census records listed him at this location. In fact, The August 16, 1911 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that he spent his 57th birthday there.

Louis C. Ott, former Assemblyman from the Sixteenth District of Brooklyn celebrated the fifty-seventh anniversary of his birth at a family dinner at the hotel of which he is proprietor, the Grassy Point, on Broad Channel on the evening of Tuesday last. The table was placed lengthwise of the long dining room, covers being laid for twenty-four. The decorations were asters and gladioli, a huge horseshoe of asters  being placed on a table just back of the host, a gift from friends and sent with many wishes for good fortune.

More than just a hotel, Grassy Point was a resort that included a restaurant, dancing, bowling alleys, billiards, a fishing station, bathing, boating and ball fields. A photograph contained within a 1908 advertisement left no doubt that by then, Ott had switched his allegiance from Joseph Fallert to Trommer’s.

Ott apparently operated the Grassy Point Hotel through at least the mid-teens. Ott was listed with a Broad Channel Hotel in the 1910 NYC Telephone Directory but not in the 1914 edition. By 1920, census records showed him widowed and living on Long Island in the Valley Stream/Lynbrook area with a son-in-law. He died while living on Long Island in July, 1924.

The Grassy Point Hotel remained in operation until it was destroyed by fire in January 1939. According to the January 5, 1939 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the damage had been extensive enough to require rebuilding of the structure. At the time of the fire, the operation consisted of only a restaurant and grill. No rooms were rented.

Ott, a New Yorker of German heritage, had nine children, including six sons. Four of those sons were members of the U.S. armed forces during World War I and at least three were involved in active combat. According to an October 30, 1918 article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Pvts. Harry and Walter Ott, sons of Louis C. Ott of Mineola Ave., Valley Stream, L.I., have both been wounded. They were drafted in 1917 and trained at Camp Upton before departing for France. Walter is 22 years old and Pvt. Harry is 25. Both were engaged as chauffeurs prior to their entrance into the service. Walter, who is a member of Co. G 308th Inf. was wounded on August 17th. Just when Harry was hurt is not known. He wrote his father a note from a hospital ship stating that he had been injured and that he was on his way to London. A third brother, Sgt. Andrew Ott, is stationed at Camp Sevier in South Carolina, giving instruction on gas masks. He too, was drafted in 1917, sent to Camp Upton, where he received his sergeant’s chevrons, and finally to France. There he was gassed and after three months of continual trench duty ordered to return to America. He was a member of Company D, 305th Inf. He is 27 years old and was formerly a silversmith, employed by the Gotham Company in Manhattan. A fourth brother, Robert Van Wyck Ott, is eligible for the new draft and is expecting his call momentarily.

The bottle I found is a champagne style beer with an applied blob top. The slug plate refers to Rockaway Beach, Long Island. This would indicate it was made in 1898 (the year Rockaway Beach became part of NYC) or earlier and most likely contained the Joseph Fallert brand.

 

 

John Kessler, Woodmere, Long Island

kessler            kessler-1

Census records from 1900 through 1920 reveal that John Kessler immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1880 and worked as a salesman. Sometime after 1900 he started operating a hotel located somewhere on or near Woodmere Bay. The 1910 census lists his address as “out in Woodmere Bay”. He passed away sometime around 1914 and his wife Margaret continued to run the business for several more years. In the 1920 census Margaret is listed as a widow living with her daughter on West Broadway in Hewlett and the family is no longer involved in the business.

John Kessler, Hotel, Woodmere Bay south of Woodmere Dock, is listed as a liquor tax certificate holder for the years ending September 30, 1911 and September 30, 1912. In the years ending September 30, 1914 and 1915, Margaret not John is listed as the certificate holder. I’ve found that many local hotel owners in this era were liquor tax certificate holders and bottled their own beverages.

I found a champagne style beer bottle with a tooled blob finish that fits the early 1900’s time period. I haven’t seen this one on the Internet adding to the evidence that this was a small local business.

A Wolff, Central Bottling Co., 55th St, bet 2nd & 3rd Ave New York

wolff

The A stands for Anthony (Anton) Wolff.

Wolff is first listed in the 1880 NYC Directory as a maltster with a home address of 330 East 47th Street. In the 1884 directory he’s listed as beer with a home address of 226 East 56th Street.

