LONG ISLAND, the BEER INDUSTRY, 
and the LIRR

 

NY-Times-beer-map_9-1- 2015.jpg (124699 bytes)I had to start at the beginning of history —of New York beer history—to try to uncover some evidence. We all probably know about those early Dutchman that settled New Amsterdam. They were fastidious people that got things done, so much so they had three successful breweries by 1612 and the country's first commercial brewery by 1632. By the time the German immigrants arrived between the 1830s–1850s, the country was well-versed in the magical mysteries of beer. Upon their arrival, the newcomers set up countless beer factories brandishing an innovative and industrious new German brew at the time: the lager. Voyaging upstate via the Hudson River, these brewers extracted massive blocks of ice from nearby lakes, which allowed for cold storage, a key component when forging their traditional lagers. This German drinking staple quickly dominated the jugs, livers, and hangovers of the New York drinking public at large.

In Manhattan's Upper East Side (then known as Yorkville), Hell Gate Brewery ("Hell Gate" being the nickname for the treacherous East River) and Jacob Ruppert Brewery used to dominate. George Ehret, a German immigrant, created Hell Gate in 1866, a beast of a brewery that occupied the entirety of the area between 91st and 94th Streets, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. By 1877, it was the largest brewery in the country. George's success didn't just apply to making beer: He also invested in 42 saloons around town. No wonder he was known as the "King of Beer Corners." Sprouting out like a conjoined twin, the Jacob Ruppert Brewery set up shop on 3rd Avenue between 90th and 93rd Streets and started to peak around the same time as Hell Gate.

NY Times beer industries map 9/01/2015

At the time of Manhattan's successful breweries, the suburbs of Brooklyn—specifically, a fourteen block radius of Bushwick called 'Brewer's Row'—were teeming with around 50 breweries by 1898. At the very top of the breweries that lingered online in 2014 (and in the minds of the elders in the neighborhood) are Liebmann's Brewery (creators of Rheingold beer) and the F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company (creators of the slogan "the one beer to have when you're having more than one").

Joseph Liebmann and his three sons operated a sizable multi-block facility centered at Bushwick and Forest streets, where they were crushing their competition by 1872, so much so that his three sons were able to retire by 1903 and give control to their six children. Joseph's daughter Sadie had the clever idea to marry one Samuel Simon Steiner in 1895—who came from a line of German hop rowers who had expanded their practice to New York around the same time this whole German beer craze was taking shape—eliminating the need to outsource their hops. That Sadie was a smart woman. This union helped the family launch a beer called Rheingold that would later wear the crown of NYC's most heavily guzzled beer from the 40s–70s.

Meanwhile, back in Manhattan, brothers Frederick and Maximilian created F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company on Broadway between 18th and 19th Streets. They eventually upgraded to a bigger facility nearby on Seventh Avenue before realizing the need to move out of the congested urban neighborhood. They settled upon the wilds of 51st and Park, where they remained for 67 years. Like many other like-minded 19th century beer ventures, Schaefer experienced wild success, jumping ship from Manhattan in 1915 to heavily invest and relocate into a state-of-the-art brewery in south Williamsburg's waterfront at Kent Avenue and S. 10th Street. As their empire expanded, plants were added in Albany, Baltimore, and Allentown.

Thirteen years of Prohibition screwed everybody; brewers and hooch makers around NYC—and anti-German sentiments during WWI and WWII—didn't help to improve the situation either. Then the inevitable, aggressive globalization of larger Midwestern breweries like Anheuser-Busch pushed aside the resilience of New York breweries. What was once the heart of the country's brewing prowess was eventually reduced to total rubble. However, visiting some of these old brewing sites proves there is still some awareness of the city's once proud seat atop the industry's throne, even if it's a lonely picture in a parking garage.

Schaefer's Landing used to be a brewery, too. Nowadays, it's a bunch of fancy industrial condos. A local woman told me that she is aware that her residence used to be a brewery. "We found out looking it up on the computer," she says. "But it really doesn't make no difference for me." The remainder of the former brewery grounds are made up of Cine Magic Riverfront Studios, a film studio.

A receptionist at Schaefer's Landing, Lily Vucic, who has worked in the area for a long time told me, "Back when we took it over, all I remember is hookers and trucks—big, big, big, big trucks. You know the kind with the cabs." Ah, to think of the historical terror of beer. 

But the most preserved space is a former Brooklyn brewery, E.B. Hittleman Brewery on Meserole, just east of Bushwick. There is an "O" and an "H" on the keystones of the entrance archways and several wooden barrels entrenched in the building's front wall. Along the side are enormous painted signs that state "bottling," "Edward B. Hittleman Brewery," and "department." In their early days, Brooklyn Brewery used this spot as a warehouse. Author: Alex Forbes - 2014

Note 1: In 1862, 37 New York breweries form an association that would officially become the United States Brewers Association in 1864. By 1860, 1269 breweries produce over one million barrels of beer for a population of 31 million. New York and Pennsylvania account for 85% of the production.  Info: Steven Lynch

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1885 H
ittleman Brewery,  Bushwick Place10/1984 Photo/Archive: Art Huneke

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Edward B Hittleman Brewery Archive: oldny.com

