Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Looting the Old Brewhouse

The Final Days of the Brewhouse
Here’s an odd little tall-tale about coincidence, the decline of the American brewing industry, juvenile delinquency, and an Oshkosh Irishman named Shawn O’Marro.

Our story begins in the days of yore; or abouts 1984. A young Oshkosh man, who shall remain anonymous, was milling about in a condemned building on Doty Street engaged in the sort pillage and plunder that comes naturally to young men who locate themselves in such environments. This wasn’t just any condemned property, though. This was the once majestic brewhouse of the formally revered Oshkosh Brewing Company.

Unfortunately, our young hero had arrived somewhat late to the looting. The Oshkosh Brewing Company had been closed for more than a decade and in the intervening years it had been abused by scores of vandals, arsonists and delinquents who found it an easy and alluring target. There wasn’t much left of the place by 1984, but our young friend didn’t leave empty handed. Tucked away in a back room he found a stash of old receipts (in 1962 you could purchase a half-barrel of Chief Oshkosh for $12.00) and packs of 1960s beer labels from breweries big and small across the country. He grabbed all he could and fled. Back at home, he carefully arranged his swag into photo albums where the collection moldered away, forgotten and ignored for years.

Enter Shawn O’Marro.

Our young friend was now an adult with a problematic computer. Shawn offered to help the man out and as payment relieved him of the three books of stolen breweriana he had assembled years earlier. Coincidentally, this would be the first time Shawn actually received payment for repairing an ill computer and it dawned on him that perhaps he could employ his skills to earn more than just beer labels.

This led Shawn to a new and somewhat short career, which in turn provided him with the cash he needed to launch O’Marro’s Public House. So, Oshkosh may have lost a brewery, but if you twist the logic of it just right you’ll see that the loss resulted in the establishment of a great pub. And now I need a beer.

Here’s a slideshow of the spoils of our young man’s illicit adventure with musical accompaniment by Rocky Bill Ford & His Sunset Wranglers.


  1. I also went into the brewery long after it had closed and it was a mess. It was easy to sneak into. I do remember, however, that the little grain elevators, that went from the bottom of the brewery to the top, still had grain in them, some 30 20 years later. That amazed me.