Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Birth of The Peoples Brewery

The Revere House in 1887
On this day in 1911 a plot was hatched to create a new brewery in Oshkosh. On May 11th a group led by Joseph J. Nigl gathered at the Revere House, a Main Street Hotel located just north of the river. They sorted through a list of 11 names for their new business before finally settling on The Peoples Brewery. It was an apt title for the venture. Much of the original $100,000 dollars gathered to seed the business came from local tavern owners, farmers and private citizens of Oshkosh with the understanding that the amount of stock held by any one shareholder would be limited. In his book Breweries of Wisconsin, Jerry Apps writes that according to the old-timers “a bunch of farmers and ordinary people” started it.
Jos. J. Nigl

The idea was to set up a brewery that could produce up to 15,000 barrels a year. But it wasn’t because there was a lack of beer flowing in Oshkosh at the time. The goal was to undermine the control Oshkosh Brewing, Pabst and Schlitz held over local tavern owners. Most taverns of this period were tied houses and allowed to serve only their parent brewery’s beer. If a tavern owner fell out of favor with the brewery that supplied them, they could quickly be forced out of business.

Nigl, whose father owned the Gem├╝tlichkeit Tavern at the Northwest corner of Ninth and Ohio, was named president of the new company and construction on the brewery began in April of 1912. In June of 1913 Peoples beer went on sale under the names of Aristo and Asterweiss. The brews were immediately popular, but that didn’t last long. The Dries were on the march. Prohibition began on January 16, 1920 and for the next 13 years Peoples was reduced to making near beer, malt tonics and soda water.

1 comment:

  1. I was gonna ask what Nigls is like because I had never been there, but then I remembered "Riding the Tavern Beer Trail"