Monday, July 24, 2017

Brewers Behaving Badly: The 300-Pound Krall

Now for a dash of local color. Our tale is ripped from the pages of the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of Wednesday, January 16, 1878.

Let’s set the stage. We’re visiting Horn & Schwalm’s Brooklyn Brewery on the east side of Doty St. just south of 16th Ave. At the time, the brewery appeared as you see it below. Here we go...

A police court drama was enacted in Justice Sarau's office yesterday.

C. F. Rogers, a farmer, took a load of barley to Horn's brewery to sell, and got into an altercation with Horn's foreman, a stout, 300-pound German named Krall, who pounced upon Mr. Rogers and pounded him somewhat.

Rogers had Krall arrested, and the latter was fined $2 and costs.

Krall was inconsolable and immediately had Rogers arrested for calling him names.

Rogers in turn was fined $2 and costs, which made the 300-pounder happy, and thus the matter ended.

Sparring outside of the Horn & Schwalm Brewery, 1885.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fifth Ward Gets its Brewer’s Permit

Things are coming along quickly for Fifth Ward Brewing Company of Oshkosh. Yesterday, the soon-to-be brewery received its Federal Brewer’s Permit. Look for Fifth Ward to open in late October / early November.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Beer By Any Other Name...

Spring, 1966. You grab a bottle of Chief Oshkosh. Out comes the churchkey. You apply it to this…

A year later, the Chief Oshkosh crown looked like this...

The inserted symbolism wasn’t meant to be cryptic. This new cap was about expediency. It was used on four different brands produced by the Oshkosh Brewing Company. We’ll get to that in a moment. First, some necessary background.

In 1966, the Oshkosh Brewing Company (OBC) went on a buying spree. It scooped up three defunct brands: Badger Brew of Baraboo, Liebrau of Two Rivers, and Rahr’s of Green Bay. Notice how the cap above is a blend of the labels below.

By late 1966, those left-for-dead brews had been revived. They were being produced by OBC in Oshkosh. To make things easier, OBC changed its bottle cap. The same cap could be used for each beer.

What distinguished the beers were their unique labels. Makes sense. Afterall, they were different beers, right? Well, maybe not.

I’ve been going through old brewing logs from OBC. Specifically, the years 1967 and 1968 when these brands were in production in Oshkosh. Looking at the logs, you’d never guess OBC was producing a number of different beers.

The logs show no variation. Aside from OBC’s seasonal beers – Bock and Holiday Brew –  the composition of each beer is identical. The same malts and adjuncts. The same hops. The same yeast. The same ratios. Here’s an example (click to enlarge it).

That’s the brewer's log from February 1967. This was when OBC was filling orders for the brands it had recently acquired. Yet, aside from the four bock beers brewed that month, the 12 other batches are indistinguishable. This log is typical. All of them from the period are like this. It leads me to suspect OBC was brewing one beer and putting four different labels on it.

I can’t say for certain OBC was playing this kind of game. But I also can’t find a shred of evidence from the brewing logs suggesting they weren’t. I suspect this sort of thing may have been occurring at a lot of breweries in the late 1960s.

The industry was contracting rapidly. The brands of belly-up breweries were being scavenged. The G. Heileman Brewery in La Crosse became notorious for collecting labels from the wreckage. Heileman produced beer under a dozen different labels during this time. Almost all were pale lager. There was piddling difference among them. How many would notice if there were no difference at all?

In 1971, the Oshkosh Brewing Company failed. Its brands were acquired by the neighboring Peoples Brewing Company. Peoples brewmaster Howard Ruff told the Daily Northwestern he would match as closely as he could the beers produced by OBC.

Had Ruff seen those brewer’s logs when he said that? His job may have turned out to be easier than he first expected.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

How We Get Our Beer

Monday morning Leoš Frank drove his small van across Wisconsin. It was loaded with beer he made. Frank is the brewmaster and co-owner, with his wife Theresa, of Lazy Monk Brewing in Eau Claire.

He reached Oshkosh a little after 10 a.m. His first stop was Gardina's. He immediately began unloading cases and kegs of beer from his van.

Leoš Frank

It's becoming more common for small, Wisconsin breweries to deliver their own beer. It was once the rule here. That ended with Prohibition.

When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, new restrictions were put in place. At their core was the three-tier system; a web of regulation intended to create a barrier between breweries and retail outlets.

