Peter Doelger, Brewer, New York

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Peter Doelger’s obituary, published in the December 16, 1912 issue of the New York Tribune, provides some information on his life and the early years of his brewery.

Mr. Doelger was born at Kleinwallstadt, in the province of Oberfranken, Bavaria, on March 3, 1832. His father conducted in the village a small but prosperous brewery, in which he made a dark brown beer whose fame spread beyond the province. Peter Doelger was one of six children all of whom learned the trade in their father’s brewery. In 1850 Mr. Doelger came to New York to join his brother, Joseph, who proceeded him by two years. The following year Mr. Doelger went to Savannah, but with his brother soon returned to this city and started a brewery in 2d Street between Avenue A and Avenue B. In 1859 Peter started a brewery for himself, and the same year married Miss Margarethe Lambrecht.

There being very few breweries in the city at that time, the one operated by Peter Doelger grew amazingly, his beer becoming so popular that in 1863 it was necessary for him to purchase four lots in East 55th Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A. Today there stands the big brewery that embraces the entire block between 55th and 56th Streets, First Avenue and Avenue A. It is said to be one of the most modern breweries in the country.

The early New York City directories generally confirm the above information. In the mid 1850’s, Joseph Doelger is listed as a brewer at 156 3rd St (not 2nd St). In 1859 Peter Doelger is listed for the first time as brewer at 93 Avenue A.

Between 1860 and 1863, the business of Doelger and Schaefer, brewers, was listed with two addresses: 98 Avenue A and East 55th Street, near Avenue A.  By 1865, the Doelger and Schaefer name was gone and Peter Doelger, brewer, was listed at East 55th Street where it remained until the late 1920’s.

After his death, his sons Peter Jr. and Charles continued to run the business. Around this time, it appears that the business was also incorporated. The 1914 Copartnership and Corporation Directory lists the business as the Peter Doelger Brewing Co., Inc., located at 407 E 55th Street. Peter Jr. was named president and Charles was secretary.

Doelger referred to his brewery as Peter Doelger’s First Prize Brewery and his beer was called Peter Doelger’s First Prize Beer. An 1879 advertisement compares sales in 1877 – 78 to 1878 – 79.

Available on draught from the start in 1859, they began bottling it in 1911. A May 9, 1911 advertisement touted: “Science Triumphant at Peter Doelger’s Magnificent New Bottling Department.” In part the advertisement read:

With the scraping of trowels and the clanking of hammers barely stilled, the most scientifically equipped and sanitarily perfect bottling plant in the world stands ready for the push of the electric button which will set its wonderful machinery in motion.

On May 9th, the New Bottling Department of the Peter Doelger First Prize Brewery will begin to bottle its peerless product expressly for the home…

For more than half a century, Peter Doelger First Prize Beer has held undisputed supremacy over all other brews. Since 1859 this healthful liquid food has been drawn directly from the barrel to delight the palate of the connoisseur.

Today, thanks to the unceasing efforts of our experts, aided by the remarkable advance of science, Peter Doelger First Prize Beer will for the fist time be sold to you in bottles; a worthy tribute to the brewers and bottlers highest art.

Another advertisement, this one in 1916, now called it “First Prize Bottled Beer” and touted it as “The one beer that is worth it’s weight in gold as a nerve, body and strength builder.

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Brooklyn Daily Eagle advertisements from March 9, 1924 and August 8, 1926 demonstrate that they were brewing near-beer under the Doelger name during Prohibition.

Sometime in the late 1920’s The business sold the East 56th Street brewery and moved to Brooklyn. A September 1, 1929 article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle referenced the Doelger Brewery in an article that discussed the trend of old brewery sites on Manhattan’s east side being replaced with apartment buildings.

The Doelger brewery property is on the block bounded by Sutton, 1st Ave., 55th and 56th Sts., held at $5,500,000 and is reported to be sold to builders for re-improvement with fine apartment houses. The site is 200×613.

Around this time, the business moved to Monteith Street and Evergreen Avenue in Brooklyn then, in 1936, they leased the Hauch Brewery in Harrison NJ. The Harrison N.J. location was included on this 1937 advertisement.

The brewery closed in 1947 or 1948.  An item in the April 13, 1948 issue of the Plainfield Courier News declared the business bankrupt.

Federal Judge Thomas F. Meaney yesterday declared the Peter Doelger Brewing Corporation of Harrison bankrupt and ordered it liquidated.

