PABST

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The Pabst Brewing Co dates it’s origins to a brewing company founded in 1844 by Jacob Best. A brief history of the Best Brewing Company includes:

  • The original brewery called the Empire Brewery and later, Best and Company was located on Chestnut Hill Street in Milwaukee Wisconsin.
  • Jacob Best’s son Phillip took control of the brewery in 1860.
  • In 1863 Frederick Pabst, a steamship captain and son-in-law of Phillip Best bought a share of the Phillip Best Brewing Co.
  • In the 1870’s Frederick Pabst becomes president.
  • In 1874 the Phillip Best Brewing Co was the nation’s largest brewer.
  • In 1875 they began bottling a lager beer they branded “Best Select” that they had been brewing since the 1860’s.

In March, 1889 the name of the company was changed to the Pabst Brewing Company. The following notice, announcing the change, appeared in several March and April issues of the “Weekly Wisconsin” a Milwaukee newspaper.

Not long after, by 1890, the first references to their signature beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon began to appear.

It was only a year or so later that Pabst established themselves in New York City. Locally, the first listing I could find for the Pabst Brewing Company was in the 1891-92 NYC City Directory at 374 Washington. The first New York City advertisement I could find was in the April 25, 1892 edition of the New York World. The advertisement showed Pabst beating Anheuser-Busch in comparative sales in 1891, calling themselves the “most popular beer ever placed before the public.” You have to appreciate their selective use of font size to help make their point!

One of the first national brands, Pabst apparently tried pretty hard to sell themselves in New York City as “local.” In several May and June 1897 issues of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, they published several different full-page advertisements that stressed, among other things, that they bottled their beer in New York City and were in fact a “local institution.”

WE ARE A LOCAL INSTITUTION

We have our own branch establishment here and WE ARE THE ONLY WESTERN BREWERY WHO BOTTLES BEER FOR THE NEW YORK MARKET UNDER THEIR OWN ROOF AND INTELLIGENT SUPERVISION. We have 117 employees in New York. We purchase large amounts of supplies from New York. We spend with New York business houses, publishers and for rent for our various establishments enormous sums, indeed sums far in excess of the volume of local business. We are therefore a local institution in every sense of the word, a home institution to the Metropolitan district. This feature should be remembered.

The following year, in 1898, they changed their listed address to 606 W 49th St (Between 11th and 12th Avenue) where they remained through at least 1919. The NY manager in these early years was named Eugene Schlep who was listed as a company director in the NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directories from 1900 to 1919.

A January 26, 1911 advertisement in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle stressed the value of Pabst Blue Ribbon as a food and also demonstrated that PABST had started using bottles with crown finishes by this time.

With the advent of Prohibition, the Pabst Brewing Company was dissolved and the newly formed Pabst Corporation went off in other directions. A December 8, 1920 article in the New York Times told the story.

The Pabst Brewing Company which, until the advent of prohibition, was one of the world’s greatest breweries, passed out of existence today when the Pabst Corporation, with a capital of $5,000,000 was formed, dissolving the old company.

H.J. Stark, President of the brewing company, announced that the concern was a thing of the past and that the corporation would “manufacture, sell and generally deal in goods, wares, etc…

The Pabst Brewery is still operating on a small scale selling and manufacturing near beer. Milwaukee does not take kindly to near beer and business in this commodity is negligible.

One area that Pabst moved into was cheese production selling more than 8 million pounds of “Pabst-eff” cheese.

When prohibition ended the company went back to selling beer and the cheese line was sold to Kraft. A March, 1934 advertisement for Pabst Blue Ribbon Bock Beer visually signaled the end of Prohibition and the return of their beer with the image of a jumping ram and the phrase “a single leap through 15 years”.

The very bottom of the advertisemnt refers to local distributers so it appears they were no longer bottling their own beer locally. The post Prohibition Telephone Directories confirm this. PABST is not listed in the 1935 Classifieds under beer or brewers. In 1940 they’re listed under brewers but as the PABST SALES COMPANY. They were located on Hudson Street.

Today PABST is a holding company contracting for the brewing of over two dozen brands from defunct companies. Some of the brands I recognize include Ballantine, Heileman, Lone Star, Piel Bros, Olympia, Falstaff, Schaefer, Schlitz, Schmidts and Strohs.

W 49th St between 11th and 12th Avenues is now primarily occupied by a modern warehouse type building housing a Federal Express Shipping Center.

I have found two different type bottles, both machine made. One is a brown champagne style, the other a green export style. They are most likely in the 1910 to 1920 time frame.

 

 

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.