More than 80 years after its implementation, the three-tier system remains. One outcome has been to stifle the direct contact small brewers once had with their customers. Leoš Frank doesn’t subscribe to that.

In Wisconsin, breweries producing less than 300,000 barrels of beer annually can circumvent the second tier. Frank, who brewed 648 barrels last year, has taken the alternate route. He distributes his own beer. Hence his Monday morning trip across the state.

“I wanted to do it this way because it gives me a connection to my customer,” Frank says. “And I thought this is a better way to represent myself. I might not have as much exposure as with a beer distributor, but this way there's no insulation between me and the customer.”

Frank, who launched Lazy Monk in 2011, has been delivering his beer to Oshkosh for almost two years. His first outlet here was Gardina’s. He’s since expanded to include The Ruby Owl, Oblio’s, and the Lion’s Tail Brewery Tap Room in Neenah. He also takes his beer to La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, and Waukesha. Still, the majority of his sales come from his brewery's tap room in Eau Claire.

Between the brewery and tap room, Frank struggles to find time to get out on the road. “There are plenty of times that I wish I didn't have to go pick up kegs, but if I didn’t think it was worth it, I wouldn't be doing it,” he says. “I think that it's worth it just because of the personal connection. The beer business is a personal business. Nothing else.”

Others have come to see it that way, too. Currently, four breweries self-distribute in Oshkosh. Black Husky Brewing of Milwaukee has been at it the longest. In the past year, Lion’s Tail Brewing of Neenah and Knuth Brewing of Ripon have also brought their beer to the Oshkosh market.

Of course, money plays a significant role in the decision to self-distribute. Distributors typically take a 25-30% cut on the gross margin. That money stays with a brewery that self-distributes. But that comes at a price.

A significant downside is access to market. Getting beer into larger outlets such as chain grocery stores and gas stations can be next to impossible for a brewery that goes it alone. Frank has had better luck than most. He’s been able to get his beer in Walgreens and Target stores in Eau Claire. But on his terms. “This way I can control the growth,” he says.

For a small brewer that element of control can be critical. Especially when distributors have been quick to fill their portfolios with beers they have little interest in promoting or selling. It’s a way to reduce competition. And a small brewery that finds itself buried at the back of a distributors book has little hope of extricating itself. The law is stacked heavily in favor of distributors.

Wisconsin's beer distributors aren’t taking the self-distribution trend lightly. In June, it was leaked that lobbyists for the Wisconsin Beer Distributors Association are working on legislation aimed at making three-tier regulations more rigid. The plan would make it more difficult for a brewery to sell beer directly to its customers. The proposal has been roundly criticized by brewers.

Barring any sudden, reactionary moves by the state legislature, we’ll likely see more breweries going the self-distribution route. Most recently Bare Bones Brewery of Oshkosh began self-distributing its beer in the Green Bay market. And both  Fifth Ward Brewing and HighHolder Brewing plan to self-distribute when they open in Oshkosh in the coming year. Unfortunately, none of them will be rolling through the streets of Oshkosh in the thundering style of their predecessors.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Mary's Place

From cops to crooks, Prohibition was widely ignored in Oshkosh. Breaking the dry law became a habit here. But few were so bold about it as Mary Kollross. She had a brewery and speakeasy on Oregon Street, the Southside’s main artery.

The middle building with white siding was once the saloon of Mary Kollross at 1325 Oregon St.

There had been a saloon at what is now 1325 Oregon since at least 1880. The first bar there was run by Edward Koplitz, a former brewer for Horn and Schwalm’s Brooklyn Brewery. Koplitz died in 1897. A series of tavern keepers followed in his wake.

1917, when the saloon was owned by Louis Heinzl.
When Prohibition arrived in 1920, the saloon morphed into a soda parlor. At least that’s what the license said. In reality it probably operated as a speakeasy. If not, that changed when Mary Kollross entered the picture.

Mary Kollross was born in 1889. She was raised on 14th Street, just around the corner from the saloon. The old place always just a glance away.

1903 map showing the Kollross family home in relation to the saloon.

Her life was anything but easy. Mary’s parents were disabled and unable work. Mary and her siblings supported the family. After the eighth grade, she left school. Mary took a series of menial jobs. Sometimes she toiled in lumber mills. She never married. She lived in the family home until the family fell apart.