A tall modern residential building currently occupies the Manhattan brewery site. It’s not old enough to be the building that originally replaced the brewery

The bottle I found is machine made and dates no earlier than 1911 when their bottling plant opened. It matches the bottle shown in this 1916 advertisement.

             

Peter had a brother Joseph whose family also operated a brewery on 55th Street at 234 East 55th Street. The brewery was originally listed in the directories under Joseph Doelger (1904 and earlier) and later under Joseph Doelger’s Sons (1907 and later).

Consumers Brewery, Bottling Dept., New York

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Back in the late 1800’s it seems like there’s a Consumers Brewery in every town in America. In New York alone I could find the Consumers Star Brewing Co and the Consumers Park Brewing Co, both in Brooklyn. Manhattan had the Manhattan Consumers Brewing Company and the Consumers Brewing Co, Ltd.

It appears to me that the bottle (by process of elimination) is associated with the Consumers Brewing Co., Ltd for the following reasons:

  • Brooklyn based companies typically embossed the location on their bottles “Brooklyn NY” not “New York”
  • The Manhattan Consumers Brewing Co, 530 W 57th St, was short lived and out of business by 1905 according to the July 1, 1905 issue of the “American Brewers Review”. It looks like Consumers Park Brewing Co bought it out around that time. The bottle I found is machine made and most likely made after 1905.

The Consumers Brewing Company Ltd first appeared in the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directories in 1890 at 21 Park Row. By 1892 their location had changed to Avenue A between 54th and 55th Streets, where they remained through the late 1920’s. The Directories I could find between 1902 and 1919 listed them as a corporation with capital of $600,000 located at 1011 Avenue A. (Note that originally Avenue A was the name of the north-south street immediately east of First Avenue. It was non-continuous and only existed where it fit geographically between First Avenue and the East River. It once included today’s Sutton Place and York Avenue.)

An October 6, 1912 advertisement in The “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” touted their lager beer.

While another in the October 9, 1915 edition of the same newspaper says “Try Our Columbia and Special Dark Beer.

Also listed separately in each of the Directories between 1902 and 1915 is the Consumers Bottling Co (RTN) located at 402 E 49th Street. Located about 5 blocks from the brewery, it was probably their bottling operation (or department as the bottle is embossed) although there are no principals listed that were associated with both companies.

It looks like Prohibition put an end to brewery operations in Manhattan. On February 23, 1920, they sold most, if not all, of the components associated with their distribution system, including 27 brewery trucks and 37 horses.

The 55th Street brewery complex itself  came to an end sometime in the mid to late 1920’s when it was sold to the Tischman Realty Company. A story in the May 27, 1928 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle entitled “Apartment Block for Brewery Site to Cost $6,000,000” told the story.

Among the large Manhattan building projects to follow deals closed in the boro during the past week is an apartment structure to cover the block front on the west side of Sutton Pl., from 54th to 55th St., which, it is estimated, will involve about $6,000,000.

The site for the building was purchased by the Tischman Realty Co., Inc. from the Consumers Brewing Company, and contains approximately 40,000 square feet.

A NY Daily News aerial photo of the Manhattan brewery complex is presented below.

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The newspaper dates the photograph as 1931, but based on the Brooklyn Eagle story it may have been taken several years earlier.

After Prohibition, there was a  Consumers Brewing Company located in Long Island City that listed their address as 29-08 Northern Blvd. They were listed at that location as late as 1940.

Currently, an apartment building occupies the Manhattan brewery site. According to street easy.com it’s a “white glove” coop that was built in 1955, so it’s not the building that originally replaced the brewery. An office tower occupies the bottling plant.

The bottle has an export style and is machine made (12 ounce).

 

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.

     

Bajorath, Long Island City

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Charles Bajorath appears to have been a small-scale bottler of lager beer that worked out of his residence. According to the 1910 census records he immigrated to the U.S. in 1886 but the first mention of him in the NYC Directory was in 1892 as a bottler with just a home listing at 428 E 92nd Street. Subsequently, he was listed sporadically (1903 Trow Business Directory and 1909 City Directory are the only listings I could find) as a beer bottler at 1735 Second Avenue.

In 1910 he moved to 461 Washington Avenue in Long Island City. The 1910 Census Records indicated that he had a beer bottling business that he ran out of his house and the 1912 Queens Business Directory listed him as a bottler of lager beer at the Washington Avenue address. In addition, the Annual Report of the State Commission of Excise listed him as a liquor tax certificate holder for the years 1911 and 1913. He was listed in the 1920 Census Records (name spelled incorrectly) but at this point he’s in his 70’s and did not list a business or occupation.

