Monday, August 17, 2015

The Beer Trucks of Oshkosh

Last Monday we took a look at the horse drawn wagons that used to roll through Oshkosh toting beer around the city. Today, let’s see what replaced all those beasts of burden and the wagons they pulled.

Motor vehicles began being used by breweries in Oshkosh in the decade prior to the start of national Prohibition in 1920. By 1911, both the Oshkosh Brewing Company and Rahr Brewing were hauling at least some of their beer around with trucks. When Peoples Brewing opened in 1913, the brewery delivered its beer by horse and wagon, but eventually transitioned to trucks.

The first picture here illustrates the gradual changeover from horse power to motor power. This photo was taken circa 1915 in front of the Oshkosh Brewing Company on Doty St. Notice the mix of both horse drawn wagons and motor trucks.

Here’s another truck with OBC beer. This appears to be from the 1930s. Those are some nice, wooden barrels. Like the horses, those wooden barrels wouldn’t be around much longer, either.

The next couple of pictures shows beer trucks in front of the Rahr Brewing Company on Rahr Ave. I’m guessing these were taken sometime during the mid-to-late 1940s.

This one shows Carl Rahr, president of Rahr Brewing, and his sister Blanche Rahr, the brewery’s secretary and treasurer.

Next up, a trio of trucks from Peoples Brewing Company. These pictures were taken at the brewery on South Main St. sometime during the late 1940s/early 1950s.

Here’s a good look at an OBC truck from the same period. As the brewery grew, its trucks also became larger.
And here’s the OBC fleet parked outside the brewery circa 1950.

A 1960s truck from Peoples. The brewery’s delivery trucks were serviced by Nick Hubertus at Nick’s Standard Station across the street from the brewery. His son John Hubertus says “My very first job was washing the Peoples trucks on Saturday mornings. There were eight or ten of them and at one dollar a truck that wasn’t bad for a ten-year-old kid.”

A 1960s OBC truck. This one is looking the worse for wear. The brewery was also in decline.

A couple of novelty trucks from OBC. These pictures are from the 1960s. This first shows “Old Hank.” David Uihlein, the president of OBC, was a collector of vintage vehicles. Uihlein used this Model A Ford truck that he found in a junkyard and restored. The truck was used for local deliveries and promotions.

OBC gave away this truck as a prize to the winner of a sturgeon spearing competition the brewery sponsored in 1964.

OBC, Peoples and Rahr have all bit the dust, but we still have beer trucks hauling Oshkosh-brewed beer. Here’s a picture taken last week of the Fox River Brewing Company’s truck.

We’ll end on an historical note. Last Friday, August 14, Bare Bones Brewery loaded its first batch of beer for distribution onto a van owned by Oshkosh’s Lee Beverage. I can tell you from experience, the beer going into that van is a hell of a lot better than the beer that comes from the bottle you see on the side of the van.


  1. On a related note, I think I remember a refrigerated "Chief Oshkosh" trailer that was dropped at special events. It was a pretty small trailer and may have had a tap system, or just used to keep the suds cold. I believe it was towed by a pickup truck painted in OBC colors. This would have been in the late 1960s.

  2. My grandfather won the model A that was given away. The truck is restored and we still use it on a regular basis.

    1. Did you keep the original brewery lettering on the truck after the restoration?
      I assume not? I would have noticed it cruising around the last 49 year since I moved to Oshkosh. Is the truck still in Oshkosh? I have wondered where it ended up for over 40 years.
      What happened to the Sturgeon on top?? Email me at the below address "please".
      Paul Winter
      Oshkosh Breweriana collector.