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Bushwick Emery map - 4/11/1958 Archive: Dave Keller

Brewers-Row.jpg (137909 bytes)This stretch of North 11th Street, between Wythe Avenue and Berry Street, was named Brewers Row in 2000 to commemorate the once thriving hops industry in Northern Brooklyn. At the turn of the twentieth century, there were nearly fifty breweries in Williamsburg and Bushwick, and Brooklyn produced more beer than Detroit and Milwaukee combined. German immigrants where making use of Long Island's pure water were the main culprits, but the post-prohibition trend towards national-brand macrobrews doomed local industry. Photo/Info: Wally Gobetz


The Bushwick Beer Industry

Before prohibition was enacted in 1920 Brooklyn produced by some estimates thirty percent of the Nation’s Beer. Ground zero in the Brooklyn beer industry was Bushwick whose heavily German population quickly helped redefine America’s taste for beer. During the 1850s Bushwick began to lose its rural character. Large numbers of Germans immigrated to Bushwick following the failed revolution in Germany in 1848. Many Germans who settled in Williamsburg and Bushwick began the development of the area’s most famous local industry: brewing. The area boasted a number of features conducive to brewing: an abundant water supply, soil suitable for the construction of underground storage chambers, convenient water and rail transportation, as well as strong local demand.

Henry R. Stiles, the notable Brooklyn historian, wrote in 1870: “That quarter of Brooklyn, the Eastern District irreverently designated as Dutchtown, has been for some time the center of the lager beer manufacturing interest in the Metropolitan District. Here are located some of the largest breweries in existence in the country. Surrounded by a population almost exclusively German, they all enjoy a local patronage to a considerable extent…”

A second wave of development in Bushwick began after the construction of the elevated railroad along Myrtle Avenue in 1888, making the area an attractive alternative to congested downtown Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. More Germans arrived as development, consisting primarily of three-and four-story multiple dwellings, spread eastward toward the Brooklyn-Queens border during the following decade.

However, beer brewing was nothing new in America or in New York. The earliest European settlers were beer lovers, but they were dependent on imported English beer. However, the enterprising and self-reliant colonists quickly developed their own brews. Many of the founding fathers, in fact, were also home-brewers with their own recipes.

In Colonial New York beer was considered safer to drink than water, and was consumed by all ages at all times of the day. Sickness, death and failure of some settlements were often attributed to a lack of beer. In New Amsterdam, the Dutch, who were “even more partial to beer that the English, soon discovered that the ingredients for beer could be grown locally.

Brewing began as a Brooklyn industry as early as the 17th century, with small-scale commercial, home, and municipal breweries, including one operated by The Dutch East India Company.

By the 1770s, New York City and Philadelphia were established as the colonial brewing centers. At least two documented commercial brewers operated in Brooklyn during the 18th century, and despite the advantage of abundant fresh water, that number grew very slowly in the early years of the19th century. Most brews were produced only for home consumption or by mall scale brewers for sale in nearby taverns. The few commercial brewers produced English style brews, such as ale, porter, stout, and common beer, using top-fermenting yeast.

In 1840 the European influence on American brewing Changed dramatically when a former brewer from Bavaria, John Wagner, brought lager beer yeast to this country for the first time. Wagner opened a small brewery in back of his Philadelphia home, supplying a nearby tavern. This seemingly unimportant event, however, eventually led to a major switch in the American beer palate, from English to German brews

While the industry did not change overnight, the introduction of lager beer to the American market coincided with a massive influx of German immigrants to America and Brooklyn, specifically. In the 1840s the arrival of these thirsty Germans with a taste for their native style beer revolutionized the brewing industry in New York City, Brooklyn and other cities where they settled in large numbers. The Germans provided a huge new market for German style lager.

“Lager beer is an effervescent malt beverage, brewed by using the bottom- fermentation process, in which a special yeast settles as residue at the bottom of the brewing vats. Because the process of making this light, crisp brew demanded storage and cool temperatures to achieve fermentation it was termed ‘lager,’ which is derived from the German verb lagern, meaning to stock or store.” While two New York City breweries (George Gillig and F & M Schaefer) began to brew lager in the 1840s, S. Liebmann and Sons Brewery (later renamed Rheingold), founded in 1854, was one of the first to use the bottom fermenting process in Brooklyn. As lager gained popularity in the mid-1850s, the cities where most German immigrants settled became lager producers and also the largest American brewing centers These places including Cincinnati, Milwaukee and St. Louis, as well as Philadelphia, New York and of course, Brooklyn.

Several articles in the Brooklyn Eagle from the 1860s and 1870s documented the growing popularity of lager, with the Eagle even calling it our “National Beverage,” This satisfying brew appealed to people of all classes and to different ethnic groups. Using Long Island lake water supplied by a new gravity-fed water system, Brooklyn in the 1870’s had become a major American beer brewer. Dozens of establishments, largely run by Germans, flourished in Williamsburg and Bushwick. Between the 1850s and the 1880s, many settled in a 14-square block area known as “Brewer’s Row, which covered Scholes and Meserole Streets and extended from Bushwick Place to Lorimer Street. This area was rightly called “Brewers’ Row” because within this 12-block area at least a dozen separate breweries flourished.