Mary’s father died in 1911. Her mother passed in 1924. With that came sweeping change. Mary took what money she had and bought the speakeasy on Oregon St.

Mary Kollross was 36 when she purchased the saloon in 1925. She had had never worked in a legal saloon, much less a speakeasy. That didn't mean she wasn’t familiar with Oshkosh’s illegal liquor trade.

Mary’s brother Joseph Kollross had run a speakeasy named The Tunnel Cafe on Main St. He’d been arrested there in 1922 for selling moonshine. Another brother, Eddie, also had ties to Oshkosh bootleggers and speakeasies. Mary Kollross knew what she was getting into.

When Mary took over the saloon, her brother Joseph came along with her. Early on, the business was under his name. That became a theme during the dry years. Though she was the owner, Mary usually kept a man fronting the operation. Perhaps she thought it necessary for appearance's sake. Or maybe she was attempting to diminish her own risk. There was plenty of risk.

In 1928, her saloon was raided by Prohibition agents. Mary’s brother Eddie Kollross took the fall for that one. In 1930, it happened again. This time, Albert Gomoll went down. Hard.

Albert Gomoll lived in Oshkosh all his life. Born in 1876, he was the son of German immigrants. He quit school after the fifth grade. Gomoll went to work in the lumber mills. He was still there in 1930, in the Gould lumberyard. Gomoll was 54 years old when he quit all that. He went to work for Mary Kollross.

By the time Gomoll arrived, the Kollross place had developed into something more than a speakeasy. There was now a brewery attached to it. It was an elaborate operation housed in a building – most likely the abandoned ice house – adjacent to the saloon. The ice house had been built in the 1880s when Koplitz still ran the place. It was an ideal space for a brewery.

1885 map showing the saloon and ice house.
By 1930, the Kollross brewery was among the largest illegal breweries in the area. It was a fully equipped production and packaging facility with a four-head bottling line. In today’s money, the equipment alone would have been worth approximately $100,000.

Considering Mary Kollross’ background, it’s difficult to see how she could have arranged such a brewery. The same goes for Albert Gomoll. Nothing in his past suggests he was capable of organizing or operating a brewery of this size. They wouldn't have had to look far for help.

There were dozens of ex-brewery workers living on the south side of Oshkosh. They’d been made redundant by Prohibition. Perhaps Mary Kollross tapped into that knowledge pool. In any case, the Kollross brewery was thriving. At least until February 14, 1930. On that Friday night it all came crashing down.

Federal agents from Milwaukee had come to town. As usual, the local cops had been kept in the dark. An undercover fed slipped into the Kollross bar. He asked to purchase liquor. Albert Gomoll obliged. With that, the raid was on. The feds seized whiskey, gin and beer. They arrested Gomoll. They headed for the brewery.

The Feds crashed through the doors of the brewhouse. Inside they found a large store of beer ready for packaging. In addition to the bottling equipment were scores of empty kegs ready to be filled. Just outside the brewery, they discovered an automobile loaded with packaged beer for delivery.

As the agents were busting up the equipment, a phone rang in the brewery. One of the Feds answered it. The voice on the other end wanted two kegs of beer right away. The cop told him to come and get it. Another call came in. And another. Each time the caller was told the beer was ready and waiting for them.

“Then the customers arrived in person,” reported the Daily Northwestern. “One after another they opened the door, viewed the havoc wrought by the agents and fled.” None were taken by the trap.

In all, some 5,000 gallons of finished beer was drained onto the ground. That’s more than 160 barrels of beer. Today, I doubt there’s a brewery within 30 miles of here with that much beer on hand. The illegal Kollross brewery was pumping out as much beer as any of our current, legal breweries.

As usual, all we know of this brewery comes from the event that shut it down. Which doesn't reveal much beyond that moment. The rest of the story is lost. But we know who took the fall.

It took almost a year for Albert Gomoll’s case to come to trial. He wound up in federal court in Milwaukee. The judge spared him nothing. Gomoll got six months in the house of correction and a $250 fine (about $4,000 in today’s money). His bootlegging days were over.

Mary Kollross kept right on going. Her “soft drink” parlor never lost its license despite its liquor violations. That what it was like in Oshkosh in 1931.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, July 7, 1931. The old street, 1320 Oregon, is now 1325 Oregon.