Then from 1886 through 1912 he’s listed in various NYC directories as a bottler (or sometimes beer) on East 55th Street. He listed several addresses over the years, all on 55th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, primarily 204 East 55th St.

The March 28, 1889 issue of the newspaper “The Daily Graphic” Lists 24 Bottle Registration Notices from different bottlers. A Wolff is one of them. His states:

To All Whom it May Concern: I Anthony Wolff doing business and trading as the Central Bottling Co, certify that I am engaged in bottling and selling lager beer, ale and porter and other beverages, and use and have the sole right to use my name, marks and devices branded, stamped, etched, blown or otherwise produced upon my bottles and boxes, a description of which distinguishing names and marks is as follows: Glass bottles on which is “Central Bottling Co” and “A Wolff”; other bottles with “Central Bottling Co”; other bottles “A Wolff”. Boxes on which is “Central Bottling Co” and “A Wolff”. CENTRAL BOTTLING CO. By A WOLFF.

The business is listed in the Annual Report of Factory Inspectors of the State of New York in 1896 and 1898. In 1898 they listed 6 male employees.

Several New York State newspapers covered a fire that included Wolff’s plant that occurred on August 25th, 1898.

The explosion of a large ammonia tank used in the making of artificial ice set fire at an early hour this morning to Jacob Hoffman’s Crescent Brewery, a 5-story brick structure at 206 and 208 East Fifty-fifth Street. The flames spread with marvelous rapidity and the Central Bottling Company’s plant, of which A. Wolff is the proprietor, at 202 East Fifty-fifth Street soon caught fire. Within a very short time the entire block surrounded by Third Avenue, Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth streets were doomed.

The surrounding tenements, all filled with sleeping people, next ignited and the bewildered tenants began to pour out into the streets by the hundreds. Alarm after alarm was turned in by the police, and by the early arrivals of the firemen, until four alarms had sounded and 18 engines and five hook and ladder trucks were on the scene. As a precaution several ambulances were called from Bellevue and other hospitals. Many thrilling rescues of frightened men, women and children were made by the firemen.

Wolff’s business must have survived the fire because he remained at 55th Street through 1912.

In 1912 the American Bottler reported that Wolff resigned his membership in the organization that year. He’s not listed in the 1914 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory, so I have to think the business ended in 1912.

In the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directories between 1905 and 1914 there is also a Central Bottling Co listed at 617 11th Avenue (it’s listed under Central). In the same directories Wolf is listed under Wolff as “Wolff A., Central Bottling Co. (RTN) (Anton W. Wolff).” Based on this there doesn’t appear to be a connection.

204 E 55th Street lies within the current footprint of 909 Third Avenue. Interestingly, PJ Clarke’s address is 205 E 55th Street so Wolff was right across the street 100+ years ago (probably his lunch spot?)

The bottle I found is a champagne style (12 oz) with a tooled blob finish. It fits within the 1886 to 1912 time frame of the business.

Welz and Zerweck High Ground Brewery, Brooklyn, NY

wz-1

Welz and Zerweck traces its roots to John Welz who was listed as early as 1858 in the Brooklyn City Directories as a brewer located at 132 Scholes.

The company was featured in the “Illustrated History of Greater Ridgewood” published in 1906. The feature included information on it’s early history.

The original brewery was established in 1859 by the late John Welz.

The brewery was first established in Scholes Street and Graham Avenue, in the old “Dutchtown” section of Williamsburg. Two years later it was moved to the building on Myrtle and Wycoff Avenues.

In 1897, the brewery was made a limited corporation with John Welz, president; Chas C.D. Zerweck, vice-president, and Harry Roth, secretary and treasurer. These three officers also comprise the Board of Directors and are the owners of all the company stock.

It was called the Welz Brewery until 1883 when Charles C.D. Zerweck and John Welz’s son, also named John, took over the business. Zerweck, a German immigrant, had joined the Welz Brewery in 1878. The business was first listed in the Brooklyn directories as Welz and Zerweck in 1884.