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 Brewer's Row - Steven Lynch Google 2019 map

“By the 1880s, 35 breweries had been established in Brooklyn, generating an estimated $8 million in revenue annually. The majority of these firms exclusively brewed lager beer, while the remainder brewed ale or weiss (wheat) beer. By 1898, nearly fifty breweries operated in the Brooklyn area [which came to be known as the Brewing Capitol of the United States]. Probably the most prominent of those companies established in Brewer’s Row was Leibmann’s Rheingold brewery, although there were other well-known or colorful firms such as F. & M. Schaefer, George Ehret’s, John F. Trommer's and Piels. Bushwick, which was considered a major brewing center from about 1890 until the late 1940s, was supplying almost 10% of all beer consumed in the United States during the height of its production.

In 1920, the 18th Amendment, the National Prohibition or Volstead Act, sadly closed many Brooklyn breweries. Brooklyn brewing never fully recovered from this stupid law and national tragedy. With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, only 23 of the New York City’s (including Brooklyn’s) breweries resumed business, with most targeting the local market. Over the next half of a century, brewing in the city declined drastically. Brooklyn’s last two breweries closed in 1976 (Rheingold and F & M Schaefer), marking the end of an era. However, about a decade later, during the micro- brewing revolution of 1980s, two Brooklyn entrepreneurs opened the Brooklyn Brewery in 1987. Although their first beers were contract brewed in Utica, New York, the opening of their new brewery in Williamsburg in 1996 revived an industry that once flourished in the borough. Article: Geoffrey O. Cobb

For further research: The Bushwick Pilsners: A Look at Hoppier Days by Ben Jankowski (Brewing Techniques)

 

PIELS BEER: East New York, Brooklyn  Piels was founded in 1883 by the Piel brothers: Gottfried, Michael, and Wilhelm Piel. The soft water from Long Island was preferred by German brewers, and breweries in Brooklyn proliferated at this time. By 1888, the ability of Gottfried as the financial head of the firm, and the excellence of Michael's products helped them prosper and the partnership became a corporation in 1898, and they gained a national reputation. Continued success justified this enlargement of facilities, and twice more during his lifetime the plant was expanded in size and facilities. 

In the 1950s, the Piels brewery had a very successful television and radio campaign when the Young & Rubicam ad agency created Bert and Harry Piel, the fictitious animated owners and pitchmen for the brewery. The first Bert and Harry commercials aired December 1955 and ran until 1960. 

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Bert & Harry Piels Bicentennial Ad - 1976

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Piel Bros - Dortmunder Style beer label Pre-Prohibition

Piels was selling about a million barrels a year in the mid-1950s, hardly a major player but still prized across the Northeast as one of those lower-end, popularly priced regional brands whose market had always been the working classes,” reports a New York Daily News article from 1998.

Part of Piels appeal were its popular Bert and Harry commercials. The comedy team of Bob and Ray were the voices of Bert and Harry Piel . When the company dropped the campaign, the beer’s popularity plunged too. After taking over a few other local breweries, Piel’s sold itself to a Michigan brewer and bid Brooklyn good-bye in 1973.

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Bert & Harry Piel -  Beer coasters- 1956-57

Like most regional breweries, including its New York competitors, Ballantine, Schaefer and Ruppert, Piels was facing an influx of national brands such as Schlitz, Pabst and Budweiser. These brands, backed by massive advertising campaigns, began infiltrating Piels' primary sales territory and slowly overtook the market.

On September 20, 1973, Piel Bros. plant in East New York was closed down after 90 years of operation. In the 1970s, F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company, another Brooklyn based brewer, bought the rights to the Piel Brothers label, and Schaefer continued to brew it at its Brooklyn and Allentown, Pennsylvania, plants. In the late 1980s, Schaefer was subsequently bought out by Stroh Brewery Company of Detroit, Michigan. Under Stroh, Piels' sales stabilized for a time, thanks to new and improved package designs and good point of sale advertising. However, Stroh succumbed to marketing pressure from industry giants Anheuser-Busch and Miller, and threw in the towel after 149 years in business. Most of the Stroh brands, including Piels, were licensed to Pabst Brewing Company. Pabst discontinued the Piels label by April 2015.  Abridged Wikipedia

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Piels Trademark/Logo

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Piels 1910 Ad


Piels Beer - 7oz. label
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Sanborn 1884 map - Piels Bros. Liberty Ave., Brooklyn

Piel Bros. on Liberty Ave. in Brooklyn was also a local beer but geared towards a wider market . . not just Germans, although a requirement to work at Piel Bros. until the late 1940s was that you had to speak German. My father went to work there as night engineer in 1950 and they had just recently dropped that language requirement. My father was German but never learned it as his parents would not speak German in front of their kids. (This is America . . only speak English!) Info: Dave Keller

The office was located at 315 Liberty Avenue, the brewery on the east side of Georgia Avenue, and the bottle shop on the west side.  

