The story of Trommer’s Evergreen Brewery begins with John F. Trommer, a German immigrant, who for many years served as the brew-master at Brooklyn’s William Ulmer Brewery. A story in the June 15, 1895 edition of the (Brooklyn) Times Union featuring several Brooklyn brewers included a piece on William Ulmer that mentioned Trommer.
Mr. John F. Trommer is the brew-master. This gentleman was born in Germany. His experience has been with leading plants. His connection with William Ulmer extends back a long period. This firm clearly appreciates the efforts of Mr. Trommer. Said a Philadelphia brewer: “Mr. Trommer is one of the most skillful brewers on the continent. He appears wedded to the William Ulmer Brewery, and whenever I have been in Brooklyn, I have always found this man, honest as the day is long, at his post, advancing in every possible way the best interests of the brewery.”
Ultimately Trommer did leave Ulmer and went out on his own, purchasing the plant of Stehlin and Breitkopf sometime in 1896 or 1897. The brewery, listed at 1632 Bushwick Avenue had apparently become available after the sudden death of Joseph Stehlin, in August 1896. Unfortunately, less than a year later, on May 2, 1897, Trommer also passed away at which time his son George took over and grew the business.
Within three months an announcement that the business had incorporated was printed in the August 2, 1897 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Another Brewery for Brooklyn
The John F. Trommer Evergreen Co. of Brooklyn was incorporated with the Secretary of State today with a capital stock of $175,000. The directors are: George F. Trommer and Caroline Trommer of Brooklyn; William G. Ringler, Lorenz Zellar and Edward Miehling of New York City.
Around the same time the company submitted a trademark application that was later published in the November 20, 1897 edition of the (Brooklyn) Standard Union.
George Trommer continued to be listed as President and his mother, Caroline Trommer, as Treasurer in the “Copartnership and Corporation Directory” of the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens 1913-1914. How long they remained active in the business is unclear but George continued to list himself as a brewery executive in the 1940 census records. Caroline passed away in 1930, George in 1956.
The Evergreen Brewery expanded around the original Stehlin and Breitkopf plant location at the corner of Bushwick Avenue and Conway Street, and throughout the years they continued to list their address as 1632 Bushwick Avenue. In addition to the Brewery, the complex included a restaurant and beer garden. A 1903 artist rendering of the brewery complex was resurrected 60 years later in the June 20, 1963 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
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”
Another advertisement, this one published in the June 1, 1913 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle went much further, calling the complex “A Great Family Resort, Cool, Inviting, Entertaining, Always.”
The advertisement went on to provide a colorful description of the complex that now included, among other things, bowling alleys.
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.
Trommer’s 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.
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.
The Evergreen Brewery was 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.). A May 23 1908 feature on Commerce and Business in the Staunton (Va) Daily Leader included a piece on the Evergreen Brewery that stressed this point.
“Quality, not quantity,” is their motto. No effort is made to rival competing companies’ bulk of output, but when it came to grade of beers they determined to establish an unsurpassed standard, that they have succeeded is attested by the constantly increasing demand for Trommer brews, despite the fact that they are only to be had at a higher price than is ordinarily charged.
Nothing but the finest quality of malt and imported hops and yeast, besides water, enter into its components. On principle Mr. Trommer refuses to substitute rice or corn for the more expensive malt, or to use glucose or chemicals. The net result is a beverage which for absolute purity, fine flavor and wholesomeness has no superior among either foreign or domestic beers.
The June 1, 1913 Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisement mentioned three Grand Prize Pure Malt Beers and went on to tout a new addition – our “Augustiner Brau.”
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 – “…a rich nutritious, liquid food, contributing to the strength of body and nerves.”
During Prohibition Trommer’s 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 (de-alcoholized) White Label Malt Brew.
Business was so good that sometime in the early 1930’s they opened a second plant in Orange NJ.
In 1933, with the end of Prohibition looming, this March 23rd (Brooklyn) Times Union story announced that Trommer’s was one of the first brewers to obtain a permit to bottle the real thing.
With the amber brew sloshing merrily into the great beer vats of the city’s breweries, three of the biggest beer plants in the east-located in Brooklyn-were among the first eight in the State to get permits to bottle the thirst quencher and store it until the legal sale date at 12:01 A.M. April 7.
