Thursday, February 28, 2013
A Big Beer with Gabe Streich
Here’s one of those pictures (courtesy of our museum; as if you can’t tell) that ought to be hanging in some old Oshkosh bar. We’ll get to that glutton goblet of dark suds in a moment, but first let me introduce the hearty gent making ready to commune with it. This is Gabriel Streich and he’s out for a good time on the river sometime around 1912. Gabe has got everything he needs for a little fun: his beer, his fishing pole and his boat Irma there behind him.
Streich was born in Prussia in 1846 and arrived in Oshkosh when he was about nine-years old. During the period when this shot was taken, he operated a wagon works and blacksmith shop at the southwest corner of 6th and Oregon and among the heavy carts he made were beer wagons for the brewers of Oshkosh. Our man Gabe was a friend of beer.
Now, about that beer. Aside from its heroic proportion and rich hue, what do we know about it? Almost nothing. But if I had to venture a guess, I’d say there’s a good chance it was poured from a keg (probably just out of camera’s range) of the Oshkosh Brewing Company’s Stock Lager. It was a dark, German-style lager packaged in wooden kegs and sold primarily to saloons and to people throwing keg parties. The reason I think he may have been drinking that beer, aside from the size – which indicates a keg pour – and the color, is because Gabe Streich had a long association with the folks behind the Oshkosh Brewing Company. In fact, the Streich family was related to the Horn family through marriage; the Horn’s being one of the founding families of OBC.
Of course, we’ll never really know exactly what’s filling his magnificent schooner, but thinking about it makes me thirst for the sort of brew he’s toasting us with. Capital Dark is easy to get around town and it’s probably not too far off from the beer Gabe was guzzling that day on the deck. Next time you have a Dark, you might want to raise a toast to our old friend Gabe.