As you can see from the attached 1884 Sanborn map of the location, there was no rail service to the plant. I believe there was a siding somewhere in the neighborhood but it wasn't at the brewery and materials had to be trucked to and from the siding. Info: Dave Keller

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Piel's Beer roadsign Newtown Rd., Woodside NY View N 10/02/1938 zoom-inset Archive: Dave Keller

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Piel's delivery truck c.1948


Further info: The East New York Project - Piels Brewery


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Belcher Hyde Co. map - Piels Bros. Georgia Ave., Brooklyn Plate 135 1929 Vol. 2 View N

Piels took carloads of hops, I assume, from team tracks on the Bay Ridge Branch in East New York. 
Info: Ben Jankowski

Piels is being produced again by a descendant of the last Piel management team: https://www.pielsbeer.com/  This beer is being brewed at Captain Lawrence Brewing in Westchester and is not currently available on Long Island.

 

RHEINGOLD BEER: Bushwick, Brooklyn Rheingold Beer, introduced in 1883, is a New York beer that held 35 percent of the state's beer market from 1950 to 1960. The company was sold by the founding Jewish American Liebmann family in 1963. According to the New York Times, "Rheingold Beer was once a top New York brew guzzled regularly by a loyal cadre of workingmen who would just as soon have eaten nails as drink another beer maker's suds." Its VP-Technical Joseph Owades claims credit for Rheingold's developing the first light beer. Rheingold shut down operations in 1976, when they were unable to compete with the large national breweries, as corporate consolidation and the rise of national breweries led to the demise of dozens of regional breweries. Source: Wikipedia

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Liebmann's-Rheingold brewery-1887 NY Public Library

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Rheingold Facilities Forrest St., Bushwick 1929
Drawing: Steven Lynch - Google map 2019

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Belcher Hyde map 1929 Brooklyn Plate 77 Vol 2

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Belcher Hyde map 1929 Brooklyn Plate 78 Vol 2


Liebmann's Sons' Brewing Co. 19th Century Ad

 

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Rheingold Beer can c.1937
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Miss Rheingold "Buy Bonds" ad 1943
A (circa 1960's) radio jingle for Rheingold beer:

My beer is Rheingold, the dry beer.
Think of Rheingold whenever you buy beer.
It's not bitter, not sweet; it's the dry flavored treat.
Won't you try extra dry Rheingold beer?

 

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Bushwick Branch LIRR 1966 map #2 -Rheingold spot #68 one car capacity located west of 54th St. (ex-Garrison Ave)

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Rheingold Plant at 36 Forrest St., Brooklyn 12/13/1971  ( Barton Silverman/NY Times)


Rheingold ad - Mr. Magoo 1956

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Rheingold - NY Mets 1969 beer coaster

OTHER LOCAL NEW YORK BEERS

TROMMER'S: 1632 Bushwick Avenue, Bushwick Trommer’s became well known for its popular all-malt beer. All-malt or malt beers are made of 100% barley and wheat malt and hops. Cheaper, lesser quality beers were made with those ingredients, plus proportional additives of corn, rice or cane sugar. Trommer’s made all-malt for the run of its business, into the second half of the 20th century. Trommer’s did well during the war, and was even able to expand its line and its Orange, NJ plant. But all would change in 1948, when a strike by brewery truck driver shut them down, along with every other brewery in New York City. A year later, in 1949, another strike was called, this one would last 72 days, crippling the company. The strikers didn’t take care of the yeast when they took over the plants, and the strain died. When the strike was over, Trommer’s had to begin a new strain of yeast. The taste of the beer was radically different, and people didn’t like it. In 1950, George Trommer sold the NJ plant to Leibmann’s brewery. In 1951, this Bushwick plant and the brand name was sold to Piel’s, which continued to make Trommer’s beer elsewhere until 1962, when the label was finally discontinued. The Evergreen Brewery complex closed in 1955.  Abridged. Author: Suzanne Spellen (aka Montrose Morris)
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Trommer's  Evergreen Brewery 1909 Archive: Shorpy

John Trommer produced their famous "White Label" and, after a long and devastating strike during which their yeast was lost/ruined/destroyed, they attempted a comeback but couldn't remake the flavor of their beer was no longer the same. They were taken over by Piel Bros. and produced there for a short while after the Trommer brewery was torn down, and then they stopped producing that label altogether.  

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Trommer's White Label - beer label 1947
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Belcher Hyde map - Brooklyn Plate 105 1929 Vol 2 Trommer Brewery

Trommer's Malt beers coaster

A Look at Why City Brewery Industry Went Flat: 
by Frank J. Trial, NY Times: February 9, 1974

Friday, April 6, 1933, was a cloudy, topcoat kind of day in New York. A chill breeze cut through the crowd at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, but no one there noticed. It was a great occasion. They had gathered to watch former Governor Alfred E. Smith accept the first legal beer in the city since the start of Prohibition 16 years before.

It was a symbolic event, of course, but the symbolism was more ironic than anything else. For the beer presented to the Happy Warrior was not even from New York. It was Budweiser, flown in from St. Louis to city that once boasted 121 breweries and which, even in the nineteen‐ thirties, had more than 20 of its own. Later that day, Colonel Jacob Ruppert sent a case of Knickerbocker around to the Smith home at 51 Fifth Avenue but, of course, it was too late for the first editions. Forty years later, Ruppert had lost out again. Today, Budweiser is one of the best selling beers in the nation while Ruppert survives only as a second brand of the Rheingold Brewery in Brooklyn, which is, itself, on the verge of oblivion.