With Gomoll off in jail, Kollross set up an arrangement with a man named Leander Huse to run the bar. Huse had recently lost his job as a fireman on the Chicago & Northwestern railroad. Like Gomoll, Huse had no prior experience running a tavern of any kind. He soon made a fatal mistake.

On February 27, 1932, the 29-year-old Huse was tending the Kollross bar. He was drinking. Huse took a shot of liquor then reached for a bottle of soda to wash it down. He mistakenly grabbed a bottle filled with cleaning fluid. Down the hatch. It took him 12 days to die.

That was the end of Mary Kollross keeping a man at the front of the house. Times had changed. Prohibition permanently altered public drinking customs in Oshkosh. The pre-Prohibition saloon had been a man’s domain. Speakeasies were coed affairs. Mary made the most of it.

When Prohibition ended in 1933, Mary went legit. She renamed the bar the Marble Tavern, Mary Kollross proprietor.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, November 24, 1934.

It eventually came to be known simply as Mary’s Tavern. Kollross remained the mainstay behind the bar there until she retired 1957. The tavern continued on until 1964 when Mary Kollross died. She was 74 years old.

Kollross still owned the tavern at the time of her death. Four months after she died, the saloon was sold to Herbert L. Pollnow, owner of Acee Ducee, the neighboring tavern. Pollnow leased the building to a hair stylist. For the first time in more than 80 years there wasn’t a saloon at 1325 Oregon. And there hasn’t been one since.

Mary Kollross’ speakeasy and brewery were soon forgotten. But the building that was home to the old saloon still stands. It’s another of those places in Oshkosh with a concealed history. It offers no hint of its torrid past.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Keep Cool and Happy!

This week it’s all bikes, beers, and brats for me. I’ll get back to blogging next week with more beery tales of Oshkosh. Until then, here’s how Oshkoshers were celebrating the Fourth of July in 1935. Nothing better than dancing with a giant goblet of beer. Prost!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Roots of Point's 160th Anniversary Ale

Stevens Point Brewery released its 160th Anniversary Ale earlier this month. I was surprised Point would brew an ale to commemorate the date. This brewery built its reputation on lager beer. I had a couple pints of the beer at Chester V's. And thoroughly enjoyed it. I wanted to know more about it.

The recipe for 160th Anniversary Ale was found in the brewery's archive by Point brewmaster Gabe Hopkins. I contacted the brewery and was told the recipe was dated 1905. There weren't many Wisconsin breweries making ales in 1905. Lager beer was king here at this time.

I've been sifting through old, Point Brewing Co. ads from the early 1900s. I can't find any mention of an ale being made at Point during that period. Here's a typical Point ad from 1903.

At the turn of the century, the word beer was synonymous with lager. Especially in Wisconsin. Ale was treated as a distinct category. In the 1903 ad, Pink's Pale isn't identified as either beer or ale.

Here's an ad from 1908 that seems intentionally ambiguous. The two beers are referred to simply as Brew. These could be ale or beer.

Perhaps the brewery thought such distinctions were meaningless. I've seen other ads where it's implied that Pink's Pale was beer as opposed to ale. But I haven't seen any case where it's made explicit. And I've never seen an ad from the years around 1905 indicating Point was making ale.

That doesn't mean Point didn't brew an ale. As I mentioned, lager beer was all the rage in Wisconsin in 1905. Ale was thought of as less refined. Old fashioned. If Point was brewing an ale they may well have thought it better to not brand it as such.

The thing is, Point Brewing started out making ales. Below is an ad from 1859. This appeared two years after George Ruder and Franz Wahle launched their partnership and what would become Point Brewing Company.

Stock Ale. Lager Beer. No dancing around there. However, these days when we hear Stock Ale, we tend to think of strong, English-style beers. But "Stock" was a term applied to any ale or beer that was aged.

The Stock Ale Ruder and Wahle were brewing probably had nothing to do with England. Both men were German immigrants. Ruder was from Nuremberg in Bavaria. Lager Beer country. Wahle was from the north where, in his time, ale was predominant. Ruder and Wahle's Stock Ale was probably along the lines of what's now called an Altbier. An ale that undergoes a cold aging or "lagering" period.