Well and Zerweck was listed in the 1890 Lains Business Directory of Brooklyn and the Trow Business Directory for the Borough of Brooklyn in 1899, 1903 and 1907 (the only years I could find). It was also listed in the “Copartnership and Corporation Directory of the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens 1913-1914; John Welz President, Charles Zerweck VP, Henry Roth Treasurer, Capital $1,500,000. Certainly a closely held company, the 1913 -1914 officers were the same ones that were listed in 1897 when the corporation was formed. The address was always listed as Myrtle, corner of Wycoff, or sometimes 1562 Myrtle.

The feature in the “Illustrated History of Ridgewood” goes on to talk a little bit about the growth of the company in both size and volume of business.

If the old adage “tall oaks from little acorns grow” was ever appropriately applied, it is so applied to the Welz & Zerweck Brewery.

By turning out the best beer that the concern could possibly give to consumers the establishment grew, and from an output of 5,000 barrels a year in the beginning, the concern is brewing and selling more than 300,000 barrels per year, and the new additions that have been made allow a capacity of 500,000.

The entire plant and buildings, which include ice plant, brewery, bottling department, shipping department and offices, cover over four acres of ground.

The beer is sold in every part of Long Island and the Greater City, and is shipped to distant parts, such as the Southern States and Puerto Rico.

Perhaps the best illustration of Welz and Zerweck’s growth from the early 1860’s until the turn of the century are two photographs that attended the feature. The first and largest showed the plant as it existed when the feature was written in 1906. The second, inserted into the lower left hand corner shows the original 1862 building at the Myrtle and Wycoff location.

The brewery complex was located right on the border between Brooklyn (Kings County) and Queens County. This results in an interesting story I found in the December 6, 1894 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. It concerns a saloon and hotel that made up a part of the brewery complex until it was demolished around that time. It was entitled “The House That Stands in Two Counties”

The old building attached to the brewery of Welz & Zerweck at Ridgewood, for years used as a barroom and hotel, has been razed and in its place will be built a large and modern structure. A part of it stood on the dividing line of Queens and Kings counties and it is said that years ago, when the excise law was strictly enforced in Brooklyn the bar, which on weekdays stood on the Kings county side, would on Sunday be removed to the town of Newton, a few feet away. For many years past, however, the change of the bar has been discontinued, it being allowed to remain permanently , it was claimed, on the Queens County side

I haven’t seen many newspaper advertisements for their beers, but one in the February 15, 1912 issue of the“Forest Parkway Leader Observer” listed a wide range of products including: Gabrinus Brau, Pilsner Beer, Export Beer, Standard Beer and Sparkling Ale and made it a point that“our beers and ales are brewery bottled only.” They were were all $1.00 per case.

Another advertisement, this one in a May 1910 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle touts: “Gambrinus Bock Beer – Better than Imported.”

Welz and Zerwick apparently maintained branches or maybe sales outlets on Long Island as well. An advertisement for one of them in Sag Harbor was printed in the November 26, 1910 issue of the “Sag Harbor Corrector.” The advertisement showed that prices outside of Brooklyn were higher by 20 to 50 percent ($1.20 to $1.50 vs $1.00).

wz-li

It appears that the business continued to operate under the Welz & Zerweck name during the early stages of Prohibition. A June 21, 1921 article in the “Beverage Journal” provided a review of brewery activities (during prohibition) and stated that Welz and Zerweck was making cereal beverages. They were still listed in the Copartnership and Corporation Directory of the Borough of Brooklyn and Queens in 1922, with both Welz and Zerweck as directors, but by 1925 the business had shut down.

According to the May 7, 1925 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the brewery complex, located at Myrtle and Wycoff was demolished to make way for a new theater and office complex.

The Welz and Zerweck Brewery, one of the oldest landmarks of the Ridgewood section, occupying the triangle formed by Wycoff Ave., Myrtle Ave. and Madison Street., is shortly to be razed to give way to the construction of a modern theater and office building with a street row of stores it was learned today.

The transaction was said to involve nearly $1,000,000 and the purchasers to be a syndicate of business men in Brooklyn and Queens…

The Welz and Zerweck plant has stood on its present site for more than half a century, and until prohibition, was one of the most flourishing Brooklyn breweries. In passing, however, it has been more fortunate than many other breweries. A subway was built through Wycoff Ave. with a station at Myrtle Ave., and a business center for a population of 100,000 has sprung up around the site, making the property of even greater value than ever during the pre-Volstead days.