Now owned by Pepsico, Inc., which has made no secret of its desire to get out of the beer business, Rheingold in recent days has been the scene of emotional sit‐ins by its employees who seek to keep it open and the subject of intense behind‐the‐scenes negotiations to find a new buyer. If Rheingold goes under, the city will have but one brewery left, the F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company, also of Brooklyn. To be sure, the lack of breweries has not stopped New Yorkers from drinking their share of brew. Each adult New Yorker downs about 19.8 gallons a year, slightly more than the national average of 19.4.

Mostly, New Yorkers drink their hometown Schaefer, which commands about 25 per cent of the market. Rheingold, despite its troubles, still has about 15 per cent. The other locals, which are not really locals, have about 30 per cent. They include Ballantine, now made by Falstaff in Rhode Island, Piel's, also a former New Yorker now made in Rhode Island by Narragansett, and Ruppert's Knickerbocker, which is made by Rheingold.

The national brands have about 25 per cent of the local market, with Miller's in the lead, followed by Budweiser, Pabst and Schlitz.
Imported beer accounts for only about 5 per cent of the market here. “It seems to be more important than it is,” said one marketing specialist of foreign beer “because it has always had a high visibility in the fancier pouring spots around town.”

The lack of breweries in New York really has nothing to do with the consumption of beer by New Yorkers. In 1972, Fortune magazine noted that it cost Falstaff $4.39 a barrel to make beer in an older plant while Schlitz, in a new automated plant, could make its beer for $1.08 a barrel. Schlitz was once an important brewer in New York, with a large plant in Brooklyn. But Schlitz's modern new brewery in Winston-Salem, which can fill some 1,200 cans of beer a minute, is so efficient that the company was able to make beer in North Carolina and ship it to New York at a lower total expense than the cost of making beer in Brooklyn.

A decade ago, 60 per cent of the New York area beer market was controlled by three local brands: Rheingold, Ballantine and Schaefer. Then, according to the industry, Ballantine decided to change its formula. This change was noticed almost immediately by Puerto Rican purchasers, who had long been strong Ballantine fans. In the beer world, Puerto Ricans are known for preferring their beer extremely cold (remember Ballantine's “Hey, get your cold beer!”) and the beer makers considered it unusual that they noticed the change in taste. When beer or any other liquid is extremely cold, it is difficult to detect variances of taste flavor.

Schaefer apparently picked up a great deal of the Puerto Rican market here by sponsoring Antonino Rocca, the wrestler, a great favorite among the city's Spanish speaking residents.
Still, Schaefer executives—and a great many executives in other beer companies—are convinced that the beer's greatest marketing tool is its jingle, unchanged in more than a decade, about being “the one beer to have when you're having more than one.”

An advertising man long familiar with beer business said Rheingold suffered after it dropped the Mist Rheingold contest in 1965 and began changing its advertising approach frequently. “Beer is a comfortable drink,” he said. “People like to get comfortable with their beer and they get upset if you keep changing things.” The Miss Rheingold contest, an enormously popular promotion during the nineteen-forties and nineteen‐fifties, enabled fans to “vote” for one of a half‐dozen “contestants,” all of them professional models. The campaign was dropped in 1965, partially because it was thought shopworn and partially because it had become a subject for derision among blacks and Hispanics who were only belatedly included among the participating models and who never won.

Most historians date the ascendancy of beer in New York to the arrival of the first German immigrant in the early 19th century, but New York was a big beer town long before that. The oldest maps of New Amsterdam show the Red Lion Brewery in business well before 1660. The Dutch settlers were beer drinkers and old records show that many small taverns and other New Amsterdam businesses made and sold beer commercially. One visitor from Holland even wrote back home to say that the beer in New Amsterdam was better than what he had been used to “in the fatherland.” The Dutch brewers gave way to the British brewers who specialized in the porter and stout and ale they had made in England. Then, around 1825, came the first waves of German immigrants who brought lager with them and built the foundations of the modern beer business.

The first of the German breweries in this area were built in Brooklyn because the old braumeisters did not like the water in Manhattan and the Bronx. Not until the Croton Aqueduct began to bring in fresh water between 1840 and 1850 did George Gillig build a brewery on Manhattan. Thirty years later there were more than 70 in Manhattan and the Bronx. The names, mostly forgotten now, included: Eichler, Huppel, Von Hink, Loewers, J. & M. Haffen, Koster and Bial, and, in Brooklyn, John Kissel & Son, Stehlin and Breitkopf, Meltzer Brothers and John F. Trommer.

‘A Nice Old Guy’
Trommer's survived well into the 20th century. “I still remember old man Trommer coming in here,” said Peter Kreindler, one of the owners of the 21 Club. “He was a nice old guy with a pot belly who never drank any of his own stuff. All he ever drank was German wine. I think he had the gout or something.”

Trommer's was as well known for its huge beer garden in Brooklyn as it was for its beer. “Those places in Munich, they were nothing compared to Trommer's place,” Mr. Kreindler said. But the most famous beer garden in New York probably was the first, the Atlantic Garden, a vast hail on the Bowery with a capacity of more than 1,000 people. While nursing nickel beers, entire families watched shows, danced, gave parties and ate heavy German food.

