Here’s the Gambrinus Brewery, circa 1893. Look towards the tip of the arrow atop the brewery’s cupola.
Let’s zoom in on that….
What we’re looking at is a large weathervane that spun with the wind blowing over the Gambrinus Brewery. It depicts King Gambrinus, patron saint of brewers. Gambrinus is holding a stein. He’s standing next to a beer barrel.
For a brewery named Gambrinus, it was only natural that King Gambrinus would become its favored symbol. The image was used frequently in the brewery’s advertising. Here’s an example. This is a close-up of a corner sign that hung outside the Adolph Baier tavern at the northwest corner of Ohio Street and 7th Ave. The image is a bit hazy, but that’s Gambrinus in the middle with a mug of beer held aloft.
The image quality is going to improve as we move along, I promise.
Let’s get back to the story of that weathervane….
When the Gambrinus Brewery was taken down, the Kuenzl family saved the symbolic figure that hovered over their brewery all those years. It wound up in the hands of Lorenz Kuenzl’s grandson. He was also named Lorenz Kuenzl. His nickname was Shorty. Here's a photo of Shorty Kuenzl, circa 1960.
|Photo courtesy of Kay Kuenzl-Stenerson|
Let’s finally get a good, up-close look at this thing.
Considering its age, the piece has held up magnificently. It’s at least 125 years old and spent much of its time being battered by the elements. At Lee Beverage, it was resting in storage for years, but now it’s out again. It’s mounted atop a wooden barrel near the entrance to the building.
I’ve spent a lot of time researching the elder Lorenz Kuenzl and his brewery. Sometimes I think I know the man far better than I really do. But when I think of that weathervane and imagine the hundreds of times Kuenzl looked up to see it there above his brewery, I realize he’s still an utter mystery to me. He always will be.
For an in-depth history of the Gambrinus Brewery, go here.