It is understood that the new theater building will be from five to eight stories high and that work on it will commence in a month or so.

A year later, on May 11, 1926 they held an auction that included:

The last of their former saloon properties…for which, having sold their brewery and retiring from business, they have no further use.

Finally it appears that the the Welz and Zerweck brands were absorbed by Liebmann’s. According to a March 29, 1933 article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Liebmann’s didn’t plan on continuing with them when National Prohibition ended.

Before Prohibition put a snag in the beer business Liebmann’s has absorbed many famous brands of beer and breweries. They were Peter Doelger’s, Welz & Zerweck’s, George Ehret’s, Obermeyer & Liebmann’s plaza brew, Beadelston & Woerz and the Krumenaker bottling works – and some 30 other brands. With the possible exception of Peter Doelger’s, all of them will remain absorbed, and they will reappear – are now being bottled –  as Liebmann’s.

I found one bottle with a tooled blob finish, several aqua tooled crowns and one brown tooled crown.

I’ve also found a machine made example that exhibits a standard slug plate.

 

 

 

 

J H VanBrunt, Far Rockaway, L. I.

vanbrunt            vanbrunt-1

The J stands for James H VanBrunt.

He apparently took over the business of H C Muller in Oct/Nov of 1904. The following letter appeared in the November 15, 1904 issue of the “American Carbonator and American Bottler”:

One year later, the October 1905 issue of American Bottler reported that VanBrunt’s bottling factory sustained $1,000 worth of damage in a fire but he remained in business for at least the next 15 years.

The business was listed in the Trow Business Directory of the Borough of Queens 1907, 1908-9 and 1912 as a bottler of lager beer Carlton Ave c Guy. This location was identical to the former address of HC Muller. In addition, the ensignia on his slug plate is remarkably similar if not the same (a vine or small tree).

At some point he became associated with the Otto Huber Brewery, probably as a local Far Rockaway bottler. The NYC Telephone Directories for Brooklyn and Queens between 1914 and 1920 listed him as “Huber’s Beer,” with a Carlton Avenue address. As early as 1910, census records listed his occupation as an agent in the beer bottling industry.

He’s also listed as a certificate holder in the “Annual Report of the Commissioner of Excise” for 1914, 1915, 1916 and 1919.

He’s no longer listed in the 1925 directory so I suspect he was a victim of National Prohibition.

Carlton has been renamed Nameoke Avenue and Guy has been renamed Augustina Avenue. 1910 census records indicate that VanBrunt’s family and a boarder all lived on Guy Street, probably at the same location as the business. This leads me to believe that an old frame building on the northwest corner of Guy (now Augustina) once accommodated the business as well as the family.

 

The bottle I found is a champagne style tooled crown (12 oz) that fits the early 1900’s time frame. I’ve seen blob top VanBrunt bottles on the Internet so I assume it’s not one of his initial productions.

Trommer’s Evergreen Brewery, Brooklyn, NY

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John F. Trommer purchased the recently built plant of Stehlin and Breitkopf in 1896. Prior to that he served as William Ulmer’s brewmaster. After his death in1897, his son George took over and grew the business.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced that the business had incorporated in their August 3, 1897 Edition under the heading “New Brewing Company.”

Albany N.Y., August 2 – The John F Trommer Evergreen Brewery Company of Brooklyn was incorporated today with the secretary of state with capital stock of $175,000. The directors are George F Trommer and Caroline Trommer of Brooklyn, William G Ringler, Lorenz Zeller and Edward Michling of New York City.

George Trommer continued to be listed as President and Caroline Trommer as Treasurer in the “Copartnership and Corporation Directory” of the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens 1913-1914.

They were one of just a few breweries to make an all-malt beer with 100% barley and wheat malt and hops (no other additives like corn, rice, cane sugar, etc.).

In addition to the Brewery, the Evergreen Complex, located at 1632 Bushwick Avenue (corner of Conway) included a restaurant and beer garden. An advertisement in the October 5, 1907 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle provided actual photographs of the beer garden entrance and interior of the restaurant. It called the restaurant “one of the best appointed restaurants in Brooklyn”

A June 1913 advertisement went much further, calling the complex “A Great Family Resort, Cool, Inviting, Entertaining, Always.”