Prohibition killed the beer gardens, just as it killed many of the breweries. At the beginning of Prohibition, there were 70 breweries in New York City. After Repeal, there were 23. Again, the disappearance of the breweries had no material effect on the consumption of beer.

Many New Yorkers resorted to “heimgemacht” or home‐made brew, but some bootleggers made good beer themselves or imported it. “Jack and Charlie's,” the speakeasy that became the 21 Club, served Molson's ale from Canada and Guinness Stout. The ale was sold only in quart bottles, Mr. Kreindler recalled.

Prohibition was all but dead when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the law permitting the manufacture of beer containing 3.2 per cent alcohol by weight.
Ironically, the new 3.2 beer had little of the strength of the best locally made illegal beer. Many connoisseurs of beer say the 3.2 beer of 1933 marked the end of good taste in beer in this country. “It's like everything else,” said Jerry Birns, another “21” partner. “They work hard to remove the flavor from the commodity and then they call it dryness.”


RUPPERT-KNICKERBOCKER: Jacob Ruppert & Company brewery was located at 3rd Ave between 90th and 93rd Street, Yorkville section of Manhattan which closed in 1965. Ruppert's "Knickerbocker Beer" was large in the metropolitan area and a big seller at Yankee Stadium, as the Yankees were owned by Jacob Ruppert, from 1915 until his death in 1939. Ruppert had a large taproom on 6th Ave. in Manhattan for many years. Then, like so many others, they went under as well. Info: Dave Keller
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Jacob Ruppert Company Brewery 92nd St. and 2nd Ave., NY City - Testing after filtration - 1933 
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Ruppert Beer roadsign NYCTS 5th Ave. EL - View N at 38th St.  6/05/1940

Ruppert Knickerbocker 12oz. and 7oz. beer can

 


Knickerbocker was the official beer of the New York Giants, a bit ironic as Jacob Ruppert, was the owner of the New York Yankees during the heyday of Ruth and Gehrig in the 1920's.  The coaster is c.1950.

The term "Knickerbockers" referred specifically to pants rolled up just below the knee by Dutch settlers in the New World during the 1600s. 

Knickerbocker Beer and the New York Giants:  Col. Ruppert made his fortune as a brewer, and after his death in 1939, his heirs were eventually forced to sell the brewery and the Yankees at discount prices. Knickerbocker ended up owned by rival Rheingold Beer and became a major sponsor of the New York Giants, the Yankees’ great rival during the Ruppert era. The Polo Grounds scoreboard featured a Knickerbocker holding a beer and advising the crowd to “Have a Knick.” Info: Kevin Reichard Founder and publisher of Ballpark Digest.

SCHAEFER: Longest operating brewery in New York City, last operating brewery in New York City [as of 1976], and America's oldest lager beer brewing company. Schaefer Beer was first produced in New York City during 1842 by the F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company. The company relocated to Brooklyn in the early 20th century. It went public in 1968 with a $106 million stock offering. In order to expand capacity for regional sales and fend off competition from national brands Schaefer began construction of a large modern brewery in Fogelsville, Pennsylvania that same year. Known as the Lehigh Valley Plant it opened in 1972.  In 1974 it was expanded from its original 1,100,000 barrels-per-year capacity to 2,500,000 and then, in 1975, it expanded again to 5,000,000 barrels plus. 

In the mid-1970s, Schaefer Beer was one of the top selling beers in the U.S., ranking as high as fifth in both the 1950 and 1970 rankings. Though it was producing more than twice as much beer in 1980 the gap between it and the top national brands was dramatically widening. In 1981 the Schaefer family sold the company to the Stroh Brewery Company in 1981. The advertising slogan for Schaefer beer is the jingle "Schaefer is the one beer to have when you're having more than one." An earlier advertising campaign from the 1950s asserted, "What do you hear in the best of circles? Schaefer, all around!" Source: Wikipedia

Note: Though not a LIRR Operation, Schaefer at Kent Ave. received malt on 130 ton grain cars floated over by Lehigh Valley RR until the plant closed and all operations consolidated in Lehigh Valley, PA in c.mid-1970's. The cars remained on the float never touching Brooklyn. Info: Ben Jankowski

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Emery map Bushwick Pl. to Morgan Ave.1920-1930
Archive: Dave Keller

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Schaefer Beer coasters
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Schaefer slogan sign and 12oz. beer can

 

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Schaeffer Brewing Co. - South 9th St. and Kent Ave 1916

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F&M Schaefer Brewery - marble pediment

SCHLITZ: The Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company was an American brewery based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and once the largest producer of beer in the United States. Its namesake beer, Schlitz was known as "The beer that made Milwaukee famous" and was advertised with the slogan "When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer". Schlitz first became the largest beer producer in the US in 1902 and enjoyed that status at several points during the first half of the 20th century, exchanging the title with Anheuser-Busch multiple times during the 1950s.