That brings us back to Point's 160th Anniversary Ale. The brewery's description of the beer says it was "brewed using a traditional German-style all-malt recipe." According to brewmaster Gabe Hopkins, the beer most resembles the Düsseldorf Altbier style of warm-fermented beers brewed in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region.

The North Rhine-Westphalia region is where our man Franz Wahle hailed from. Wahle left Point in 1867. Was his influence still being felt there in 1905?

It would seem this type of beer is embedded in Point's DNA. You don't need to know all this stuff to enjoy the beer, but it certainly doesn't hurt. For me, it makes the experience richer.

One last thing. As I mentioned in a post the other day, that when Franz Wahle left Stevens Point, he came to Oshkosh and began brewing here. We may have more of a connection to this beer than you'd guess. But that's usually how it works with beer. What's right under our nose is often more than we imagine.

Point's 160th Anniversary Ale is only available on draft. As of this morning, it's still on at Chester V's.

Monday, June 26, 2017

150 Years Ago at Glatz Park...

The sign at the entrance to Glatz Park reads, “On this site in 1869 John Glatz and Christian Elser established a brewery.” True enough. But the story begins earlier. There was a brewery there before Glatz or Elser ever set eyes on that land. It was built by a German immigrant named Franz Wahle.

On September 23, 1867, Franz Wahle took possession of what is now Glatz Park. It was the northern most portion of a 48-acre farm. Wahle built the first brewery there.

1873 map showing the location of the brewery and Wahle's farm.
Wahle was born in the northern German town Niedermarsberg in 1826. He moved to America in 1854. Before coming to Oshkosh, he had spent the previous 10 years running what is now the Stevens Point Brewery. In 1867, Wahle sold that brewery to Andrew and Jacob Lutz and went to Oshkosh.

There isn't a picture known to exist of the brewery Wahle built on the Glatz Park site. But there is a picture of his brewery in Stevens Point. Wahle was said to have also built that brewery. The brewery he built in Oshkosh would likely have looked quite similar.

Wahle's former brewery in Stevens Point.
There were five breweries operating in Oshkosh when Wahle arrived here. Among them, Wahle's operation would be unique. His was Oshkosh's only true farm brewery. An early inventory from the farm shows it produced corn, potatoes, apples, grapes and hay. Wahle also kept livestock including hogs, cows, horses and sheep. Less is known about what he was producing in his brewery.

Wahle appears to have done no advertising for his brewery in Oshkosh. That's surprising considering how frequently he advertised his Stevens Point brewery. There he was producing both ales and lagers. Wahle probably did likewise here.
Wausau Central, January 17, 1861.
Wahle's low Oshkosh profile makes for frustrating research. Mention of his Oshkosh brewery is scant. Even his obituary says almost nothing about his extensive brewing career. Today, the omission seems especially glaring.

Wahle's time as a brewer ended here in 1869 when he leased his brewery to John Glatz and Christian Elser. The brewery Wahle built was destroyed by fire in 1871. The following year, Glatz and Elser purchased the property from Wahle and rebuilt the brewery.

Under Glatz and Elser, it came to be known as the Union Brewery. John Glatz bought out Elser in 1879. Glatz merged his brewery with two others in Oshkosh to form the Oshkosh Brewing Company in 1894. All that remains of the old Glatz Brewery is the stone wall in Glatz Park.

Franz Wahle sold his farm in April 1882. He died five months later. Wahle was 56 years old. The brewer who was instrumental in launching what is now one of America's oldest breweries is buried in Riverside Cemetery.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Oshkosh and the New England IPA

For the past couple years, the most hyped American beer style has been the New England IPA. Or, if you'd rather, the Northeast IPA. Call it what you will. Except if you're in Oshkosh.  Around here there's no point calling for it at all. You're not going to get it.

Before cracking into what that's about, a brief summary of the style. I'll call it NEIPA for short.

Visually, these beers are striking. Others would say sickening. The classic NEIPA is intentionally hazy. Murky even. To the point being opaque. They can look like juice purée. For example...

The aromatics are just as distinct. A billow of citrusy hop aroma is typical. The flavor is hop-saturated. People often describe them as juicy. Tropical fruit notes are pronounced. It’s a showcase for modern hops. Think Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe, Galaxy. The mouthfeel is lush. Soft. The bitterness noticeably subdued. It’s not what you’d expect from a beer so infused with hop flavor. People fucking love them. But you can’t get them in Oshkosh.

