Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Purpose of the blog

(provided by Michael Ramos)
The breweries were able to vitalize, maintain and support their communities by providing jobs and a chance for home ownership. I was able to discuss that the breweries gave immigrants a chance to live the "American dream", and give an identity for their community. In the these blogs, I hope that I have established my points of the importance of the breweries in Baltimore.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Beer, a Mayor, and the star-Spangled Banner.

What does the Star Spangled Banner, a brewery and a Mayor of Baltimore have in common? According to an article in the Baltimore Sun titled, “The Beer’s gone, but you can soak up some history”, by Charles V. Flowers, all three are connected in a property space on East Lombard street and the Jones Falls.

In 1783, Thomas Peters was the founder of a brewery in this location. That same year, he married Rebecca Johnson. Her father, Dr. Edward Johnson, joined his son-in-law and named the company Peters, Johnson, and Company.

When Dr. Johnson died, his son Edward Johnson Jr. took over his father’s business share and renamed the company, Edward Johnson and Company. This is the same person who became Mayor of Baltimore for three terms.(picture provided by Michael Ramos)

The brewery burned down in 1812. Edward Johnson rebuilt it and was for sale in 1813. George Brown bought the brewery. According to Flowers article, Mary Pickersgill, who lived in what is now known as the Flag house, sewed together the Star-Spangled Banner on the floor of one of the malt houses because none of her rooms was large enough.1

In 1818, Brown sold the brewery to Elie Clagett, who passed the business to his son William when he passed in 1848. During financial troubles, William got financial assistance form Commodore John D. Daniels. The company changed its name once again to Clagett and Daniels Brewery. The brewery closed in 1879 in part of the change of the customers drinking taste has changed from the English style of Beer to the lighter, German-style Lager.1

In the early 20th century, a casket manufacturer company opened its door to business at this building. Later on in the 1950's and 1960's, the eastern part of the brewery was turned into a parking lot to accommodate the business district and the public housing they have developed around the site around this time. Between 1990-2005, a restaurant which brewed DeGroen's German-style beer before closing in 2005.3

In mid June of 1983,"The Great American Brewery Dig" began as apart of the Fallswalk, which linked several historic structures along the Jones Falls in what was once called Jonestown. Mayor Schaefer said in the opening of the dig,"...young diggers are going to learn something about the city. They may even find a former mayor embalmed in beer". ( picture provided my Michael Ramos)

"Brewers Park" was erected and dedicated at the old site of the brewery in remembrance of the many breweries that once were in business along the Jone Falls. In July 2009, Fairfield Inn & Suite Marriott Hotel, a a 154-room hotel, which will front on President Street, opened on the site of the old Baltimore Brewery. 3

View Larger Map
(courtesy of google earth)

1. "The Beer’s gone, but you can soak up some history".Charles V. Flowers,
The Baltimore Sun. June 16, 1983.

2. "Fairfield Inn replacing DeGroen's brewery". Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore
Sun.November 9, 2007.

3. Brewers Park memorial. President and Lombard Street.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Wiessner Brewery

courtesy of

The Wiessner Brewery was a major employer for the city of Baltimore in the late 1800's. The brewery was located in the 1700 block of East Gay Street. It was founded and built by Brewmaster John Frederick Wiessner in 1863 by the community that is known as the Greenwood estate. This area seemed to be a popular area for breweries. Down the street of the Wiessner Brewery location, a brewery was built in 1853 by George Rost(The Standard Brewery) and another brewery was built around the same area by George Bauernschmidt in 1864.1

The Wiessner Brewery reached its highest peak of productivity in 1919. The brewery reached 110,000 barrels that year. They employed sixty one people; sixteen in brewery work, seventeen drivers, fourteen bottling house,eight garage men, and six office workers.2 It also helped that they had competition in its own neighborhood to vitalize the brewery and the neighborhood. "Those few blocks of Belle Air road(now Gay Street), must have been quite a site between 1886-1888 as both Wiessner and Bauernschmidt erected modern breweries, both said to be "show places of their day" ...The modern ice machines in these two plants were the first of their kind in Baltimore and created considerable interest and discussion".1

With the new building being built,The Wiessner brewery was not only known as a vital employer for the city but as a piece of art."The Flamboyant brewhouse, the complex 's overwhelmingly distinctive feature and an example of the Teutonic Brewery Style, fondly referred top locally as "Germanic Pagoda"...It has stained glass windows, three incredible towers and an altogether commanding silhouette". 6 1

Wiesnner's was an effective force in employing and vitalizing the neighborhood by bringing immigrants to the states. "Across the street is a three story townhouse surrounded by a brick and cast-iron fence, the residence of Wiessner and family. Its large size was strictly functional, for it housed not only the family but workers newly arrives from Germany'.3 Not only did he bring immigrants from Germany to work in the brewery, he brought in skilled professionals to the area. "They brought a brew-master, Dr. Eugene Schwoerer, graduate of Stuttgart and one of the finest brew-masters in Germany".4 This transition helped professionals move to Baltimore and help stabilize the neighborhood with potential homeowners.

In 1920, Wiessner Brewery closed its doors due to prohibition. The Wiessner property was sold to the American Malt Company in 1931. However, with the end of prohibition in 1933, the Wiessner brewery opened in production again as a brewery. The company name changed from the Wiessner Brewery to the American Brewing Company. 3

After prohibition ended, many people thought that beer making would revive the local economy and bring the promise of quality beer again to Baltimore."They say that the return of beer will put forty thousand folks to work in Baltimore...I can well believe it".4

The Allegheny Beverage Company was the last company to occupy the brewery. They were one of twenty one breweries in operation around Baltimore. Its production was 1000-1500 barrels per year or about .07%of the national production. 6 "American Beer" was produced here until 1973. In April 2009, the building, carefully rehabbed, opened its doors and became the Baltimore headquarters for Humanim. 5

View Larger Map
(courtesy of google earth)

1. "The American Breweriana Journal", issue #103, March-April 2000, by
Art Distelrath.