The company flourished through much of the 1900s, starting in 1902 when the production of one million barrels of beer surpassed Pabst's claim as the largest brewery in the United States. While Prohibition in the United States forced the suspension of alcoholic brewing, the company changed its name from Schlitz Brewing Company to the Schlitz Beverage Company and changed its "famous" slogan to "The drink that made Milwaukee famous." After Prohibition ended, Schlitz again became the world's top-selling brewery in 1934. 
Info: Abridged Wikipedia

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"The beer that made Milwaukee famous" sign


Schlitz 12oz beer can

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"When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer" 
Schlitz ad 1968

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Schlitz Logo

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The 65-year-old building dominates an industrial corner on 95 Evergreen Ave. at George St. in Bushwick. The new ownership team just paid $33.7 million for the five-story brick behemoth, and has pledged to undertake a $20 million overhaul. Google 2019

ANHEUSER BUSCH: Adolphus Busch was the first American brewer to use pasteurization to keep beer fresh; the first to use mechanical refrigeration and refrigerated railroad cars, which he introduced in 1876; and the first to bottle beer extensively. By 1877, the company owned a fleet of 40 refrigerated railroad cars to transport beer.Expanding the company's distribution range led to increased demand for Anheuser products, and the company substantially expanded its facilities in St. Louis during the 1870s.The expansions led production to increase from 31,500 barrels in 1875 to more than 200,000 in 1881. 

Reefers-shorty-Anheuser-Busch-Malt-Nutrine_ACF_builders_photo_pre-1911.jpg (66304 bytes)To streamline the company's refrigerator car operations and achieve vertical integration, Busch established the St. Louis Refrigerator Car Company in 1878, which was charged with building, selling, and leasing refrigerator cars; by 1883, the company owned 200 cars, and by 1888 it owned 850. To serve these cars and switch them in and out of their St. Louis brewery, Anheuser-Busch founded the Manufacturers Railway Company in 1887. The shortline operated until 2011 when Anheuser-Busch sought to shut down operations. In 1957, Anheuser-Busch became the largest brewer in the United States.  Info: Appended Wikipedia  

Anheuser Busch reefer - ACF builder photo pre-1911

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Anheuser Busch Corp. LIRR map 1 - Long Island City 1966 Location #4
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Anheuser Busch Brewery - Route 1-9, Newark, NJ  View NW

Note: The Newark, NJ brewery, opened 1951, was the local large NY area facility.

   

Budweiser beer can - Anheuser Busch logo 

The Budweiser from Budějovice, Czech Republic has been called "The Beer of Kings" since the 16th century. Adolphus Busch adapted this slogan to "The King of Beers." 

PRIOR BEER (both a light and dark beer) began as Czech recipes brewed in the US for the beer importer, Atlantis Imports, by Adam Scheidt Brewing Co., Norristown, PA during WWII (when European beer exports weren't possible). Philadelphia's C. Schmidt's & Sons bought Scheidt Brewing Co. in the 1950's and continued to brew the super-premium Prior beers into the 1970's. It was a nice, dark beer! Info: Dave Keller

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LIRR S2 #452 freight with PRR 2 door horsecar eastbound - Covert Ave., New Hyde Park - View NW c.1952 passing Prior Beer "Liquid Luxury" on 2nd Ave. (Winslow-Keller)
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Prior Beer Double Dark label

Prior was brewed as Light and Dark and sold as a gourmet premium beer in bottles, cans and draught. New York City and Chicago were two big markets. In 1940 1,040 barrels were sold; 1943 16,163 barrels and over 100,000 barrels in 1946.

   















Prior beer cans

OTHER BEER DISTRIBUTORS

WELZ & ZERWECK

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G54sa Camelback #19 with fireman on Bellport passing siding view SE c.1915 (Holman-Keller) Welz & Zerweck Beer Distributor at left.

Note:  The Welz & Zerweck Distributor, Patchogue  was on the south side of the Ringhouse Track. Approximately at location #1 as indicated on this Patchogue Emery 1958 map 

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Welz & Zerweck in Ridgewood was a local beer which marketed primarily to the German community, which existed in Ridgewood for many years. 

Perhaps the best illustration of Welz and Zerweck’s growth from the early 1860’s until the turn of the century are two photographs that attended the feature; the “Illustrated History of Ridgewood”.  The first and largest showed the plant as it existed when the feature was written in 1906. The second, inserted into the lower left hand corner shows the original 1862 building at the Myrtle and Wycoff location.

Finally it appears that the the Welz and Zerweck brands were absorbed by Liebmann’s. According to a March 29, 1933 article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Liebmann’s didn’t plan on continuing with them when National Prohibition ended.

Before Prohibition put a snag in the beer business Liebmann’s had absorbed many famous brands of beer and breweries. They were Peter Doelger’s,
Welz & Zerweck’s, George Ehret’s, Obermeyer & Liebmann’s plaza brew, Beadelston & Woerz and the Krumenaker bottling works – and some 30 other brands. With the possible exception of Peter Doelger’s, all of them will remain absorbed, and they will reappear – are now being bottled – as Liebmann’s.

ISLIP COLD BEER
Previously was named A. Tursellino's - est. 1938. I find no evidence of rail delivery. 

