Friday, December 7, 2012

Beer Ads in Oshkosh No. 2: Horn & Schwalm Rockin’ the Kulmbach

Here’s a deceptively simple ad for Horn & Schwalm’s Brooklyn Brewery* swiped from the 1891-1892 Wisconsin State Gazetteer. It doesn’t look like much, but what this piece lacks in flash, it makes up for in unadulterated geek allure. Here’s why: Horn & Schwalm’s ads were typically skinny on details about the beer they were pumping out. Sure, it was all lager beer, but what kind of lager beer? Well, this number adds a bit of focus to that blurry portion of the brewery’s past.

They’re saying here that they have four beers on the market. Actually, we know they produced at least one other beer during this period; a wheat beer named Edelweiss. Of the quartet listed, specifics are lacking about what constituted the brewery’s Select and Lager Beer. In all likelihood, Select was their premium brew, a pale and light-bodied lager targeted towards consumers of bottled beer. The Lager Beer would be their saloon beer, a darker and richer brew that was unpasteurized and dispensed on draught from barrels made of white oak.

The naming of the other two beers is more informative. It was common during this time for regional lager brewers to identify their various brews by place. In good, old Oshkosh, we were still pasting the names of European real estate on our beer. Nobody around here needed to have it explained to them what those names implied. When you asked for Horn & Schwalm’s Bohemian Beer you knew you’d be getting their Pilsner, a somewhat hoppy, golden lager. It might have tasted something like New Glarus’ recent seasonal Hometown Blonde. The Kulmbacher is the one that grabs me. This is the only Horn & Schwalm ad I’ve seen that mentions this beer. It would have been a dark, malty, lager (a Schwarzbier) along the lines of Mönchshof or Köstritzer... or maybe even Leinenkugel's Creamy Dark (if the brewer had a bad day). I’ll bet it was lovely. Just the thought of it makes me thirsty.

*Horn & Schwalm’s Brooklyn Brewery was established in 1866 by Leonhardt Schwalm and August Horn. Located in Oshkosh on east side of Doty, just south of 16th, the brewery merged with two other Oshkosh breweries in 1894 to form the Oshkosh Brewing Company. For the complete story of the Horn & Schwalm’s Brewery, check out The Breweries of Oshkosh. If you need a more immediate fix on the brewery, check out the Oshkosh Beer Timeline, where you’ll find links to a number of stories about the brewery.

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