2. "Brewed in Maryland" by William Kelley, 1965.


4. "News Reaches Brewery King That Horrific Dry Law may Be Quashed".
The Baltimore Post. September 9, 1932.

5. National Park Service. National Register of Historic Places.
December 8, 2009.

6. "Some Industrial Archeology of the Monumental City & Environs". Robert M Vogel.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Change of Topic

I'm changing my topic to the History of Breweries in Baltimore. I want to broaden my topic and concentrate instead of just the breweries in what we know now as Brewers Hill, but the breweries of Baltimore's past. In my research at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, there has been over fifty four major breweries in Baltimore's history.

The earliest noted brewery in Baltimore was the E.D. & J.L Barnitz brewery. It was located in Hanover & Baltimore Street. Its date of operation was in 1748. The last major brewery in operation in Baltimore was the Carling-National/G. Heileman Brewery. The building was located in Conkling & Dillon Street. The last year of production was in 1984.1

It will be more research for me. However, it will be a great learning experience for me in my way of research, exploration and learning history first hand.

1. "Major Baltimore Breweries".Enoch Pratt free Library. Archives.
EPFL June 27, 1984.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Location of Brewers Hill

Brewers Hill is located in The Southeast part of the city. It borders Highlandtown, Greektown and Canton. Brewers Hill borders are Fleet Street on the North,Dillon Street on the South, Conkling Street on the West and Haven Street on the East.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gunther Brewery

Gunther Brewery is the best known beer in Baltimore in the early 20th century. It was founded by George Gunther, Jr. in 1900. By 1959 it was the second largest brewery in Baltimore, when it produced 800,000 barrels per year and employed approximately 600 people.The site of the brewery is located on Brewers Hill in Southeast Baltimore. The boundaries of Brewers Hill are: Fleet Street on the North, Dillon Street on the South, Conkling Street on the West, and Haven Street on the East.

(courtesy of

Hamm's Brewing Company, a large Minnesota-based brewery, bought the Gunther Brewing Company in 1960. Hamm was attempting to expand its territory into the East and bought Gunther when it first went into sale. Rather than continue to brew Gunther for local customers and introduce its own brands over time, Hamm's eliminated Gunther's brand immediately. That didn't work well for Hamm since it betrayed the trust and ultimately the local loyalty of Gunther enthusiast.
(courtesy:Baltimore sun)

Hamm's Brewing Company only stayed for three years before selling the brewery and brands to F&M Schaefer Brewing Company, a large Brooklyn-based brewer in 1963.
While promoting their brand of beer, they reintroduced Gunther as one of its budget brands and won back some of the local customer base. Schaefer itself continued in operation until 1976.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

National Brewery Company

(courtesy:baltimore sun)
Not sure what had occurred in my initial entry of the blog last week. Nevertheless, I will reinstate my entry of my blog will be the history of Brewers Hill brewery. I'm going to start with the National Brewery Company in Brewers Hill.

National Beer
National Beer
You’ll love the taste of National Beer
And while I’m singing
I’m proud to say
It’s brewed on the shores
of Chesapeake Bay!2

These are the lyrics of the National Bohemian song. "Natty Boh", has been a Baltimore symbol for a long time.

National Bohemian Beer was first brewed by the National Brewing Company of Baltimore in 1885. It was founded in 1885 by Joseph L. and William L. Straus, whose father Levy Straus gained control of a local brewery through foreclosure of a mortgage of malt debts, which was erected in 1872 by Frederick and Anna Wunder.3 The National Brewing Company merged with Carling, a Canadian firm that had built a large brewery in Halethorpe in 1961, and became Carling-National and became the nation's 10th-largest beer maker. 2

(courtesy: National Brewery introduced Colt 45 in 1963. When Colt 45 first hit liquor stores it was a premium product, priced higher than Boh and designed to compete with Bud, Pabst, and Schlitz. Dawson Farber,vice president of marketing for National Brewery, stated that the name was chosen to state the extra "bang" that Colt 45 had. (Malt liquor's alcohol content is as much as twice that of beer). "We had to be very careful to never show a gun in the advertising", Farber said. National Brewery was a major sponsor of the Baltimore Colts football at the time. Farber also said that, "he sometimes told people the brew was named for a Colt fullback who wore the number 45".1

Colt 45 soon became National's first truly national brand. However, National Brewery had less luck with several follow-up products, including a "sparkling malt liquor" called French 76 ("It tasted just like champagne," Farber says eagerly) and 007 Special Blend, a mixture of beer and malt liquor whose cans featured pretty models set against London landmarks.1

As a cost-cutting measure, National's Lager Beer Hill plant,(as we know now as the the Brewers hill Plant), shut down in 1978 and moved to the Halethorpe facility. At its height, the brewery produced over two million barrels of beer in 1983 and employed oveer 550 people in Baltimore.3

G Heileman Brewing Company bought out Carling National in the early 1980's. Heileman was then sold to the Stroh Brewery Company in 1996. Then it was sold to Pabst Brewing Company. The beer is now brewed in Eden, North Carolina by Miller. The Halethorpe brewery ceased production in 2000. It was razed in 2006.2

View Larger Map (courtesy: google earth)

1."A beer to call your own. Tales from the Rise and Fall of National Brewing", by Brennen Jensen, January 16, 2002, City Paper.

2. From the National Bohemian Brewery Historical Museum, Brewers Hill, Maryland.

3. From the files of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Researched October 16, 2009.