Trommer’s, the Schaefer Brewing Co. and Piel Bros. were the borough plants whose permits were issued today by the Bureau of Industrial Alcohol in Manhattan, which is handling the permits. These plants, which had been making near beer with its vitality drawn out under Prohibition ruling, now may let the stuff sizzle up to 3.2 before bottling.
Trommer’s continued to use the “White Label” brand name after Prohibition ended and by the mid-1930’s they were advertising it in their new “stubby” style bottle that was now “no deposit and no return.” This and similar advertisements were prevalent in the 1936 editions of New York City newspapers.
Their bottle may have changed but the commitment to an “all malt” product never did. This partial advertisement published in the May 21, 1948 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle continued to stress that White Label was “brewed solely of malt and hops.”
The late 1940’s began to spell the end for Trommer’s. According to a June 10, 2014 Post on brownstoner.com, in 1948 and 1949 two separate strikes by brewery workers shut down the NYC breweries including Trommers. The second strike lasted for 72 days, allowing out of town brewers to get a foot hold 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) and it died. Trommer’s had to begin a new strain of yeast and this radically changed the taste of their beer.
Trommers ultimately sold the Orange N, J. plant to Liebmann’s (Rheingold) in 1950. The sale was covered in the November 29, 1950 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Trommer’s Sells New Jersey Plant
With the sale of its Orange (NJ) plant to Liebmann Breweries, Inc., the John F. Trommer Brewery firm will conduct all of its operations at its borough plant, 1632 Bushwick Ave., early in 1951.
An official of Trommer’s said today that all deliveries will be made from the Brooklyn plant. With the increase in its operations, capacity of the Bushwick Ave. facilities will be increased…
The promise to increase capacity at the Brooklyn plant never materialized and on February 9, 1951 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that they sold their Bushwick Avenue facilities 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…
Trommer’s White Label Beer advertisements that included the Piel Bros.’ name began appearing soon after. This White Label ad appeared in the September 13, 1951 issue of the New York Daily News.
The Trommer’s Brooklyn plant apparently closed in the mid-1950’s and was demolished sometime in the mid-1960’s. The Trommer label was acquired by the Schaefer Brewing Company sometime in January, 1975. According to the January 24, 1975 edition of the (Allentown Pa.) Morning Call:
Schaefer is the one to brew Piels beer
The F & M Schaefer Brewing Co. has signed an agreement “to make and sell the entire volume of Piels and Trommer brands of beer,” a company spokesman said yesterday.
When negotiations were under way, Schaefer reported an agreement would provide for manufacture and marketing of the two brands at the Lehigh Valley Brewery of Schaefer in Fogelsville. It would almost double the present Folgelsville production and bring it close to the rated capacity of the plant here of 2.5 million barrels annually…
The trademarks, trade names and brewing formula of Piels will be preserved.
It’s not exactly clear to me exactly when the Trommer name and label disappeared from the market. It disappeared in newspaper advertisements well before the Schaefer acquisition.
I’ve found a total of four differently embossed Trommer bottles, all champagne style tooled crowns (12 oz). Two, both brown, have the embossed name “John F Trommer (one script and one block letter slug plate) and the other two, one aqua and one brown, are embossed Trommer’s Evergreen Brewery. The aqua version includes their “star bearing the letter E” trademark.
Recognizing all four versions are tooled crowns I don’t think the various designs are any indication of age. They all likely date from the early 1900’s.
The May 23, 1908 Staunton Daily Leader feature included a description of the Trommer bottling operation around the time these bottles were likely in use.
Besides brewing beer, Mr. Trommer has a perfectly appointed bottling department. To those unfamiliar with the pains here taken to insure perfect bottling this department is a revelation. The wonderful bottle cleansing machine is rivaled by the equally interesting pasteurizing machine, while the contrivance which puts two labels on a bottle at once as fast as a man can feed the machine is scarcely less a marvel of ingenuity.
And this October 5, 1907 Brooklyn Daily Eagle photograph included a photograph of the Trommer bottling operation at that time.
I’ve also found a machine made export bottle. Apparently made during Prohibition, the bottle, including the embossed “Trommer’s” name, exactly matches the bottle in a mid 1920’s advertisement for White Label.