I've been drinking beer here for more than 20 years. There's never been a style of American craft beer so elusive in Oshkosh as this one. Blame geography.

The leading brewers of the style are located, as you might expect, in New England. The best known are Massachusetts breweries Tree House and Trillium. And Vermont's The Alchemist and Hill Farmstead. None of them distribute here.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. These beers are notoriously poor travelers. The hop dependent aromatics and flavors degrade quickly. This style benefits greatly from proximity.

And it’s gradually making its way closer. Over the past year, NEIPAs have been produced by Wisconsin breweries in Baileys Harbor, Cedarburg, Milwaukee, Madison, La Crosse, and Waunakee among others. Our local breweries have been apprehensive to join in. That’s about to change.

Lion’s Tail in Neenah will likely be the first brewery in this area to produce a NEIPA. Alex Wenzel, owner and brewmaster at Lion's Tail, recently became interested in the style. He says he's been drinking his share of it lately. Alex is currently working on his formulation for a NEIPA that he hopes to release this summer.

There's more. Fifth Ward Brewing and Highholder Brewing are on schedule to open in Oshkosh later this year / early next. Each is considering adding a NEIPA to their portfolio.

Ian Wenger and Zach Clark of Fifth Ward says they will "absolutely" produce a NEIPA, once they're open. And Mike Schlosser of Highholder is considering brewing the style for his brewery's second set of batches. By this time next year, Oshkosh ought to be a lot more familiar with what these beers are about.

Until then, there are a couple beers currently available here that play off the NEIPA style. Hop Debacle from O’so Brewing was released in Oshkosh in May. It certainly looks right.

The aroma was spot on, too. But O'so went a bit wide of the mark when it came to mouthfeel and bitterness. I found Hop Debacle to be overly bitter and lacking the soft palate synonymous with NEIPAs.

Toppling Goliath's Double Dry Hop Pseudo Sue another in this line. This beer wasn't brewed to hit the style mark, but in most respects comes close to what you'd expect in a NEIPA.

Both these beers are available in the bottle shop at Gardina's. I believe I spotted the Toppling Goliath beer at Ski's as well. They'll have to do... for now.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Forgotten Oshkosh Beers: Aristo

Another beer nobody remembers. But there was a time when this was on many lips around here. It's Aristo, of the Peoples Brewing Company of Oshkosh.

The label was fancier than the beer behind it. Aristo was the budget beer in Peoples' line-up.  It was introduced in the spring of 1914. You could buy it at the brewery for 80 cents a case (about $14 in today's money). It was among the cheapest beers then available in Oshkosh.

Peoples offered few specifics about Aristo. I strongly suspect, though, that it was the same as Peoples' keg beer. But pasteurized, bottled and given a flashier banner. If that is the case, Aristo would have been an amber-hued lager. A friendly, comfortable beer. People here loved it. Or maybe they just loved the price.

Early on Peoples advertised the hell out of Aristo. They liked to harp on the idea of it being "Just the thing for the family—that is why we call it our "family beer."' You'd think they were marketing an elixir, the way they talked the stuff up. Lot's of breweries were spewing nonsense like this in 1914.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, May 16, 1914.

At Peoples they could be touchy about the reputation of their beer. They had good reason to be sensitive. Before Peoples opened in 1913, the Oshkosh Brewing Company had undertaken a smear campaign against them. OBC had intimated that Peoples was launched to make cheap beer for drunks. That was hardly the case. But the slur couldn't be ignored. When Aristo came out, Peoples made a point of addressing the beer's budget price.

"Do not think because the price is low that it is of poor quality, we know that this beer will take so well with the family, that we can sell it cheaper."

I'm sure nobody really cared about any of that bunk. Oshkosh always had a soft spot for cheap beer. Especially when it was locally made.  Aristo was a hit.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, June 11, 1914.
Sadly, these tales often end the same. With Prohibition. Peoples ceased production of the real Aristo when the first of the dry laws hit in 1919. But the brand wasn't dead, yet.

In the summer of 1919, Peoples released two non-alcoholic, beer-like beverages. One was named Bravo. The other Aristo.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, July 26, 1919.
And Aristo's doom was cemented. Without its kick, Aristo flopped. The brand faded into oblivion. When Prohibition ended in 1933, Aristo was left for dead. The cheap beer with the fancy name was never brewed again.