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Islip Cold Beer - Moffitt Blvd., Islip 2008  View SW

QUINTREE BEER DISTRIBUTORS  

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Miller reefer at Sayville for Quintree Beer Distributors 1970 Photo/Archive: Bob Bender 

Note: Deliveries indicated in LIRR Car Load Reports upwards of 1977. Info: Steven Lynch


LIRR map 37 1966 Sayville Pagels-Quintree Beer

LIRR map 28 1986 Sayville Pagels-Cedar Beverage

CLAIRE ROSE

Bogie sets were used to transport trailers to the USPS Processing & Distribution Center located in Farmingdale. However, after a loaded trailer was destroyed due to arson and declared a total loss in the Bush Terminal yard, they were no longer a customer. Last service was 12/1991 for Clare Rose Beer.  Info: Ben Jankowski

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Bogie loading at Greenville, NJ 12/10/1991
 Photo/Archive: Carl G. Perelman
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Farmingdale bogie crane - View E 1988 
Photo/Archive: John Volpi
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Farmingdale bogie loads 1988 
Photo/Archive: John Volpi
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LIRR #1001 bogie C type  Photo/Archive: Al Castelli

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LIRR 1986 map Page 49 Farmingdale Team Track Archive: Jeff Erlitz

BOENING BROS.  

LIRR-map-Team-Track-Farmingdale-Central-Branch-1986-page50_Erlitz.jpg (91543 bytes)Farmingdale, on the Central Branch, took carloads of Miller Genuine Draft from Miller's facility upstate New York. These cars were raked over by vandals on a regular basis at Fresh Pond along with the Gallo wine cars.  Info: Ben Jankowski

LIRR 1986 Car load reports: 
1982 1983 1984 1985 1986
   5      21     89     96     52

Note: Deliveries noted in 1992.

 

 


LIRR 1986 map Page 50 Farmingdale - Central Branch  Archive: Jeff Erlitz

MIDWAY BEVERAGE

LIRR-map-10-1986-Nicholls-Siding-Maspeth.jpg (120631 bytes)LIRR Car Load Reports: 1990-1992, Midway Beverage received refrigerated Coors cars on the north side of Maspeth (the switch is now gone). Usually a block of three to four cars. Info: Ben Jankowski

 

 

 

LIRR 1986 map Page 10 Nichols Siding, Maspeth  Archive: Jeff Erlitz

MANHATTAN BEVERAGE DISTRIBUTORS

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Manhattan Beverage Distributors receives Corona beer via the NYA. They arrive in standard NdeM uninsulated boxcars, uninsulated from Mexico.
Info: Ben Jankowski

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 Manhattan Beer Distributors, Ridgewood 8/12/2017 Photo/Archive: Greg Grice
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NYA GP38 #271  RS20 #268 working Manhattan Beer Distributors, Ridgewood 1/07/2018 View W
Photo/Archive: Marc Glucksman

FREIGHT JOBS IN THE 1960's  - BUSHWICK BREWING INDUSTRY

 
LIRR Yard and Freight Jobs the 1960's - Author: J. J. Earl - Semaphore 6/1992 page 6 - Edited

Muldoon Trucking had team track access in the Bushwick yard spot #6-7 and Farmers Feed #16 on the 1966 map. Previously, Schaeffer and Edelbrew (1937-1947) had locations noted on the Emery 1920-1930 map. (see Schaefer Section above) Seems these trucks were quite busy moving ingredients to the breweries and spent malt to be loaded outbound!

BEER BRIBES
My father worked for Piel Brothers in East New York. When he drove me (a teenager) around to various locations to take photos (1966-67), he'd have some 6-packs in the trunk. When I tried to gain access to the interior of interlocking towers, he'd use the beer to bribe the block operator into letting me get some photos inside. Dave Keller 

HOT COAL AND COLD BEER
"...There was some beer drinking going on in the summer, too. There's no denying it; it was a fact of life and we knew that God put that icebox in the "hack" for a divine purpose. A lot of funny things happened, but the funniest thing of all is a story that has spread around the Long Island Rail Road for so many years that each successive person that tells it wants to claim that he himself is indeed the silent "hero." This is the story of..."  Bob Kaelin

THE BIG RAID
It seems that one day some bosses were "spotting" a job because they heard that there was some drinking going on. At one point, they decided it was time to move in, and they actually boarded the "hack" for a raid. One boss came in one end door and a couple more swarmed in the other. One of the crew was still in the "hack" (we'll just call him "R" for short) and he was sitting on a box by the sink. He took slow drags on his cigarette and didn't say a damned word. In the meantime, the bosses ransacked that place from top to bottom, going through all the lockers, lifting up all the cushions and bunk lids and prying into anything else they could think of. But, they never thought of asking "R" to stand up. 
They finally left, empty -handed. Throughout the entire raid, "R" calmly sat on that box and literally kept his "cool," because that box was chock full of ice cold beers.  Bob Kaelin

THE PIZZA AND BEER TRAIN 
"The Pizza-and-Beer Train: New York City’s Hidden Railroad"
NY Times 4/07/2019 Corey Kilgannon

"...The railway also handles so many cars of flour and beer that Mr. Bonner has nicknamed it “the pizza-and-beer railroad.” During peak beer drinking times — think St. Patrick’s Day and the Super Bowl — that can mean 30 rail cars of beer a week — each car can hold 3,500 cases — including Modelo Especial and Corona that has rumbled by train all the way from Mexico. said James Bonner, the New York & Atlantic Railway’s president..."