The advertisement goes on to provide a colorful description of the complex (that now included bowling alleys) and  the beer it served.

It can accommodate and entertain 4,000 people at one time. The entire property consists of 200,000 square feet. The main ballroom accommodates 1,000 couples.

The Gardens surrounding the main building are set with numerous maple trees and hedges of California privet, which afford shade and country atmosphere to one of the prettiest “summer spots” in Greater New York. It is the finest park of the kind in the City; illuminated at night by countless colored lanterns and incandescent lights.

Trommers has been for years and is, the rendezvous for automobilists for the hasty snack and full course dinner. The restaurant is completely equipped for the entertainment of large parties and its cuisine and service is unsurpassed. The Bowling Alleys in the main building are open for dates during the coming season. Fine instrumental music every evening by Fred A Reese’s Instrumental Band. Vocal entertainment by male singers every evening and Sunday afternoon and evening.

We wish to inform you that we have produced, in addition to our celebrated three perfect brews of Grand Prize Pure Malt Beers Pilsner, Muenchner and Bavarian (the foremost bottled beers for family, restaurant, hotel and club use) a new brew of very finest quality – our “Augustiner Brau.”

The finest Pure Malt Beer, produced from the highest grades of barley malt, choicest growths of imported Saazer hops and German yeast exclusively, strictly made according to the German (Muenchner) brewing method and fully matured, representing the highest type of a “Pure Malt-Real Doppel-Lager Beer.” Our Augustiner Brau is a rich, nutritious, liquid food, contributing to the strength of body and nerves. “There is none better brewed and matured.” Try it and convince yourself. Send your order today, by mail or phone, we assure prompt delivery. Phone 1100 E.N.Y.

Trommer’s Bottled Beers – Our sanitary methods and care in bottling are second to none, and each bottle of our Pure Malt Beers has a reputation as to its Purity. We only brew one grade of beer, that which is made of the best Barley, Malt and choicest Saazar Hops exclusively.

If you would spend a pleasant afternoon or evening come to Trommer’s. Take your wife and family. All cars – surface and elevated- transfer within one block of the door.

During Prohibition they managed to expand the business by lending money and giving support to potential owners of hot dog restaurants as long as they’d feature Trommer’s White Label Near Beer.

In 1930 they opened a second plant in Orange NJ and were extremely popular through much of the 1940’s.

In 1949 a strike by brewery workers shut the NY breweries, including Trommers, down for 72 days. This allowed out of town brewers to get a foot old within NYC. Worse for Trommer’s was the strikers who had taken over the facility didn’t take care of their unique strain of yeast (required for fermentation) when they took over the plant and it died. Trommer’s had to begin a new strain of yeast and this radically changed the taste of their beer and NOT for the better.

Trommers ultimately sold the Orange NJ plant to Liebmann’s (Rheingold) in 1950, and on February 9, 1951 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that  they sold the Brooklyn plant to Piel Brothers.

William Piel, chairman of the board of directors of Piels Bros., well known brewers for almost three-quarters of a century, announced yesterday the purchase of the Brooklyn brewing properties of the John F. Trommer Co. This acquisition joins together two famous names in brewing, Piels Bros., founded in 1883 and John F. Trommer Co., founded in 1897, who have been neighbors in Brooklyn for over half a century…

Terms of the purchase will give Piel Bros. ownership of Trommer’s fixed properties, inventories and good will, including the right to brew and distribute under the Trommer label, which Piel Bros., will continue to do…

The plant was closed in 1955 and Piels discontinued the label in 1962. There’s no sign of the Brooklyn plant today.

I’ve found a total of 4 differently embossed Trommer bottles, all champagne style tooled crowns (12 oz). Two have the embossed name “John F Trommer (one script and one block letter slug plate) and the other two are embossed Trommer’s. I’ve seen blob top versions of all except for the script version on the Internet so I don’t think the name difference is any indication of age.

I’ve also found a machine made export bottle apparently made during Prohibition as it matches the bottle in a mid 1920’s advertisement for White Label.