Washington Avenue was later renamed 36th Avenue in Long Island City. I can’t relate the No. 461 to any specific block.

The bottle I found is a brown champagne style bottle. It has “L. I. City” embossed on it, dating it to after his move to Long Island City in 1910. Interestingly it is machine made but has a blob finish (almost all machine made beer bottles that I’ve found have a crown finish).

A. Busch Bottling Co., Brooklyn NY

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The company started on June 7, 1897 when the Thimig Bottling Company officially changed it’s name to the A Busch Bottling Company. I have to assume that Anheuser-Busch had purchased Thimig around that time.

A notice announcing the proposed name change was printed in the May 5, 1897 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Prior to that, Anheuser-Busch had used local distributors to bottle and sell their product in New York and the Thimig Bottling Company was one of those distributors.

Thimig’s relationship with Anheuser-Busch dated back to at least 1884. An advertisement that year in the April 26 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle listed Anheuser-Busch as one of the beers they sold on draught and in bottles.

Then in a May 18, 1890 advertisement Thimig was named as their sole agent and bottler (I assume for the City of Brooklyn).

Herman Thimig was first listed in the Brooklyn directory in 1871 as a bottler on Atlantic Avenue. He had several Atlantic Avenue addresses: 276 Atlantic (1871); 288 Atlantic (1875 to 1889) and finally 433-435 Atlantic (1892 to 1897). He also maintained a 50 Bergen Street address for a while as well.

The first mention of the A Busch Bottling Co in the NYC Directories that I could find was in the 1899 Trow Business Directory of Brooklyn at 433-435 Atlantic Avenue, the former address of the Thimig Bottling Company. A year prior, Alfred Busch was listed in the 1898 General Directory at that address.

The A Busch Bottling Co continued to be listed in all of the Brooklyn City Directories and Telephone Directories I could find between 1902 and 1917 at 433-435 Atlantic Avenue. The 1913-1914 Copartnership and Corporation Directory for Brooklyn and Queens listed the Business as a NY Corporation with E A Faust as President; J Alfred Piper as Vice Pesident and H P Hof as Secretary and Treasurer.

Around the time the A Busch Bottling Company was established they were bottling several different Anheuser-Busch brands. An advertising item in the October 11, 1900 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle named them as wholesale dealers for the following bottled beers: Budweiser, Faust, Black & Tan, Anheuser Standard, Export Pale, Exquisite and Pale Lager.

Other advertisements in that time frame mentioned Michelob as well.

Another product they distributed early on was a tonic called “Malt-Nutrine, the helpful food drink to promote appetite, restore health, build body and brain.”

During the early 1900’s, Anheuser-Busch and primarily the Budweiser brand was growing leaps and bounds. This growth was documented by A Busch Bottling Company advertisements that indicated that Budweiser sales went from 83 million bottles in 1902 to 130 million bottles in 1904.

 

From their inception, up through 1905, the A Busch Bottling Co. was the only wholesale distributor in the NYC vicinity I’ve seen listed with Anheuser-Busch products but by then it appears that they could no longer handle the growing local demand. In 1906, the Anheuser-Busch Agency located in New York City was listed in the advertisements as a second distributor and by 1909 the Anheuser-Busch Newark Agency was listed as a distributor as well.

The A Busch Bottling Company was not listed in the 1922 Copartnership and Corporation Directory for Brooklyn and Queens so it appears that they did not survive even the beginning of National Prohibition. Anheuser-Busch was still marketing products in New York at that time, including a tonic version of Budweiser and Anheuser Busch Ginger Ale, but in early 1920’s advertisements they listed the Anheuser-Busch Ice & Cold Storage Co., Inc. as their distributor. An advertisement from July 1, 1924 listed that company’s address as 48 Warren Street in Brooklyn. Other advertisements also listed a 166th Street address in NYC.

Later, Anheuser-Busch listed Anheuser-Busch Inc. at 515 West 16th Street as their distributor for their “Budweiser Barley Malt Syrup.” that was first marketed in 1926. According to a June 1933 advertisement, that location was serving as the Anheuser Busch-New York Branch when Prohibition ended.

Today, 433 to 443 Atlantic Avenue is a series of renovated apartment buildings. They don’t appear old enough to be associated with this business but the other side of Atlantic Avenue appears older.

I have found two champagne style bottles both with tooled crowns. They are embossed with the A Busch Bottling Co. name and the Anheuser Busch trade mark insignia. I’d say they fit within the first half of the 1897 to 1920 time frame of the business..