Otto Huber Brewery, Brooklyn, N.Y.

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A German immigrant, Otto Huber’s first years in the United States and the establishment of the Otto Huber Brewery were described in his September 1, 1889 obituary printed in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Mr. Huber was the architect of his own fortune. He arrived in this country from Baden in 1862 and engaged as a journeyman in the brewery of John Joerger, at the corner of Meserole Street and Graham Avenue, now owned and operated by his brother in law, Mr. Louis B.Schuler.

This rendering of the original 1866 brewery was included in a June 28, 1902 Huber Brewery advertisement published in the (Brooklyn) Times Union.

His obituary went on to say:

In 1866 he purchased the brewery from Joerger and continued the business there till 1868, when he bought some lots on the corner of Bushwick Avenue and Meserole Street and built the big brewery known as Otto Huber’s.

The expansion of the plant through the late 1800’s was described in a feature on the brewery published in the June 15, 1895 edition of the (Brooklyn) Times Union.

The offices are situated at 242 Meserole Street. When the site was taken in 1868, it was literally a suburban locality. Little of the old plant now remains. The present brew-house was built in 1876, and storehouses have been added from time to time. The artificial ice plant was established in 1880, and this house, we learn, was the first to use the De La Vergne machine. The stables are fine, the horses are very valuable, and are said to be the best in the city, being a walking advertisement.

Annual output was growing as well. According to the June 15, 1895 feature:

The house brewed, if I remember rightly, 2,000 barrels in 1867; 46,000 barrels in 1880; 86,000 barrels in 1885; and for the fiscal year ending July 1, 1894, 103,724 barrels.

A September 1, 1902 Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisement included a photograph of the brewery at that time and a June 22, 1902 story in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle provided the following description of the brewery complex and how far it had progressed by the turn of the century.

One of the biggest brewing establishments in New York City is the Otto Huber Brewery in Meserole Street between Bushwick Avenue and Waterbury Street, Brooklyn. The buildings are a landmark in the vicinity, and the brewery business carried on in them gives employment to hundreds of Brooklyn workmen, to say nothing of the immense trucking business necessary to get the product of their labor out to the hotels, saloons and restaurants supplied throughout the city. As to the quality of that product, the simple fact of the brewery doing an immense business in a field where there are so many competitors, is sufficient evidence and shows the preference of the public for the Huber beer and ales. There is scarcely a street in Brooklyn that does not glisten with the attractive Otto Huber signs, and the brewer’s goods are found in all first class hotels and restaurants…The bottling department of the brewery is located at 240 to 244 Meserole Street, where the case goods trade is taken care of, while establishments using beer by the keg or barrel are served direct from the brewery.

Huber’s bottling notice appeared in the Brooklyn newspapers in May, 1896 and advertisements for their bottled beers began appearing shortly afterwards so I think it’s safe to assume that they added their bottling department around this time. Based on this January 30, 1897 advertisement it was certainly up and running by then.

A 1907 advertisement showed the bottling department across the street from the main office.

An exterior photograph of the bottling department appeared in a June 28, 1902 advertisement printed in the (Brooklyn) Times Union.

The interior was pictured in the October 5, 1907 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Otto Huber ran the business until his death in 1889. At that point the heirs incorporated the business. The incorporation notice was printed in the September 23, 1889 edition of the Brooklyn Citizen.

In accordance with the request in the will of the late Otto Huber, the brewery has been turned into a corporation.The heirs have organized the Otto Huber Brewery, with a capital of $560,000. The trustees for the first year are: Mrs. Emilie Huber, Otto Huber and Joseph Huber.

His son, Otto Huber, Jr., ran the business for the next eleven years until his death in 1900. At that point the business was taken over by the two remaining sons Joseph and F. Max. Both were still listed in the Copartnership and Corporation Directory of the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens in 1913-1914. Joseph Huber was named president and treasurer and Max Huber Secretary.

Another profile on the Huber Brewery, this one in the May 23, 1908 edition of the Staunton (Va) Leader 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 and 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 bottles with both crown and blob top finishes.

Another advertisement, 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 bottles with 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.

At the beginning of Prohibition it appears that the brewery was not brewing but the corporation apparently remained active managing their real estate holdings. Ultimately they sold off all of their properties and voted to dissolve the corporation. The dissolution vote was announced in the January 23, 1925 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Huber Brewery Dissolution Voted

The stockholders of the Otto Huber Brewery at a special meeting today voted to sell the property f the corporation and dissolve it after the consummation of the sale.

At the present time, according to one of the officials, no immediate sale is prospect, and the action of the stockholders was merely a preliminary step.

At one time the Huber Brewery had large property holdings in New York, Brooklyn and vicinity. Lately, it is believed, much of this has been disposed of at real estate boom prices. The company still has the brewery which is situated at Meserole St. and old Bushwick Pl.

Over a year later the August 24, 1926 edition of the (Brooklyn) Standard Union announced that the last building had been sold.

The last remaining building of the Otto Huber Company’s big brewery plant has been sold to the Pompeian Bronx Company. A two-story and basement structure with 14,000 square feet of floor space. It will now, after years of comfort under the weight of fragrant kegs be used, possibly as a house for the manufacture of bronze tablets to prominent total abstainers.

During this period Edward Hittleman must have acquired much of the brewery holdings because around 1927 or 1928 it appears that he combined the operations of his Munch Brewery and Hittleman Golden Rod Brewery at the Huber plant. Both are listed within the Huber complex at 1 Bushwick Place in the 1928 telephone listings. Later he would call the plant the Edelbrau Brewery.

The plant closed in 1951 shortly after the death of Hittleman. More information on the Hittleman years is contained in the following post. Munch Brewery Bottling Dept., Inc., Brooklyn, New York

Several brewery buildings still exist. One is the original bottling department pictured above in the 1902 photograph.

Across the street from the bottling department was the office. While the second and third stories have been removed the ground floor with its unique corner entrance appears to have survived. One internet site mentions that this was a saloon associated with the brewery. Locating the brewery offices above the saloon makes perfect sense to me.

   

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 that appeared all over the country:

Picture a skyscraper hurtling across the Atlantic, Berlin bound…a railroad winging over the Pacific, headed for Tokyo…Crazy Dream?

No, just part of what the Nation’s biggest city is getting ready to throw at the Axis in the form of bombs and bullets, tanks and planes.

Uncle Sam said: “The steel mills need scrap, 17,000,000 tons of it, in order to continue producing for the war.”

New York said: “Count on us to do our part”

…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.

A staged photograph commemorating his contribution appeared in the October 1, 1942 edition of the New York Daily News.

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 to the later years of the Huber operation. The tooled crowns were made earlier but date no earlier than 1898 when the crown finish began appearing in Huber ads.. I’ve also found a machine made Hittleman Brewery bottle that dates to the Prohibition era or possibly after.